Saturday, January 10, 2015

Benefits to Meditation

Swayambhunath stupa, Kathmandu

In our busy day-to-day lives it is easy to forget how important it is to stop and enjoy the moment.  Many of us are conditioned to overwork which leads to stress, a bounty of health issues and sometimes even death!  Although it can be a difficult concept to embrace, the action of staying idle and doing nothing may solve a plethora of life's problems.


I came into meditation at a moment where I felt lost.  While traveling through Nepal I heard of a intensive 10-day course taking place at a nearby Buddhist monastery where you spend the days in silence.  It sounded intriguing so I registered, not really knowing what to expect.  

We would wake up at six in the morning and sit in silence, focusing on our breath.  Every hour and a half we would have a break to stretch our legs until it was 9 pm  and we were sent to bed.  Everyday followed this schedule of different meditations and not speaking.  When the course was done I noticed a shift in the way I perceive the world and myself in general.  This process of sitting in silence for ten days helped me understand the feeling I had about being lost, and put it into perspective on a larger scale.  

Many people meditate to de-stress, and it works extremely well!  Taking your mind off of your stress and focusing on a single idea can lighten your mood and help you feel calm.  You don't have to meditate for too long either.  Try five minutes at first to see if you notice a change.
Prayer wheels in Kathmandu, Nepal
Some say that meditation can also lower high blood pressure, anxiety, and headaches.  In some cases your body can produce more serotonin which gives you more energy and a general feeling of happiness. 

After meditating for some time you may notice a shift in how you see the world. Specifically how you see materiality and the physical world. When you go deep within your consciousness you begin to understand that everything around you simply does not matter in a way that you would think.  You ask yourself questions about that vase you just bought and what happiness it really brings you. After a while that object simply does not matter to you and a sense of relief overcomes you as you detach yourself from the importance of materiality. 

A meditation you can try at home is a meditation on breath.  Sit on a floor cushion with your back straight, legs crossed and hands cupped in your lap.  Assume a slight smile and open your eyes just enough so that light can filter in.  The light and smile help you stay alert and prevent you from falling asleep.

Focus on the breath coming in and out through the tip of your nose for several minutes.  If you get distracted, bring yourself back to that feeling of the air.  
It's not easy.  Our minds are easily distracted so try to focus as much as possible. 
After a few sessions you may sense a change in the way you feel about the world and your mind. 





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