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Lesson 3 of 12: Why meditate when most of us do not slow down long enough to examine our own state of mind at a particular time in our lives.
We get angry, for example, and act out in some way, being sarcastic, slamming things, yelling, or even hitting things, sometimes even a living being such as a pet or loved one.
Anger can drive people to extremes one would never imagine of an ordinary person, such as road rage incidents and even murder.
With meditation, you begin to live fully in the present moment. This lets you react better to the situations around you. It includes being more focused, efficient, attentive, and receptive. You maximize every moment of your living life by living in the present moment.
Why Meditate? Because the purpose of meditation is to cultivate a state of mind that creates and maintains a state of peace and well-being and to eliminate those which do not.
Meditation helps calm the mind and allows a person to control the mind so it doesn’t run away. Meditators call an unfocused mind ‘monkey mind’ because it swings all over the place causing all sorts of mischief. The opposite of the monkey mind is mindfulness, that is, mind-full, ‘full of mind,’ being alert and aware, and through this awareness, able to make intelligent decisions.
If you’re going through this training, chances are, you already want to try your hand at meditation. There’s a high probability that you probably already know some, if not all, of the 10 major benefits of meditation.
Just to be sure, if you are still in any way, shape, or form on the fence regarding this practical and all-natural way to relax, here are just the 10 major benefits of meditation. Please note that the actual list of meditation’s benefits is quite long. These are just the most commonly reported benefits.
10 Major Benefits Of Meditation
Why Meditate Benefit #1: It slows down your mind
Part of the reason why people are so stressed out is that they have a thousand things on their minds. They’re just so focused on so many things at the same time that they spread themselves too thin.
They’re not very patient, they don’t have much focus, and it’s very easy for them to drop the ball. It’s very easy for them to spend day after day thinking that they really haven’t done much with their time or the opportunities presented to them.
By learning how to meditate on a practical basis, you slow down your mind. You’re able to focus and appreciate one thing at a time. This is not a step back. In fact, this is a great way of reclaiming your ability to focus and control the many different areas of your life.
Why Meditate Benefit #2: It relaxes your mind
The focus is one thing, relaxation is another. Please understand that these are two totally different things. You can be focused on something that really stresses you out and takes care of the problem. However, once the issue is done, you may still be tightly wound up. You may still be stressed.
Meditation enables you to completely relax your mind. It is a great way of not only taking off stress but also relaxing your mind. You get inner peace, you get serenity.
Why Meditate Benefit #3: It relaxes your body
There’s a tight connection between your body and your mind. The less stressed your mind becomes, the more relaxed your body gets. These two are strongly tied to each other. By working on your mind, you go a long way in relaxing physically.
Why Meditate Benefit #4: You gain perspective
Part of the reason why people are so stressed is that they think that they’re jumping from one emergency to another. They are literally caught in the end-of-the-world every single crisis. It’s as if they’re putting out one fire after another.
Well, it turns out that most, if not all, of the things that you’re stressed out about, are nothing to stress out over. In the big scheme of things, they are really small potatoes. When you adopt a daily or consistent meditation practice, you get to see the big picture. Gaining perspective enables you to achieve some level of inner peace.
Why Meditate Benefit #5: You create distance between your emotions and your perception
One of the most common symptoms of stress is when everything seems to revolve around who you are, your personal value, and your goals in life. In other words, every small disappointment becomes a giant failure. When you don’t agree with somebody else, instead of leaving it at a fairly shallow level, the disagreement becomes really personal. You really have a tough time letting go of your emotions.
Well, when you learn how to meditate, you create distance between your emotions and perceptions. Just because you perceive certain things, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to interpret things in a very emotionally negative way. The more you meditate, the calmer you feel. It doesn’t have to be the end of the world. It doesn’t have to be all about you. Life doesn’t have to involve a tremendous amount of unnecessary drama.
Why Meditate Benefit #6: Your focus increases in power
Where your focus goes, energy flows. Unfortunately, if you’re stressed out, it’s very easy for you to try to focus, but there’s really not much power left. You can’t muster the willpower needed to get stuff done, regardless of how much you think you’ve set your mind to something.
At some level or another, something is tapping your energy. It’s just leaking out of you and you really can’t, for the life of you, focus like a laser. When you learn how to meditate and control your mental processes, your focus grows in strength. You are able to target specific tasks with your willpower. When you do this, you become a more effective and productive person.
Why Meditate Benefit #7: Your focus increases in clarity
Just as focus involves willpower, focus also involves clarity. Things start to make sense. Things fall into place. Unfortunately, if you’re under a lot of pressure, it’s easy to suffer from brain fog. Everything looks the same, everything is fuzzy, and it’s hard for you to tell which is which. You don’t even know what your priority should be or not.
It is no surprise that regardless of how much focus stressed out people try to put on certain tasks, they can’t get anything done. It’s as if they tried to impose their willpower to do certain things, but it turns out that they’re doing the wrong things at the wrong time to produce the wrong results. They end up chasing their tails.
When you meditate, your focus not only grows in strength but also grows in clarity. You start using your values as your filter as to what to focus on. This can have a tremendously positive result on your productivity as well as your sense that you are able to make things happen in your life.
Why Meditate Benefit #8: It lowers your blood pressure
In a research study after research study, scientists have discovered that consistent meditation practice actually lowers blood pressure. This is a big deal because there is a cardiovascular disease epidemic in the United States and other developed nations. As people live more and more sedentary lives, heart-related issues are killing more and more people. If you meditate, you tend to naturally lower your blood pressure, and this can possibly prolong your life.
Why Meditate Benefit #9: It can speed up emotional healing
If you have a tough time forgiving people, by learning how to meditate, you can gain emotional distance from painful or anger-inducing memories. Sooner or later, you are able to see things in perspective, and this puts you in a position to forgive.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that if you meditate, you will automatically forgive people who you feel have done you harm. That will still be your choice. However, when you meditate, you start viewing things in perspective, and it’s more likely that, if you want to, you can forgive and move on. This can go a long way in helping you heal emotionally.
Why Meditate Benefit #10: Can bolster psychological repair
I wish I could tell you that all of us came from ideal childhoods. I wish I could tell you that we all had great pasts and that we’ve always hung out with great people and we’ve always had amazing times. It would be awesome if we all came from nurturing, loving relationships and families.
Unfortunately, that’s not true. There are a lot of us who have suffered psychological wounds and are having a tough time recovering. When you meditate, you tend to gain perspective. This enables you to put yourself in the position to start looking at the past as well as the present consequences of your past with a fresh set of eyes.
If you feel that you’ve been victimized, if you feel that you’ve been harmed in the past, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to continue looking at yourself the same way. Again, just like speeding up emotional healing, meditation only puts you in this position. You still have to choose this benefit. This doesn’t happen automatically.
Keep the 10 benefits above in mind if you’re still hesitating or feeling apprehensive about meditation. While it is a commitment, please keep in mind that, in most cases, its advantages definitely outweigh whatever real or imagined disadvantages people may see with a meditation practice.
VIDEO: Tara Talks: Why Meditate? – Tara Brach
This short video helps provide a simple explanation as to why we should meditate;
how meditation can help us touch great freedom in our lives.
Controlling the mind doesn’t sound like much fun, it’s true, but we are not talking about repressing emotions or zoning out like a zombie. Rather, meditation is a way of observing your own mind to understand it better. so, why meditate? It is actually very liberating once you realize you have choices and options.
If we imagine an ocean of thoughts, the emotions and ideas that appear in our minds are like ripples and waves. They rise and fall naturally. It is only if we choose to follow one, ride the wave, as it were, that that particular thought can have power over us, and through that power to trigger us to act out in unfortunate ways.
For example, if we think a loved one has deliberately forgotten to buy milk for coffee in the morning, our anger may cause us to say nasty things. It can also run away with us mentally to the point where we start inventing an entire ‘story’ in our heads about how they don’t care about us, how selfish they are, how they did it on purpose, and so on, turning a loved one into an enemy.
Why meditate for a better life?
How much better would your life be if you could face any ‘challenge’ with a calm mind, and the understanding that people are only human, and humans forget. That forgetting is not a weapon being used to harm you, it is just a manifestation of a lack of focus and concentration.
That forgetting is a good example of how handy it is to make a list before going to the grocery store. All of these more reasoned contemplations can turn bad to good, and good to wise and considered perspectives.
If we examine our life honestly on the question of why meditate, we will discover that most of our time and energy is spent in a cycle of ordinary activities, work, TV watching, talking on the phone, and so on. Almost all of our daily routine is taking up chasing after material and emotional security, enjoying sensory pleasures, such as eating, drinking, and so on, or establishing a good reputation.
Although these things can make us happy for a short time, they are not able to provide the deep lasting contentment that we long for. Sooner or later our happiness turns into dissatisfaction, and we find ourselves engaged in the pursuit of more things we think will make us happy.
All of this chasing leads to stress and unhappiness. Meditation, on the other hand, teaches us that happiness is not outside of ourselves in ice cream, a gorgeous spouse, or a fancy car. Happiness is a state of mind.
Therefore, the real source of happiness lies in the mind, this is maybe the best reason we should ask, why meditate? We all want happiness in our lives and not just in the external circumstances of living in the world, or what we have, or don’t have.
Whether five minutes or five hours, the quality of time you put into a meditation practice matters. Meditation, therefore, offers a range of mental and emotional health benefits. But there are also physical benefits as well. Let’s look at these in the next lesson.