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October 12, 2012

Personal Matters: The lifelong benefits of meditation

Recently, an Essex reader wrote to me asking that I write about meditation — what it is and how it benefits its practitioners.

It is an important question because it provides an opportunity for me to share with you a simple, active, powerful method of enhancing the quality of your life.

There are many forms of meditation and despite its perceived mystique, meditation is simply a method of focusing your attention in a certain way for a particular purpose. It is usually practiced at a quiet time, in a quiet place where there are no distractions. Meditation clears and ‘opens’ the mind.

The act of meditation comprises physical, mental and spiritual components. The physical aspects can include breathing techniques, sound repetitions or body postures. The mental aspect may involve concentrating on a single, static image or visualizing a detailed event or journey. There is no single “right” way to meditate so these elements can vary.

What is consistent in most forms of meditation is its element of spirituality. Meditation is spiritual in the sense that it emphasizes internal quiet, and on the internal spirit rather than on the external world.

People use meditation for a variety of purposes. Some practice meditation as a way of getting in touch with their spiritual selves. They find it to be an effective way to look deeply within themselves in order to understand who they really are.

This insight helps them live more meaningful lives in a culture that is often in lacking in meaning. This is in keeping with the traditional Buddhist belief that meditation helps you become more aware – not only of what is inside you, but what is around you. You become more mindful and more alive in the moment.

Meditation also has direct practical purposes. Athletes and business people use it to overcome nervousness and distraction. Through meditation, they clear their minds so they can use their inner strengths and skills to achieve their goals.

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