Tuesday, April 13, 2021


"I cannot meditate" ...

... a common statement I often hear, many people react to the word meditation with anxiety or have negative ideas about it. “I can’t stop my thoughts” or “I can't sit still” seem to hold people back from even trying. I would like to reach exactly those who think or say such things themselves, to show you that you can do it, that you don't necessarily have to sit still and not “think anything”. 

Meditation has many health benefits for body, mind and soul and these should not be withheld from anyone.

Why is it so hard to sit with your own thoughts?

In the course of my professional experience, I have often come across people who panicked at the thought of "going for a walk alone without their phone or music", completely rejected this type of de-stress method. Why? I wondered; then I came across a very interesting article from the Atlantic with the title “People Prefer Electric Shocks to Being Alone With Their Thoughts”. This article discusses studies from Personality and Social psychology, that had asked participants to sit still, some were even given the prompt to imagine themselves going on a nice hike, but the results remained the same: sitting still with your own thoughts is not a pleasant task for many! In one study, participants were even given the opportunity to give themselves electric shocks if they desired. A quarter of the women and two thirds of the men opted for it, an outlier pressed the button 190 times in 15 minutes (wow!).

Ok, so what if I can't sit still with my own thoughts?!

Meditation is not just sitting cross-legged like a monk or yogi in a calm smiley way floating off the ground. Meditation can be a mindful walk or shower, cooking, dancing, singing and much more. For beginners in particular, it makes much more sense to feel your way into it by moving your body. The mind is like an untamed animal and it needs to be trained. At first it is very nice to give the mind something to do to stay focused. The mind is happy about a task, this can be done by counting the inhalations and exhalations, or to simply concentrate on a body part (bodyscan). 

How meditation can help with anxiety and depression

Many people are disturbed by worries and negative thoughts on a daily basis. Meditation can help control these thoughts, shift your perspective, and gain mental clarity. Fear is a stress reaction and we live in a society that is marked by stress and its consequences. Through a regular meditation practice you break down stress hormones in the body which makes it easier to deal with your own mind. In a relaxed state, we are able to obtain a distance to our thoughts and worries in order to look at them more neutrally. A lot happens neurologically when we meditate, through mindfulness exercises we strengthen the brain regions that control emotions and our impulse control. Meditation also helps with depression, as it makes us psychologically more flexible and we can react differently to stressful situations. Furthermore, a trained mind is more resilient and less prone to overthinking. 

Through meditation, you become aware of your own thoughts and therefore it gets easier for you to accept them. Understanding that emotions are only visitors gives you great power over your own mind.