The reasons we meditate are as varied as the many ways there are to meditate. In the West, most people are drawn to meditation to quiet the internal chatter of the brain and to reduce stress. Meditation is, indeed, a very effective stress reducer. But its benefits – sometimes mysteriously hidden – are far more bountiful.
The actual act of meditation can be as simple as sitting quietly and focusing on your breath. Or perhaps a mantra – a word or phrase. There are countless traditions and no singular “correct” way to practice meditation.
Find a practice you like and stick with it for a while
Notice how you feel as you go about your day. If you find you have more patience, feel grounded and better able to respond to stressful situations. If you are more in touch with your intuition or gut feelings, then meditation might work well for you.
Because it’s good for our bodies
Scientists gathering data on meditation have found that a consistent practice not only boosts the mind, but it also bolsters the body. Studies bear out that meditation can help reverse heart disease, reduce pain, and support the immune system, better enabling it to fight disease.
Because it’s good for our relationships
Paradoxically, while meditation helps us tune in and turn inward to our true essence, it also helps us detach from our own egos. This helps us connect with others in more meaningful ways. Couples counsellors have found when they assign their clients meditation, the couples become less angry, more self-reflective, and more loving.
When we become aware of – and honor – our interconnection with other beings, we are able to recast our perspectives. We see our worries in a different light, and embrace gratitude, which is the heart’s memory.
Because it can change our lives
In a world rife with never-ending fast fixes, crash diets, and get-rich-quick schemes, it’s great to know there is a proven practice that really can change your life. Meditation can bring you joy and more energy (or at least bring about dramatic effects) in just a short time in each day.
Yogis and doctors both agree: meditating – even just a few minutes of deep breathing – relaxes the brain, reduces anxiety, and decreases depression. When we feel as though we can’t afford the time to meditate BUT the truth is we can’t afford not to.
How to start meditating
Getting started is simple, but it’s helpful to have a teacher or guide to coach, motivate, and encourage you. Here are some options to help you get started in meditation:
- Find a teacher near you: It doesn’t get better than having a real, live person teaching you how to meditate. Make sure you choose someone you really connect with and respect, so that it will be easier to see them consistently. My training at the Chopra Center allows me to offer instruction in Primordial Sound Meditation. This is a powerful meditation technique rooted in the Vedic tradition of India.
- Try a Guided Meditation: If you don’t have the time or means to find a teacher near you, guided meditations can be a great way to learn. They walk you through the steps and help you find a calm and peaceful state – one step at a time. Try one of these guided meditations, each with a unique theme.