If you’re not already practicing meditation, I highly recommend learning how to sit. It takes persistence and consistency in practice to develop the habit of daily meditation. Once established, the practice bears fruit in the form of deep focus, increased productivity, and peace of mind. Here are a few ways meditation will improve your life.
The rate of change will only speed up, not slow down
Our world is changing overnight. Advances in nanotechnology, biotechnology, information sharing, and radical automation are speeding up. The self-driving car is on the way, the internet of all things will gather data about every aspect of our lives, and some folks who can afford it will even have access to upgrades in medicine that were once the subject of science fiction movies. Now is definitely the slowest rate that change will occur. Things will speed up! Meditation offers a chance to fix our internal rhythm so that we become masters of time. When we are internally grounded, we can respond to the outer world with less vacillation. Our minds are able to hyper calibrate when it weighs the pros and cons of a choice. By “getting out of our heads,” we can make clearer decisions faster. I’ve coached members of the Forbes 400 list and can tell you that the masters make big decisions instantly and stick to their guns to see those decisions through. Going back and forth on a potential choice wastes valuable brain fuel on overthinking. Meditation makes us masters of reading the moment so that we can see exactly what is required of us in that very second.
Meditation shows us that we are whole and complete, Now
When we begin a meditation practice, it’s normal to have ups and downs. One day the mind feels steady, and the next, it can feel agitated. Sometimes we can even feel sleepy when we close our eyes. The key is to keep going, till eventually, the good days will become more consistent. It’s important to stay consistent and not be attached to the results or become a “bliss junkie.” What we are ultimately doing is learning to sit with ourselves. We are learning to embrace the dark and light sides of our nature. It’s fine to struggle. However, every now and then, there is a transcendent peace that we tap into when we meditate. In this deeper state, we feel the purity of a concentrated mind, and we see that there is a perfect emptiness under all the mental noise and voices. There are no ripples on the water as we look out on the lake of our own minds. This aspect of practice is very personal and very healing. It can cause us to drop limiting beliefs and release the shame, guilt, and anger that we have been carrying for many years.
Ecstasy is within the grasp of the ordinary person
Meditation creates a deep sense of self-reliance, as you find the teacher within. You become your own guru. Stepping outside of time, feeling a perfect unity with all things, and a sense of hyper-reality characterize the “altered state” resulting from a concentrated mind. For most of our history, access to this state occurred in a “top-down fashion,” meaning you needed to be in the presence of the priest, shaman, or tribal elder to experience their blessing and feel the depth of your own being. Now we live in a world with biofeedback meditation headbands that measure EEG, heart rate variability, and skin temperature. Feedback data can let the meditator know when they have “slipped out of the zone”. This way, one can simply re-focus quickly rather than drift off as the mind wanders. Using this technology is a way the modern meditator might achieve in three years what 30 years have done in the past.
Mindfulness practices strengthen the immune system
As the mind becomes focused, we take better care of ourselves. The use of alcohol, stimulants, and emotional eating can be trimmed away. There is a natural draw towards better rest, keeping positive company, and healthy nutrition. The lifestyle changes that accompany meditation practice create a shift in how our genome expresses itself. We literally “flip switches on” the DNA molecule that have powerful positive effects. Benefits of this epigenetic effect include reduced inflammation, maintenance of the telomere length, and reduced risk of cancer. Consistent rest and regular exercise are two habits that cause our DNA to strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system is able to fight pathogens from the environment. We become more resistant to colds, flu, and harmful bacteria.
Your personal relationships become infused with more meaning
After my first Vipassana Meditation training, I realized how hard each individual’s personal journey is. We each have different fears, limiting beliefs, and personal traumas from childhood. After Vipassana, I started being less judgemental towards others. I became more loving and accepting. Anger took a back burner to compassion. When we understand that each living being is on their own personal, ancient journey, with a unique set of challenges, we take things less personally. I am not as easily offended by other people’s actions and ideas as I once was. When we study the mind through direct observation, we can develop a great deal of compassion for others. After many years of practice, I now have respect for all living beings on our shared planet. Daily practice is a reminder to treat people with kindness.