Happier, healthier, and more grounded. Not a bad way to go through life.
Ongoing scientific research on meditation continues to show remarkable benefits in terms of both health and happiness. If you’re interested we could talk about this stuff for hours. For now, here’s a quick summary of some of the practical, real-world benefits that students report from regular practice of Vedic Meditation.
This is the big one for most people. That’s because the single greatest obstruction to our health and well-being is stress. Medical research estimates as much as 90% of all health problems are caused or aggravated by stress. The unique state of rest that is achieved during meditation allows the body to launder years of accumulated stress physiologically. It also allows the body’s natural healing mechanisms to function fully and in doing so promotes a state of balance and health. People who practice the Vedic Meditation technique say they have less stress, more energy, and less tension in their lives. Many find it easier to reduce alcohol use, stop smoking, and let go of unhealthy habits. Research also shows that they have lower medical costs, fewer doctor visits, and less hospitalization. All from closing your eyes for 20 minutes twice a day and silently repeating your mantra. Sounds amazing, but it’s true.
Better sleep and more energy
About half of my students come to the course complaining of poor sleep. And it’s no wonder because when we’re stressed, one of the first things to be compromised is the quality of our sleep. The unfortunate paradox is that sleep is also our first line of defense against the harmful effects stress. Fortunately, very soon after learning to meditate, most people report an improvement in their quality of sleep which means they arise rested, with more energy, ready to get things done. It’s also interesting to note that, after a year or so of meditation, many people report needing about an hour less sleep a night.
A recent study showed similar brain-wave patterns in babies, jazz musicians in the middle of improvisation and meditators. What this shows is that meditation allows us to cultivate a way of being that opens us up to all possibilities, without the negative effects of fear and anxiety. Not a bad thing to have in your toolbox when you’re trying to come up with creative and innovative solutions to the challenges of modern life.
Less reactivity to stressful events
One of the most comforting, real-world benefits of learning this technique is that we find it’s harder to knock us off our game. We simply begin to lose the ability to lose it…especially in situations where it’s really not appropriate. Like when we’re behind the wheel. Or dealing with our kids. Or customer service people. And if we do get angry about something we find it easier to let go of that anger and return to an even keel.
Live in the moment
Most of us spend a good part of our lives regretting or rehashing the past and worrying about the future. This non-stop brain chatter is what both prevents us from being in the moment and adds an unhealthy amount of drama to our lives. Vedic Meditation allows us to turn down the volume on that brain chatter so that it’s less distracting, allowing us to focus on what’s happening right here, right now. The most interesting thing is the Vedic Meditation allows you to be more in the moment without asking you to focus on doing that. The benefit arises as a consequence of the practice, not as the goal.
Better mental clarity and focus
Clear thinking is vital for everyone, because it’s the state of our minds that determines the overall quality of our experiences. During Vedic Meditation the mind gains direct access to the deeper, quieter, more powerful and intuitive levels of thinking. This experience systematically expands consciousness and infuses the mind with creativity and intelligence, bringing improvements in all aspects of mental performance and perception. After meditating, the mind is fresher, quieter, more alert and happier. Awareness shifts and one finds they begin to respond in a completely different way to demands and pressure. Studies show that in the brains of long-time meditators the connective fiber between different areas of the brain, including the corpus callosum, get thicker. Meditation is like a push-up for your brain…and this isn’t just a colorful metaphor, it’s the conclusion of a recent study at UCLA.
Better Decision Making (especially under pressure)
Within just six weeks of learning this technique meditators have shown measurable increases in performance in something called “executive function.” What this means is that their ability to stay calm, while making accurate decisions under pressure improves. This has all sorts of relevant real-world benefits for actual executives, high-performance athletes, and the people who really need it the most – parents.
Freedom from addictive behavior
When we engage in addictive behavior we are trying, in vain, to fill a hole we feel in ourselves. But no matter how much alcohol or drugs or sex or food or video games or gambling or whatever we try to pour into our lives it’s a hole we can never fill. The 11th step of every 12-step program is meditation. Why? Because the only substance with which we can fill the hole we feel in ourselves is with love for ourselves. The practice of Vedic Meditation gives us a direct experience, twice a day, of our essential self. It’s a very healing and nourishing way to better know and love ourselves.
It’s not exactly difficult to understand why when we’re healthier, happier and living more in the moment we’re a lot easier to be around. And that ends up being a good thing for the other people in our lives, and attracts better people to our life.
Better knowledge of self
Twice a day, Vedic Meditation gives you a direct experience of your most essential self; of that unique kernel of awareness that lies at the core of your being. And it gives you this knowledge not through hours of exhaustive talk therapy, but by allowing your mind to settle effortlessly into it’s own depths. What results is that you feel more grounded in the person you truly are, and are more able to both hear and honor the impulses that rise from within.