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How to Meditate - Part 2: Why Meditate?
Meditation has many benefits for mind, body and spirit. While much of the evidence is anecdotal, more and more scientific and medical research is proving that meditation does good things for us individually and as a society.
As I stated in my first blog on How to Meditate, meditation helps to reduce stress, improve health (reducing stress improves health), and over all has a positive effect on one's well being. People who regularly meditate report a greater sense of calmness in their everyday lives. They are less reactive to daily stresses and tend to feel less overwhelmed when problems arise. You can read more about these effects of meditation in this article on the Mayo Clinic Website.
While meditation does not have its origin in stress reduction, relaxation, or any medical field, it is becoming a popular technique for promoting a healthy lifestyle in many hospital and clinic settings. At Sage Meditation we have helped chaplains at several prisons, therapists at alcohol and other drug addiction treatment centers, and researchers at the University of Wisconsin studying the use of meditation in smoking cessation programs to acquire meditation cushions for their clients. The results of this research are encouraging, though regular meditation practice is essential.
But, meditation was first used as part of spiritual practice among monks. Calming the mind, it is believed, allows us to hear God, the Universe, or our Inner Being. However we label this experience, meditation takes us to a state of consciousness that allows us to experience something "different" from our day-to-day thoughts.
Some may describe this in charismatic or mystical ways:
- Out of body experience
- Expansion of the mind beyond the physical realm
These are just descriptions of what people sense when they reach a deeper level of meditation. Not everyone has these sensations, though everyone benefits from regular meditation. If you are practicing meditation, you must remember that it is beneficial in subtle ways even if you don't think it's "working". Just keep practicing and, one day, you will realize that changes have occurred.
My final thoughts on why we should meditate come from this article on The Chopra Centered Lifestyle website. This article presents a rather exhaustive list of the benefits of meditation including:
- Healing Benefits - lowered blood pressure and cholesterol
- Reduced Stress and Burnout
- Enhanced Concentration and Memory
- More Harmonious and Loving Relationships
- Improved Creativity and Problem-Solving
- Decreased Depression, Anxiety, and Insomnia
I strongly feel that the benefits of a regular meditation practice could serve to change the world. And, for this reason, I believe everyone should meditate. Meditation takes more effort than popping a pill, but its effects are longer lasting and meditation will not simply mask over the problems in our lives. I believe it is a real solution to world problems.
In the next article on How to Meditate, I will get into some techniques for practicing meditation.
Thank you for reading,
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