“The mind is everything. What we think, we become” is a quote often attributed to Buddha. Our mind is where we become consciously aware and process our experiences. These days, our minds are bombarded from morning ‘til night with so much information, and at such a speed, that finding a way to defrag has become almost a necessary survival skill. For some, the ancient art of meditation is just the thing.
The benefits of meditating have been gaining increasing validity in scientific circles as scientists investigate just what it is about mediation that had the Zen monks navel-gazing for hours at a time. Mediation is, of course, a spiritually based practice aimed at finding inner peace and enlightment, but it has some surprising effects that are not as boring as navel-gazing may appear at first glance!
It has been studied by neuroscientists who found that your brain actually undergoes physical changes with regular meditation, resulting in some amazing benefits:
• Meditators who have meditated for more than 20 years have a greater volume of grey matter
• Meditating can decrease activity in the brain’s networks that cause what is called the monkey mind – a wandering, restless mind that worries about this and that, past and future
• As you meditate regularly your brain changes and the centers that cause you to worry and feel threatened as easily begin to lessen their grip, relieving stress for those who are worry warts
• The act of training your mind when you practice mindfulness mediation has been found to be as effective in some cases as taking antidepressants
• Your concentration and attention is improved
• Mindfulness meditation can reduce anxiety and improve social phobias
• Meditation increases creativity
• For those of you seekers out there, it’s a classic tool for expanding your consciousness
• Increases our capacity for empathy
To benefit from these changes you need to meditate regularly every day for 15 to 20 minutes.
If you are going to be sitting so-called navel-gazing for some time, setting aside a space where you cultivate your practice can create an atmosphere that gets you into the right frame of mind and encourages your commitment to keep at it.
TOOLS FOR MEDITATION
A meditation cushion helps you hold a steady, comfortable posture, so you can focus on getting maximum benefit out of every session of meditation.
Meditation beads: some forms of meditation involve repeating mantras. Mantras are sounds that refer to various spiritual powers or beings that are meant to hold the ability to shift our consciousness. Mantras are repeated a certain number of times during meditation, based on sacred numbers and meditation beads are used as a way to keep count while allowing you to go inwards and still your mind, focusing on the sounds instead of counting. repeating mantras has also been found to have poweful beneficial and stress relieving effects on the brain.
Incense: burning incense is not just about a beautiful aroma. Natural incense has therapeutic properties that can calm the mind and create a sense of peace and sacredness. It has also been used for aeons as a way to honour spirit, clear energy and invite positive energy into your sacred space.
Candles are a very evocative way to invoke the sacred and a sense of peace. Watching a flickering flame as a symbol of the light of your soul as you light it on your alter is a powerful ritual to set your intentions for a meditation session. Beeswax candles have been used traditionally for their sacred associations and ability to clear negative energy.
Whether you choose a form of meditation that is more secular or are after finding that Jewel in the Lotus, meditation aids such as incense and candles create a tranquil and uplifting environment where you can create some peace to enjoy the wonderful benefits and rejuvenating effects of meditation.
Take a peek at more of our lovely collection of meditation aids here.
Om Mani Padme Om!