http://www.bigshakti.com/meditation-benefits.html Meditation Benefits Meditation is one of the most important skills we can develop, as it is the foundation for cultivating awareness. Whenever awareness is present in a part of our life, that part can improve. Awareness is the key to health, higher knowledge, greater intelligence, intuition, and to uncovering our hidden abilities. The awareness derived through meditation allows us to manage life, its joys, sorrows and difficulties, with intelligence and creativity. Through the regular practice of meditation we develop our powers of perception and begin to see things as they really are. Meditation requires a range of processes and activities, including mental exercises, relaxation, introversion, concentration, self-reflection, contemplation and the capacity to generate higher states of mind and being. All of these activities and processes have one main aim, to cultivate greater awareness. From meditation we derive: 1. Health Benefits 2. Physical Benefits 3. Mental, Emotional and Psychic Benefits 4. Spiritual Benefits 5. Courage and Skill in Facing Life 6. Improved Relationships (with ourselves, others and with all of our activities) Health Benefits of Meditation Today, the healing benefits of meditation are widely recognized. Meditation practice is prescribed in many medical texts as an effective process for reducing physical, emotional and mental problems, and for positively influencing a diverse array of diseases. Chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, cancer, digestive problems, disorders of the nervous system, anxiety, and many other conditions can be helped significantly through meditation. Better health is often a pleasant side effect of meditation because it calms and strengthens the nervous and other core controlling systems of the body-mind. These systems are connected to every aspect of our being: physical, mental and emotional. They form a vast network that plays a pivotal role in our ability to remain healthy and to heal ourselves. Physical Benefits of Meditation Meditation has been shown to turn on the relaxation response, which is effected by the parasympathetic nervous system. This affects every organ and system in the body. For example, meditation slows the heart rate and breathing, lowers blood pressure, improves digestion, benefits the immune systems ability to respond to stress, and so on. Meditation also acts to sensitize us to our body’s needs. By calming the nervous system, our mind becomes calm. When the mind becomes calm intuition, normally suppressed by stress, has the opportunity to grow. Intuitive knowledge becomes our greatest ally, as we automatically begin to feel what our body needs. It is only when we become aware of our needs that we can provide for these needs. For example, if we can feel how deeply tired we really are we can do what is required to heal that tiredness through slowing down, sleeping more and practicing simple relaxation, such as Yoga Nidra, more often. Learning to feel the needs of the body is one of the most important steps in overcoming or preventing disease. Over time, regular meditation allows us to see the effects that our lifestyle and habits are having on our body. We can make gradual, appropriate and intelligent changes. Mental and Emotional Benefits of Meditation Meditation allows us to clarify and empower our perception. We learn to see things as they are. Meditation helps us to become aware of and face our lower mind, our thoughts, memories, desires and emotions with greater objectivity and self-control. Meditation helps us to develop mental calm, focus and stability, and improves our ability to make decisions. Once we have the ability to manage the lower mind, then we can engage in more powerful meditation techniques that direct our awareness to an awakening of the higher mind. These techniques unleash the vast creative intelligence at the core of our being. They add a new dimension to our lives so that each and every action and experience in life is lifted to a higher level. We experience the dawning of greater emotional intelligence, the capacity for greater empathy and compassion, and a real sense of being connected to life that is deeply fulfilling. Our intellect and intuition are also empowered by connection to the higher mind so that they function with greater understanding and discriminative ability. We become more connected to our own innate happiness and feel strong and able to live full, creative, interesting, useful lives. Spiritual Benefits of Meditation Meditation has been used by many cultures over thousands of years as a method to merge the singular, individual self into the highest Self. The spiritual benefits of meditation accrue as a result of Self-knowledge, which results from ongoing study, reflection and meditation on the Self. This is not the little self of the personality but the higher Self, the highest consciousness, the source, and the essence. This Self, our true nature, is extremely powerful. The great spiritual texts tell us that the Self shines with the light of a million suns. We do not experience ourselves in this way because our awareness is disconnected from our own essence. Instead we identify with the ever-demanding and ultimately mortal body-mind; we are caught up in its biological imperatives and dictates. The spiritual aim of meditation is to take our awareness back to identify with who we really are, the immortal and unchanging Self. The experience of identification with who we are informs us that we are at one with all other beings and that their happiness is our happiness. Courage and Skill in Facing Life through Meditation The consistent practice of meditation creates a powerful, resilient inner core that is undisturbed by negative experiences. Specific meditation techniques that involve grounding our energy and aligning us to our higher Self accelerate the refinement and power of our inner core. Grounding meditation techniques create a structure for us to safely and effectively connect with the higher Self and to express this relationship in our lives meaningfully and in a grounded way. The side effects of developing a stable inner core include the capacity to transform weakness into strength, rigidity into flexibility, and ignorance into wisdom. Then we can withstand life’s difficulties and setbacks with knowledge, courage, intelligence and skill. Improving Relationships through Meditation As we begin to understand ourselves through meditation and self-study, we develop a feeling of what is needed to truly self-nourish for sustained growth of body-mind and spirit. Self-nourishment implies that we care for and strengthen ourselves in every way available to us and in every aspect of our lives, internal and external. When we know how to self-nourish and support ourselves, we can nourish and support others. When we know how to love and respect ourselves we can love and respect others. The ultimate promise of meditation is authentic Self-knowledge and Self-love. When we know and love ourselves, we become people of the world, we stand on our own feet, accept what we can’t change and work enthusiastically towards improving what we can. We develop a very natural confidence and heart felt compassion. We spontaneously relate to others as they are, without fear and the need for agendas. This is the beginning of healthy relationships as we can allow ourselves to feel the joys and pains of others without becoming emotionally entangled. As a result, we bring freedom, respect, creativity and joy into all of our relationships.