The benefits of meditation are many, and we are learning new ones everyday. In general, meditation lowers stress levels, anxiety, and risk of depression. It improves our ability to concentrate and helps stabilize our moods. It even helps us sleep better. Meditation helps us have better lives and sharper minds.
The reason it is being studied as a miracle-worker is because those who meditate on a daily basis are showing some very surprising traits. They tend to visibly age slower, and they show improved memory, intuition and reaction time. Most notably, they are happier than other individuals, no matter what their particular life circumstances are.
Very few regular meditators have a hard time studying, learning or keeping a stable job. In fact, the opposite is true. Those with a regular practice are usually very well-adjusted, resilient and positive. Researchers think this has something to do with the way meditation exercises the mind and limits negative thoughts, fears or worries.
During any form of this practice, the participant is completely relaxed and at rest, yet awake and aware. The brain and body are able to regenerate, and many of the methods used in meditation are intended to turn the thoughts toward positive things, such as universal love, uplifting visualizations, and, finally, bliss. Bliss is a state reached by meditators when the mind slows and relaxes and thoughts disappear. It has actually been measured as an experience by neuroscientists.
The more time each individual spends in a relaxed
state, letting go of stress, the healthier it is for him or her. Stress is very dangerous to humans, both psychologically and physically. Studies show that when human beings experience elevated anxiety levels, they stop digesting food, store more fat around their hearts and are prone to high blood pressure. Stress may indirectly kill more people each year than just about anything else, since it is a major cause of obesity and heart disease.
One of the best ways, aside from adequate exercise, to relieve ourselves of chronic stress, fear and anxiety is to cultivate thoughts and feelings of security and well-being. This is what meditation does. During any form of meditation, when the mind is at rest, the true state is one of utter peace. The more we experience it, the better its effect on us will be.
To get benefits from meditation, it is suggested we meditate for at least 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week. Many avid meditators say it is better to meditate every day, even if only for ten minutes. As it becomes easier and more of a habit, many find they begin to look forward to a meditative session as a way to shrug off the day and prepare for sleep or time with one's family or friends.
Meditation is difficult at first. Our minds are certainly used to running the show and being able to chase any thoughts they choose. This makes them resistant when we first sit on the mat and attempt to silence our thoughts and focus inward, but it becomes easier and easier, and it even turns into a welcome relief from the brain's endless chatter. This is how meditators are able to remain more peaceful and serene than other people; they know how to control their own thoughts and emotions so that those things don't get the better of them.
We can all achieve this. We merely have to take a step in the right direction by signing up for meditation classes, checking out CD's, books, or videos, and then choosing to try meditation for ourselves. Especially if we are currently overworked, don't feel we have time, or struggle with depression, beginning a practice is a must. The sooner we start, the sooner we will experience relief and become happier, healthier people.
Remember, with each session, we repair our minds and bodies, create feelings of peace, bliss and serenity, lower our blood pressure, open our hearts, and find release from the stresses of our daily lives. This means we age slower, live happier, feel better, and have more mental energy to participate in the world. Research shows, through one simple practice, we can become more satisfied, engaged and engaging people. What reason do we have for not listening? Why wouldn't we want to experience this for ourselves?
Interested to learn more about meditation? Download the free
Silva Method guided meditation technique here
Relaxing into Meditation with author Ngakma Nor'dzin
The Call of Sedona ~ Journey of the Heart
Tao Song & Tao Dance by Dr. Zhi Gang Sha
"Meditation: Poetry & Spirit" by Ruby Sara
Image: Jpatokal in April 2004, Creative Commons license.