The Benefits of Meditation
Our “western” society is extremely thought-oriented. We pride ourselves on logic and reason. I grew up in this society, so I know how it is.
As a teenager and young adult, I suffered greatly from the effects of an over-active and out-of-control mind. I spent (literally) thousands of hours thinking about psychology, analyzing others and exploring the depths of my own mind, in order to “be my own therapist.” I was constantly analyzing my mind, how it worked, and how to make myself “happier.” It didn’t really help. In fact, it kind of made me crazy for a while.
If some long-haired tie-dyed Tommy-Chong-sounding hippie came to me at that time, and told me, “Hey man, all you’ve got to do is meditate man,” I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought. If some no-haired sober-faced orange-robed Buddhist monk came to me and said “You must meditate in order to conquer Dukkha!” I would probably have thought he was just some crazy religious person expressing some crazy dogma from his belief system.
There are hundreds of these people on the Internet, yet none of them were able to reach me in my time of need.
What I really needed was for someone to put meditation in terms that I could understand through my thought-oriented “Western” paradigm. I needed someone to explain why I should meditate, and how it would benefit me. Meditators always talk about the “benefits” of meditation, but they tend to put them in such vague terms as “finding your center” and “living in the now” that most western people don’t even know they’re talking about!
The funny thing is, now that I have experienced the benefits of meditation for myself, I can see that it is actually the solution to all of the problems I was having as a young adult. It is the solution to the problems of tens of millions of people across the USA and European Union, who are currently wasting billions of dollars every year on psychiatric treatment and drugs that are only making things worse. Meditation is the cure for the “disorders,” but it won’t just take you back to “neutral;” it will take you all the way up, into the realms of boundless joy and happiness. And it will awaken you to the spiritual reality of consciousness itself.
So, without further ado, here is a short list of the benefits of meditation, in western terms.
- Meditation is the cure for ADD / ADHD
- Meditation is the cure for anxiety (all types)
- Meditation is the cure for depression
- Meditation is the cure for bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder
- Meditation is the cure for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Meditation is the cure for low self-esteem
- Meditation is the cure for anger problems
- Meditation is the cure for obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Meditation is the cure for compulsive behaviors (e.g. gambling)
- Meditation is the cure for addictions (smoking, alcohol, etc)
- Meditation is the cure for narcissism
- Meditation is the cure for oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
- Meditation is the cure for antisocial personality disorder
- Meditation is the cure for insomnia
- Meditation is the cure for loneliness
- Meditation is the cure for psychogenic erectile dysfunction
- Meditation is the cure for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD)
- Meditation is the cure for all Adjustment Disorders
- Meditation is the cure for all Anxiety Disorders
- Meditation is the cure for all Impulse-Control Disorders
- While meditation has not yet been proven to reduce the effects of Cognitive, Psychotic, or Developmental Disorders like Schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Mental Retardation and Dementia, people who have had many years of experience with meditation will likely show a markedly lower level of anxiety than is normally expected for people experiencing these conditions.
- Meditation increases subjective feelings of happiness
- Meditation increases subjective feelings of wellness
- Meditation increases subjective feelings of joy
- Meditation increases subjective feelings of satisfaction
- Meditation increases subjective feelings of contentment
- Meditation may help regulate levels of dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins in the brain
- Meditation allows one to switch between introversion and extraversion at will
- Meditation relaxes your body and relieves muscle tension
- Meditation allows your body to use energy more efficiently
- Meditation reduces your need for sleep
- Meditation helps to moderate your blood pressure
- Meditation reduces your risk of heart disease
- Meditation can help you reduce your body fat, and keep it off
- Meditation can help you gain muscle mass, and keep it on
- The physical postures of lotus-style meditation improve your posture, strengthen your core and lower back, and improve your flexibility
- Meditation fosters behavior patterns that result in the general health of the body
- Meditation boosts your immune system and helps prevent cold/flu
- Meditation decreases laziness
- Meditation increases productive behavior
- Meditation increases pro-social behavior
- Meditation reduces clumsiness
- Meditation improves athletic abilities
- Meditation reduces social anxiety and shyness
- Meditation increases friendly and outgoing behaviors
- Meditation increases charisma
- Meditation increases empathy
- Meditation makes you a more attractive friend
- Meditation makes you a more attractive lover
- Meditation allows you to connect more deeply with other people
- Meditation increases compassion and loving-kindness
- Meditation increases the desire to help people who are in need
- Meditation increases assertiveness
- Meditation increases honesty
- Meditation increases kindness and decreases niceness
- Meditation fosters “love for all living beings” (including one’s self)
- Meditation reduces anger and aggressiveness
- Meditation reduces the tendency to judge others critically
- Meditation reduces hatred
- Look at the individuals described above; sane and healthy, honest and assertive, happy and productive, kind and compassionate, active and helpful. They have replaced their anger, hatred, and selfishness with peace, love, and togetherness. Just think what the world would be like if it were filled with this type of person! There would be no crime, no war (meditation programs are now being used in prisons in India and the USA and are having incredible effects). Our economies would flourish with the unimaginable energy of billions of people working together to make the world a better place, instead of wasting their time and energy fighting with each other and stealing money out of the stock market. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. This is not an all-or-nothing type of thing. If you start meditating today, and a thousand more start this month, and a thousand more next month… this will make a significant impact. If 10% of the people in this world have experience with meditation, that’s great. If 11% are meditating, that’s even better.
- To read more about the societal impact of meditation, click here.
- Benefits That Are Hard To Explain In Scientific Terms
- Meditation deepens spiritual perception
- Meditation answers the question “Who am I?”
- Meditation answers the question “What is the meaning of life?”
- Meditation answers the question “What is my purpose in life?”
- Meditation creates “peace of mind”
- Meditation deepens one’s experience of life
- Meditation helps you “find your center”
- Meditation allows you to “live in the now”
- Meditation deepens one’s connection with the Universe
- Meditation allows one to perceive the Nature of Reality
- Meditation allows one to perceive the Source of All Things (some choose to call this “God”)
- Meditation allows one to develop an unconditional happiness that transcends all material things, events, and circumstances.
As a matter of fact, I’m sure that there are many other benefits of meditation that I myself am not aware of. These effects are simply the ones that I am able to perceive through my own experience, and through my understanding of meditation’s effects on the brain.
Now, I’m not going to sit here right now and write a 100,000-word article going into detail about each of these benefits. What I will do is to spend the next few weeks (months?) writing individual articles going into depth about specific benefits, and linking this article to them to make things easier for you. If you’re interested in exploring some of the above benefits and getting more into depth, bookmark this article, and check back every so often. You can also subscribe to my RSS / e-mail feed, which will notify you every time I publish a new article.
Thanks for reading.
Now go meditate!!!
The views expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Meditation Magazine.