Over the past couple of years or so, there’s been a growing movement to promote more conscientious behavior amongst the unsuspecting masses. Everything from changing dietary habits to enrich ones personal health and make changes to the food and farming industries, to practicing more mindful and spiritually illuminating exercises like yoga or meditation. While spirituality has never really been the focus of mainstream hip-hop, I can assure you, the most popular artists in every genre are likely heavily involved in spirituality as its meant to serve as a tool to provide balance in one’s life; especially considering how much ego tends to fuel artistry in various ways.
However one feels about the spiritual practice of meditation, it helps to have a better understanding of what its meant to do, and how to actually perform it. Many try to distort or confuse its purposes by attributing it to other means of relieving stress physically, like running or lifting weights. While physical exercise is great for opening one’s self up to different energies, its not quite the same as sitting in stillness & focusing on simply breathing for 15-30 minutes.
While reading this op-ed, keep in mind I first learned the wonders of meditation three years ago while writing for a website focused around self-help and spiritual awareness. Prior to then, I had never given it a single thought as to how it could help me in any way. However since then, I honestly can’t tell you how much its helped me as it may very well have contributed to saving my life while enduring continuous struggle to find my true place in this world. I now meditate every morning as soon as I wake up, for 15-30 minutes before starting my day. Its become crucial for helping me tackle any conflict that may arise while continuing to pursue my dreams, as there’s never any shortage of those to deal with.
While recorded history dates meditation back to the Hindus around 1500 BCE, as a practice its been widespread across every culture & religion over time. Its vast uses range from a means to calm one’s emotions & relieve stress, to finding solutions to internal conflicts & answering questions of an existential nature. Though one can presume to believe its meant for a specific purpose, you’ll never know of its true benefits until you have tried it for yourself. And as simple as the practice sounds, you’d be surprise to learn how many fully-functioning grown adults have trouble with simply sitting still in absolute silence for even five minutes, let alone 15-20. But that in itself, like anything, is to be learned through continuous effort & consistent practice.
When deciding to meditate for the first time, its important to remember, there’s no ultimate goal here. If anything you’ll know how its affecting you once you feel it. There’s no actual time constraint to feel the effects of meditation, but once you’ve learned to sit still and quiet for 5 minutes or so, at that point its really just getting comfortable with the process and learning when & where its best fit for you to practice it.
One of the fundamental parts of meditation is to focus on breathing, take deep breaths through your nose and exhale though your mouth as if you’re releasing pint up energy that is no longer serving you in any way. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting, standing or laying down, however laying down can put you to sleep, especially if you’d endured any physical or emotional strain during the day. Try focusing on a peaceful place or setting, such as a lake, ocean, river, or mountain. Let nothingness consume you and get lost in the infinite nature of the universe, leaving time and space behind as it has no place while in this hyper-focused state. You can come back to reality once you’re done.
Once again, while its easy to try to put a specific purpose on meditation, the reality is that there really are no limits to how you can benefit from it. I have friends who have mastered the practice to the point they can remain in a meditative state for over an hour, even several hours. If you sit and think deeply about it, it really is learning to activate and utilize parts of the brain that are typically accessed when taking pscyadelic substances such as DMT, LSD and Psilocybin (magic mushrooms). Spiritual gurus have and continue to use meditation to understand the meaning of life. Truth be told, it may very well be the only way we’ll ever come close to understanding why we are the way we are as human beings.
As an artist meditation can aid in freeing creative blockages. It can help you solve inner conflicts as you grow artistically and spiritually. It also helps to balance yourself out as the continuous attention from fans typically tends to overfeed the ego. Remember, as talented as you may be, there’s always someone who turns out having just a bit more. And as adored as your art may be, your character could always use tweaking. I’m saying that out of sheer personal experience.
It also opens you up idealistically. Even meditating three times a week helps me to come up with new ideas on the fly at random moments any time of the day. It helps in seeing everything so much clearer, free from others’ opinions or biases. You maybe skeptical, but I can assure you it is that powerful. You just have to experience it for yourself to find out.
In today’s non-stop digital age, where information travels faster than the time needed to process it, what we do to enhance our quality of life is crucial to our output as people, professionals, creatives, lovers, fighters. What we learn about who we are and the real reason for what we’re doing while stumbling through this chaotic world of pleasure, pain and confusion, is what defines this experience for us. Meditation is an aid in maintaining ourselves mentally, creatively, emotionally and spiritually through that experience. Its part of our internal nature, to empower everything about who we are and why we do what we do every day.