“All man’s difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself.” -Blaise Pascal

More and more people are beginning to discover the countless benefits of meditation for health, well being, and peace of mind.  It is not an esoteric practice for the few, but highly relevant to functioning effectively in today’s busy, stressful world.

Meditation is the ultimate form of personal development.  By bringing your mind home and allowing it to settle, you are able to see far more clearly well-worn habits of unproductive thinking and observe less than helpful behaviors and thus effect positive change.

A springboard for overcoming self-centeredness, looking inwardly also unleashes the core of our humanity.  And, with purposeful reflection, the mysteries of the universe are penetrated. One’s full potential for lasting happiness is actualized.  At the same time, all fear of death is put to an end as we come face-to-face with the “unending, deathless nature of mind.”

As if this were not enough, meditation also provides countless benefits for your physical health.

Positive life impacts of meditation

Tibetan Buddhist meditation master Sogyal Rinpoche beautifully describes the positive impacts of meditation in these ways.

1. Through bringing the mind home, all the fragmented aspects of yourself dissolve. The constant sense of inner struggle abates and you become friends with yourself.  You feel whole, centered, and at peace.  This settling of an overactive mind, allows you to see yourself clearly without recrimination and thus act wisely on behalf of yourself and others.  Once mind is at rest like this, you may catch a glimpse of the true sky-like nature of mind—a sense of openness and spaciousness beyond description.

2. Pain, negativity, and suffering naturally diffuses so that any harm is removed from within.  Thus, meditation is a practice of profound peace that pacifies emotional turbulence and aggression, and, as such, is the highest form of “inner disarmament.”  Fundamental forgiveness happens—you are able to forgive yourself and others.

3. Through the regular practice of calm abiding, you begin to feel well in yourself, congruent, at ease, confident, and spacious.  There is a new found joy of simply being as you come more and more in touch with your true self.  All the anxieties, irritations, and past provocations no longer seem so overpowering or important.  You are in charge of your mind instead of being constantly swayed by untoward emotions.

4. With all sense of harm and unkindness dissolved, your fundamental “good heart” is revealed. The artificial barriers between yourself and others melt away and a profound sense of connectedness  arises.  You begin to understand that others are the same as you — they have the same hopes and fears, joys and struggles, pain and suffering.  Just as you care for yourself, you begin to care for others as well. This is the awakening of love and compassion.

5. A clear and profound insight into the nature of reality arises.  The world no longer seems so fixed, solid, and permanent.  An awareness of the interdependence and interconnectedness of all beings and all phenomena comes into play.  This is the awakening of wisdom.

All this is accomplished simply through having the courage to sit quietly by yourself.

Neuroscience confirms the benefits of meditation

Recent research studies conducted by neuroscientists on the brains of seasoned meditators have confirmed that meditation is able to alter the function of the brain in positive ways.   This quality of the brain is called neuroplasticity.  Their results show:

  • A high level of activity in the parts of the brain that help to form positive emotions, such as: happiness, enthusiasm, joy, and self-control;
  • A decreased level of activity in the parts of the brain related to negative emotions like depression, self-centeredness, and a lack of happiness or satisfaction;
  • A calming of the section of the brain that acts as a trigger for fear and anger [the amygdala];
  • The ability to reach a state of inner peace even when facing extremely disturbing circumstances;
  • An unusual capacity for empathy and attunement to emotions in other people.

Meditation benefits your physical health

Regular meditation is also highly beneficial for your physical health according to Life Divine.  Indeed, the countless positive effects are almost astonishing.

  • “It stabilizes the autonomic nervous system.
  • It reduces the heart beat.
  • It reduces the speed of breathing.
  • Blood pressure drops.
  • Cardiovascular effectivity goes up.
  • Breathing effectivity increases.
  • The skin receives more blood.
  • Stomach function and bowel function improve.
  • The endocrine function is heightened.
  • Muscle flexibility increases.
  • The intake of oxygen gets stronger.
  • Mobility and flexibility increase.
  • The hand-eye co-ordination increases.
  • Reaction-speed increases.
  • Body posture is improved.
  • Strength and resistance increase.
  • Stamina increases.
  • There is a heightened energy level and vitality.
  • People’s weight is stabilised at an ordinary level.
  • The ability to sleep increases and the time people need to fall asleep decreases.
  • Pain is weakened.
  • Stability is improved.
  • There is a heightened degree of relaxation.
  • There is a lessened degree of muscle tension.
  • The production of serotenine increases.
  • Menstruation pains are softened.
  • Increases serotonin which influences moods and behavior. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression,       headaches and insomnia.
  • Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
  • Decreases muscle tension (any pain due to tension) and headaches.
  • Helps in post-operative healing.
  • Enhances the immune system.”

On top of all this, meditation is free and can be done anywhere, anytime!

Getting started

Some ideas for getting started:

1. You can learn more about meditation by watching one of the two videos below.

2. Try out this three-minute exercise in non-meditation.

3. Take a look at my favorite books on meditation.

4. See how people are learning to use their innate resources and abilities to respond more effectively to stress, pain, and illness at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society.

With all these astonishing benefits, how can you resist the lure of meditation!

Do you meditate?  What benefits have your experienced from meditation?

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