Meditation for Self-Improvement: What does it mean?

Kamakshi Nanda
Kamakshi Nanda
  • Updated


Meditation is a handy tool that facilitates managing, guiding and focusing on our inner mind. It opens up a nourishing space for us to check-in with our emotions and reform our entire makeup, by sympathetically re-evaluating our knowledge, attitude, lifestyle, daily habits, status, etc. You’ll progressively experience personal development and self-growth through the conversion of your thinking with Meditation.

There is an M word out there, which you might have seen mentioned in a magazine, a website or hear people wax eloquent about it and wondered to yourself …

What is it? What’s all this fuss about it? What wonders will it do for me?

Everyday you accomplish numerous tasks. Some are daily routines say that of the morning where you brush your teeth, comb your hair, get dressed, catch the tube to reach your workplace or for the luckier few make the trip from the breakfast table to your home bureau. Your perfected motor skills lead you to carry out many of the chores described without a thought. While other duties are more complex where you may grapple with domestic care-giving roles with professional commitments, manage numerous work projects and teams, multi-task on a regular basis, handle different social relationships across age and sex, online or offline, etc. Here it’s the brain that dominates the path of the more demanding of those assignments.


Wouldn’t it be amazing to direct our brains as effortlessly as we control our hands and feet?


Internal tug of war

That fascinating organ that directs our body’s movements and its thoughts – the cerebrum – is a mind-boggling mass of nerves, a gazillion blood vessels, cells, fat, proteins. Its ‘feel good’ chemical dopamine, motivates us to seek pleasurable experiences and be more extroverted. As luck would have it, an opposing chemical related to stress and depressive thoughts called cortisol is also equally loved by our brains. The positive and the negative forces constantly compete in our heads. Think of it as an invisible tug of war between the dopamine induced warm fuzzy feeling versus the cortisol charged rap on the knuckles – inside our psyche.

The brain’s internal alarm system is wired up in a way that it secretes cortisol to protect us from harm. Imagine a cycle that is riding too close to your car, or an obnoxious person who pulls you down in front of everyone in an office meeting, or a traffic jam delays your bus commute to an important conference presentation. There are endless examples of everyday incidences where our brain would be stimulated to produce cortisol. Although a useful system, it also means that negativity comes more readily to us than positive thoughts.

With multiplications of stress factors in the lives of today, we easily develop a weak spot for negativism. We not only inhabit and own this depressive energy, but we are also not gentle with ourselves and unwittingly actively engage in self-injury. The cortisol rush will push us to blame ourselves for not seeing the cycle earlier, find faults in our conduct (vis-à-vis the toxic colleague), and kick ourselves for not having left the house earlier to make it in time for the conference. The pulsating energy-sapping anxiety will prevent us from viewing things dispassionately. You would not consider analysing these sort of similar scenarios with a positive outlook, even though these sort of problems are usually short-lived and self-correcting.


Wouldn’t life be so much easier if we could weed out negative thoughts and populate our minds (housed in the brain) with positive images and ideas?


Wouldn’t it be wonderful to negotiate work-life and interpersonal engagements without the associated mental and emotional distress and fatigue?


But, wait a minute…how does one get inside one’s head?
How does one get hold of these thoughts?
Don’t do these intangible contemplations come and go as they please?
Is it even possible to rein in one’s inner mind?


Mental exercise

The brain is your thoughts, mind and consciousness’s house address. Simply put – a healthy brain nurtures a flourishing mind. Despite all what the brain does for you day-in and day-out, every nanosecond of that day, we hardly take care of it. At the gym you sweat it out on the treadmill, the stair climber or the stationary bike to work on your cardio. You strengthen your muscles by exercising against resistance like free weights, resistance machines, etc. Some of you might prefer swimming, jogging, cycling, other activities to keep your body fit. Yet do we give a thought to our poor brain? “Oh, the brain benefits from all the physical activity I do” you say. Yes, that’s scientifically correct. Still, don’t you think, the brain would immensely benefit by some exercise primarily aimed at it? And what would that in turn mean for your body, mind and even soul?

Here is where that infamous M word comes in…Meditation is an exercise aimed at the brain. The work out takes many forms such as consciously breathing at a certain rhythm or centring on objects and words. We unknowing do considerable self-harm through our ingrained propensity to berate ourselves for our ‘busy thoughts’ as silly, unrealistic, mean, or scandalous, despite not having trained our minds to do otherwise. This auto-critical behaviour works to the detriment of our mental and physical well-being. Meditation slowly eases one into a non-judgemental space for our mind to freely explore it’s ‘busy thoughts’.

At the same time, it delicately coaches our grey matter to streamline the emerging ideas in our consciousness. This massage of our mind happily metamorphosis into a soothing body massage bringing relief to our mental space and but also to our physical being. As you concentrate on your attention and consciousness, your body’s muscles correspondingly relax, and they slowly release their built-up tension.

Discovering the serenity within you

Once you begin practising meditation, tiny new leaf buds will wriggle their way out in the tree in you. With every tiny bud, you’ll notice a spontaneous slow shift in your outlook. The ‘now’ will gradually become more present – you will see additional details of this now. You will notice the trees lining the streets that lead to your house, the cups in your kitchen will spark happy memories of drinking tea with friends, you will note the smaller gestures of love from your children or partner. You’ll marvel at the maddening pace of your existence in the past. And the rainbow in your future will look brighter and joyful.

Engaging with one’s deep recesses of the mind is a spiritually uplifting journey. As nobody else can breathe for you, nobody else can govern the thoughts that you allow to germinate and grow. This intimate interaction with your consciousness will also affect immediate and long-term changes. A progressive transformation will materialise that shall favourably impact your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. The feel-good dynamics will increasingly bring about a more relaxed you, relieve the symptoms of body aches and depression, leading you to sleep better and shed your anxiety. You shall emerge from the practise with the discovery of an unfamiliar but happy sense of inner peace. A serenity will surface that you never knew that existed within you.

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