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Why Meditation?

A foundational practise

LakshmiMost people understand that activities go better with some planning and while some things that occur spontaneously can be brilliant, some can go horribly wrong.

Whatever we do, we want to be successful but sometimes the best planning and our most sincere actions don’t always result in success. But if we look at some of the people who meditate, they range from executives within the world’s most successful companies to ordinary people who want to achieve the best out of life.

Many meditators say that meditation is actually instinctive and this is borne out by the fact that usually before we commence any new activity, we take a moment to ensure that we will at least survive the action were about to undertake.

In life, meditation can be as simple as a reflective moment to coordinate body and mind for an activity. But we also have moments where we naturally transcend from thinking about the pros and cons of a situation into a deeper contemplation. Contemplation is not meditation but it is a step in that direction.

Meditation can happen spontaneously while we are doing simple things like washing the dishes or observing nature. Yet meditation is something that cannot be forced so really, what is meditation?

It is perhaps best described as a relaxation of the mind to the point where our day-to-day thinking mind completely stops and has some time out to regenerate itself. In this sense, it could be likened to restarting your computer when it is not functioning correctly.

Medical scientists who enjoy studying brain function like to connect people meditating to electronic monitoring equipment so they can observe what happens in the minds of those meditators. In some meditators, the brain goes into a sleep like state or brain function retreats to a small place within the brain, but with some meditators brain activity ceases altogether that witnesses find rather alarming.

Medical scientists conclude that meditation reduces brain activity and they also agree that people who meditate regularly are smarter and have greater cognitive ability than people who don’t meditate.

There is a great deal of publicly available literature about this that can be found online but another aspect of meditation is that people who meditate tend to be healthier than those who don’t.

Typically we want to control our lives and make things happen away we want them. This sometimes puts us at odds with our fellow man if you have wanted to achieve a specific goal that not everyone agreed with. Struggling against adversity can cause headaches and a host of other physiological problems including cancers.

Everyone experiences stress factors and everyone handles them differently. Some people blame their stress on others, some people blame their stress on their own incapacity but people who meditate are less affected by stress factors because the process of meditation helps to ground and balance their psyche or mind.

For many people who suffer from anxiety, the idea of meditation is like a double-edged sword. They fear letting go of their thoughts in the same moment they find their mental condition almost intolerable.

Meditation is not about losing anything and some sceptics even claim that by relaxing to a point where the mind ceases to function could be life threatening. This has never happened because the bodies autonomic nervous system maintains normal functions like breathing and circulation. In fact it is common amongst people who have the freedom to do a lot of meditation that they can actually sit comfortably for several days.

In all the literature concerning the mystics of all religions and the yogis of India, there are many tales of miraculous feats performed by people who are adept meditators. Alexandra David-Neal, first European woman to visit Tibet wrote about witnessing people meditating and being able to levitate their bodies. There are stories of famous yogis being in two places simultaneously.

But the overwhelming testimony from people who meditate is that it helps them to feel calmer, it helps them to make better decisions in life and cope with all the stress factors without succumbing to anxiety and distress.

The primary reason that people turn to the practice of meditation is to gain some relief and time out from the turmoil of life. But the primary benefits are reduced stress, improved health and clarity about life.

If you would like your life to flow more comfortably, if you would like to clarify your dreams and desires, if you would like to reduce your suffering then meditation is something you should want as a part of your life.

You don’t need anything special to meditate, all you need is to sit comfortably for a few minutes preferably at the same time every day. Meditation does not require any belief and even though religious people may meditate, meditation is not the domain of any religion.  Learn how to meditate.

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