The practice of meditation is older than recorded history. The wisdom traditions of every culture from around the world have all taught some form of contemplative exercise. And nowadays there is a growing body of scientific evidence of the benefits meditation can have for our well-being.
As a teacher and practitioner of meditation, I would like to share with you some of the ways that meditation has changed my life – and it can change yours too!
- Clarity. Meditation sharpens the senses, and reduces mental clutter and confusion. It enables us to think more clearly, to notice the world around us in greater detail, to really appreciate the touch of the wind or the taste of our food. It helps us to enjoy more of the depth and richness of life.
- Focus. By focusing on our breath, on our posture, on a mantra or a piece of music, we learn the art of concentration. We learn to focus our attention where we choose, without getting distracted. This helps us be productive at work, more attentive in the classroom, and more present in our relationships.
- Creativity. Meditation opens the mind to fresh insights and new ideas. It teaches us to notice our habitual thought patterns, and eventually let go of them. This enables to see new perspectives, new approaches, and new solutions.
- Balance. Many of us tend to be too caught up in our to-do lists, always active, always on the go. We can feel bored or lost without something to do. Meditation teaches us to be still. By setting aside time to relax, to do nothing, to just be, we come back to center. We restore the balance.
- Inner Peace. Meditation teaches us to relax. We learn that worry and fretting accomplishes nothing except making us miserable. The same for anger, guilt, regret, etc. We learn to let go of destructive mental habits, and relax into a state of tranquility and contentment.
- Well-being. Relaxation is good for our health. Many of the most common illnesses and health problems are related to stress hormones that flood the body when we are worried, anxious, and hurrying through life. Meditation teaches us to relax and release all that tension and stress, resulting in lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and overall better health.
- Patience. Meditation teaches us to wait. Instead of expecting instant gratification, we learn to take our time, to appreciate the way things unfold. It frees us from the tyranny of boredom. We learn that we don’t need to be constantly entertained. When we are stuck in traffic or in some waiting room, instead of reaching for our phone and checking into Facebook, it becomes another opportunity to practice.
- Self Control. Meditation teaches us discipline. As we sit quietly, and watch all kinds of thoughts come and go, we learn to observe without reacting. We are no longer pulled this way and that by our every little urge. We notice them, and then decide how to respond, consciously and deliberately.
- Self Discovery. Sitting still, eyes closed, there is nothing to distract you from your thoughts. Nowhere to hide. Watching the wheels of your mind go round, you really get to know yourself and what makes you tick. Much of what makes us who we are – our fears, our longings, our core beliefs – are buried deep in the subconscious. Meditation lets us see what we are normally too busy to notice.
- Compassion. The more we get to know ourselves, and make peace with our inner demons, the more we can be compassionate towards others. So instead of taking things personally, or passing judgment, we can better understand why they do the things they do. Then we are in a position to really offer them whatever help we can. And isn’t that what the world really needs?