Why Meditate?

Meditation can help you to enjoy life more and function better. Meditation enhances physical health and vitality, and promotes mental clarity. Emotionally, you will notice a deepened awareness of your feelings, and a greater capacity to give and receive love.

Hundreds of scientific studies over the last several decades have established that meditation has significant and measurable physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Here are just a few:

Physical Benefits of Meditation

• Your muscles and nerves relax profoundly.
• You are able to rest deeply and recover quickly from fatigue.
• You have a way to release stress from your nervous system, reducing stress-related ailments.
• Your immune system becomes stronger and your body is able to heal more rapidly.
• Blood pressure is normalized (lowered if high).
• You become more comfortable in your body.
• Your senses open up and come alive.
• Your ability to experience physical pleasure increases. You are a better lover, more in touch with all your senses.

These physical benefits are a side effect of the mental attitude of relaxed attention you are cultivating.

Mental Benefits of Meditation

• You can see and hear your own thoughts more clearly.
• You are more alert.
• You are able to stay calmer under pressure.
• You are able to shift perspective quickly from narrow focus to big picture.
• You perceive more beauty in life.
• You have a sense of how things connect, how things work together.
• You have more choice in how you respond to the world, for example, whether to get stressed or not.
• You are more open to new experiences.
• You are more accepting of your individuality.

The physical and mental changes impact your emotional life by bringing you into inner balance. Meditation puts you in touch with yourself and your authentic feelings as well, helping you to learn from and integrate your emotions.

Emotional Benefits of Meditation

• You learn to accept all your emotions.
• You have more empathy with others.
• You feel more connected with those you love.
• Life seems more harmonious.
• You are able to give and receive pleasure, attention and love.
• You are better at letting go of resentment and hurt.
• You are a better friend and lover because you are able to listen fully.
• You have better boundaries. Because you spend time with yourself, you will know where you end and another begins.
• You have a specific time and technique to feel and heal your heartaches and emotional wounds.

Spirituality can be thought of as the wholeness of our being. Meditation gives us a chance to integrate and harmonize our physical, mental, and emotional worlds. We come into relationship with the vastness of life.

Spiritual Benefits of Meditation

• You have a sense of oneness with the world.
• You experience more wonder and awe at creation.
• You tune in to your essence, your soul.
• You are more grateful.
• You feel more compassion.
• You directly experience that life is sacred.
• You feel a sense of connectedness with the soul of humanity. You are at home in the cosmos.
• You develop spirituality in your own way, a gradual awakening to an intimate communion with life.
• You begin to come to terms with death, with the mystery of death and birth. You feel more comfortable with things unseen.
• Your sense of the meaning of life deepens.

It is surprising that such a simple practice can have these profound benefits. This is because life is all one piece, and when you pay loving attention to the flow of life within and around you, all dimensions of your being are positively affected. Meditation is just a name we give to cultivating our best, most loving attention.

How Do I Begin?

You can begin right where you are now, in the course of your day. The meditation practices in this book are constructed around transitional moments, when you are moving from one activity to another. Just select one of the practices that appeals to you. Read the meditation and then take a couple of minutes to explore.
You can meditate anywhere. The physical setting doesn’t have to be precious or rarified. You don’t have to be on a mountain top, inside a cave, or sitting in a meditation room to get the benefits. A park bench or standing in line at the grocery store works just as well.

Some people find that meditating many times a day, for a few minutes here and there, works better than sitting for a longer period of time once or twice a day. These shorter sessions can be equally if not more effective because you get regular doses of relaxed attention. You will discover how to make use of these times to center and renew yourself.