The practice has been around for longer than most traditions, languages, and lifestyles in existence today. Nevertheless, it has only been recently that traditional western scientific studies have added clout to the argument for regular meditative practices in the pursuit of better mental and physical health.
Meditation is no longer just a hippie or yogi practice for those seeking bigger answers to life and the universe. Meditation and mindfulness are a mental discipline that can allow for the discovery of a whole new way of interfacing with the most powerful tool in the universe and one that is in high-value today, the human mind.
As opposed to the conventional operational mode of exterior focus and mental effort, meditation allows the mind to operate on a variety of other operational platforms. Some of the various meditative states include concentration meditations that pull the awareness from exterior objects to the present state of the mind, the beating of the heart, or the action of inhaling and exhaling.
Many studies have also been made on Transcendental Meditation which revolves around bringing the focus on a simple mantra that increases the awareness and plays an important role in the path to awakenings.
Then there are meditation styles that apply concepts of “Zen”— a very complex term that can be better understood through practice and study of Zen concepts, such as physical activities like Tai Chi, Qigong, Kyudo (Japanese archery) and a variety of other martial arts. Simple walking meditation involves moving slowly and resting the awareness on the rise and fall of breathing and the motion of the body.
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The goals of all these practices share a single point, shifting the mind from the efforts and demands of the past and future and other external pleasures, terrors, and distractions to the essential self and present moment. This allows for a very different perspective with unfathomable implications, at the very least a decent set of scientifically proven benefits.1
A Variety of Professionals that Find Meditation Critical to their Success
When it comes down to the way humans exist and operate in their environment, there is one simple tool at play, the mind. Success and failure and the capacity to make the most of either human condition have always been a matter of mind over matter.
The capacity to properly interface with the mind and bring better balance to the body when external conditions are most unpleasant makes the difference between finding a way to exist optimally and not. Taking the time to regularly interface with the mind and understand its wide variety of functions will allow you to get the best use from it.
It may interest you to know that some of the most accomplished personalities in the cultural, financial, and technological scene have relied greatly on meditation and its many benefits. Sir Paul McCartney was introduced to meditation when the Beatles visited India in 1968. Since his introduction to the practice from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Paul McCartney has practiced meditation regularly for 50 years.
The late techno-genius, Steve Jobs was also a meditator and financial magnate, Rupert Murdoch has also endorsed the practice especially for their stress-relieving capacities. Clint Eastwood, Katy Perry, and Oprah Winfrey also practice this mentally beneficial cultivation.
But, Why Would I Want to Practice Meditation?
Okay, maybe you aren’t fighting off adoring fans or plotting to outsell Microsoft in the next sector, but that doesn’t mean that the benefits of meditation aren’t for you. The benefits of regular meditation have implications for maintaining good physical and mental health, through a closer awareness of the body, the mind, and its conditions.
The modern human operates in a completely new environment, to which our biological evolution is still adapting. The best way to ensure improved health and mental stability would be through taking the time to fully understand the marvelous meat-machine through a few moments of quiet introspection.
Meditation for Balancing the Mind
Stress and anxiety are a larger health concern that they have ever been before. New terms to describe the variety of individual conditions arise in these categories every day. If these negative feelings and emotions are not processed properly, their negative effects are cumulative. It is quite possible to carry around the stress and tension from situations long past, but the mind is an efficient machine and will keep you updated with these latent concerns.
Many studies have proven the efficacy of meditation for counteracting conditions of depression and stress. Stress is most often experienced by the sympathetic nervous activity which causes sweaty hands, hot flashes, increased breathing and the preparation to fight off an attack or escape with your life. Thus, the phrase “fight or flight “response, which can be detrimental to proper digestion and immune function if prolonged.
Meditation works to boost parasympathetic activity which is designed to help the body to relax, prepare for digestion and the propagation of the species. Called the “feed and breed” response, parasympathetic activity works to balance the body again and improve its immunity to disease and relief for chronic pains.2,3
Meditation for Optimal Physical Function
Today professional pursuits are handed out freely to those with the most optimal function and precision skills to empower industry and enterprise. Building cognitive function will allow for an immense grasp of facts and smooth process of applying knowledge to issues you face in life.4,5
Meditation also improves physical performance on an athletic scale. The techniques of meditation allow better control of pain and discomfort associated with endurance and strength training allowing you to get more from each effort. The applied breathing techniques can also maximize the energy conversion in the muscles making them capable of improved performance. Yes, meditation can make you physically stronger!6
Furthermore, mediation can help to ward off headaches, balance sleep patterns, and by reducing stress, improve digestion and help the body metabolize energy better. Another study showed that women who practice meditation enjoy heightened arousal and sexual desire.7,8
Meditation for Emotional Benefits
Tempering the temper is no small task but taking a firm control and deeper understanding of the emotions is another benefit from meditation. Studies have shown that meditation improves levels of happiness, increases empathy and helps the individual build better relationships with the people in their life.9,10
What to Expect from Meditation
Taking the time to set the mind in a different gear and build awareness is a task that requires commitment and dedication to something that seems very simple. Nevertheless, there is a learning curve associated with this practice and taking the time to make your daily practice as easy and conducive to awareness as possible will bring about the best results.
In addition to a quiet location and relaxing atmosphere, the use of aromatics can have profound effects on grounding the emotions and centering the mind. Essential oils provide many health benefits and can be a great support to a beginner looking to calm the mind and balance the body.
After this, the practice is entirely intuitive and becomes much easier through regular application.