“Simply put, meditation techniques are tools for knowing, shaping and liberating the mind. In the same way that cardio or weight-training helps you cultivate a healthy, strong, and flexible body, meditation practice helps you cultivate a healthy, strong, and flexible mind. It also give you access to a subtle level of awareness (your own inner wisdom), from which you’re able to perceive reality directly and with great clarity.”
-- Elizabeth Reninger (excerpt from Meditation Now)
With extra awareness and a stronger mind, we are better equipped at dealing with cravings and unhealthy habits such as smoking. It also helps to discover what the potential triggers are to unhealthy lifestyle choices.
Our latest eBook explores 13 less common triggers that are related to smoking. Download for Free here.
How does Meditation help with Stress
Every human being is faced with stressful situations: a child that has come down with the flu; a fast-approaching work deadline; rush-hour traffic – to name just a few. There also are environmental challenges: the unexpected blizzard or hailstorm; heatstroke-inducing sun; or the invisible man-made EMF “smog” that places increasing levels of stress on our nervous system.
Stressful situations such as these can take their toll on our physical, mental and emotional health. In a recent survey, 75% of Australians admitted that stress in their lives adversely affected their physical health, and 64% said that stress adversely affected their mental health.
How do Australians typically relate to stressful situations, in an attempt to alleviate the stressful feelings? According to recently gathered statistics, 86% watch movies or television, and 81% spend time with loved ones (family or friends). Other common coping mechanisms include: focusing on the positives, listening to music, reading, eating and adjusting expectations.
Now while there’s nothing wrong with any of the above-listing “coping mechanisms,” one that wasn’t mentioned – and is perhaps the most powerful of all – is meditation. Reducing stress and promoting physical, mental and emotional relaxation is one of the primary benefits of a meditation practice. And Australia has an abundance of meditation resources (teachers, classes and retreats) on offer, to get you started, and support an ongoing practice.
In case you're still on the fence regarding the value of meditation, here's a more comprehensive list of the proven benefits of a regular practice:
- Stress relief & relaxation
- Improved concentration & mental clarity
- Increased feelings of calmness & contentment
- Enhanced energy & vitality
- A flowering of kindness & compassion
- Increased emotional harmony
- Deeper and more restful sleep
- Enhanced insight & creativity
- Equanimity in the face of challenging circumstances
- Physical healing associated with stress reduction and positive emotional states
- The capacity to observe the thinking-mind (that internal mental chatter) without getting caught up in its dramas
- Release of unproductive mental-emotional patterns
- A revealing of the wisdom, peace, love and vibrant energy that are the mind’s natural qualities
Connecting With Your Problem-Free Natural State
The deepest benefit and ultimate fruition of meditation is to knowingly connect with the unconditioned peace and joy that is our natural state: a transpersonal dimension which does not share the limitations of the body or mind. This represents the end of psychological suffering – the end of that nagging feeling of dissatisfaction or dis-ease – and the emergence of an abiding sense of well-being throughout life's activities. This is the full activation and enjoyment of our transpersonal “inner wisdom” – which is inherently without problems, inherently stress-free!
But the best answer to the question -- Why would I want to practice meditation? -- is to try it and notice the effects. While there are many different forms of meditation, one of the most common is simply to follow the breath. Here’s how, if you’d like to try it now:
- Begin by sitting with your spine upright (either on a straight-backed chair, or on a meditation cushion); say “ahh” to release tension in your face, neck and jaw; and drop your attention into the space of the lower abdomen, feeling the energy of the deep belly.
- Now, bring your attention to the flow of breath: the inhalations and exhalations. Make no effort to change the breath in any way – just notice its rhythm and quality.
- Notice how the breath feels cool at your nostrils, as it flows in – and then feels a bit warmer, as it flows out.
- Notice your ribcage gently expanding, as the breath flows in, and then gently relaxing, as the breath flows out.
- Notice your belly gently expanding, as the breath flows in, and then gently releasing, as the breath flows out.
- Now, begin to count the breaths, from one to ten, in the following way: Inhale gently, and then as you exhale, say (either out loud, or silently to yourself) “one.” Then again inhale gently, and with the next exhale, say “two.” Then again inhale gently, and with the next exhale, say “three.”
- Continue in this fashion until you’ve reached “ten.” If your mind wanders, no problem – simply begin counting again, with “one.”
- When you’ve counted ten breaths without distraction, relax, and notice how you feel. Notice the aware presence that remains, even as the meditation technique is dropped.