Meditation is an intensely personal and spiritual experience. The desired purpose of each meditation technique is to channel our awareness into a more positive direction by totally transforming one's state of mind. To meditate is to turn inwards, to concentrate on the inner self.
The entire process of meditation usually entails the three stages of concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana) and enlightenment or absorption (samadhi). The individual preparing to meditate usually starts off by harnessing his awareness, such as focussing his mind onto a certain object. Once attention gets engaged, concentration turns into meditation or dhyana and through continuous meditation, the meditator merges with the object of concentration, which might either be the present moment or the Divine Entity.
In some branches of Indian philosopohy, direct perception from the inner self (mana) together with perception that is filtered through the five senses (pancha indriya) form a part of their valid epistemology (pratyaksha jnana). and this self-realization or self-awareness (as popularized by Paramahansa Yogananda), is nothing but the knowledge of the "pure being"-the Self.
Humanity is increasingly turning towards various meditative techniques in order to cope with the increasing stress of modern-day lifestyles. Unable to locate stability in the outside world, people have directed their gaze inwards in a bid to attain peace of mind. Modern psychotherapists have begun to discover various therapeutic benefits of meditation practices.
The state of relaxation and the altered state of consciousness-both induced by meditation-are especially effective in psychotherapy. But more than anything else, meditation is being used as a personal growth device these days-for inculcating a more positive attitude towards life at large. Meditation is not necessarily a religious practice, but because of its spiritual element it forms an integral part of most religions and even though the basic objective of most meditation styles remain the same and are performed in a state of inner and outer stillness, they all vary according to the specific religious framework within which they are placed.
Preparation, posture, length of period of meditation, particular verbal or visual elements-all contribute to the various forms of meditation. Some of the more popular methods are, Transcendental Meditation, yoga nidra, vipassana and mindfulness meditation.
Six Types Of Meditation
1. Breath watching meditation.
2. An empty mind meditation.
3. Walking meditations.
4. Mindfulness meditation.
5. Simple mantra meditation.
6. Meditating on a concept.
There are many other meditations you can try, such as the "meditation on loving-kindness" or "object" meditation, and even meditating using brain wave entrainment products. Each type has its own advantages and effects. For this reason, you may find that at different times and for different purposes you want to use several different types of meditation.
Benefits of Meditation
There are so many advantages to meditation. When I first originally thought of this post, I indeed wanted to make it 100 benefits long (think big right!), however, I wasn't sure I could find more than perhaps 20-25 benefits. Well, I made it happen! Meditation is as powerful as I thought it would be. Here is the definitive list of benefits that meditation can provide you with:
Physiological Benefits of Meditation
1- It lowers oxygen consumption.
2- It decreases respiratory rate.
3- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
4- Increases exercise tolerance.
5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
6- Good for people with high blood pressure.
7- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
8- Decreases muscle tension.
9- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis etc.
10- Reduces Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms.
11- Helps in post-operative healing.
12- Enhances the immune system.
13- Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress.
14- Enhances energy, strength and vigour.
15- Helps with weight loss.
16- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage.
17- Higher skin resistance.
18- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
19- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
20- Decreases the aging process.
21- Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone)
22- prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases.
23- Makes you sweat less.
24- Cure headaches & migraines.
25- Greater Orderliness of Brain Functioning.
26- Reduced Need for Medical Care.
27- Less energy wasted.
28- More inclined to sports, activities.
29- Significant relief from asthma.
30- improved performance in athletic events.
31- Normalizes to your ideal weight.
32- harmonizes our endocrine system.
33- relaxes our nervous system.
34- produce lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity.
35- Cure infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation).
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
36- Builds self-confidence.
37- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behaviour.
38- Resolve phobias & fears
39- Helps control own thoughts
40- Helps with focus & concentration
41- Increase creativity
42- Increased brain wave coherence.
43- Improved learning ability and memory.
44- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
45- Increased emotional stability.
46- improved relationships
47- Mind ages at slower rate
48- Easier to remove bad habits
49- Develops intuition
50- Increased Productivity
51- Improved relations at home & at work
52- Able to see the larger picture in a given situation
53- Helps ignore petty issues
54- Increased ability to solve complex problems
55- Purifies your character
56- Develop will power
57- greater communication between the two brain hemispheres
58- react more quickly and more effectively to a stressful event.
59- increases one's perceptual ability and motor performance
60- higher intelligence growth rate
61- Increased job satisfaction
62- increase in the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones
63- decrease in potential mental illness
64- Better, more sociable behaviour
65- Less aggressiveness
66- Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction
67- Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills & pharmaceuticals
68- Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation
69- Require less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
70- Increases sense of responsibility
71- Reduces road rage
72- Decrease in restless thinking
73- Decreased tendency to worry
74- Increases listening skills and empathy
75- Helps make more accurate judgements
76- Greater tolerance
77- Gives composure to act in considered & constructive ways
78- Grows a stable, more balanced personality
79- Develops emotional maturity
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
80- Helps keep things in perspective
81- Provides peace of mind, happiness
82- Helps you discover your purpose
83- Increased self-actualization.
84- Increased compassion
85- Growing wisdom
86- Deeper understanding of yourself and others
87- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony
88- Deeper Level of spiritual relaxation
89- Increased acceptance of oneself
90- helps learn forgiveness
91- Changes attitude toward life
92- Creates a deeper relationship with your God
93- Attain enlightenment
94- greater inner-directedness
95- Helps living in the present moment
96- Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love
97- Discovery of the power and consciousness beyond the ego
98- Experience an inner sense of "Assurance or Knowingness"
99- Experience a sense of "Oneness"
100- Increases the synchronicity in your life
Meditation is also completely FREE!!! It requires no special equipment and is not complicated to learn. It can be practiced anywhere, at any given moment, and it is not time consuming (15-20 min. per day is good).
Best of all, meditation has NO negative side effects. Bottom line, there is nothing but positive to be gained from it! With such a huge list of benefits, the question you should ask yourself is, "why am I not meditating yet?"