You have no doubt heard that meditation is a powerful practice, but do you know why? Meditation helps to strengthen your focus and so much more!

The benefits of meditation

You have no doubt heard that meditation is a powerful practice, but do you know why? Meditation helps to strengthen your focus, attention and presence, which are arguably some of the most valuable qualities in modern-day life. The practice does this by activating the parasympathetic nervous system (ie rest and digest), which slows down your heart rate and blood pressure, countering the effects of stress in the body (ie fight or flight). Meditation is also a form of deep rest and healing. Research has shown that 20 minutes of meditation can be equivalent to four or five hours of deep sleep! 

The beauty of meditation is that anyone can practise it, anywhere and anytime. There are so many different styles of meditation — from Vedic to Vipassana to visualisation to contemplation — so if you are new to the practice, then it’s worth trying out a few different styles to find what you resonate with the most.

By carving out a dedicated time to simply be with yourself — just as you are — you are deepening your capacity to be present, curious and compassionate. We strengthen these tools in our meditation practice, but we put them to practice in the everyday moments of life that challenge us.
“Meditation will not carry you to another world,” Zen Master Hsing Yun once said, “but it will reveal the most profound and awesome dimensions of the world in which you already live.” To have a practice readily at our disposal that can enrich the moments that make up the days, weeks, months, years of our lives — what could be more valuable?

The role of awareness in meditation

Awareness is an integral element of meditation because it is the quality of mind you aim to embody in the practice. Awareness is a tool you can strengthen in meditation and ultimately put to practice in everyday life.
Michael Singer, author of the well-known spiritual book The Untethered Soul, explains the valuable role that awareness plays in our personal development: “There is nothing more important to true growth than realising that you are not the voice of the mind — you are the one who hears it.” What he means by this is that through contemplative practices such as meditation, by using our awareness, we discover our innate ability to witness the mind rather than being consumed by the mind. When we do this, we come to the important realisation that we are not the mind; we are actually the awareness that is witnessing the mind. Awareness allows us to acknowledge that we are hearing the mind instead of being the mind, so we can choose whether we listen to what it is saying or not.

Awareness is a similar notion to attention. When we pay attention to something, someone or something, we are using our awareness. “A simple way of describing meditation is to take a bath in attention and absorb all its qualities,” explains Lorin Roche in Meditation Made Easy.

Article Featured in Being: Yoga & Meditation