Updated: Jan 29, 2019
“You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” ― Dr. Sukhraj Dhillon, Author of Art of Stress-Free Living
Meditation is scientifically proven to positively affect the body and mind. Studies show that repeated meditation practice creates a balance between left and right hemispheres and enhances various parts of the brain responsible for memory, learning abilities, fear and compassion. While spiritual teachers promote meditation as a path to wisdom and self-realization, a way to get home (ॐ) to our true nature - a place of stillness, peace and joy that is always within us. Lets explore some of the benefits of meditation in more detail.
1. Clarity of the mind and better memory
Practicing daily meditation is like wiping the windshield of your mind. Releasing unimportant thoughts that clutter your brain sharpens concentration and makes the mind more clear. As a result, we are able to process and retain information better and make decisions with more ease. By calming the mind, meditation unties mental knots and removes confusion. It helps us to get unstuck.
2. Ability to be more present
Many people overlook the importance of being fully present in the moment. Oftentimes, we do not pay attention to our surroundings or even people we are talking to. Consequently, it can feel like life is passing us by and that we will be living it to the fullest one day, but this, right now, is not it. We are addicted to constantly moving toward some distant happiness, completely discounting the only real moment we have - right NOW. By sitting quietly in meditation, we learn to be in the present moment and accept it as it is. It teaches us to be better at observing, listening, seeing, tasting, feeling and, as a result, enjoying life.
3. Less anxiety, more peace and better sleep
Our world is overwhelming. On top of it, our fight or flight response can get triggered with the thought alone. Being stressed for prolonged periods of time disrupts the balance within the body and is very destructive to our health. Stressful thoughts come from mentally dwelling on the past or the future. Meditation calms the mind and trains us to be in the present moment. It enables us to cultivate peace within ourselves, instead of striving to get it from the outside world. We can learn to sit with our emotions and release them by simply observing our inner state without reacting.
4. Helps to revive creativity Clearing up the mental noise creates space for the deeper parts of our true nature, one of which is creativity. You might feel inspired to start writing, painting or creating music. Some people discover a talent they never knew they had, until they were able to quiet the mind through meditation practice. Many famous artists practice some type of meditation and say that it takes them to a place from which the creation happens by itself and they are merely a medium. One of my favorite examples of this miracle is a famous guitarist Estas Tonne.
5. Helps to connect with your intuition and your true self When we practice meditation, all that is unauthentic within us falls away by itself. The voice of our intuition becomes louder. We begin to realize which are our true desires and beliefs, and which were imposed on us by our families and society. We begin to feel more connected to the rest of the world and see every living being as part of the same life that created ourselves. We begin to see that by harming others, we harm ourselves; and by improving ourselves, we make the world better. We become true to ourselves and start realigning with our true purpose.
6. Health Benefits Meditation relieves tension in the body and mind. It can restore the balance in blood pressure, relieve headaches, chronic pain, irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety and depression, and is even believed to aid in healing cancer. Although, meditation should not be used to replace conventional medical care and people with existing mental conditions should consult with their physician before trying meditation.
S. N. Goenka, a world renowned Burmese-Indian meditation teacher, was once a rich businessman who suffered from severe migraines. He sought treatment from the best doctors all over the world to no avail. Unable to find relief, he decided to participate in a 10-day Vipassana meditation course. Although, skeptical at the beginning, he was cured of the migraines by the end of the course and became a transformed man. Goenka spent the rest of his life spreading Vipassana teaching all over the world. His 10-day retreats are free and available to all people, with and without meditation experience and in all parts of the world.
7. Helps to kick bad habits
With the daily meditation practice we naturally become more peaceful, connected to ourselves and gain a better understanding of our past experiences and traumas. Over time, as the mind becomes more clear, we start seeing our addictions as illusory pain relievers that don't really do anything for us. In fact, we feel the harm they cause to our physical, mental and spiritual state of being. Eventually, toxic habits fall away on their own.
8. Helps to manage anger and cultivate patience Anger is the energy that arises within us in response to a certain event. Eckhart Tolle calls it a "pain body" - an internal energy body that holds our past hurts and occasionally gets triggered. The ego has a natural reaction to defend itself. Consistent meditation practice will train you to notice the feelings and sensations that arise in the body before you react. It will create more space in your mind to decide whether the situation is worth the fight. You can decide by asking yourself a question: will everyone be better off at the end?
Remember, every aggressive energy creates an opposing energy, that is why we have never-ending conflicts in the world. But you have the power in every moment to stop the vicious cycle. Once you notice what is happening inside of you, you can simply make the choice not to react. Take several deep breaths, relax your body and the anger will soon pass.
9. Better relationships with people Meditation makes us conscious of our own behavior. Most people believe that they are acting in a rational way and the problem lies in everyone else’s behavior. Like the eyes that cannot see themselves, we are not able to see the flaws in our own behavior. Meditation trains us to observe our mind and see our own actions. It will make you realize that every person`s behavior has nothing to do with you and everything to do with their past experiences. This will allow to cultivate understanding and compassion. When we work on ourselves, our relationships with other people improve naturally.
10. Helps to become more productive Daily meditation practice clears and sharpens the mind and helps us see our priorities straight. We end up spending less time and energy on overthinking and dwelling, and more on doing. Being better aware of ourselves allows us to notice when our body and mind needs rest and nourishment, which aid sustainable energy level.
11. Cultivates wisdom Meditation teaches us to see things as they really are. It slowly removes the veil of ignorance and allows wisdom to arise. We start seeing the true nature of other people's actions and that anger and blame come from pain. Our compassionate reaction can make a profound change in other people’s perception of life and trigger a positive chain reaction. Meditation helps to let go of our many attachments, which create suffering for ourselves and for others. We start seeing the bigger picture of life and realizing that our energy, our choices and actions affect the world in a big way. We start living in harmony with ourselves and the world.
Now, as Zen masters would say, stop reading and start meditating!
Meditation In Depth | NCCIH
Eight Weeks To A Better Brain | The Harvard gazette
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle
Vipassana Meditation as taught by S. N. Goenka in the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin
10-day Vipassana Meditation Retreats - search by region or by language