Meditation has been a buzz word for quite some time now. Though it has been in the mainstream for a while, the concept of meditation is still quite elusive to many.
This article intends to debunk the mystification of meditation. It isn’t the mystical elusive practice we think it is. It is by all right a science and an art which is not only useful, but essential for cultivating peace of mind in such a hectic rough and tumble society.
What is meditation?
Meditation essentially refers to the mental activity where one frees oneself from compulsive thinking.
We do not necessarily need to stop our thoughts to release ourselves from their control, but we need to detach from their power; we simply need to just let them be.
We can just watch them as they go by from a neutral perspective. One needs to be the observer of the thoughts and not the thinker.
There are several schools of meditation, but all of them have the same core principles.
The two main principles behind meditation are to either become intensely present by focusing your attention on a point or by becoming the observer and not the thinker of your thoughts.
By focusing your attention solely on something other than your thoughts, for example your breath, a point in a room or in nature, you become so focused that you do not even notice your thoughts if you have any. Try it, you cannot be truly grounded in the present moment and compulsively think; the two cannot exist together.
Can meditation make you happy?
According to Matthieu Ricard, who is also known as the happiest man in the world, “Meditation is not just blissing out under a mango tree. It completely changes your brain and therefore changes what you are.”
Research indicates that when you are happy, there is more activity in your left prefrontal cortex (area of your brain) as opposed to the right prefrontal cortex. And several studies have found that meditation actually increases activity in the left prefrontal cortex. So even scientifically speaking, meditation does make you happy.
This is what mediation does to you. It helps change how your mind works through the process of self awareness. They say, ignorance is bliss, but in reality, the more your know, the more you have the ability to master and change as per your will. Knowledge brings liberation and that’s what meditation helps you develop – knowledge about yourself.
By knowing yourself, you automatically are in a better position to bring more well-being and happiness into your life.
Below are five important reasons why meditation will make you happy.
1. You reconnect with the Universe and all that exists
By quieting your mind and neglecting the compulsive chatter which plagues our minds on a daily basis, we create space and time to connect to what truly matters.
By shutting off our monkey mind, we allow ourselves to be truly connected and present with the Universe and all its elements. We experience a divine feeling of oneness with all that exists and we get a glimpse of the bigger picture of life which transmutes to happiness.
Our car payments and dirty laundry doesn’t seem to bother us as much anymore as our minds our now tuned into a higher power and emerge more resilient to life’s daily challenges.
2. You reconnect with yourself
Connecting with yourself automatically brings happiness. After shutting off the background noise, you begin to connect with the thoughts and feelings that represent your higher self and who you really are.
You realize that you are not just the thinker, you are the observer in your mind observing a part of yourself thinking. This observer is your higher self. With meditation you tap into the super consciousness of your higher self and you become more acquainted with who you truly are.
You begin to feel your body more and your intuition becomes more palpable as it guides you throughout your life.
3. You become more resistant to irritation and negative experiences in life
By shutting off the compulsive mind, you begin to realize that it is the source of all frustration and problems in life; not the actual problems themselves.
By cultivating the skill to tap out of your unconscious chatter at will, you begin to realize that you can control how you react to situations and that this is the key to reducing irritation and disappointment in your life.
You experientially get to understand that it is how you react to your problems that truly dictate your experiences in life.
Several scientific studies have found that meditation actually strengthens the connection between your brain’s prefrontal cortex (your conscious brain) and the amygdala (your’s brain’s emotional/stress center).
This is why, it becomes easier for you to stay conscious of emotions when they arise instead of impulsively reacting to them. In other words, you come more responsive (thoughtful) as opposed to being reactive (primal). Your primal responses to stress get superseded by more thoughtful ones.
Adrienne Taren, a researcher studying mindfulness at the University of Pittsburgh puts it beautifully when she says
“The picture we have is that mindfulness practice increases one’s ability to recruit higher order, pre-frontal cortex regions in order to down-regulate lower-order brain activity,”.
4. You create peace of mind
Your are truly happy when you are at peace deep within.
Peace of mind is harder to come by than money these days for most people. The high paced fast life carries us further and further away from our true selves, meaningful connections, fulfilling lives and therefore peace of mind.
Our minds these days are highly unsettled as we follow the paths carved out for us by society without giving any thought as to what it is that we really want and who it is that we really are.
With meditation, we have the opportunity to escape the matrix, observe our thoughts, find out who we are, alter our thoughts to match our reality, become who we are and therefore create peace of mind for ourselves.
5. Meditation improves your health
A healthy mind and body translates into happiness and meditation helps you achieve just that.
Several clinical trials around the world have been conducted on meditation and specifically on a field known as transcendental meditation.
Transcendental meditation has been clinically proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, to reduce the risk of stress related illnesses, to play a role in reducing the severity of anxiety and depression, just to name a few.
This form of meditation which focuses not on controlling the mind so to speak, but to distract the mind with a mantra so as to reach a state where one transcends thought, is one of the easier forms of meditation one can use to acquire all the benefits listed in this article.
It is one of the easiest because you don’t need to force yourself to quiet your mind or force your attention to be fixed on your breath.
You simply let yourself go into the mantra, without trying to make your thoughts stop or achieve any particular goal, and eventually you get to the state of mind where you have transcended thought and accessed all these life changing benefits.
These are just some of the reasons why meditation makes you happy by helping your develop self awareness and control over your mind.