Meditation: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The more I meditate, the more I learn to appreciate life in the present moment. It becomes a natural state of being. There are times where I get lost in my mind absorbed about the past or the future. Once I snap out of it, I notice the difference.

The topic of mindfulness creates mixed feelings in some people. They are some who still imagine it to be an open door of invitation to the demonic realms. Such allegories formed a bad reputation among certain religious circles. It is true that just because something is good for someone, it does not mean that it’s good for everyone. The opposite holds true as well. Negative reports about another person is not an indication that you will experience the same.

This topic has certainly raised some eyebrows among well-meaning acquaintances. They are utterly convinced I should stay on the other end of the stick for fear of hidden dangers. Our uniqueness is the cornerstone of individual-based therapy. The small print on prescription drugs may caution you of a possible bodily reaction. It may be unlike that of which your friend may experience. The same is also true of mindfulness. For some, it may be very effective or it may not work at all. For others, there may be harmful effects..

Fad or Trend?

Across the nation, mindfulness and meditation are becoming increasingly part of daily routines and less associated with alternative culture. What makes mindfulness especially appealing to some is the idea that it could be a magic pill. There is enough evidence that shows how practicing mindfulness and meditation has impacted the brain and cause positive behavioral changes and experience. There is however study subjects from other researches that have reported adverse effects associated with the practice.

Despite long-standing disputes on whether it is safe to practice, meditation has been around for millennia, and virtually every spiritual path integrates some form of them. It has its roots based on early Eastern religions to the now modern, secular presence in Western science. The number has grown, with a rough estimation ranging between 200 and 500 million globally today and steadily increasing.

You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life, but by realizing who you are at the deepest level.

– Eckhart Tolle

Deveoping Self-Awareness

Meditation has its roots in ancient tradition as a tool to keep attention focus on gaining better understanding and connection between self and the external world. We are susceptible to interruptions and distractions caused by various trains of thoughts and feelings. Therefore through meditation, the aim is to refocus our attention on the mind and body in the present moment. Different groups of people approach meditation differently. There is no one right way to do it. You can explore different variations until you find one that works for you.

Regardless of its long history of being part of religious practices, meditation does not necessarily have a religious element. It is a natural part of the human experience and is increasingly used as a therapy for promoting good health and boosting the immune system. It is a psychological method, not a belief system. It is merely the momentary pause of thought.

Do You Gain or Lose?

You don’t gain anything but lose things during meditation. You lose your ego identification; you lose your frustration, anxiety and your distractions. When you lose all your mental chains you are free.

We have no ability to control everything that happens in our life, but we can change how we handle the events that mark our journey. For this, meditation is invaluable. By setting aside a portion of your time every day to mindfully sit, we learn that our thoughts, emotions, and sensations come and go. When we can remain attentive to the present moment, we can choose which event truly requires our attention and which ones are simply distractions.

The practice of meditation is not something you do; it’s actually more a non-doing, a stopping, and a resting in your natural state of being however you find yourself, without wanting more or less. It’s about developing calmness, practicing awareness and de-cluttering the mind.

The goal of meditation isn't to control your thoughts, it's to stop letting them control you.

– Unknown

There is no doubt that this mental exercise has been used by members of all faiths to explore their own personal senses of spirituality. This practice is beyond doctrine. Although contemplation is a key component of most world religions, you don’t have to adhere to a religion to practice meditation. It can be done just as well without delving into metaphysical belief structures and not having to get involved in religion at all.

Proven Benefits

Over the past half-century, the fog of this misunderstanding is being cleared away by many scientific researches. There are verified reports of thousands who have experienced the benefits of meditation. Science confirms that meditation also helps to rebuild brain tissue and prevent several psychological disorders. Mediation appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits.

Studies have reported that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, improve attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being. Although it is not a magic bullet, as no treatment is, it is one tool that has proven to help manage a variety of symptoms.

Given its effects on the self-control regions of the brain, it can be effective in helping people recover from various types of addictions. The practice has also been shown to enhance productivity, health and general well-being not only in adults but in children as well.

The variety of customs and techniques are nearly infinite, but the essence is singular, it is targeted towards the cultivation of mindful awareness and expanded consciousness. From that place of stillness, it’s possible to liberate yourself and to help others.

Questionable Cause

Given the many forms of motivation catering for unique needs and personality, there arise disparities over the different branches of meditation. Some have strongly argued and contended on the exclusivity and its methods, dismissing other techniques and approaches as false or fake. This leads to separation and conservatives discourage their tribe members from having anything to do with the practice for this reason in order to avoid associating themselves with the practices of outside religions or sects.

When we slap labels unconsciously, we end up limiting our curiosity. Our interest can end in exploring a possibility because we think we know what they are and that it might not align with our value system. There is no cookie-cutter approach when it comes to meditation. You need to experiment and discover the one that works best for your unique needs and personality.

Trust Your Inner Guidance

Having said that, meditation is not for everyone. It is definitely not a one-size-fits-all package. If your experience has been found to be less than comforting, follow your inner leading. Flexibility and openness are the name of the game. We do not have to be dictated into an undesirable experience. Let everything take its natural course. A moment of self-compassion can change your entire outlook. With this in mind, if your aim is for wellness then your practice or avoidance of it should not be motivated by fear.

Individually, we will arrive at our own definition of how it relates to our beliefs, either religious, spiritual or wellness. Without a doubt, meditation has shed light on some deep undesirable behavioral patterns. It has created space for change that liberated many people who otherwise, would still be trapped in hopelessness.

Let us not allow our fears and the opinion of others to continue preventing us from creating a more joyous, peaceful and healthy world to live in.

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