Up until a few years ago, I had always heard meditation was really good for your mental health. It supposedly helped calm your mind and left you feeling more peaceful than before you started it.

I toyed around with the idea of meditation and practiced it a few times, but didn’t fully immerse myself until studying with my wonderful gurus in India. One of my teachers, Pandi Ji, called all that clutter running amuck in your mind, “monkey mind.” I had a clear visualization of what he meant, and laughed out loud when learning this term because “monkey mind” is exactly what had been running my mind for many years.

Through the practice of meditation I have seen the wonderful effects on my mental health and happiness. I honestly don’t know if I can ever cut it out of my routine ever again. I don’t think it would be a wise choice for me! Plain and simple, I just have better days when I meditate each morning or before bed.

Don’t get me wrong, I still get plenty of “monkey mind”, but at least I have a more thorough understanding and practice of meditation that I have that as a tool to help release “monkey mind” whenever I am aware of it creeping in.

Enough about my introduction to meditation. Onto why YOU are reading this blog in the first place: finding yourself through meditation!

If you’re like a lot of adults, you tend to define yourself according to external expectations and activities. You associate your identity with things like what you do for a living and the role you play in your family.

That can leave you feeling uprooted when your situation shifts!

Maybe you get laid off or your children go away to college. Perhaps you’re questioning who you are and what your purpose in life is. Or you could be so busy that you have yet to look inside and acknowledge that you feel a little lost.

Meditation is one way to increase your understanding and appreciation for yourself. Carve out some me time and use these ideas to help you find yourself.

Meditating to Understand Yourself:

  • Turn off your phone. Being bombarded with distractions makes it difficult to get to know yourself. Block out time to unplug each day. In addition to your meditation sessions, you may want to turn off all devices at mealtimes and about an hour before bed.
  • Observe your thoughts. Use your meditation time to slow down, go deeper, and find out what’s on your mind. Notice your thoughts and feelings without becoming attached to them. You’ll start to notice a difference between you and your fleeting ideas and impressions.
  • Scan your body. Do you only think about your body when you’re wondering if your hips are getting wider or you’re trying to flatten your stomach? Survey yourself from head to toes. Focus on practicing good posture and loosening up. Forget about searching for flaws.
  • Examine your values. Your principles and beliefs are at the core of your being. They help to define who you are. Ensure you’re building your life around something worthwhile.
  • Analyze your motives. Are you drifting along or making deliberate choices? Meditation gives you an opportunity to explore why you do things. You can break free from old habits if they’re holding you back.
  • Live mindfully. Remain fully present in between meditation sessions. Pay attention to the current moment instead of dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.

Meditating to Appreciate Yourself:

  • Practice acceptance. Embrace yourself in your totality. Give up snap judgements and harsh criticism. Remember that you are adequate just the way you are.
  • Dissolve stress. Show yourself how much you care by using meditation and other healthy methods to relieve stress. You’ll be strengthening your heart and lowering your risk for diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, and many other conditions.
  • Extend forgiveness. Are you holding any grudges against yourself? Grant yourself a pardon for any past mistakes. Imagine a future in which you value learning from experience instead of beating up on yourself.
  • Recognize your progress. Take stock of how far you’ve come. Celebrate the milestones you’ve reached in your career and personal life. Let your past achievements inspire you to set new challenges.
  • Express gratitude. Think about the many blessings in your life, especially the family and friends who have contributed to your happiness and success. Being grateful helps you to regard yourself and others with more affection and kindness.
  • Repeat affirmations. Come up with a list of affirmations that you can use like a mantra while meditating. Pick words and phrases that motivate you to keep trying.
  • Make a resolution. End your meditation sessions by giving yourself a practical assignment to complete. Bake yourself a cake or plan a fun activity for the upcoming weekend.

Use meditation to figure out who you are and what you need to do to lead a life that’s meaningful to you.

Exploring your thoughts, feelings, and actions is the first step towards growing wiser and happier. As your self-knowledge grows, you’ll make sounder decisions and enjoy richer experiences. So get to work on clearing that “monkey mind” out as often as you possibly can!