The benefits of meditation: 5 Reasons to beginning today

Meditation sounds really good for us and who wouldn’t want to emulate the peaceful people we always see in pictures of meditation.  Unfortunately, meditation is not like a crossfit workout where the results of your efforts are painfully evident the next day and visible over time.

The benefits of meditation are reaped after a period of consistent practice.   With pursuits like this, it is hard to begin and sometimes hard to stick with it.  In this essay, let’s provide some of the needed BUY-IN to begin meditation, become more consistent, or remind us why we take the time to meditate.

1.Your health depends on it

Many major afflictions can be directly linked to your thinking.  Heart attacks, back pain, headaches, and gut issues can be stress-induced.  Weight gain and dietary struggles can result from using favorite foods to improve your mood. Weight retention, memory loss, attention abilities, and a lack of clear thinking can be caused by disrupted or reduced sleep.  We would not go so far as to say that major illness can be cured by the benefits of meditation. However, changes in your thinking can positively impact your recovery, the duration, and your experience with pain, illness, and suffering.

2. There is now a short learning curve

Major religions and eastern traditions used to be the sole provider of methods for enhancing and clearing the mind.  These teachings were passed down orally and often involved extensive learning and complex sequences of movements.  Thanks to the rapidly shrinking and connected world, we all have access to resources and teachers from every continent.  Practitioners are translating bodies of work at an incredible pace and progress is now scientifically verifiable.

3. There is little or no cost to do so

Are you sitting down?  Good.  That is about all you need to be able to experience the benefits of meditation.  We just need to assess our current situation: how happy/calm/energized/motivated we are.  Then we meditate and re-examine our life.  The benefits of meditation can largely be felt in what is NO LONGER present. Meditation can show us how our current habits may be contributing to our current state and give us indicators on how to change. There are additional books, courses, and suggested materials to help each of us depending on our current situation.  But the overhead on this adventure is minimal at best.

4. You will experience true autonomy

A chattering, pessimistic, unfocused mind has undiscussed negative consequences.  When we are overridden by our thoughts, we often act (or don’t) out of fear.  We envision all the bad things that can happen and feel trapped.  We react to problems instead of responding to opportunities.  The difference being that we don’t think clearly, create mistakes, and often cause more work for ourselves.  Additionally, we can be the victim of other people’s verbal abuse or work-environment negativity.

Conversely, control over your thoughts offers a chance for real autonomy.  Imagine not living out of fear and being present-to but not affected-by negative people and events around you.  Negative people in your environment now cause a feeling of sympathy to well up, not pessimism.  We all know that when customers and friends contact us with their problems, they are telling us how to help them.  We just need to be in the right mental place to be aware of it and to think through a solution.

5. You can get what you want out of life

What are we truly saying when we want the benefits of meditation?  When we want focus?  When we don’t want to be plagued by anxiety and want to sleep at night? We are saying that we want free space to think about things that make us happy, to plan, to be mentally present during important milestones and events.

We want our mind to stop the nonsense so we can be creative and contribute to something of value.  Whether it is at work, with our family, or in our community.  We are not being the best version of ourselves in any circumstance if we are not actually mentally present or are dragging baggage into unrelated conversations.

What we think we want is no-thinking, an end to ceaseless negative banter.  But what we really want is the power to choose what we think about, and use our powerful brain to create situations that give our lives meaning.

And here is Homer if you need motivation:  Homer Meditates

Learn How to Meditate or Rapidly Improve Your Practice

Readers of Tai Chi Basics consistently ask for resources to start meditating or improve their practice. I have become a big fan of the Art of Mushin Meditation Study Course because it is accessible to everyone – everywhere and is a good blend of hands-on practice, explanation, and science.

Scott Prath

Scott has been practicing and teaching tai chi and qigong since 2000. He is a lead instructor for the Austin Chen Tai Chi Association. His interest in the internal martial arts began after traveling in India and Nepal, and he has since traveled to China to train. Scott has published over 100 articles on tai chi with a focus on research showing the benefits of practicing.

One thought on “The benefits of meditation: 5 Reasons to beginning today

  1. This article was originally titled “5 Reasons to seriously consider learning how to control your thoughts.” A reader commented: “I find the concept and practice of “controlling” one’s thoughts EGREGIOUS!!” (John S. Jan ’18). At this point, I have to agree with him. I have returned to this essay to rewrite it. There is value in the content and the idea of directing our thoughts is a better interpretation. Directing our thoughts, reducing their speed, and increasing their positive nature, are a much better pursuit. “Controlling” our thoughts was an overstatement. Thank you for helping my keep my prose clean and stay closer to the goal of this website.

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