Meditation – What Is It?
There are many things in life that are beyond our control. It is, however, possible to take responsibility for and to change your state of mind. And some people feel that controlling your state of mind is the most important thing you can do.
Buddhists teach that meditation is the only real antidote to the anxiety, hatred, discontentedness, sleepiness, anger, lethargy, unforgivingness, confusion and more that people find so demanding in their lives.It is a way of transforming the mind.
The Buddhists practice meditation by using techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, and emotional positivity. By starting a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of the mind, and meditation will offer a way to cultivate new, more positive ways of being and behaving. With discipline and patience these calm and focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly tranquil and energised states of mind. And these experiences can transform a person hugely so the can lead a life with new understandings.
Meditation Brings Wisdom
“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom” says Buddah.
Whenever you do something with awareness you are meditating. Watching your breath or listening to the birds is meditation as long as you are concentrating solely on these activities and your mind has no other distractions.
Meditation is a way of life, not just something you do now and again, although this is better than not at all 🙂 And meditation means that you stop your thinking and mind chatter. It is a state of consciousness when the mind if free of scattered thoughts and ideas and patterns. You can watch yourself and while you observe yourself you realise that all the acivities of the mind boil down to one activity.
A Tibetan Lama was being monitored on a brain scan machine by a scientist wishing to test physiological functions during deep meditation.
The scientist said – “Very good Sir. The machine shows that you are able to go very deep in brain relaxation, and that validates your meditation”
“No” said the Lama, This (pointing to his brain) validates the machine!”
These days meditation is commonly understood to have something to do with spiritual practices and experiencing God by sitting with closed eyes, emptying the mind and attaining inner peace. However, it can be confusing when people talk of their garden being meditation, or jogging, art or music being meditation.
In the same way people today have been scared off from meditation by it being a way of connecting to God and it has been made to look very difficult to do. It was considered something that modern man had no use for. Nevertheless, it has become popular, even fashionable in today’s society.
Traditionally, the classical yoga texts teach several stages that you have to go through to reach the optimism in meditation. After the necessary preparation of personal and social code, physical position, breath control, and relaxation come the more advanced stages of concentration, contemplation, and then ultimately absorption.
Luckily, this does not mean you have to be perfect at each stage before you can progress to the next. The integral yoga approach would be simultaneous application of a little of all the stages together.
It is difficult to interpret what people mean when they talk of meditation as they can mean one or all of these stages. Some schools teach relaxation. Others teach concentration. While still others teach free form contemplative activities like just sitting and awaiting absorption.
Some call it meditation and give no hint of yoga or Buddha for fear of being branded “eastern”. However, yoga is not eastern or western. Really it is universal in its approach and application.
Using a balanced series of techniques and practicing often you can free up the energy of the mind and body and expand the quality of your consciousness. This claim has been investigated scientifically now and is proving to be an empirical fact. Published scientific and medical evidence has proved its benefits, but there is still a lot about meditation that needs to be understood.
Image by Moyan_Brenn BE_BACK_IN_SEPTEMBER on Flickr
Meditation – Its Benefits
There are claims that meditation enriches the soul and brings you to supreme bliss or enlightenment. This, however, will be difficult to understand for most people.
Still, progress towards meditation and meditative techniques have several benefits at the gross body or material level. And this is something concrete that most will understand.
Improvement of body luster and general health
When you let you mind focus on a specific part of you body, the blood flowing there will increase, the cells will get more oxygen and nutrients.
Improvement in concentration.
Studies have found that there is a direct correlation between concentration exercises, like meditation, and how sports professionals can improve their levels of performance.
Meditation strengthens the mind,
The mind comes under control and is able to provide effective guidance to the physical body to effectively execute all its projects. Psychological Exercises are a powerful way of improving concentration and improving mental strength.
Health Benefits Of Meditation
Although meditation has been used mostly for spiritual gains and practice it has been found to have many healthy benefits. Meditation techniques are being used in management of life threatening diseases, reversal of mental illnesses, accelerated learning programs, in managing lifestyle and much more.
Increases blood flow
Slows the heart
Lowers oxygen consumption
Decreases respiratory rate
Increases exercise tolerance in patients with heart problems
Lowers blood pressure and normalises it
Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering levels of blood lactate
Decreases muscle tension
Decreases headache attacks
Increases serotonin production which helps depression, obesity, insomnia and headache suffers
Helps chronic diseases like allergies and arthritis
Reduces pre-menstral syndrome
Assists in post-operative healing
Enhances the immune system
Increased activity in natural-killer cells, which kills bacteria, cancer cells
Refuses activity of viruses
Can help to resolve deep neurosis, fears, etc
Improves self confidence
Help give yourself identity
Can help put mothers in tune with their babies
After having a baby meditation can give the new mum time to refocus and make sense of the new feelings, etc of becoming a mother