What is meditation?
Simply stated, meditation can be seen as a quieting of the mind and a going inward. For many, meditation is a spiritual practice that is done on a daily basis and can be a life-long learning process. Used in many religions as a means of connecting with “God” or your “highest self,” and a tool for reaching “enlightenment,” meditation has also been scientifically proven to have very practical benefits of reducing the symptoms and risks of various physical and psychological problems as well. Whether you call it “meditation,” “prayer,” or “relaxation,” learning to quiet the mind and the body and reconnect with ourselves outside of the normal, chaotic modern daily life, is no longer just a luxury or something that only highly spiritual people do, but a necessity for bringing balance, insight and grounding into one’s life.
Although seemingly “simple,” meditation can be very challenging since modern society does not support or allow for “quiet time” any longer. As a result, our minds have become accustomed to constantly thinking, planning and jumping from events from our past to our future. Being present in the moment, and slowing down our minds, is in fact a highly difficult task. For anyone who has ever tried meditating, the immediate response from the mind is to start chattering and thinking about all sorts of things from what you ate for breakfast, to a conversation you had with a co-worker to the things you need to get done after work. For this reason, many people have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep because their minds are overactive and no longer know how to “shut off” when needed. Over time, this can cause a lot of different problems, emotionally, physically and in ones’ ability to just enjoy life.
Consequently, it is often helpful to have individual or group guidance and support as it can be difficult developing a meditation practice at the beginning and also during times of stress. Consistency with any meditation practice is key along with patience and a willingness to connect with oneself. The most important part of meditation is to just start. By making a commitment to yourself to set aside even 5-10 minutes per day, over time, you will begin to notice a difference in your mental and physical well-being. And the added benefit of this practice is that its positive effects are likely to be seen with your relationships with others whether at home, at work, or in your day to day life, and most importantly, your relationship with yourself.
Still not convinced? Remember that meditation costs nothing and can be done anywhere at any time. It’s a powerful tool that you take with you wherever you go, and once you understand it, it can never be taken away. You don’t need a prescription for it, to spend a lot of money, to buy anything, study extensively, or even leave the comfort of your own home to obtain its benefits. For all of these reasons and more, don’t wait any longer. Give this gift to yourself and your loved ones today. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Happy meditating!
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