In a modern world that values activity, achievements and results, it is perhaps surprising that more people are turning to meditation. For all the activity of modern society, many still feel a fundamental need for silence, inner peace, and a moment of reflection. Meditation can reduce stress and help us relax; but, it can also give us a lot more. These are some of the benefits that daily meditation can give us.
Meditation helps to reduce stress by teaching us to switch off from the worries that can plague us through the day. Meditation is an opportunity to spend time by ourselves, without feeling at the beck and call of others. Spending 15 minutes in quietening the mind and focusing on the present moment, makes us more relaxed and effective decision makers.
Numerous studies have shown that meditation has health benefits. Many of these benefits are related to the decrease in stress that occurs through meditation. For example, with lower levels of stress and anxiety, the probability of heart disease diminishes significantly.
This is not to say meditation guarantees you good health. But, there is a growing awareness of the link between our state of mind and physical health. Quite often physical ailments are symptoms of inner turmoil. Meditation can give us peace of mind, and this can be a helpful step in avoiding many stress related ailments. Meditation has also been shown to relieve the pain associated with certain illnesses.
Control Your Own Thoughts
Man has conquered space, Mount Everest and numerous other challenges; but, are we able to conquer our own mind? How often do you find yourself victim to your own negative thoughts? Some people are even of the opinion that it is impossible to control your thoughts. However, the art of meditation teaches that, not only is it possible to control our thoughts, but, we can learn to stop them completely. Through meditation we can bring our unruly mind under control. This creates peace of mind and enables us to achieve what we want to.
When we live in the mind it is easy to get distracted by small irritations. For example, maybe we find it intolerable to be kept waiting in a line, or we get upset by a small misdemeanour of another person. The solution is not to avoid these minor problems, because they will keep appearing no matter how hard we may try.
The only effective solution is to develop detachment and keep things in perspective. A powerful benefit of meditation is that we are able to detach ourselves from these insignificant, yet irritating thoughts. This detachment is not indifference, it is just that we are able to maintain equanimity in the midst of life’s inevitable turbulence.
Happiness and Peace of Mind
Is there anybody who does not, in some way, seek after happiness? Meditation takes us to the source of happiness, which is to be found in our own peace of mind. If we have no peace of mind and are constantly attacked by negative thoughts, happiness will remain elusive, no matter how successful we are on an outer plane. It is perhaps hard to imagine that happiness can occur from the simple act of being. However, if we can meditate with a still mind, we will discover an unexpected source of happiness within our own self. Meditation shows us that happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances, but on our inner attitude.
Be it work, sport or music, concentration is essential to fulfill our potential. In one pointed concentration there is great power; our energy and focus do not get dissipated. When we have concentration we can do more in less time. Through meditation we gradually improve our powers of concentration; this focus can be used for both meditation, and also other activities we engage in.
Spontaneity and Creativity
When we live in the thinking mind, we are usually preoccupied with the past or future. When we spend our energy on the past and present we cover up our natural spontaneity and creativity. We may feel we have neither creativity or spontaneity, but, if we can learn to silence the mind, we realise that we have far more potential than we currently believe. To access this source of inspiration we just need to quieten the mind. Some of the great thinkers and scientists were able to make important discoveries when they could absorb themselves in their work, to the exclusion of all else. Meditation helps us to live in the current moment, and thus can help us to unlock our creative potential.
Discovering the Purpose of Life.
If you are satisfied with your current life. If you feel perfect contentment and happiness then, at the moment, meditation is not necessary. However, if you feel empty inside; if you aspire to know more about the nature of existence and life, then meditation can be of great help. Usually we look for meaning in life through external events and other people. Meditation, however, shows us that we can gain a greater understanding of life through knowing who we are. In meditation we gain a new perspective of life, uncoloured by our own egoistic perspective. For those who wish it, meditation can become a lifelong process of answering the eternal question: “Who am I?”
The benefits of meditation are real, but, it also requires perseverance. It is mistake to expect all these benefits in the first few attempts; the mind takes time to tame. Also, it is difficult to explain all the benefits of meditation, because it involves a state of consciousness that cannot be expressed by words. To appreciate the benefits of meditation it is essential to meditate yourself. Alas, it is not sufficient to just read about it. Start meditating today!
By Tejvan Pettinger. Tejvan meditates twice a day and offers meditation classes on behalf of the Sri Chinmoy Centre, in his home town of Oxford. Tejvan writes a blog on Meditation and self improvement, called Sri Chinmoy Inspiration. Recent posts include: How to Control your thoughts.
Image by 3amfromkyoto