Why Meditate HOW TO MEDITATE benefits Learn Forms of Meditation
Reasons Why You Should Meditate
1. Gain Inner Peace
How often do you clean and tidy your room? When you don’t housekeep your room for an extended period of time, there will be so much dirt accumulated that it becomes an unpleasant place to live in. The air you breathe in will be unclean. The things will be untidy and disorganized. You can’t get things as productively as before.
Imagine your body as a room. Every day, there is lots of junk that gets piled into ourselves – our mind, body, heart and soul. These junk come in the form of negative thoughts, emotions and energy. They can come from all sorts of different sources – the media, interactions with people, our environment, our work, or even self-generated from within. If you don’t meditate regularly, these junk accumulates over time inside you. You become a living trash container with junk thoughts and emotions. Ever have occasions where thoughts seem to spring out of nowhere in your mind in a time when you do not require them? Occasions where negative memories crop up and you didn’t want them to be emerging? These are all part of the clutter that you should be disposing of, but haven’t.
During meditation, you clear all these junk out of your system, just like you cleaning out your room. You expel the negativity and return it to the earth to be converted into positive energy. In the end, you are no longer bogged down by them. For people who don’t meditate, it takes a longer period of time to remove all the compounded negativity from the past. But just like cleaning a very messy house, all it takes is slightly more time and more effort before all the mess is eventually cleaned out.
After my regular meditations, I have reached a point of absolute calmness in my mind. It made me realize how noisy my previous unmeditated mind was and I was not even aware of it if I hadn’t had this benchmark for comparison. This is a state which you can only experience for yourself after you start meditation. In fact, my mind is so quiet that I’m able to literally ‘hear’ thoughts as and when they come into my mind. This has increased my awareness level of my thoughts, leading to the second benefit – Increase of your self-awareness.
2. Increase Your Self-Awareness
Are you aware of the 60,000 thoughts that are running through your head every day? Do you know what you are thinking of all the time? Do you have times where you are not sure of what you are thinking of or what you want?
Meditation gives you clarity on your thoughts, your inner desires and increased self-awareness. The thoughts include those you actively engage in and those you are not conscious of but are always there. An average unmeditated mind usually picks up only about a few out of thousands of thought strands that float through the mind in an hour. A meditated mind, on the other hand, picks up considerably more.
The more you meditate, the more self-aware you become. You become more conscious of what you think, the way you think, what you feel and what you want. This clarity is important in your decision making processes and in leading your life. Without such clarity, you become easily swayed by different external factors around you.
After I started meditating, I became much clearer of what I want. Instead of specially tuning in for answers to my questions, I become aware of the answers in me. When writing posts on this blog, the amount of time I spend contemplating is lesser. When it comes to making decisions, I can make them in a quick snap because I’m clear about what I want. Meditation has increased my connection with my inner intuition. In fact, it was from following my intuition that I decided not to return to corporate work and embrace my personal development career.
3. Makes You Grounded and Calmer
During meditation, you stop becoming attached to the physical world and you start becoming a third party observer to your reality. You become an observer to the kind of thoughts and feelings that run through you, become an observer to how people act around you. You become an observer to the things in your environment ,stop becoming ruled by your ego and you become more aligned with your higher self.
With that detachment, you become grounded, calmer and more level headed. The gap between the stimulus and your response widens. What do I mean by this? If you have watched Spiderman the Movie (the first one), it’s like the early scene in the canteen where Peter Parker gets into a brawl fight with Mary Jane’s boyfriend. Even with the heated fight going on, everything unwinds in slow motion to Peter. It’s sort of like this whenever I meditate for a few days in a role. For everything happening around me, I find plenty of time to observe, process and assess in my mind, even more so than normal, even though everything is unfolding in real time. It’s really quite interesting.
In the past, there may have been events which result in consciousness lowering behavior where you reacted out of your normal persona. Meditation enables you to deal with these events effectively without having your consciousness lowered. You become able to handle them objectively and in a detached manner without interference from your ego.
4. Makes You Present
This comes about due to your groundedness. When you are grounded, you are more present to your reality. You stop getting caught up by what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. People who are not present are often bogged down by many other things on their mind. They are too busy handling the thoughts in their brain to function in their full capacity in their present moment.
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.
5. Increases Your Consciousness
Meditation is an important tool in living consciously. With meditation, you become more connected with your surroundings, the people around you, the world around you. You become more conscious of the interconnection between everything. With prolonged meditation, you start shedding away the lower levels of consciousness and start vibrating at a higher level of energy. Fear, Anger, Desire, Pride stop having a hold over your thoughts and behaviors. In place of that, you enter into levels of Courage, Neutrality, Willingness and above.
6. Source of Inspiration
Most of us are probably using only about 1% of our brain. This 1% is what’s controllable by our physical selves and our ego. The remaining 99% of our intelligence resides in our subconscious mind. This 99%, and not the 1%, is where the most powerful ideas lie. This is where we get our inspiration, our greatest ideas, our best solutions to problems. The power of our subconscious mind is one which many past leaders have tapped into, such as Thomas Edison, Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Einstein, and many others. People who work in occupations that require a great deal of creativity, such as artists and musicians, are either naturally able to access their subconsciousness or have learned to do it.
Through meditation, we attune ourselves to that 99% which we shut out in our physical life. This is like a secret pass toward instant new ideas and solutions which we couldn’t have generated with our conscious mind. If you have a frustrating dilemma you cannot resolve, or you are looking for new ideas for something you are working on, try meditating on them and see what you get. In fact, I had previously listed meditation as one of the techniques (#24) in my 25 Brainstorming Techniques article. Through constant practice, you will strengthen your connection with your subconscious mind. In no time, you will find the solutions generated by your subconscious mind are often more insightful and better than the ones generated by your conscious mind.
7. Rejuvenates You
The seventh Habit of In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Sharpen The Saw’. To become successful in what you do, you need to constantly sharpen your saw – yourself. To continuously try to chop down trees without taking time out to sharpen your saw makes you highly uneffective. Meditation is one of the avenues where you sharpen your saw.
All of us are essentially made up of energy. We have 7 energy centres, called chakras, where energy flows from. Sometimes, we experience energy blockages due to certain problems in our life, injuries in our body, etc. When you meditate, you clear these energy blockages, clean your chakras and facilitate the flow of energy around you. There are various visualization exercises which enable you to do that. After your meditation, you will find yourself rejuvenated and energized.
A room needs to be cleaned and cleared regularly to be in a conducive state. A computer operating system needs to be defragged regularly to keep it optimal. A table needs to be wiped often to remove the dust and dirt that’s piled on top of it. Likewise, you need to meditate daily to be in your prime condition.
8. Cures Insomnia
One of the key reasons for insomnia is the bombardment of thoughts in your mind which result in anxiety, stress and depression. Meditation clears out the clutter in your mind (see benefit #1), which lets you slip easily into sleep. A few years ago, there was a time when I was suffering from insomnia. After meditating for about 20 minutes, I eased into sleep immediately, much to my surprise. In addition, the meditation also improved my quality of sleep. When you sleep, your mind is sorting out your mental clutter. Meditating before you sleep removes the clutter and sets your mind for a more peaceful rest.
If there is a huge barrage of clutter in your mind, it will take a longer period of meditation to cure your insomnia. Just keep up with the regular meditation and you will find an improvement in your situation.
9. Increases Your Spiritual Connection
The heightened consciousness (#5) from your meditation naturally leads to an increased spiritual attunement and your sixth sense (intuition). You will however experience a stronger connection with your intuition, which is highly beneficial to you in life. Your intuition is what gives you the most insightful and valuable solutions, over your logical mind and ego (see #6).
If you are interested in the psychic phenomena such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, etc, you will find meditation as a great foundational exercise to train those skills. If you aren’t, there is no need to freak out as the likelihood of spontaneous display of psychic skills is nearly zero.
10. Increase Your Fulfillment of Life
All in all, the different benefits of meditation combine to give you an increased fulfillment of life. You gain increased mastery of yourself, become more positive and become rejuvenated. The sharpening of your saw through meditation puts you in the position to get even more out of every day living
For thousands of years people have used meditation to move beyond the mind’s stress-inducing thoughts and emotional upsets into the peace and clarity of present moment awareness. The variety of meditation techniques, traditions, and technologies is nearly infinite, but the essence of meditation is singular: the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness.
These are the ultimate precious gifts of meditation, yet people are initially drawn to meditation for many different reasons. Some begin meditating because of a doctor’s recommendation, seeking the health benefits of lowered blood pressure, stress reduction, and restful sleep. Others come to meditation seeking relief from the fearful, angry, or painful thoughts that constantly flood their mind. Still others come to meditation to find greater self-understanding, to increase their intuitive powers, or to improve their ability to concentrate.
It is accurate to say that the purpose of meditation depends on the meditator – but it is also true that anyone who meditates regularly receives profound benefits on all of these levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
Here are just a few of the benefits
• Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline)
• Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
• Lower cholesterol levels
• More efficient oxygen use by the body
• Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
• Restful sleep
Benefits of Meditation
There are numerous benefits of meditation. It is an essential practice for mental hygiene.
- A calm mind
- Good concentration
- Clarity of perception
- Improvement in communication
- Blossoming of skills and talents
- An unshakeable inner strength
- The ability to connect to an inner source of energy
- Relaxation, rejuvenation, and good luck are all natural results of meditating regularly.
How to meditate
- Choose a clean, distraction-free spot or room in your home, though you can do it sitting in your chair at the office during lunch-hour, too! If it is at home, it is better not to use this space for any other activity.
- Ensure the lighting is soothing and the ventilation sufficient – and the noise-levels under control.
- You can listen to guided meditations, but it is better to start with a group.
- Meditate at the same time every day, so it becomes a sustainable routine. Early morning is an optimal time.
- Don’t overdo it. Start by meditating for 10-15 minutes. Keep a timer
- Shut up – the cellphone. Tell your family you are on Do Not Disturb mode for a short spell of time, till your meditation is over.
And, please, wear comfortable clothes, preferably of natural fabric.
How to Meditate In Simple Steps
The meditation I’m covering here is Still Meditation or Mindfulness Meditation. This is my favorite form of meditation due to its simplicity; it’s possible to do it anywhere, whether at home or when you are commuting.
This should be a private spot free from external disturbances. You should feel safe, at peace and comfortable in it. If you have a bedroom to yourself, it is probably the most appropriate inside your bedroom. After you pick the spot, clean the space around it. Remove any pieces of clutter lying around.
My meditative spot is in front of my bedside table — the table itself serves as a meditative altar with crystals, rocks, flowers and candles. Another favorite spot is on my bed. You can see pictures of it here.
2. Sit in a comfortable position
There are different recommendations on sitting positions, like the lotus position, sitting on a cushion, and so on (Click here for an image example). While there are probably good intentions behind each recommendation, mostly I found they just made the process a hassle, making me not want to meditate at all. Now I just meditate in a cross-legged position (on my bed) or sit on my chair. I look forward to it because it’s so comfortable and easy. You don’t have to specifically sit in a special way just to meditate. Find a position that’s most comfortable for you. Sitting on your chair is fine too. In fact, it’s a good option if you often experience numbness in their feet from sitting cross-legged (I do).
Whatever posture you choose, sit upright to facilitate the flow of energy. I do not recommend lying down (i.e., the sleeping posture) to meditate because it’ll usually induce sleep as opposed to letting you remaining in a state of awareness.
3. Clear your mind
Clear your mind. Loosen yourself up. Take a few deep, slow breaths.
4. Simply sit and observe
Then, just sit back and observe the inner dialogue playing in your mind. Let them float by. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Just observe; don’t engage.
Many people probably think that in meditation, they have to force themselves not to think and block out all their mental thoughts. It is really quite the opposite. You let your mind continue to think, but you don’t engage. You take the role of a passive observer and watch them from the back of your head.
Say for example, if you have a sudden thought that says “I need to buy groceries tomorrow,” observing it means knowing that particular thought is there. If you proceed to react from the thought, such as feeling annoyed that you have to buy groceries, or thinking about what groceries you have to buy or what time to buy them, you are engaging with the thought. Don’t do that. Your desired state in meditation is to observe these thoughts, not engage with them.
One way of detecting when your focus breaks is to count slowly from 1, 2, all the way to 10. Repeat when you reach 10. Each time your focus is deviated, take note of the last number you were reading — this is an indicator of how long you held you focus. Try again, restarting from 1, and try to go beyond the last number this time.
The presence of these thoughts during meditation means they are being cleared. These thoughts have always been present in your mind; you are just not aware since there are so many thoughts screaming for attention inside your head! And now through meditation, they are clearing out, one by one. After repeated meditations, you will gradually reach a new level of mental Zen-like quietness. If you think your mind seems quiet now, try meditating a few days in a row — you’ll notice a new found mental peace.
When I started meditating regularly late last year, I reached a stage where my mind became so peaceful that whenever I had a thought, it would literally “sound” like a “sound.” This liberty from the mental clutter lets me focus even more than before — it is as if all those thoughts were weighing me down in the past, regardless of whether they were positive or negative. It prevented me from fully focusing and living in the present moment.
Meditate for as long as you want, till you feel cleansed, purified, refreshed and good to go. I recommend 30 minutes to start off. If you want to meditate longer, that’s even better. Back when I went for the Vipassana retreat, I underwent almost 100 hours of intense meditation, and processed a lot of latent memories and thoughts I didn’t know were there.
After meditating for a certain period, you will reach a point where your consciousness starts to shift above the physical reality (Alpha, possibly Theta or even Delta state if you are a veteran meditator). When that happens, you become detached from your physical self and become an observer to your physical reality. The longer you meditate, the deeper the state you will be in and the higher the consciousness you will enter.
5. Ending Your Meditation
When you are done with your meditation, slowly ease into the physical state. Start off by being present of the physical reality around you. Next, be aware of your physical body. This can take 15~30 seconds, or however long you need to do this step. Then, very slowly, open your eyes. Get attuned to your surroundings. If you open your eyes immediately and try to resume your physical activities, it might be disjointing and jarring.
Instead of resuming your physical activities immediately, you might want to continue sitting in the meditative spot and reflect upon some of the thoughts, feelings or imagery that arose during your meditation. You may also want to just spend a few minutes expressing gratitude toward the things you enjoy in your life.