"The mind is the friend
of those who have control over it,
and the mind acts like an enemy
for those who do not control it."
Meditate? "I'd rather eat glass"
We are well versed with the need to take care of our physical body; to clean, exercise, rest and nourish it in order to keep healthy.
The body needs our attention to stay in shape and healthy but consider that our physical presence is merely scratching the surface of who we really are. Consider that the body is the 'shop front' and the final, tangible product of something much bigger, vast and deep -- our mind.
And yet, how much time do we spend taking care of our mind? How do we nourish and nurture it? Do we realise how hard it works for us, regardless of whether it is paid conscious attention or not? Many of us do not realise how our stress is shaping our physical and psychological health.
So, how 'healthy' is your mind?
Our mind is our prime asset and yet, for most of us, we have very little ability to calm it at will. We often find it difficult to consciously direct our thoughts in a positive direction, to recognise and discard the random ones and to discern which thoughts are worthy of attention.
This is where meditation comes into play.
What is meditation?
Meditation is a nourishing elixir for the mind and body and, ultimately, a pathway to the soul.
Then, why do so few people meditate? Indeed, so often, I've seen that rather than meditate many people behave as though they would 'rather eat glass'. Is it that they are subconsciously afraid to confront themselves or the power of silence?
A number of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, Sir Paul McCartney and Cameron Diaz, have expressed their love for meditation, but what exactly is it?
Meditation is a practice of developing internal concentration and focus, with the objective of calming down undirected and automatic mental activity. It is also a means of training the mind to become aware of thoughts and the inner emotional landscape, to let them go or merely observe their presence as an objective witness, thereby detaching from them and demising their negative influence on your wellbeing. As the practice progresses, meditation is a tool for surfing the realms of higher consciousness into samadhi.
There are several types of meditation, each with its own technique and objective. Regardless of the philosophy behind each type, all lead to increased awareness through the focusing and calming of the mind and the ability to be present in the now; the basis of Mindfulness that is so much talked about these days.
Different types of meditation
According to the sages of ancient India, there are two types of meditation or dhyana: saguna and nirguna. Focusing on a sound, candle flame, light, colour or an image, such as a mandala, is called saguna - sa meaning 'with' and guna meaning 'form'. This is because you're focusing on a form in your meditation in order to acquire the qualities and attributes imparted by that form, such as that of a deity. Whereas, in nirguna meditation, nir means 'without' and guna means 'form'. Here you're concentrating on the formless consciousness.
Ultimately, meditation is a means of tapping into dimensions of inner consciousness that lies beyond words; the realm of potential, creativity and pure intelligence.
There are at least 40 known benefits of meditation, many medical. Scientific instruments such as fMRI and EEG have been used to scan the brains of meditators. More recent research with brain scans has shown increased neural connections between the right and left brain, leading to increased holistic thinking and so, increasing the possibility to tap into latent potential.
Other benefits can include:
• Increased levels of happiness and better relationships
• Increased intelligence
• Increased creativity
• Increased work efficiency
• Stress and anxiety relief through the balancing of the nervous system and hormone levels
• The slow-down of cellular ageing by boosting telomeres that keep cells healthy
• Reduced effects of 'burnout', including the alleviation of depression
• Improved immune system
• Contribution towards the normalisation of blood pressure.
Give it a go
You could say that meditation, especially when combined with exercise and a good diet, is the ultimate health and life insurance -- and so much more.
Get mediating to claim your health -- mind and body. Your mind is your most precious asset, but most of all, dive into the realms of your inner being to discover and realise your true potential in all areas of your life.
Smita Joshi is the author of the Karma & Diamonds trilogy, a gripping journey of Self-discovery across continents and lifetimes. For more information, go to www.Karma-and-Diamonds.com