Mindfulness Meditation

meditation sun

I’ll say this again because I am such a believer in this: The mind is the most powerful thing in the world. Everything that exists in this world started in someone’s mind. As well being extremely powerful, it is also the most valuable thing we own, and guess what? We only have one of them. Without it, we’ve got nothing. 

I’ve damaged my right arm, but that’s ok because I have another one that picks up the pieces. I’ve got instability issues in my right leg, but that’s ok because I’ve got two of those too. Unfortunately, I only have onebrain, and it’s damaged so I make it work super hard. 

Working it hard means exercising it everyday. I’m always trying to exercise my brain in everyway that I possibly can, which brings me to my next point and that’s about meditation. Meditation = exercise for the brain.

Before we talk about how good it is, I’ll tell you a quick story about when I first tried it. 

So, not long after I got out of hospital in 2009, a mate asked if I wanted to go to a meditation class with him and try it out. I had nothing to lose, so meh, I thought I’d give it a go. My only ever thought about meditation was that it all sounds a bit hocus-pocus.

“What, so I’m supposed to sit here in silence and do nothing whilst I have my eyes closed and it’s supposed to be good for me?” 

Anyway, I now found myself sitting in a circle with a group of people doing exactly just that. So I closed my eyes and waited for the magic to happen… waiting… waiting… I think I feel something… yes, yes I do. That ‘something’ was a nice cool breeze on my neck… it felt great, I was really doing this. I was mediating… oh no, wait on, that’s just the air-con. Damn. Nope I’m not feeling anything. This was disappointing, but hey I gave it a go. I tried it. It was quiet. It was calm. I met some kind people and it was rather boring so sorry, it wasn’t for me. 

Now fast-forward eight years and this is a ritual I perform most mornings. I say ‘most mornings’ but now, it’s honestly only on the weekdays and it may not be every single day. Let’s say an average of 4 times a week. 

So what changed my mind about this after eight years? Well, I was doing research into the power of meditation last year and it all sounded too good to be true. I read somewhere that in 2014 a Harvard Study[1] found that performing meditation for as little as eight weeks could actually alter the structure of the brain, increasing the amount of ‘grey matter’ present. Not knowing the difference between grey matter, black, blue, yellow or even pink matter, this didn’t really mean too much to me. 

More research into the practice and I discovered that I had had a misconception all along about what meditation was. I was always waiting for something magical to happen, but I was searching in the wrong places. I never understood that meditation is nothing to do with fairies at all. It is just about controlling your mind in a way that you block out the past and future, leaving you to think about what’s going on this exact moment in time. 

To cut a long story short I decided to give this a go. At the beginning, I missed the ‘eight weeks’ part though and honestly, I still had the same thoughts about it, ‘what a load of s**t’. This was meant to be good for me, so I kept it up. 

It was nearly eight weeks to the day, after I began, when I started noticing that I was remember things that I knew I shouldn’t be remembering. My injured brain is like a sieve... I just don't remember things. Things were coming to my head that I would normally forget; appointment times, places to be, people to see, things to do. My initial thought was that I woke up on the right side of the bed and I was just having a bit of luck but this kept happening.  This happened on a number of occasions so I thought that maybe it wasn’t just a fluke? Could this have been the meditation doing this to my brain? No Way. I found it very hard to believe, but this 10-minutes of silence was doing much more than I was ready to believe. 

These days, I can honestly tell you that if I haven’t meditated for some time, I feel different, it’s like my mind is cloudy and what meditation is doing to it is clearing it up. I try to keep this up as much as I can but I don’t put restrictions on myself. If I can, I will, but if I can’t, I wont - no stress.

If you are battling with an injured brain or know of someone who is, what have you got to lose? Give it a go. Even if you aren’t harboring an injured brain, meditation could open so many doors to your mind that you didn’t even know existed. Imagine how much better off I would have been if I had practiced meditating before my accident? All I can think now is, ‘What would this do for a healthy, uninjured brain’? 

[1] https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/