Meditation? Why Bother?

Strangely enough, meditation is a bit of a hot topic button in reserved society. It's either frowned upon as some kind of evil occult practice to commune with evil spirits or false powers - which I'm not sure I understand at all how anyone draws that conclusion, but fine, whatever floats your boat - or it's written off as New Age baloney that parapsychological nuts try to stuff down people's throats every chance they get. While concepts as simple as meditation have been abused in the sense of throwing around words to sell ridiculously expensive kits and guide books on the matter, it's certainly not something to steer clear of. It's actually quite the opposite!

So before you contemplate whether or not mediation is for you, what is meditation? Meditation, defined simply, is the practice of reaching complete and total relaxation. The purpose of meditation, whether it's to astral project, to cleanse the chakras, or to just relax the mind to better reflect on a worldly problem is entirely up to the user. But all meditation means is to reach the state of complete relaxation to reach that usually benign purpose. It is certainly not an evil practice, and it is certainly not just a fancy word occultists throw around to sound pretentious.

So is meditation for you, you wonder?

I myself would go as far as to say that meditation is for anyone who wants a true escape from worldly stressors by substantial means. The simple fact is people rely far too much on worldly stimulation to escape worldly stimulation; they escape the world through the world, whether it's television, video games, or wallowing away hours on social networking sites. We've reached a state of affairs where we believe technology is the break we need from modern living, or better yet, unhealthy habits such as overeating, drugs or alcohol.

What meditation offers is a true escape. It offers the mind a chance to truly focus, as meditation requires the self discipline of tuning out worldly disturbances. It offers the mind a chance to focus on the positivity needed to reach true relaxation, as only positivity brings the mind and body the inner peace to reach a state truly free of tension. It offers the mind the chance to clear itself of the clutter that our modern world insists on shoving into it, whether it's loud music, obnoxious advertising that feeds on public insecurity, or all the depressing stories that sell on the news. With the world we live in, meditation might be something we need just to keep it together!

And if even you don't buy into 'New Age occultist nonsense', there's certainly no arguing with objective science. Neuroscientists have indeed studied the brainwave activity of people who actively meditate, and through electroencephalograms (EEGs) they've discovered that their meditations actually shifted as well as slowed electrical activity in the brain. The people partaking in these studies were shown to be overall calmer, more collected than people who don't actively partake in meditation. They had reduced stress levels, anxiety, and were less prone to fear-based reactions in every day situations. They also had a more pragmatic grasp on emotional situations, and had better skills for management of anxiety.

While some researchers will argue that conclusive evidence has yet to be drawn about meditation's benefits, more and more medical professionals are found condoning and recommending meditation for their patients. And why wouldn't they? It's certainly less expensive than antidepressants and relaxers, and it reaps all the same benefits (although of course, intricacies of such a matter should be discussed with your health care provider).

Not only does meditation offer amazing benefits such as true peace of mind, needed positivity to better emotional health, and the chance to clear it of clutter, it's also an entirely subjective practice. What this means is that generally there's no right or wrong way to go about it. Many people incorporate meditation into a way that fits their lifestyle, whether they meditate in the lotus position in a sand garden, or they simply sit up straight on the leather sofa in their living room with soft, relaxing music playing.

Either way, meditation can be done in a few simple steps:

Slow down and focus on your breathing. This is a fairly basic step in most practices of meditation. It begins with simply tuning out worldly disturbances, by closing your eyes and concentrating on your breathing. Nothing exists outside of your body beyond your breath. Focus on the rhythm of your breath, the slowness of it, how heavily you breathe.

Visualization. Helpful visualization aids you greatly in meditation; picture yourself breathing out a light or an aura of your least favorite color, while you breathe to draw in a pure, white healing light that fills you with warmth, love, and compassion. You are breathing out the negativity, the fear, the tension, and you are breathing in love, warmth, and understanding.

Or perhaps you can visualize your body standing upright like a great tree. Picture the end of your spine furrowing deep into the earth, like the roots of a tree, and urge distractions, negativity, pain, tension and fear down into these roots where they'll fade into the earth. All the while, picture a white healing light pouring over the top of your skin, and as the tree takes in sunlight, take in and absorb this light and allow it to fill you with comfort, warmth, and love.

Or you can perhaps visualize a healing light pouring down on top of you, around you, curling like an ocean wave to wash away the fear, anxiety and tension that you will toward the top of your skin. Whatever visual you use, which is completely up to you, be sure that it brings you only positivity. You are drawing on only positivity to reach this state, use whatever means you need to do it.

Repeat an affirmation. An affirmation is somewhat like either a mission statement, or perhaps it's a conviction that will help you reach resolution. Either way, an affirmation is vital in meditation, but it can be quite simple given your situation. For example, if helping to heal yourself, or to make yourself happier, or to feel loved is your intent, simply word it positively in an affirmation. "I am healthy", "I am happy", "I am worthy of being loved", whichever you use, make sure that it's positive. Try to avoid words or comparative phrases, such as 'not', 'no', 'never', 'better than', 'less than', 'more than'. These words and phrases carry negative connotations, and it helps to keep things much simpler if you just focus on positivity.

Focus on positivity. Whether it's a positively reinforcing visual or whether it's reflecting on your blessings, stay positive. Picture yourself walking through a nice calm forest on a breezy spring day, or just reflect on the good things in your life whether it's your family, your friends, your health, or even the fact that you're alive. Either way, staying focused on positivity to clear out the negative energies of fear and anger are what will leave you feeling refreshed and energized.

No matter what way you choose to follow these steps, and no matter what method you choose in order to meditate - there are plenty of Yogic, Tai Chi and transcendental methods with which to practice - just remember that meditation is not a competition. It requires practice, but one can hone it at their own pace, and you certainly don't need to worry or become discouraged if you're not entirely at peace or entirely focused within your first few tries. The key is to stay positive, and keep practicing!

With the benefits in mind, as well as the path opened, I hope that at the very least I've helped someone discover a way to escape the every day ruckus of modern life. Or at least, I've helped them decide before they fall back on unhealthier methods.

In a world that needs more positive influence, after all, what could be wrong with seeking time to create more positivity for yourself? What could be wrong with attempting to better yourself? And how could a method that helps one attain inner peace, better their emotional being be perceived as evil or nonsense? Perhaps the matter can be better answered if only one meditates on it.

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