Ten Reasons to Meditate

Whether through the need to take a step back from life or to simply mediate one’s own mental upsets, meditation can be a great technique to help us all deal with the stresses of 21st century stress-triggers. We live in a world where social media and the Internet allows our minds to meet and interact without physical form, but this continual global connection creates undue anxiety given the state of our world. Sometimes I just need to take five minutes and say a mantra to center and ground myself. Mediation, whatever tradition chosen by the practitioner, can help generate inner peace and a sense of general well-being no matter the circumstances life throws your way. Following are ten reasons to meditate.

1. Focus on the present. All too often, we tend to allow our minds to become focused on the past, which can lead to feelings of regret and even depression. If it’s not the past, then we find ourselves thinking about and worrying about the future, but this is no better than focusing on the past–contemplating the future can cause anxiety. Daily meditation allows us to take a moment for quiet contemplation, during which we can truly ground ourselves in the present.

2. Relax physically. Because meditation acts as a method to confront our problems AND reorganize our thinking patterns, it naturally relaxes us, and can allow us to avert possible panic attacks, loosen musclea, and de-stress. These benefits can lower blood pressure And offer an entire host of physical benefits.

3. Increase self-awareness. Meditation can serve as a great space for self-examination. Stories abound telling of how John had an amazing realization about himself during his quiet time, or Judy receiving a sudden insight. This is because meditation calms the prefrontal cortex and lows our often overworked brains to reassess things.

4. Calm it down. Meditation calms the fight-or-flight responses that keep us up, going, and sometimes awake late into the night. Often, stressors trigger hormone production that keep our bodies producing adrenaline and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and this activation allows us to perform amazing feats in survival situations. The problem? Ongoing and long-term activation created by a difficult or stressful job means we’re always in survival mode, rarely able to step back and assess obstacles in our path. This can in turn create anxiety, and meditation allows one to take a few minutes to let the brain relax.

5. Reduce negative emotions. Meditation can allow the mind to understand sources of negative emotions and allow the practitioner to experience and deal with and explore negative emotions. After all, each emotion has a good side and a bad. Fear is an awesome motivator, and can be seen as the flip side of excitement, but fear indulged too long may lead to anger, resentment, and can have very negative impacts on the psyche and the body.

6. Gain new perspective. Meditation creates an opening in our busy days for contemplation, and our brains will naturally work to order our thoughts during this resting, relaxing moment to provide clarity. As well, if one stares at the same spot on the wall long enough, the world can seem different afterward, the colors brighter, the images more defined.

7. Connect with Others. Meditation allows us to become more aware of our own inner dialogue and can help quiet that ever-judging voice we all have running in the back of our minds. This can help us all be more conscious of others, can give us the mind space to listen to and genuinely respond to them.

8. Feel More Compassion. Compassion, or the ability to see the other as self, can be specifically cultivates during meditation. The gift to humans have to genuinely understand another, whether of our own species or not, creates better communities, communities where neighbors know and support one another. The simple act of meditation can help us all become a bit more understanding.

9. Achieve mental and emotional balance. Often in the human psyche, emotions can overrun logic, or we can use logical responses when an emotional one may be more appropriate. Meditation allows us to observe both cognition and emotion in a safe space inside the inches between our ears. After we become familiar with the areas where we may lack balance, we can begin to see those issues when they crop up and take a more balanced approach to difficult situations.

10. Easily connect to any spiritual practice. Perhaps the greatest thing about meditation is how it can easily fit into myriad religions and spiritual practices. As well, meditation doesn’t need to have a spiritual component to work–meditation is easily secularized, and forms of meditation are often used in therapy successfully.

Listing all these fantastic benefits gave me a hankering, so I’m off to my pillow and mala. Happy meditations to all.