I personally believe that meditation is as important as sleep, exercise, and healthy eating, and that it is a habit that everyone should integrate into their life. There have been a ton of scientific studies done that have shown that meditation has a wide range of health and productivity benefits, but I wanted to share a few that I have experienced after adopting a daily 30-minute vipassana meditation practice over the last couple of years.
1. It defragments your mind
With each passing day our minds gather more and more thoughts, and those thoughts can become unorganized if we don’t step back from them to gain a proper perspective. By practicing meditation, your mind has a chance to just be. For once it isn’t bogged down thinking about complex work problems, what commitments it has to maintain, or the paper that’s due in less than 24 hours, and it has the time to defragment itself.
2. It saves you time
It might sound strange that a new daily commitment can you time, but meditation does. It saves you time because
- It allows you to procrastinate less. This alone can more than make up for the time you spend meditating
- You will likely fall asleep faster and when you’re asleep you will sleep better. Improved sleep because of meditation will not only provide you with more time, but will also provide you with more energy
- When meditation defragments your mind, you may find that certain actions of yours are unnecessary and thus a waste of your time
- Many forms of meditation help you see what us Buddhists refer to as right speech, right action and right thought. This essentially means that you may begin to stop thinking, saying, and doing things that are less important to you
3. It increases your focus
The practice of meditation involves constantly bringing your focus back to your main object of meditation, typically your breath, and over time this conditions you to be able to focus more. A year or two ago I procrastinated like crazy. When I sat down to write a paper I would constantly check my twitter, Facebook, Instagram and blog feeds, and got hardly anything done. Today, I simply write the paper. Meditation helps you focus more, which is is very handy when there are an increasing number of distractions in your life.
4. It helps you relllllaxxxxxxx
It is easy to become high-strung when you jump around from distraction to distraction. Meditation forces you to take a breather, and just relax. It slows down your heart rate, allows your mind to slow down, and feel more comfortable in your body. This might sound a bit strange, but some nights when I want to reward myself for an accomplishment of some sort or just for being awesome, I meditate.
5. It teaches you perseverance
I’ll be the first to admit it: meditation can be frustrating. The mind has a tendency to wander, and this becomes very apparent when you’re on the cushion. But over time, as you gently bring your mind back to focus on your breath (or another object of meditation), your mind begins to learn that every moment your mind loses track of your body is a chance to begin again, and that focus is a great way to combat struggle. Meditation shows you the path through struggle, and that struggle isn’t actually that big of a deal after all.
Where to start
As I mentioned earlier, I have a daily vipassana meditation practice, but this is hardly the only type of meditation out there. If you’re interested in exploring vipassana meditate further, I highly recommend the book, Mindfulness in Plain English. It’s public domain and is available online for free at many places, including [here http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html]. I would also recommend exploring other types of meditation to see which one fits you best; while some people may try to sell you on the virtues of one practice over another, they all work toward the same goal in the end. The Buddha put it best when he said, “don’t blindly believe what others say, see for yourself what brings serenity, clarity of thought and inner peace”.