Meditation and Mindfulness Practice

Concept of Meditation:

Meditation is intended to help us understand and control our own mental states.  By calmly observing and reflecting upon the actions of our own mind, through the practice of meditation, we can come to better understand how our mind works and how it responds to the world around us.  With enough practice, mental states such as anger, joy or anxiety can be observed objectively as mental states and the conditions that bring them about can identified.  In time, we can learn to identify the conditions that tend to activate certain mental states and better control our own internal response to those conditions.  With enough practice, meditation allows us to identify the various aspects of our lives that bring about our various mental states and permits us to cultivate and perhaps control our mental and emotional responses.

Put another way, meditation offers an alternative to the common perception that our emotions and mental states are subject to forces beyond our control or the resignation that joy and sadness are subject exclusively to the whims of external events.  In contrast to that view, meditation offers a technique to identify and understand our own habitual responses to the events of daily life, and ultimately a way to cultivate and control our own mental states and our mental response to external events.

Meditation attempts to facilitate a conscious examination of the present and focus our attention on the moment to moment awareness of various aspects of our mental states, such as our individual thoughts, concepts, feelings, emotions, or memories.  This self-reflective process gradually facilitates a sense of self-awareness, calm and confidence as we come to understand that our own happiness is something we can influence, cultivate and eventually potentially control.

Benefit of Meditation and Mindfulness Practice:

The benefit of meditation practice has been shown through numerous scientific studies.  It can make your life healthier and happier in many ways.  It reduces stress, decreases anxiety, helps you sleep better, gives you more self control, and helps you manage chronic pain. 

Neuroscientist from Harvard have found that mindfulness changes your brain for the better.  They discovered mindfulness practitioners have less grey matter in parts of their brain related to stress and anxiety and more grey matter in areas related to learning, memory, emotional regulation, and empathy.  Prolonged stress is damaging to the mind and the body.  The stress response impacts the immune system, increases blood, pressure, cholesterol, and can lead to hypertension, strokes, and coronary heart disease.  Mindfulness can help combat this because as it creates a “relaxation response,” the opposite of the stress response.