There are lots of ways to be healthy, so why meditate? Meditating is hard and just for yogis, right? What are the proven health benefits of meditation? Like many people, I asked these same questions myself and even viewed the practice with suspicion due to my religious upbringing.
Research has validated the benefits of meditation on health and well-being. It is a holistic practice that helps you relax and enjoy calm focus. Some types of meditation are challenging and take years to master. Other styles, like mindfulness meditation, contemplation, and reflection are easy and enjoyable even for a total novice with a short attention span.
Meditation benefits health and well-being in several important ways.
The answer to the why meditate question goes beyond the benefits to physical and mental health. It makes you a more conscious, connected, caring person.
Brain scans of advanced meditators show the front of the brain, the concentration and attention areas, were quite active. The parietal lobe, responsible for orienting us in space and time, was less active than normal. With sensory and cognitive input blocked, we lose the sense of space and time and open to the experience of interconnection and oneness of all.
Spiritual masters have life-long meditation practices t raise spiritual consciousness and access the superconscious or universal mind. At this level, information from your higher self and the field is accessible. You experience a sense of oneness and peace with all that is.
The satori experience is common and highly desirable to those who meditate deeply. It is a sudden realization that there is no separate you. Up down, inside outside, good and evil are all in relationship to another and are imposed on reality. These concepts help us orient in this reality.
Buddha included meditation as one of the six perfections required for one to attain the state of enlightenment. Meditating and concentrating on a single point slows mental activity, making it possible for one to enter samadhi, the state of consciousness beyond waking, dreaming or deep sleep. In Buddhism, mindfulness and concentration are considered fundamental to proper living and usually are cultivated through meditation, chanting and prayer.
Cultivating the Witness or Observer is another benefit of meditation. As you observe yourself with your awareness, you realize you are not your thoughts and emotions, and they are not you. You become the observer of your thinking and doing, as you would observe others. This is actually a relaxing and enjoyable state of mind. As you practice, you will notice you naturally begin to observe yourself at other times, too. You will become more aware about your thoughts and actions.
On an energetic level, spirit and soul meditations are practiced for everything from balancing and aligning the chakra energy centers to developing intuition to healing and growing spiritually.
Why meditate? Whether you practice for the health benefits of meditation or for personal development and spiritual growth, you will reap rewards in each area. Meditation benefits you by helping you relax, heal, center and focus. When you allow yourself to experience the practice without expectations and "shoulds", you will find it easier and more enjoyable.
If you shy away from meditation because it's difficult to relax and quiet your monkey mind, just gently guide your mind back to the emptiness or your point of focus without judgment and upset. Essential oils can help you relax and focus. Diffuse lavender essential oil for its soothing qualities and powerful ability to promote a sense of relaxation and calm. The citrus scent of lemon or the fresh scent of rosemary promotes clarity and focus. Doing a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing also quiets the mind and gets it ready to meditate.
page updated 06/2019
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