There is something of an Eastern spiritual revival going on in the West right now. As a result, practices like yoga and meditation are currently all the rage. Whether you see it at your local gym, during corporate "bonding" sessions, or advertised on social media, it seems the world and his wife have a strong desire for you to take up meditation.
Many of today's leading industrialists and businessmen are known to dabble in Eastern philosophy and spiritual practices, so many believe that they should do the same to get ahead.
But the spiritual connotations of practices such as yoga, fasting, meditation, and so on may be seriously off-putting to you.
You aren't religious at all, and you certainly don't believe in the religions that preach meditation, so why on earth would you do it? You aren't looking for enlightenment, so what do you have to gain?
Well, you might be surprised to learn that regular meditation has an extremely wide variety of benefits to offer.
Far from just being a ticket to Nirvana, meditation can help you lead a happier, healthier, more productive life.
This free, simple, easy to do thing can make drastic improvements to your cognitive function, your mood, and your overall health.
Here are just 3 of the ways that meditation can help you, regardless of your spiritual inclinations.
Meditation Improves Cognitive Function
It is well known that many leading intellectuals, business people, and innovators do some kind of daily meditation practice.
In a business setting, this is often referred to as practicing "mindfulness", so as to avoid any religious connotations. Yet the practice is still meditation at its core. Well, it seems that this trend is not just the latest fad among the super-elite.
Regular meditation has been shown to dramatically alter cognitive function.
As this article explains, meditation is one of the most effective ways of natural increasing your ability to focus.
If you strip away all of the hocus pocus, the chanting, and the robes, meditation is simply a period of time where you get your wandering mind firmly under control.
Your mind's default state is one of constant exploration. When you meditate, you are repeatedly bringing your mind back from its wanderings and forcing it to remain focused on one particular thing. This could be your breathing, your hands, the wind; it doesn't matter.
The point is that you are honing your ability to dismiss distractions and to get your brain to stick with the important thing.
The effect that meditation has on your focus actually seems to have a physical aspect. It is well worth reading the cited article to find out more about this.
Meditation Promotes Heart Health
This one should be pretty obvious. There are numerous different ways in which meditation promotes a healthy heart and circulatory system, but we'll just touch on a few. For starters, it should be self-evident that meditation is relaxing.
When you meditate, you get control over your breathing, sit in a comfortable position in a quiet place, and try to clear your mind.
For some people, meditation is the only time of the day that they genuinely dedicated to relaxing. Well, one result of doing this is that your blood pressure will come down. If you suffer from hypertension, then even a quick 10-minute meditation session can help.
This study, published in the International Journal of Hypertension, found that "meditation techniques appear to produce small yet meaningful reductions in blood pressure either as monotherapy or in conjunction with traditional pharmacotherapy."
If you have high blood pressure, whether it is stress induced or otherwise, meditation might be something you want to consider trying.
But meditation is more than a short-term fix for hypertension.
According to some professors at Harvard Medical School, meditation can serve as an overall protector against cardiovascular disease.
Meditation offers significant heart benefits, Dr. Deepak Bhatt tells us the following: "Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction. I do recommend it, along with diet and exercise. It can also help decrease the sense of stress and anxiety."
Meditation Lifts Your Mood
So we've covered your mind and your heart.But we are yet to mention perhaps the most important benefit of meditation: emotional stability. For many people, meditation is like free therapy. It is used the world over as a daily cure for anxiety, stress, regret, sadness, and jealousy.
This isn't surprising if you think about its origins.
Meditation was explicitly encouraged to help people move past the suffering of the human experience and to help them realize a deeper truth. It was the ultimate aid in the fight to get rid of desire, hatred, jealousy, and every other human affliction for that matter.
Well, science is now showing that meditation seems to do just that. We aren't talking about becoming a Buddha here. Rather, it seems that meditation is an effective way to get on top of your emotions, helping you to think more clearly about situations, and ultimately helping to rid you of negative feelings.
If you find that you often have feelings of anxiety, guilt, sadness or loneliness, then it is important to talk to someone about these feelings.
But you might also want to try some form of meditation at the same time.
Taking some time to clear your mind, silence the voice in your head, and relax might be all you need to see that your worries aren't so important after all.
It is important to note that meditation is not a good course of therapy for someone with a serious mental issue. Some clinicians have noted that meditation can trigger psychotic episodes in severe cases. In this section, we are talking about the general kind of anxiety that everyone suffers, not actual medical conditions!
Clearly, meditation is not just for people looking to find Nirvana.
It isn't just a fad for neo-hippies and new age shamans.
Modern science has found that meditation has some real and lasting effects on your health, happiness, and mental abilities. Even if you don't buy into the spiritual side of meditation, you can just think of that as the practice's history.
Your lack of belief doesn't detract from the many benefits listed above.
So why not try a quick meditation session today? There are plenty of guides online helping you get started. It is free, easy, and all you need to start are a quiet place and 5 minutes of your time.
What have you got to lose?