I once worked with a man who thought that people who meditated were ‘going off into la-la land’. Gently, I corrected this misconception, but I don’t think he ever tried it for himself. He is like many Americans who don’t see the value in meditating. It has not yet become an important part of our culture. People usually indicate they don’t have the time, ten to twenty minutes twice a day, to spend on it. Instead they spend most of their day in negative self-talk and fear of what might happen.

Meditation is like a small stone covered in mud. Even if they notice it laying on the ground, people don’t stop to look at it. If they did, they would find out that the mud, our own ignorance, was covering up a beautiful gem and that this gem would give them riches beyond their imaginations.

The true value in meditation is that it trains our mind to stop jumping from one thought to another, like a chattering monkey jumping from tree to tree. Instead, meditation teaches us to focus on the present moment and be aware. Our awareness may focus on what is happening around us, or on the words a friend or lover are saying to us. But the real value is that it teaches us to listen to our self-talk.

After meditating daily for three or four weeks, we start to hear our mind talking. Some of the things it says are, “You’ll never accomplish that”, or “I’m afraid I’m going to lose my job”, or “My father always told me I would never amount to anything”. I’m sure you can come up with more negative self-talk from your own experience. These messages are self-defeating. They focus on losing. They prepare us for the worst the can happen. But they do not prepare us for reality. In reality, only 15% of the things we worry about ever come to pass. So we waste 85% of our time focusing on negatives that do not eventuate.

Meditation is the ONLY WAY to change our minds. There is nothing else. It is a choice of our own free will. We can have chattering monkeys jumping from tree to tree, or we can have a calm mind that sees the negative thought and realizes it is based on fear, not reality. To paraphrase a current TV commercial, “What’s in YOUR mind?”