There is no questioning the diverse and vast array of benefits that a meditation practice offers. Looking at the physical benefits alone, meditation has the capacity to boost the immune system, lower blood pressure levels, improve sleep, assist digestion, improve fertility, balance hormones, improve brain function and much more. In a society that glorifies the ‘hustle,’ taking time out of each day to sit quietly with our eyes closed may not seem like the most ‘productive’ way to utilise our precious moments!
Yet, what if these few moments of meditation could actually improve your productivity levels, help create clarity of mind, and make you a more compassionate, joyous and peaceful person? That makes those quiet moments seem a little more worthwhile! Aside from the scientifically proven benefits of meditation, this simple, age-old practice offers us insight into the very essence of who we are as an individual and who we are as a collective whole. Meditation gifts us with powerful and insightful life lessons that we can then carry from our seated practice, into our daily routines.
Here are 10 life lessons that we have discovered from running meditation classes at our Bali yoga retreat, Escape Haven.
- This too shall pass
In daily life is is easy to get caught up in things and loose perspective. We hold onto emotions and thoughts that may or may not serve us. We allow ourselves to fall into downward spirals or follow habitual trajectories that we assume to be part of our nature. We easily succumb to a ‘catastrophic’ headspace where we assume that the emotions we have now and the trials and tribulations we are currently facing will be with us forever. Meditation helps us to understand and truly see that everything in life is temporary. Our thoughts and emotions are waves that come and go, they morph and transform. How we feel and think in one moment is likely to be entirely different an hour later, a day later, a year later. Life is transitory in its very nature and when we learn to let go and allow for this natural flow of life to occur, then we don’t get continually hung up on the small stuff.
- Let go of what doesn’t serve you
As meditation teaches us that all things in life are transitory, is also allows us to let go of the things that don’t serve us. As emotional beings, we tend to hold onto feelings such as anger, guilt, resentment and fear. We attach stories to these emotions and carry them around with us, often for many years. These emotions and stories weigh us down and prevent us from moving forwards and being truly present. Meditation teaches us the virtues of forgiveness and self care. We learn to breathe through those deeply embedded triggers and let them out of our system. Meditation opens our heart to be more loving and more accepting of ourselves and others, and in doing so, encourages us release those unwanted residential things holding us back from living and loving fully.
- Focus on the present moment
One of the greatest gifts of meditation is that is has the power to magically transport us to the present moment. Indeed, it is one of the greatest goals of meditation and so too, one of the most challenging things about the practice. If you take note of your thoughts for even several minutes, you will see how frequently we live in the past, or in the future. Unless we are entirely absorbed in something, our mind constantly wanders back and forth. Living in these alternative realities steals the simple pleasures of each and every moment we have right in front of us. When we sit in meditation, we often focus on a simple mantra, or the rise and fall of the breath, and in doing so, we are able to (or mostly able to!) stay in each moment without our mind pulling us in subservient directions. The more aware we can be in our everyday life, the more likely we are to be present with those we love, present with our work, and present with the simple gifts that life offers.
- Look on the bright side
Life will always offer us lessons in the form of challenges. How we respond to these challenges defines how quickly we move through them, and how they shape our forward trajectory. Meditation allows us to ‘clear the slate,’ encouraging us to step back, take some distance and look at our challenges from a new light. Realising that nothing is permanent, and that we have the tools within us to face whatever life throws our way, can help us to be more optimistic and be grateful for the lessons of the journey. Meditation can help carry us to a place that is tranquil, peaceful and absent of cause and effect. It is the deep calm ocean below the rough surface. Meditation helps us to let go of the negative mindset that can absorb us and opens up our mind to more positivity and optimism. Meditating on a positive affirmation can be a wonderful way to reinforce this point.
- The importance of slowing down
The modern world is defined by its frenetic pace and constant stimuli. More than ever before we are bombarded from the moment we wake with phone calls, emails, appointments, deadlines and to-do lists. Our senses are consistently assaulted and we become easily distracted by the sheer plethora of life happening around us and at our fingertips. Stepping out of this whirlwind is essential for our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Meditation teaches us the importance of slowing down and switching off. Taking these moments to unplug and decompress actually allows us to step back into the world with more clarity, patience and focus and in turn, boosts our productivity. The constant hustle is unsustainable and often it takes us hitting a brick wall before we forced to stop and reassess. At our yoga retreat in Bali we love to encourage our guests to assume a regular meditation practice, once they leave. A daily meditation practice offers us a space of peaceful solitude outside of the daily rat race where we can take stock, prepare, come back to our true inherent nature, and then approach the world from a place of wholeness and sensibility.
- The importance of self-care
As women, we have many roles. We are have a host of titles that may include mother, daughter, friend, colleague, wife, manager, acquaintance, sister, cook, driver, counsellor, mediator- these are roles we take on (knowingly and unknowingly!) all day, every day. Let’s face it, taking time for ourselves can be hard. Allowing ourselves even ten minutes of time out can feel selfish and at odds with the responsibilities we have to attend to. We often find that for women to make it to our yoga retreat in Bali, they had to overcome a lot of these sorts of feelings. Like the old saying goes, it is essential to fill your own cup so you have something to give to others. A daily meditation practice is one of the best and easiest self-care practices we can commit to. These quiet moments gift us with the space and tools we need to step back into our lives and be the best version of ourselves that we can be. We become more loving with our family, more patient with our friends, more considerate of our co-workers, more compassionate to strangers. Meditation inherently helps us to be better human beings, simply by ensuring that we take care of ourselves first.
- Listening to our intuition
The sheer plethora of women’s magazines, self-help books, audio guides and podcasts constantly reinforces to women that we don’t have what it takes to be our own teacher and guide. That simply isn’t true. Each and every one of us is inherently wise and intuitive. We have simply lost that connection to our deeper self. When we consistently live on the surface of life, attending to daily demands and routines, filling our spare moments zoning out on our phones and iPads, there is no time or space to nurture that deeper connection to who we truly are. Meditation creates this space for us to drop below the chatter of the surface, and to swim a little deeper into our own heart, our own mind, our own inherent being. Meditation opens up the door to reconnect to that deeper intuitive voice within. We come to understand that we have all the answers within and that we are our own greatest teacher. Connecting to these deeper aspects of self is one of the most rewarding gifts that meditation can offer.
- The power of dedication
It is within our nature to want to give up on the things that we are not good at. At first, meditation can seem really challenging! The mind WILL wander, the ego WILL talk, the desire to give up WILL arise! A meditation practice is about showing up and committing to the practice no matter what it looks like. Like life, everyday the practice will be different. Yet through persistence, patience and dedication, you will soon begin to sit for longer, have less chatter, feel less restless and find greater peace. In life, we tend to shy away from discomfort and allow our thoughts to keep us distracted. Our thoughts and emotions often steer us away from situations which can actually help us to grow and evolve. We stay in the ‘safe zone,’ where everything is comfortable and familiar. Yet growth and transformation come from stepping outside of these boundaries and pushing ourselves in new ways. Through our meditation practice, we learn that from dedication, comes advancement. While there is no ‘right’ way to meditate and no final ‘goal,’ there are great lessons and growth along the way. So too in life, when we consistently show up, we achieve goals and dreams that once upon a time seemed impossible.
One of the most beautiful side effects of meditation is that it makes us become more aware of our own ego. When we become more aware of our own ego, it is easier to separate the ego from the self, and we see people and situations from a place of less judgement and more compassion. Meditation allows us to see ourselves as part of the greater whole and questions the ‘them and us’ mentality that society has fed us for most of our lives. We become more open to diversity and more accepting of one another’s differences. These lessons on compassion and oneness that stem from a meditation practice positively infiltrate our daily lives and we approach the world with a kinder heart and more open mind. As the saying goes, we see ourselves as one drop that is part of an infinite ocean.
- Wholeness and acceptance
While meditation reminds us that we are part of a greater whole, it also reminds us that we are intrinsically whole in and of ourselves. A common trait of being human is our desire to change things. We put a great deal of energy into transforming things into how we think they should be, rather than just accepting them as they are. We try and change the way we feel, the way we look, and the way we show up in the world. Meditation teaches us that we are perfect just the way we are and we come to accept and appreciate the things that make us unique. We let go of needing to change everything all the time and surrender to the things that are out of our control. In doing so, we let go of stress, agitation and the pressure we put on ourselves and others. The little things that once drove us crazy no longer irritate us like the used to. We become more patient and more loving with ourselves, those close to us, and strangers alike.
A final word…
The best thing about meditation is that anyone can do it! We often host absolute beginners at our Bali yoga retreat, Escape Haven. Everyone needs to start somewhere and it’s not hard to assume a practice. You need nothing other than yourself. Taking time out to press pause has the power to change your life in more ways than you can imagine.
We value the gifts that meditation offers which is why each day on retreat there is the opportunity to explore a meditation practice. Often our guests are amazed at the transformation in how they feel after just one week of daily practice at our Bali yoga retreat! Meditation is also one of the most common tools that are guests carry home with them and continue long after the retreat. Fill up your own cup and transform your life with us on a signature Escape Haven retreat in beautiful Bali. If you can’t make it to Bali, you can start here by being guided by Laura in one of her beautiful heart opening meditations. Get comfy and enjoy!
Escape Haven Bali Retreat, supporting women on year making wellness experiences.
We invite you to come and experience for yourself our award winning Bali retreat. If it’s time to fill up your cup and shrug off all the roles that you wear and all the balls you juggle in your busy life, we’d love to pamper you. From transformational yoga and meditation classes, to exhilarating surf lessons in the warm waters of Bali, fun fitness in our tropical gardens to restorative healing and pampering sessions, how much or little you do is all up to you.