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The widespread emotional challenges that are epidemic in our world today stem from the mind. Depression, for example, affects more than 350 million people and is the leading cause of disability worldwide (World Health Organisation 2014). Anxiety affects over ten percent of the population in the West (Recovery Ranch).
The question is, how heal the challenges of the mind and go forward in a way that anxiety and depression become experiences of the past? The answer is learning how to understand and work with our mind. Meditation is a powerful tool for creating a mind that is calm and peaceful.
Meditation began over 5000 years ago in India and was formalized with the beginnings of Buddhism 2500 years ago in India. The benefits of meditation on a physical, mental and spiritual level caused it to spread throughout Tibet and in the sixth century, BC the Indian Buddhist scriptures were translated into Chinese. Later Buddhism moved into Japan as “Zen” meditation.
Over the past five decades, meditation has become increasingly popular in the West, as people have looked for answers to transcend mental suffering and instead live more peacefully and happily.
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The Seven of the main benefits of meditation include:
1. Lowering stress hormones
Research shows lower levels cortisol, (a hormone associated with emotional and physical stress), in people who participated in meditation daily for a three month period. (Health Psychology)
2. Creating a focused mind
assisting in the areas of learning and work efficiency. Researchers studied how students trained in meditation had improved cognitive function. (University of California)
3. Increasing self-awareness
The blind spots in self-awareness can be overcome through meditation, by clearing the mind and getting more in-tune with your inner self. Being mindful, by paying attention to your experiences, personality, and behaviour is the road to objective self-knowledge. Increased self-awareness can facilitate self-healing and increased happiness levels. (Sage Pub)
4. Less physical stress
Meditation can assist in pain management, weight loss, and improved sleep. Wayne Dyer says that 20 minutes of meditation can be as beneficial as two hours of sleep! Several studies have confirmed that meditation decreases tension-related pain because the increase of serotonin production in the brain improves the way you feel. Tension headaches, insomnia, ulcers, and muscle problems can be managed by practising meditation. The quiet time that you spend in relaxing your mind affects how you perceive pain and stress. Meditation helps you to stay focused on goals such as weight loss. Ensuring that your mind is healthy and tension free has a flow on effect, enabling your body to feel the same way.
5. Facilitating kind behaviour
Meditation facilitates a calm mind which heightens compassionate and empathetic responses to people. A study in Human Neuroscience explained how meditation can affect emotional processing which can create positive responses to negative stimuli. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3485650/) Meditation also facilitates creating more space in life to focus on the things that are important.
6. Decreasing anxiety and depression
Meditation strengthens the “reasoning” part of the brain and allows feelings to flow rather than get “stuck” in the energetic system creating emotional issues such as anxiety and depression. This allows measured responses rather than reactions to fear, anxiety, and negativity.
7. Seeing reality
Meditation helps us to experience life as it is (rather than through the conditioning that is projected onto others). Awareness allows screening of thoughts, the identity of emotions and being in control of how things are perceived.
Many people say they do not have time to meditate. Meditation creates MORE TIME as it helps to free up any tension within, creating more internal space. When there is less tension within, that is what is experienced externally as like energy attracts like energy. Consistent meditation allows life to open up and a flowing sense of time, rather than a feeling of working against it. More space, more time—more freedom and joy! The Peace Within eCourse guides you through the meditation process and teaches you ways to be more efficient in your meditation. It is a short and powerful course that can allow you to create more time than you ever thought possible.
Like anything we would like to master in life, the more we practice, the better we will be. Over time, just practising for 10 to 20 minutes a day, ideally at least for three months will start to give results. Meditation is a wonderful tool to integrate peace and harmony, that many people are searching for, into their busy everyday lives.