Congratulations on completing the first and second meditations in this beginner’s series! Remember, you can go back and do 5-minute and 10-minute meditations at any point to keep building your practice. There are no hard, fast rules that say you must meditate for a long time, but if you’re ready to dive deep, the reward of turning your focus inward is the ability to recognize the difference between positive and negative thoughts. Sounds simple, but the differences may not always be apparent.

Our mind field is, in a way, just like the roads we drive on. Traffic comes from all sides, in every direction, in many different types of vehicles. The quality of these vehicles vary, including small, big, fancy and old. These different vehicles are like your thoughts. If there are too many of them, it creates a traffic jam. When your mind gets jammed, it’s hard to focus or have any clarity. Meditation unclogs that traffic jam. It helps you cultivate a smooth flow of traffic on the roads of your mind.

Related: 15 Minutes Too Long? Start Meditating with 5

Imagine you’re standing at a crossroads and you’re watching the traffic. You have nothing to do with it, but you’re just standing there, letting it pass by. To treat your thoughts in this way is one of the goals of meditation. This process allows you to pick out which thoughts you want to cultivate, and which ones you want to let drive away. When you slow down your thoughts, you can easily spot the Ferrari over, say, the garbage truck. If your mind is jammed with thoughts, it’s a lot harder to pick them out individually and determine their quality.

When you practice meditation, your capability to evaluate the caliber of your thoughts increases through this process of slowing down. When that happens, you pay attention to the thoughts that serve you and make positive decisions. Through those positive thoughts and actions, you start a chain reaction, which creates a positive environment around you and results in positive manifestations in your life. This is how, in the simplest of terms, meditation can improve the quality of your thoughts, actions, and life.

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