Surviving the 21st Century With Meditation

Meditation offers a time-tested antidote to many emotional disorders – even depression and stress-related illnesses. Although it may not solve some issues of your daily life, it will help you develop inner resilience, strength, balance and find creative solutions. To understand how meditation can help you, think of yourself as a complex computer. You’re inherently programmed to experience joy, equanimity, harmony, and inner peace, but along the way you’ve installed bad programs that are infested with malware, such as anxiety, dissatisfaction and fear. But you have the opportunity to disinfect your system. By setting aside your daily activities, sitting still, and attuning yourself for at least fifteen minutes each day, you are establishing a new type of habitual responses to experience better mind-states and emotions.

Of course, it can be distasteful to treat ourselves as computers; consequently you can picture your life as ocean, with its high and low tide, its storm and its calmness. When meditating, you dive deep beneath the surface to reach a quieter place where everything is more consistent and calmer.

Whatever your preferred metaphor is, the important thing to know is that meditation offers a way of transforming suffering and stress into ease and equanimity.

Traditionally, Western society emphasizes on external achievements, and the Eastern society values inner developments. The great technological and scientific advances sprang up from the West, while roshis and yogis in the ashrams and monasteries of Asia were improving the finer arts of meditation. Now the global currents are intermingling and have joined to form a unique blend of global culture. Now we can apply the inner “sophistication” formulated in the East to equalize the excesses of the fast technological innovations developed in the West! Like expert programmers, the great meditation gurus throughout history established the capacity to program their hearts and minds to experience a truly refined state of being. While Western people were charting the sky and starting the Industrial Revolution, Eastern people were chalking up a few extraordinary achievements of their own:

• Deep penetrating insights into how our minds and the process that generates and perpetuates stress and suffering

• Deep states of ecstatic immersion in which the person is completely united with the Divine

• Unfaltering inner peace that external factors can’t disturb

• The power to discriminate between reality and our state of mind

• The cultivation of beneficial, positive, life-affirming mind-states, for example patience, joy, kindness, equanimity, love, and – particularly – compassion for the suffering felt by others

• Control involuntary bodily functions, such as heart rate, metabolism and body temperature

• Mobilize and channel vital energies through the important centers of our bodies for the sake of personal transformation and healing

People have been using meditations to free themselves from physical and mental illnesses and suffering, by temporarily moving to a realm of exalted reality and having a deeper insight on our nature of existences. Thankfully, their refined methods of meditation that had been perfected for millennia, are already available since the middle of 20th century in the Western society. We can now easily reap its wonderful benefits:

Physical benefits:

• Decreased heart rate during quiet meditation

• Slower heart rate during a deeper state of meditation

• Reduction of blood pressure on people with moderate hypertension

• Faster recovery from stress

• Higher in alpha rhythms (high-amplitude, lower frequency brain waves that show a state of relaxation)

• Better synchronization (simultaneous process) of the left and right hemispheres of our brain (which equals to higher creativity)

• Lower cholesterol levels

• Lower consumption of oxygen and energy

• Slower, deeper breathing

• Muscle relaxation

• Less pain

Psychological benefits:

• Peace of mind and comfort

• Less emotional responses; fewer dramatic mood swings and intense negative emotions

• Enhanced empathy

• Increased self-actualization and creativity

• Heightened sensitivity and perceptual clarity

• Reductions in both chronic and acute anxiety

• A good complement to common methods of psychotherapy and other methods in treating addiction

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