“All of man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself.” —Blaise Pascal
The life worth living is one centered on the passions and values we hold most dear. And that is why solitude and meditation matters.
Many people go through life with no clear sense of their true values. Instead, their lives are molded by the voices that bombard them each day from the Internet, television, radio, magazines, and celebrities. Their desires are ever-changing and are quickly swept away by the newest fashion, most recent technology, or opportunity for financial gain. Their lives are no longer centered on their personal passions and values.
In contrast, firm conviction leads to an intentional life. It is not tossed about by the culture. It is built on the things you hold truest in your heart. And no new advertising campaign is able to shake it.
Meditation provides the opportunity to find that conviction. It slows our mind, calms our spirit, and centers our soul. It removes our mind from the culture of consumption that surrounds us and centers us on something greater and more fulfilling. It draws us out of the finiteness of the visible and dares to connect our souls with the invisible. It provides opportunity to identify our desires, articulate our values, and align our pursuits accordingly.
In quiet and solitude, our mind gravitates towards the more important things—the most valuable. Rarely, in times of meditation, do we dream of nicer cars, bigger closets, larger wardrobes, or more expensive watches. Instead, we naturally focus on our souls, our families, our friends, our health, our significance, and our greatest ambitions.
Another benefit of meditation is that it leads to gratitude. Gratitude leads to contentment. And a contented heart is free to pursue anything it desires.
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that preaches discontent. A society built on the foundation of consumerism must attack gratitude—only if they can sow discontent in our lives can they sell us on their new product or latest version with new improvements. But those who find gratitude in their current existence will be less influenced by those empty promises.
A grateful heart admits that there are bigger forces at play in our lives than our own accomplishments and that we are who we are today because of the sacrifice and investment of others. Gratitude grounds us and focuses our lives on others.
It is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy. (tweet that)
And that gratefulness quickly leads to a satisfied, simplified, focused life. More meditation. More gratitude. Better living.
Begin your own practice of meditation.
Find a quiet moment. Choose a time of day that provides opportunity for a quiet moment without distraction. This may be in the morning before your family wakes up, in the evening after they go to bed, or at some point in-between (during a lunch break, before the workday begins, or while your new baby naps). Choose a time of day that is repeatable.
Find a quiet place. Meditation can happen anywhere, but a quiet place is always best. Evaluate your surroundings for not just noise clutter, but mental clutter as well. For example, if you find it difficult to slow your mind in a messy room or in the office where you work, relocate yourself elsewhere.
Find a quiet mind. The most difficult part of meditation is learning to quiet yourself. At first, your mind will not know what to do with the silence and will fill the void with restless activity. Sometimes you need to ignore the distraction. Focus on your breathing. But other times, you’ll need to pursue the voice fighting for your attention. Over time, you’ll quickly learn the difference.
Set aside a few minutes. If you have never meditated before, start small—even 5 minutes can be very significant. If you can meditate longer, do it. I find new waves of thought to resurface every 10 minutes with each revealing a deeper level of heart evaluation.
Introduce any specific spiritual components. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, meditation holds rich benefit for your life. But if your spirituality is important to you, you may find value including specific elements in your meditation: prayer and/or sacred texts, for example.
Just like every endeavor, meditation takes time and practice. So don’t get frustrated at first. And don’t get down on yourself if you miss a day. Just try again tomorrow—or for the first time.