Each individual who decides to meditate does so for their own reasons and with their own set of hopes and expectations of what continued practice might bring.
The health benefits of meditation are well researched and documented; for example, it’s widely known that meditation can lower the heart rate, slow the aging process, relax the body and mind into ideal and optimum states for self-healing and well-being, and if practiced regularly can, over time, help to bring the body, mind and emotions into a better state of balance. However, these are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what meditation can contribute to our mental, emotional and spiritual growth and evolution, and the impact these changes can have on our lives.
There are many forms of meditation; first of all there are the more widely known traditional, forms: TM, Buddhist meditations on mindfulness, breath and stillness; meditations on God’s Love or transcendental chanting on the beauty of Krishna; contemplative walking meditations, meditation on mudras and mantras, trance-inducing dance meditations and deep devotional prayer.
As well as these more devotional forms, there are a vast number of more pro-active and directive practices such as visualization, guided imagery: for manifesting, for healing – both personal and planetary – for connecting with the higher self, or Guides, or The Angelic Realm, or Divine presence, or The Higher Self or for developing psychic and intuitive awareness, for chakra clearing and energetic cleansing, and on and on.. The list is almost as infinite as the practice itself!
With a consistent repetition, each of the above methods, can lead to significant spiritual, emotional and intuitive growth. All of these methods lead us more or less to the same place, a place in which we recognize that by going within, we are able to connect with our Divinity and gain access to the vast range of wisdom and understanding that resides beyond the reach of our everyday consciousness.
Meditation has been a tried and tested route to self-realization probably since the beginning of our existence as individually incarnating beings. It has been the route through which great sages and masters have transcended the physical realm and ascended into greater connectedness. Along the way, they also gained invaluable personal insights about themselves and the nature of their own purpose. So even if you have no desire whatsoever to experience complete self-realization in this lifetime, meditation is still a path to greater self-awareness. Deciding not to meditate is a bit like saying, “I don’t think I’ll bother to get to know who I really am.
I’ll just rely on everyone else’s ideas about me to help me figure myself out.” And then we wonder why we end up in mindless jobs, or in relationships with thoughtless people; when actually, they’re just reflecting back to us the mindlessness and the thoughtlessness with which we approach our own lives and the careless thinking that we ourselves have put out into the Universe about ourselves. They are just reminding us that we haven’t invested in ourselves, the time, the stillness and the mindfulness it takes for us to develop richness and texture in our lives and relationships rather than just taking what we get!
Mostly, our minds are out of control; running amok in our lives and on the planet, and we willingly accept that we’re just supposed to run along behind them waiting to see what happens?! No! We have to learn how to work with our minds, not so much to tame them as to reassure and sooth them into letting go of their grip on us. Think of your conscious mind as a small child let loose on its first day in a new playground. If left to completely run wild, it might eventually come bounding back towards you with a lot of bumps and scratches and probably a few weird things in a jar. Which is probably OK for a child, but not for a machine as complex and incredible as the human mind. Is that all you really want from yours? Our minds have been left with free reign (or free will) for a very, very long time in our evolution and we are only just beginning to understand the power of this awesome machine and its role as a creative instrument for change in our lives.
When we work with our minds intelligently, responsibly and holistically in tandem with our hearts, we can create things of great beauty. The mind likes to think that it’s in control, of us and our lives, and it needs to be reminded that it is, in fact, just a small part of a greater system. One that includes pure spirit, heart, individual soul consciousness, cellular memory, the unconscious mind and every other part of the human being where intelligence is found, which is everywhere inside and everywhere outside of us as well. It needs to be guided to quiet places occasionally so that we can hear the rest of our consciousness speak and ultimately allow ourselves to be held and to be led by a higher power and a greater truth.