Sunday, July 31, 2011

Why Meditate?

Meditation has become a buzzword. People have accepted it as a normal activity. Perhaps it is because of the mass trends, or because of celebrities taking it up.

But at one point, we may ask ourselves, on some uninspired day, when we place ourselves on the meditation seat: What am I doing ? Why am I spending time on this? Couldn't I just chill out and watch TV?
It is a good WIIFM (What's In It For Me) question.

For one thing, people are pushing themselves hard today. The frantic pace of life blurs our objective thinking, reducing our choices. We follow along with the herd's rush, and are less likely to look for innovation. It is a bit difficult to stand apart and have your own stand, not to be swept off in the crowd's pull.

Meditation has a hundred (or thousand?) other benefits, but this one strikes me as most important now: being able to find your feet and take your stand. Be level headed. With practice, you learn to be level headed in the face of adversity also.

Life is about making choices. Your choices each moment determine which direction your life goes-choices in the matter of thoughts, words, and actions. (inaction too).

We are all subject to the tyranny of the thought process, it goes on all the time, whether we like it or not. Our thoughts determine our reactions to stimuli from the outer world too. And this is what the world expects. You are to follow the pack. Don't think for yourself.

This may not be in our best interests all the time.For example, consider a recovered alcoholic diagnosed with damaged liver. His old drinking companions want him to continue drinking. Why? Because they don't want to change. When someone known to them changes, it forces them to look at themselves and shows the difference. It makes them uncomfortable.

Meditation frees you from struggling with the thoughts. In it, you focus on the breath (or some other medium like a prayer). It lets you watch your thoughts like an observer, like you watch traffic from your balcony.

When you cease to identify with your thoughts, you're free. You feel calm, relaxed and full of power. You don't feel the need to conform to the crowd. You truly feel you are the maker of your destiny.

Note: Sudden changes in life habits are not recommended. It is better to first gather strength through regularly meditating and educating ourselves about wholesome living. Selftalk and constant engagement in activity also help to stem the mind's turbulence.

Sustained practice helps build up your spiritual power. Here, the following adage is all the more relevant:
Have patience with all things, but most of all, with Yourself.
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