This is the part-1 of a 3-part series on meditation, its benefits and how you can learn to meditate yourself.
- Part 1: 10 Reasons You Should Meditate
- Part 2: How To Meditate In 5 Easy Steps
- Part 3: Vipassana Meditation 10-Day Course
“The affairs of the world will go on forever. Do not delay the practice of meditation.” – Milarepa
“In the beginning you will fall into the gaps in between thoughts – after practicing for years, you become the gap.” – J.Kleykamp
Lately, I have been meditating as part of my daily schedule. Meditation is one my 2009 goals to increase my spiritual awareness and to live more consciously. With the cultivation of this one small habit, I have been experiencing tremendous benefits.
Writing Off Meditation When I Was Young
When I was young, I had zero interest in meditation. It was constantly mentioned in the context of achieving enlightenment, especially in Buddhism, my previous religion. Whenever I hear the term ‘meditation’, the immediate mental association was people who had severed ties with mainstream society and were living solitary lives in pursuit of enlightenment. People like monks, priests, martial artists and hermits.
Not only that, meditation seemed pretty boring and useless. The thought of just sitting at a spot, doing nothing, by myself, in my own world, seemed like a total waste of my time. There was no immediate, tangible output I could associate with meditation. Why do that when I could be actively doing something with tangible, concrete output?
Growing Interest Towards Meditation
However, as I embarked on my path toward personal growth a few years back, I kept hearing how meditation was a critical tool toward self-development and growth. In the books, podcasts, sites, materials that I came across, there would always be at least one mention of how useful meditation was and how it would bring us tremendous benefits in our every day life. Some authors went as far as to say that “if there is only one thing you can do every day, meditate”. Meditation was constantly referred to as THE tool to renew our mind, body, heart and soul.
It started to carve away at my resistance toward meditation. In place of that was a slowly increasing quaint interest for this benign activity. I started to meditate on an ad-hoc basis. Sometimes I meditated on a whim. Often times I made a plan to meditate, but then put it aside due to other, more ‘urgent’ (but on hindsight, not necessarily more important) things in my life such as work and social activities. All in all, my feeble attempts to meditate netted out just about not doing it at all. Meditation just kept getting parked away as a perpetual ‘I’ll do this later’ item.
Cultivating Meditation As A Habit
After years of putting this off, I finally decided to set it firmly as one of my 2009 goals. Just like my waking early goal, I decided to give it a trial and see how it works out. If it was really beneficial, I would keep it as part of my daily routines. If it wasn’t, I would have learned from the experience.
In the past few months, I have been meditating as part of my regular schedule. In the first day I did it, there was a subtle difference – not really noticeable, and perhaps arguably attributable as a placebo effect. However, as I continued to meditate the days after, the benefits became apparent. I experienced clear changes within myself (my thoughts, my emotions, my inclinations), as well as my interactions with the world (my view of reality, my reactions toward external events, etc). It became obvious that meditation is a 80/20, More For Less habit.
In my process of meditation, I have found 10 key benefits (among many others) to share with you why meditation is so crucial in our lives. If you don’t already meditate, read these benefits and consider cultivating it as a daily habit
10 Reasons Why You Should Meditate
1. Gain Inner Peace
How often do you clean and tidy your room? When you don’t housekeep your room for an extended period of time, there will be so much dirt accumulated that it becomes an unpleasant place to live in. The air you breathe in will be unclean. The things will be untidy and disorganized. You can’t get things as productively as before.
Imagine your body as a room. Every day, there is lots of junk that gets piled into ourselves – our mind, body, heart and soul. These junk come in the form of negative thoughts, emotions and energy. They can come from all sorts of different sources – the media, interactions with people, our environment, our work, or even self-generated from within. If you don’t meditate regularly, these junk accumulates over time inside you. You become a living trash container with junk thoughts and emotions. Ever have occasions where thoughts seem to spring out of nowhere in your mind in a time when you do not require them? Occasions where negative memories crop up and you didn’t want them to be emerging? These are all part of the clutter that you should be disposing of, but haven’t.
During meditation, you clear all these junk out of your system, just like you cleaning out your room. You expel the negativity and return it to the earth to be converted into positive energy. In the end, you are no longer bogged down by them. For people who don’t meditate, it takes a longer period of time to remove all the compounded negativity from the past. But just like cleaning a very messy house, all it takes is slightly more time and more effort before all the mess is eventually cleaned out.
After my regular meditations, I have reached a point of absolute calmness in my mind. It made me realize how noisy my previous unmeditated mind was and I was not even aware of it if I hadn’t had this benchmark for comparison. This is a state which you can only experience for yourself after you start meditation. In fact, my mind is so quiet that I’m able to literally ‘hear’ thoughts as and when they come into my mind. This has increased my awareness level of my thoughts, leading to the second benefit – Increase of your self-awareness.
2. Increase Your Self-Awareness
Are you aware of the 60,000 thoughts that are running through your head every day? Do you know what you are thinking of all the time? Do you have times where you are not sure of what you are thinking of or what you want?
Meditation gives you clarity on your thoughts, your inner desires and increased self-awareness. The thoughts include those you actively engage in and those you are not conscious of but are always there. An average unmeditated mind usually picks up only about a few out of thousands of thought strands that float through the mind in an hour. A meditated mind, on the other hand, picks up considerably more.
The more you meditate, the more self-aware you become. You become more conscious of what you think, the way you think, what you feel and what you want. This clarity is important in your decision making processes and in leading your life. Without such clarity, you become easily swayed by different external factors around you.
After I started meditating, I became much clearer of what I want. Instead of specially tuning in for answers to my questions, I become aware of the answers in me. When writing posts on this blog, the amount of time I spend contemplating is lesser. When it comes to making decisions, I can make them in a quick snap because I’m clear about what I want. Meditation has increased my connection with my inner intuition. In fact, it was from following my intuition that I decided not to return to corporate work and embrace my personal development career.
3. Makes You Grounded and Calmer
During meditation, you stop becoming attached to the physical world and you start becoming a third party observer to your reality. You become an observer to the kind of thoughts and feelings that run through you. You become an observer to how people act around you. You become an observer to the things in your environment. You stop becoming ruled by your ego and you become more aligned with your higher self.
With that detachment, you become grounded, calmer and more level headed. The gap between the stimulus and your response widens. What do I mean by this? If you have watched Spiderman the Movie (the first one), it’s like the early scene in the canteen where Peter Parker gets into a brawl fight with Mary Jane’s boyfriend. Even with the heated fight going on, everything unwinds in slow motion to Peter. It’s sort of like this whenever I meditate for a few days in a role. For everything happening around me, I find plenty of time to observe, process and assess in my mind, even more so than normal, even though everything is unfolding in real time. It’s really quite interesting.
In the past, there may have been events which result in consciousness lowering behavior where you reacted out of your normal persona. Meditation enables you to deal with these events effectively without having your consciousness lowered. You become able to handle them objectively and in a detached manner without interference from your ego.
4. Makes You Present
This comes about due to your groundedness. When you are grounded, you are more present to your reality. You stop getting caught up by what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. People who are not present are often bogged down by many other things on their mind. They are too busy handling the thoughts in their brain to function in their full capacity in their present moment.
With meditation, you begin to live fully in the present moment. This lets you react better to the situations around you. It includes being more focused, efficient, attentive and receptive. You maximize every moment of your living life by living in the present moment.
5. Increases Your Consciousness
Meditation is an important tool in living consciously. With meditation, you become more connected with your surroundings, the people around you, the world around you. You become more conscious of the interconnection between everything. With prolonged meditation, you start shedding away the lower levels of consciousness and start vibrating at a higher level of energy. Fear, Anger, Desire, Pride stop having a hold over your thoughts and behaviors. In place of that, you enter into levels of Courage, Neutrality, Willingness and above.
6. Source of Inspiration
Most of us are probably using only about 1% of our brain. This 1% is what’s controllable by our physical selves and our ego. The remaining 99% of our intelligence resides in our subconscious mind. This 99%, and not the 1%, is where the most powerful ideas lie. This is where we get our inspiration, our greatest ideas, our best solutions to problems. The power of our subconscious mind is one which many past leaders have tapped into, such as Thomas Edison, Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Einstein, and many others. People who work in occupations that require a great deal of creativity, such as artists and musicians, are either naturally able to access their subconsciousness or have learned to do it.
Through meditation, we attune ourselves to that 99% which we shut out in our physical life. This is like a secret pass toward instant new ideas and solutions which we couldn’t have generated with our conscious mind. If you have a frustrating dilemma you cannot resolve, or you are looking for new ideas for something you are working on, try meditating on them and see what you get. In fact, I had previously listed meditation as one of the techniques (#24) in my 25 Brainstorming Techniques article. Through constant practice, you will strengthen your connection with your subconscious mind. In no time, you will find the solutions generated by your subconscious mind are often more insightful and better than the ones generated by your conscious mind.
7. Rejuvenates You
The seventh Habit of In Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Sharpen The Saw’. To become successful in what you do, you need to constantly sharpen your saw – yourself. To continuously try to chop down trees without taking time out to sharpen your saw makes you highly uneffective. Meditation is one of the avenues where you sharpen your saw.
All of us are essentially made up of energy. We have 7 energy centres, called chakras, where energy flows from. Sometimes, we experience energy blockages due to certain problems in our life, injuries in our body, etc. When you meditate, you clear these energy blockages, clean your chakras and facilitate the flow of energy around you. There are various visualization exercises which enable you to do that. After your meditation, you will find yourself rejuvenated and energized.
A room needs to be cleaned and cleared regularly to be in a conducive state. A computer operating system needs to be defragged regularly to keep it optimal. A table needs to be wiped often to remove the dust and dirt that’s piled on top of it. Likewise, you need to meditate daily to be in your prime condition.
8. Cures Insomnia
One of the key reasons for insomnia is the bombardment of thoughts in your mind which result in anxiety, stress and depression. Meditation clears out the clutter in your mind (see benefit #1), which lets you slip easily into sleep. A few years ago, there was a time when I was suffering from insomnia. After meditating for about 20 minutes, I eased into sleep immediately, much to my surprise. In addition, the meditation also improved my quality of sleep. When you sleep, your mind is sorting out your mental clutter. Meditating before you sleep removes the clutter and sets your mind for a more peaceful rest.
If there is a huge barrage of clutter in your mind, it will take a longer period of meditation to cure your insomnia. Just keep up with the regular meditation and you will find an improvement in your situation.
9. Increases Your Spiritual Connection
The heightened consciousness (#5) from your meditation naturally leads to an increased spiritual attunement and your sixth sense (intuition). You will however experience a stronger connection with your intuition, which is highly beneficial to you in life. Your intuition is what gives you the most insightful and valuable solutions, over your logical mind and ego (see #6).
If you are interested in the psychic phenomena such as astral projection, lucid dreaming, etc, you will find meditation as a great foundational exercise to train those skills. If you aren’t, there is no need to freak out as the likelihood of spontaneous display of psychic skills is nearly zero.
10. Increase Your Fulfillment of Life
All in all, the different benefits of meditation combine to give you an increased fulfillment of life. You gain increased mastery of yourself, become more positive and become rejuvenated. The sharpening of your saw through meditation puts you in the position to get even more out of every day living.
This Meditation Series is part of the Cultivate Good Habits Series. Be sure to check out the full series:
- 21 Days To Cultivate Life Transforming Habits
- 21-Day Lifestyle Revamp Program
- 14 Tips To Successfully Cultivate New Habits (exclusive article in Personal Excellence Book, Volume 2)
- Waking Early: 21 Tips To Wake Up Early
- Quitting Soda: 5 Reasons To Quit Drinking Soda (& How To Do It)
- Improve Your Posture: Benefits Of A Good Posture (& 13 Tips To Do It)
- Be TV-Free: 10 Reasons You Should Stop Watching TV
- Being On Time: 17 Tips To Be On Time
- Meditation: 10 Reasons You Should Meditate | How To Meditate in 5 Simple Steps
- Manage Emails Effectively: 11 Simple Tips To Effective Email Management
- Run Barefoot: 10 Reasons You Should Start Running Barefoot
- Weight Loss: 25 Of My Best Weight Loss Tips
- Emotional Eating: How To Stop Emotional Eating (6-part series)
- Better Oral Care: How To Attain Healthier Gums and Teeth – A Simple but Important Guide