Silencing the Mind
One of the most dangerous enemies we will face in life is our own minds. Left unchecked, the mind can degrade, dominate, and destroy us. This is why mastery and control of the self is important to living a happy life.
My first exploration into the world of self-mastery began in my sophomore year of high school when I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I'd spent 16 years coping with a mind that incessantly bullied me and made me dread waking up every morning.
During my first therapy session, it was suggested to me that I take up the practice of meditation. I was uncertain at first. I wasn't the kind of person who believed that breathing exercises and sitting crossed legged with my eyes closed muttering a mantra to myself would do anything. However, I eventually gave in to the request of my therapist and mother, and decided to give meditation a try.
This is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Four years later and I still continue to meditate daily. I've even begun reading literature on the different forms of meditation, and the different goals this form of inward exploration is meant to achieve. Meditation has become a part of who I am. My first misconception about this ancient practice was that it was just breathing a certain way and uttering a mantra to myself. But it's so much more than that. It's an art form dedicated to silencing the mind and controlling our volatile and chaotic emotions so that we can think rationally. In my own personal experience, sometimes my emotions become too intense for meditation to control. But I have noticed an overall improvement in my mood and quality of life.
The process of silencing the mind and controlling your emotions is very slow. The first few times I tried alone; I was only able to attain mental clarity for a few seconds before I was assaulted by an onslaught of thoughts for the rest of the thirty-minute session. I first noticed improvement in my skills when I began listening to guided meditations. Rather than being uncertain of what I was doing, I had someone to guide me through the process and instruct me on how to achieve that mental clarity. Eventually, I was able to take the skills I learned from listening to these instructed sessions and perform them without guidance. I was no longer dependent on a person to achieve an extended period (and by that, I mean minutes) of mental silence and control. I continued to practice daily, and slowly I saw improvement. I went from being only able to achieve a few seconds, to a few minutes, to an hour. Nowadays, I can practically silence my mind on command and begin meditating even in inconvenient situations. If you're still skeptical about whether meditation works, you don't just have to take my word for it. There have been a multitude of studies conducted on this practice. If you're interested in seeing the quantitative results of meditation, I recommend going to (https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth), this resource provides a nice synopsis of meditation's statistical significance amongst people battling multiple problems. This website also provides links to more in-depth studies should you be so inclined.
Keep in mind that meditation takes time to and dedication to become proficient in, and one form of therapy that works for someone may not work for another. However, what do you have to lose by trying? Everyone can carve out 10 to 30 minutes of their day to sit down and meditate. Whether it be at night before bed, or when you first get up in the morning. I encourage you to try it, and tell us about your journey in the comments below!