“We meditate for various reasons. Peace of mind we all badly need. Therefore, when we meditate, either consciously or unconsciously we aim at peace of mind. Meditation give us peace of mind without a tranquilliser. And unlike a tranquilliser, the peace of mind that we get from meditation does not fade away. It lasts for good in some corner of the inmost recesses of our aspiring heart.” – Sri Chinmoy 1
Why is it worth taking time out of our busy schedule to learn how to meditate? People may come to meditation for different reasons, and these are all valid. If you are considering trying to meditate, these are some of the most common reasons for giving meditation a go:
Meditation can enable us to gain more balance in life. Amidst the hustle and bustle of worldly pressures, meditation enables us to switch off, detach and remember the inner peace that we have deep inside our heart. In modern life, there are many things that compete for our attention – constant notifications, things to read, demands on our time – but this can create a sense of pressure and stress. There is much more to life than constant busyness. When we are able to stop, be still and silent, it helps to put everything into perspective and we gain a greater inner strength to do our duties in the outer life.
Health – physical and mental wellbeing
When we meditate, we can let go of the stress and negative thoughts that have got stuck in our system. This is very beneficial for our mental health. It can also benefit our physical health. When we are stressed, we are more prone to back problems or other aches and pains, for example. If we can cultivate inner peace, it will help many aspects of our life. It is an investment of time, that will really pay dividends.
It is a real art to do one thing at a time – with our full attention. Often we try to juggle several things at once, but fail to do anything to our satisfaction. A key aspect of meditation is to be one-pointed – we learn to bring our energies and focus to just one object of concentration, and let go of everything else. When we can do that, we appreciate there is great fulfilment about concentrating entirely on just one thing. We can use this ability in our work or artistic endeavours. Once we have cultivated a real capacity to concentrate, we will also feel new capacities coming to the fore.
To learn more about ourself
Our mind is constantly passing judgement about other people and about ourself. One moment, we are excessively proud of ourself, the next moment we can be insecure and pessimistic. Meditation goes beyond these fleeting and misleading judgements of the mind. It opens up our awareness of another part of our being – the quiet inner voice that feels joy from the simplicity of being. We learn that real happiness does not come from outer attainments and the fulfilments of desires, but within we have a remarkable capacity to appreciate the beauty of life and existence. Once we gain a glimpse of this inner reality it will change our outlook on life and give us a new sense of purpose and meaning.
To become a better person
Many people who start to practise meditation notice that they get unexpected compliments from friends and family. You may not notice the change yourself, but meditation can help you to become a more tolerant, loving and empathetic person. Rather than our old self who got frustrated by small problems, we become more detached. Rather than rushing to judgement, we bring our own inner peace to the situations that we find ourself in. When we get less frustrated by minor personality conflicts and small imperfections, we can really enjoy life a lot more and people will be keener to spend time with us.
To try something new
Meditation is very different to ordinary human experience. We have spent 20, 30, 40 years thinking. Every activity generally involves our mind. Meditation is an attempt to silence the mind, to go beyond our thoughts, and to bring our heart to the fore. Even if we don’t gain a lifetime habit of meditation, we will have lost nothing by attempting to do something very different. At first, meditation may feel a little difficult – it is hard to break the habit of a lifetime – but we may be surprised at how much we can gain, even from our first efforts to meditate.