Meditation: What Is Meditation Good for and What Benefits Does It Have?

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Fortunately, and contrary to what happens with many alternative therapies, meditation is compatible with the scientific method, so we can already say that the effects of meditation on our organism are scientifically proven.

Meditation stimulates self-healing, provides us with greater awareness and creativity, stimulates and strengthens the areas of the brain assigned to happiness and joy, increases the intellectual quotient and stimulates the immune system, among many other advantages.

Meditation is an intellectual exercise

Defining what meditation is is complicated, because it is a very abstract concept that each person lives in a particular way. For some it may have religious or spiritual connotations, while for others it is an intellectual method of silencing the inner bustle and achieving more creative or emotionally positive states.

Although more and more people are practicing meditation, the fact is that in the West there are still many people who relate the word meditation to religious aspects, gurus or sectarian practices. But meditation is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. If we stick to the etymological meaning of the word, meditation refers to a practice of an intellectual nature through which attention and awareness are enhanced in the present moment.

What objectives do you have in mind?

Although each person may seek a different goal in meditation, some of the most common are:

  • Mysticism: to develop the consciousness of unity with the whole.

  • Mental rest: to silence the mind and free it from daily worries.

  • Creativity: clearing the mind to make it more creative.

  • Happiness: stimulating the areas of the brain assigned to happiness.

  • Health: stimulate the immune system and self-healing mechanisms.

  • Relaxation: release stress and anxiety and remain in a state of well-being.

  • Concentration: enhance the state of concentration and memory.

  • Intellect: increase intellectual capabilities.

The key points of meditation

Whatever is the reason why a person decides to start meditating, the truth is that the consequence is always the same: a mental and physical state of serenity, inner peace, concentration and creativity, which is characterized by some concrete features that go in this order:

  • Focus of the mind on a single object (breathing, sound waves, light, etc.).

  • State of absolute concentration in which the bustle of the mind stops.

  • A state of peace in which the mind is freed from its own thoughts.

Benefits of meditation

The practice of meditation has very specific physiological effects on the organism, which have also been demonstrated by science, which always seems to give some certainty in our civilization, although many other wonderful disciplines do not find their place in the scientific method and that does not make them less effective.

But well, lovers of scientific evidence will be pleased to know that there are more and more clinical and scientific studies that demonstrate the effect of meditation on different areas of the brain:

  • Promotes mental and physical health

  • IQ increases

  • Develops emotional intelligence and empathy

  • Improves memory

  • Relieves stress, anxiety and depression

  • Reduces blood pressure

  • Increases happiness (literally)

Some interesting facts about meditation

When it comes to making a scientific study of the effects of meditation, what you do is to measure brain activity through an encephalogram. Studies show that as the depth of meditation progresses, our brain goes through different stages:

  • Beta Waves: Concentration

  • Alpha waves: relaxation, creativity

  • Theta waves (deep meditation): problem solving

  • Delta waves (advanced meditation): deep sleep without sleep

Thanks to this brain activity, there are some studies that are worth reviewing to test the effects of meditation practice:

  • A Yale University study concluded that people who practice meditation throughout their lives develop a neural network with which they have greater self-awareness and present and less dreaming.

  • Another University of Wisconsin study concluded that Matthieu Richards, a Buddhist monk, is the happiest man on earth, because meditation enlarges the areas of the brain reserved for happiness.

  • Harvard University determined that meditation reduces arterial hypertension and stimulates the immune system.

Techniques for reaching that "divine" state of meditation

There are different techniques to reach a higher state of consciousness that, depending on each person, can be more or less simple. What for some can induce a state of rapid concentration, for others requires a wild effort and willpower.

If you have not yet discovered which one best suits your tastes or needs, here is a brief summary of some of the most commonly used meditation techniques:

  • Breathing
    Induction into a state of concentration through respiration is one of the most common practices employed by the main currents. It consists of performing specific and repetitive breathing exercises, placing all the attention in the air, how it passes through the nostrils, cold when breathing in and warmth when exhaling, etc. With the passage of time, practice and discipline, the mind reaches the meditative state more quickly. Ask about the best breathing exercises for meditation.

  • Object
    It is a technique of concentration that uses an object, a candle, a color, etc., so that the attention must be focused on that object until little by little the mind is calming down and reaching the meditative state.

  • The sound
    All civilizations have resorted to sound waves to induce states of concentration, spiritual or mystical. Bells, chants, mantras, etc... repetitions of concrete sounds that easily induce the meditative state.

Tips for meditation

If you want to get started in meditation practice, here are some tips to make this discipline easier for you:

  • A good time to meditate is right after getting up or before going to bed, although meditation is a practice that can be done at any time of the day.

  • Condition a room in your home, in the garden or in some space where you have a certain amount of space and intimacy. Try to make it a clean space, with few things, airy, that inspires calm and serenity.

  • It is possible to meditate in any posture, but the lotus posture is the most indicated by the placement of the spine. If it's uncomfortable or you can't keep your back straight, you can help with cushions or blankets. If you still feel uncomfortable, use whatever posture you find pleasant.

  • Try to wear comfortable, lightweight clothing that allows you to breathe freely, without oppression.

  • As you apply yourself in paying attention to the technique you have chosen, your mind will cross a myriad of thoughts, especially at first. You don't want to avoid them. Let them pass by, like the stream of a river, watch them and let them go. The important thing is that you do not retain any, that you do not identify with any. Watch your thoughts like on a cinema screen without making judgments. If you go after one without noticing, just go back to the state of concentration. Don't blame yourself for doing it; that's exactly what exercise is all about.

  • To notice the benefits of meditation requires a daily commitment, a routine, a discipline through which meditation becomes a priority.

  • Sound is one of the simplest ways to enter the meditative state. If breathing or any other method is uncomfortable, annoying, boring or requires too much willpower, try playing a CD with music that inspires and induces concentration, such as Tibetan bowls. Another formula is to recite mantras. You can start with the famous "Om". It is very simple and easily transported to a state of concentration, meditation and union.

As with all things, we advise you not to give up if you don't get immediate results. What's more, the best thing is not to look for any kind of result. Satisfaction is, in itself, the practice itself, the moment of calm, the will to change and commitment with a self. Investigate the different techniques that exist to meditate, exercises, practices, sounds, or any tool that allows you to free yourself from the marabunta of daily thoughts and worries, until you come up with your master formula. Don't desist!

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