The simple practice of meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, and many can personally attest to its health benefits. Along with other Eastern practices, it has been gaining popularity in the West and with good reason. The medical community is also starting to take notice, and studies examining the effects of meditation on a variety of mental and physical ailments are validating what others have known for a very long time. As a health writer, and someone who personally has practiced meditation on a regular basis for the last several years, I am familiar with all the positive effects. If you are looking to improve your mental well-being, this is one weapon you should be sure to put in your arsenal.
Observing without Judgment
It has been said that we think tens of thousands of thoughts a day; while I have never personally counted, it seems feasible given what I experience running through my head during my waking hours. We cannot stop ourselves from thinking, nor do we need to. What we can do, however, is learn to observe what is going on in our mind without judging it or getting all caught up in the raging river that is rushing through our minds. There is no better way to accomplish this goal than through meditation. When we learn to observe with greater detachment, we begin to see something wonderful—that we are not our thoughts, that they are separate from us.
Responding and Not Reacting
On the surface, responding and reacting may seem like two sides of the same coin, but they are completely different actions. Reaction does not involve any sort of thought or reflection—it is just an automatic response to some outside stimuli. While this can serve us well sometimes, like pulling our hand away from a hot surface, it often leads us to doing things we would be better off not doing, things that we may come to regret, even just a few minutes down the line. Meditation helps us respond, rather than react. It strengthens that space between our thoughts and feelings and that pure consciousness that is our essence. When a negative feeling starts to arise, we can think about what is happening and choose how we will respond. This does all sorts of wonderful things for us, from reducing anxiety to improving how we interact with others.
Realizing the Impermanence of Everything
So much of our mental suffering comes from getting all caught up in a moment, and feeling the need to do something in that instant to make that feeling go away. We know that feelings come and go constantly throughout the day, but on an experiential level, this knowledge gets lost and we are acting on pure feeling in the moment. Meditation helps us tune into the never-ending shift, and when something unpleasant arises, we are able to sit with it better, knowing this too shall pass. Truly grasping this impermanence can keep us from doing things that are not good for us, like eating a whole cake to quell anxiety or writing rambling emails to ex-boyfriends in a moment of overpowering desperation. You can move through the discomfort of life with greater ease.
About the Author:Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about all things health and wellness; if you are in the Anaheim, CA area and in need of a skilled physician, she highly recommends Ronald Glousman.