The word “meditation” gets a bad rap. Highly misunderstood, it’s no wonder busy Americans often hit rock bottom before they reach out for help and finally find peace through meditating. Whether you rely on studies from neuroscientists, or follow the teachings of a yogi master, it makes no difference; the practice just may change your outlook on life. As simple as it sounds, once you understand yourself (not someone else’s perception on who they think you should be), life takes on a whole new meaning.
Meet Michael, a 44-year-old statistician, Type A personality and workaholic. He was sent to the emergency room in fear of a heart attack, only to find out he had severely painful heartburn. Realizing he escaped a brush with death, he had a real wake-up call regarding his high-stress lifestyle. At the recommendation of a trusted friend, he turned to meditation for a “help-me-I’m sinking” makeover. Within a month, he felt more relaxed, added exercise to his regime, stopped taking people so seriously, and his blood pressure returned to normal.
Fleur, a mid-life hip replacement recipient, could not get rid of recurring pain long after healing and rehabilitation. She knew there was a correlation between her mind and body: the pain always occurred during periods of stress, leading her to feeling agitated, unsettled and overwhelmed with life. As a last resort, she sought help from an energy therapist, who advised her to “get out of your head and back into your heart through meditation.” So, she did – reluctantly at first, even “feeling silly sitting alone, smiling from the inside out…” After a week, she noticed a shift in her state of mind. Weeks turned to months which led her to make life decisions: to quit her corporate job, get rid of stuff (in addition to people’s ideals) and discard her huge list of things she “should” do.
Both individuals experienced time-tested physical benefits of meditation: enhanced attention, increased memory, reduced stress, and boosted immune systems. But most notably, when they slacked off their meditative routines, stress and anxiety would start to creep back in.
It’s a sad fact that in our technologically advanced society, with any subject available at the touch of a button, we spend so little time getting to know ourselves. We are taught how to behave and function in the outer world, but we are never taught how to be still and examine what is within ourselves. To learn this through meditation, we attain the highest of joys that can ever be experienced by a human being. All other joys in the world are momentary, but the contentment achieved through meditation can be immense and everlasting. You don’t have to imagine living life on your own terms. Choose. Then, go out and do it.
Abella Carroll, Freelance Writer