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Most people think meditation is nothing more than finding a way to calm, relaxed moments.
But that barely scratches the surface of what a session of serious meditation practice looks like. It is excellent to listen to soothing music for 10 minutes and then go about your day as usual. But one must not assume that they are “meditating” without actually giving serious meditative practice a chance.
So, what is meditation?
Meditation is simply observing present bodily sensations, sounds, sights, thoughts, and emotions without judgment. In popular culture, meditation is seen as little more than developing one’s focused attention. To a beginner, the difference between meditation and the normal states of mind may not be clear. Being concentrated is a prerequisite to being a good meditator, but not what it’s all about. There are profound benefits to be discovered if one explores deeper meditative practices.
A growing body of scientific research bears out what contemplatives and mystics have been saying for ages. Meditation is the most essential thing that you can do for your well-being, your close ones, your work, and your community. We don’t hear this enough because it sounds like an exaggeration, but it’s true.
How does meditation improve personal well-being and relationships?
Our every word, thought, and action flows from our minds. So it makes sense to take care of it. Just like physical exercise is a no-brainer today, meditation will come to be understood as such in the decades to come.
You may realize that you often think about what went wrong, how you were wronged, what you should have done differently, what went well, your hopes, dreams, and ambitions for the future, anxieties, and fears. What you may not realize is how all of these thoughts and emotions decrease the efficiency of whatever you are doing.
They limit or diminish whatever you hope to accomplish in the future.
A life best lived is a life lived in the present moment. We only have so many moments in our lives, and they are passing every second—the passing is inevitable.
What we can do is to make the best of it. And that is not by daydreaming half of our lives away. Meditation allows us to make the best of our precious time and increase our sense of personal well-being.
Meditation also improves our personal relationships.
How often do we succumb to immediate reactive emotions and say something hurtful to a loved one, only to regret afterward? How often have we wished we had a better way to control our emotions, impulses, reactions, and words. With meditation, you can.
Meditation is a skill that increasingly allows you to observe your thoughts and emotions detachedly and puts you in a position of choosing whether or not to act upon them.
As you progress in your meditation your loved ones will notice that you are far more attentive to them and thank you for it. Your inner narrative will be far quieter, and you will be able to hear them far better than you otherwise would. A more tranquil mind is an attentive, patient, listening, and compassionate mind. As your relationships are better managed, your sense of personal well-being will improve.
As you progress in your meditation, you will also become far more aware of your own bodily needs, processes, and sensations. As a result, you will naturally make far healthier choices in your food, drinking habits, and lifestyle. It has been experimentally shown that meditation has been far more effective in helping subjects quit smoking than nicotine patches and other conventional methods. Meditation literally rewires your brain and makes you rethink your mindless habitual patterns.
You may have acquired many habits in your youth that are less than ideal for your health choices right now. You may be struggling to quit these habits, despite your sincerest intentions. As your meditation practice improves your self-control you will realize that you are consciously making wiser choices for your physical well-being, thereby increasing your sense of well-being.
How does meditation improve your work?
This is perhaps the most well-known benefit of meditation. Meditation reduces stress and keeps you calm. This greatly enhances your productivity. A stressed-out brain that is trying to cope is less equipped to think, learn, execute, function, or stay inspired.
As you progress in your meditative practice, you will notice that you are accomplishing more in far less time. And you will be far less exhausted at the end of the day.
This is because your brain is becoming hyper-efficient. It is freeing up all that energy and bandwidth you used to waste procrastinating, daydreaming, and ruminating.
Keep meditating. You will be astounded at your achievements, enhanced creativity, and the burst of ideas and accomplishments.
We normally spend much time and emotional energy fearing failure, judgment, and defining ourselves in minimal ways. Meditation will make you look inward and scrutinize everything that you think that you know about your limitations. You will naturally uproot much of this self-limiting conditioning, noticing that it is ill-founded. With increased insight into your mind, you will discover and unlock skills, potentials, and powers that you never knew you had.
How does your meditation improve your community?
As you progress in your meditation, your mind will become more expansive, inclusive, and stable. You will stop reacting to that guy who cut you off in traffic. You will be more adept at putting yourself in the other’s shoes and seeing things from multiple perspectives.
With increased wisdom and compassion, your people management skills will significantly improve, and issues will start resolving themselves around you. Your positivity and vision will inspire others to be better people. As your ego, fears, and sense of separateness diminishes, you will realize and experience your oneness with the entire universe. You will naturally extend your compassion to other sentient beings in all ways that you can.
Now, what are you waiting for?
Just bring your wandering attention back to your natural breathing, wherever you are, whatever you are doing. As you are meditating, know that you are making the world a better place, one breath at a time, and I thank you for it.