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Meditation Simplified: The Key To A Good Life?

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No longer just a hippie new age thing, meditation is becoming increasingly mainstream as its beneficial effects on our mind and body are corroborated with science. With the development of brain imaging and the discovery of brain wave frequencies, meditation now boasts scientific qualification and is gaining popularity over in the West.

While most religions have their own meditation and contemplative traditions, meditation does not have to be understood in spiritual terms. It is a proven technique to help us rest our minds, gain insight into ourselves and develop an unshakable sense of peace and calm. In these busy times, developing a meditation habit is something that would benefit most people.

So what are the benefits of meditation?

1. Reduce stress and relax
One of the most obvious benefits of meditation is stress relief. When you meditate, you are basically allowing yourself to take a break from the hustle and bustle of life. Even 10 – 20 minutes a day, everyday will lead to improvements in stress levels. The more one meditates, the easier it becomes to switch off your worries and internal monologues, and the calmer and more peaceful one will be.

2. Heal your body from within
Meditation has been proven to promote good health. The reason is that by driving down stress levels, one also reduces the chances of acquiring stress related illnesses. Heart disease, high blood pressure and even weight gain have all been linked to stress. Additionally, people who meditate consistently are also thought to be able to recover quicker from illness. What is at work is the much talked of mind body continuum, where positive or negative thoughts and emotions manifest physically as good or ill health.

3. Mind your thoughts
In meditation, one learns to observe their thoughts as well. Running through our heads is a constant stream of mental noise. In our normal state, we usually chase after these thoughts one after another, oblivious to their transitory nature. When we chase after these thoughts and hold on to them, especially if it’s a bad thought, we may begin to feel uneasy or generate negative evaluations of the thought. In meditation, one eventually learns to observe this constant chatter without interacting with any thought that arises.

4. Mastery over ones negative emotions
Through meditation, we can observe how our mind works. We see that it is constantly creating stories in our heads, stories which then lead to negative or positive emotions such as fear or joy. In fact, the more one meditates, the more apparent it will be that the root of all your emotions is yourself. This understanding will help one conquer negative feelings such as fear and anger, by seeing clearly that the mind that is the source of these emotions. Over time, this can help one overcome fears, angers and anxieties, resulting in greater peace of mind.

5. Increased concentration and creativity
Mastery of the mind means being to able to control and use it in a beneficial way. Oftentimes, concentration is disrupted because we are distracted by a stream of non-stop thoughts in our heads. Through meditation, one learns to slow down these thoughts and subsequently, concentration is enhanced. Creativity is also enhanced as one learns to be more spontaneous and not over-think in situations.

Now that you know the benefits of meditation, how then should you begin? The most important thing in beginning a meditation practice is consistency. It is more important to be consistent with your meditation (everyday for 20 minutes for example) than to be able to meditate for a long stretch once in a while. Ultimately what you are aiming for is to train your mind to be accustomed to being in a high functioning, aware state.

How should you meditate? There are many different methods of meditation. However, the most basic method is to just sit in a comfortable position (on a chair is fine) with your back straight and observe your breath. Notice your breath going in and out and do not interfere with the natural state of breathing. If it is long, notice that it’s long. If it is short, notice that it is short. When one realizes that their mind have wandered off, just gently bring back ones awareness to the breath. This technique, used for thousands of years in the spiritual practice of numerous religions will help to still the mind.

If you are interested in meditation, there are many meditation groups around the KL region as a quick google search will reveal. While many are related to specific spiritual traditions such as Buddhist meditation or Yogic meditation, there are also non-affiliated meditation groups that cater to everyone.

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