By now, someone in your life has probably said to you “You know, you should try meditating. It’s really good for you.” You’ve probably seen pictures or movies of people meditating while sitting cross-legged on the floor, in a yoga studio, or on a mountain or beach somewhere. Meditating tends to conjure up images of saffron robes, exotic Eastern temples, vague or mysterious pronouncements, chanting in ancient tongues, and positive affirmations. Well, here’s some good news: you don’t need to do anything weird with candles, be anyone other than you, speak a dead language, sit any particular way, or go anywhere special to start meditating. But what is meditation, and why should you check it out?
Meditation is a time-tested technique for calming the mind and training it to see clearly that exists in both religious and secular philosophical traditions all throughout history, all over the world. It comes in many different forms, with many different goals. Some aim to achieve altered states of consciousness or bliss states, while some aim to contact the world and the mind as it is without any bias. Some involve visualizations, while others concentrate on sounds, or sensations of the body. Some involve sitting, while others involve movement. But that stuff isn’t really all that important. What’s important is what meditating does, and how you can benefit from it.
Modern science has proved what ancient practitioners of mind-training have always known: meditation is good for just about everything. From healing faster, sleeping better, being happier, knowing yourself better, forming better relationships, finding more meaning, and living longer: meditation is the missing piece to a lot of our lives. Just ten minutes a day can literally transform your life. It was even shown to regrow portions of our telomeres, which are little tags of genetic material at the ends of our DNA that grow shorter and shorter throughout our lives, (and are indicators for longevity and overall health). Traditional Chinese Medicine has always held that emotional and mental well-being was the most important aspect of a person’s health. Meditation is the most powerful tool available to us, to take control of that aspect of our lives.