In the past few years, meditating has gone from something talked about only by ‘alternative lifestyle’ proponents to a very mainstream activity, like yoga and healthy eating. The benefits of meditation have become available to the mainstream, and many millions of people are more relaxed and centred because of this. Meditation itself has never gone anywhere, of course, but the information and practice is so widely available now that even businessmen and grandmothers are getting involved.
No longer the domain of eastern mystics or enlightened yogis alone, meditation is becoming a household practice, literally. Easy to learn, meditation requires no special accessories or equipment, involves no trainers or classes (although some introductory training or group meditations can be beneficial until you learn to relax your mind), and can be done just about anywhere. Once you learn how your own mind relaxes itself, you will be able to take a mental break by meditating anytime, anywhere.
The benefits of meditation depend greatly on who is doing it, what type of meditation they are performing as well as for how long and in what environment. For instance, you could be listening to a quick-break guided meditation on the commute home from work, or entering deep relaxation at sunrise in a silent, holistic environment, and your experience will be quite different. All this aside, of course there are some universal benefits of meditation that all practitioners swear by, and these include:
Without a doubt, learning to control the chatter in our heads and slow down both our minds and bodies on a regular basis leads to relaxation. Both during the meditation itself as well as throughout the day, the practice of meditating leads to a feeling of deep relaxation which is most welcome amid the hectic pace of most lives.
Peace of mind
Like relaxation but different, peace of mind is a state of being, where things bother you less because you are at peace with yourself and your life. Meditation, when practiced regularly, brings a state of deep calm which affects personal interactions and decision-making; the results can be astounding.
Because of the increase in feeling centred and calm, you may find that you are better able to cope with stress, surprises and challenges. Calmness can lead to being less ‘close to the edge,’ which so many people feel these days. Meditation is a fantastic antidote for our super-stressful lives, bringing a sense of balance you may have thought you’d never regain.
From a happier and refreshed perspective, you will find yourself dealing with everyday irritants and people pushing your ‘buttons’ in a different way. Your level of patience will increase, and you will likely find yourself more tolerant and understanding, which will lead to more peaceful and productive relationships, both personal and professional.
Clarity of thoughts
It’s simple – you will be gaining increasing skill in calming the chatter in your mind and the voice which runs rampant in your head. A nice result of this increasing skill is that your thoughts will become more organized and meaningful, and the meaningless chatter gets under control.
You can use your clarity of thought while meditating to focus on some goal or goals you’d like to achieve, visualizing what it will be like to have accomplished your desire, and being open to receiving inspiration or direction as to how to proceed.*
While this is difficult to document, the reasons for these claims seem to be twofold. First, by balancing our energies and focusing on activities which make us feel great, we are attracting better health and may be assisting our bodies in healing any imbalances and illness. Secondly, simply by virtue of thinking in more healthy ways, practicing meditation naturally helps us to make healthier choices in our daily lives, such as eating better and getting rid of bad habits.
These are just some of the benefits of meditation. If you ask around or do a search you’ll no doubt come up with more. However, the best way to discover the benefits of meditation is to begin to try it yourself. Enjoy!
*TIP: Some find that a great way to begin meditating is to enjoy guided meditations, where a soothing voice will lead you to relaxation and help you learn how to control your scattered thoughts. Many will even help you focus on some personal goals, and can be a valuable tool for those seeking a variety of results.
Article by SM Arthurs