Now that you understand what meditation is and a little about its history, you may be wondering why you should meditate.
The fact is, people meditate for different reasons. There may be as many reasons as there are people, but for the most part these reasons can be separated into two distinct categories: stress reduction/health benefits and spiritual connection.
Since both of those topics are fairly extensive, this article will give a general overview of the two categories. I’ll be covering meditation for health and stress reduction in a separate post and will also be writing more about meditation and spirituality.
To begin, let’s briefly review the health benefits of meditation.
The benefits of meditation on human physiology are profound. What’s even better is that they are backed by volumes of solid scientific research.
Stress reduction is one of the most significant physical benefits of meditation. As you may be aware, stress is at the core of many, if not all, of the major illnesses in our society today.
Just the act of living in western society (and in so many other parts of the planet) is stressful. Given the current state of the world when it comes to economics, politics, and so many other things, it has becoming challenging for many of us just to survive. Stress is at an all time high.
The mechanics of stress are interesting. When we get stressed about anything, we enter what’s called the “fight or flight” state. A number of physiological changes occur, all of which are designed to protect us from imminent physical harm. As you can imagine, in modern society our stressors rarely come from a physical threat. However, fight or flight still kicks in, even if the stress comes from a simple traffic jam.
When it occurs multiple times day after day or for extended periods of time, the fight or flight response can actually damage our health. Meditation has been scientifically proven to counteract all of that damage. This one reason alone is cause enough for EVERYONE to take up a meditation practice.
Another benefit of meditation is the rest is provides the body and mind. Meditation brings the physical body a very deep state of rest, deeper even than sleep. Scientific studies have shown that the body gains a deeper, more significant rest from 30 minutes of meditation than it does from 30 minutes of sleep. A deep rest is an essential aspect of recovery and rejuvenation, which is something we all need.
Improved sleep is another scientifically proven benefit of meditation. In our sleep deprived, insomniac society, this benefit alone makes it worthwhile to consider beginning a meditation practice. Add it to the stress reduction factor and you’ll begin to see the deep and lasting benefits a daily meditation practice can bring to your life.
Since meditation is the process of gradually quieting down the mind, regular meditators report an improved overall sense of wellbeing. They also find that they are calmer, less reactionary, and more clear-headed. Over time, meditation helps the mind quiet down, which in turn helps the body relax.
Why does meditation benefit the physical body so much? Though I’m not a scientist, I’d guess it has a lot to do with the deep rest experienced during meditation. A build up of stress in your body inhibits the free flow of information through your system. The more stress your accumulate, the less efficient your mind and body become.
As we’ve discussed, not all of the benefits of meditation are purely physical. I am a believer in holistic health, which means whole person health: mind, body, and spirit. I know of no better way to bring all three of these aspects together than meditation.
Here’s how that works:
When you meditate, your physical body participates by going into a more relaxed state. You focus on quieting your mind in this process, even though you don’t resist or try to control your thoughts. When your mind quiets to the point where you have no thoughts, even though this experience may last only a fraction of a second, you have slipped into the “gap.”
The gap is where your spirit resides. It is the true you, the place of pure consciousness. Contacting this part of yourself will bring all sorts of benefits into your everyday life. You might experience stronger intuition, greater happiness, a more relaxed feeling, and you might even notice that your desires are being fulfilled more easily.
If you think about it, meditation truly is bringing the mind, body, and spirit together like no other practice can. This is where the spiritual benefits of meditation begin to kick in.
We spend most of our lives looking outside of ourselves for happiness, fulfillment, and approval. Through meditation, we turn our attention within to rediscover our self, which is the source of all creativity, peace, and joy. In other words, meditation allows you to reconnect with the perfection that’s already inside you and then bring it back into your daily life. This is true connection with spirit.
As we’ve discussed, you’ll reap physical and mental benefits with a regular meditation practice, and through regular contact with your higher self during meditation, you will begin to experience it’s qualities of silence and infinite possibilities in your life. Meditation is an unequaled technique for enriching all aspects of your daily life.
When will you start to see the benefits of meditation? It really depends on you. Everyone is different. Changes will happen naturally in a way that is most comfortable for you. Some people will notice changes immediately. For others, it may take longer. Sometimes it may be your friends or family who first notice the changes in you. However, as long as you are meditating regularly, the benefits will grow little by little every day.
Who can benefit from meditation?
After reading this post, I hope you see that the answer is simple: everyone.