You can reap many benefits in no time. Meditation is relevant to daily life. Here’s 10 reasons why you should make time to meditate.
Relevance of Meditation in Daily Life
By Venerable Bellanwila Dhammaratana Maha Thero
“Suffering is the result of actions guided by bad thinking and happiness is the result of actions based on good thinking. This is a universal fact common to all human beings. Hence we should make a great attempt to make our minds wholesome”
– Venerable B. Dhammaratana, “A short Introduction to Early Buddhist Meditation”
Benefits of Meditation
- Encourages you to be calm, relaxed and less stressed
- Develops your concentration and sharpness of mind
- Gives you insight into your body and mind
- Helps you understand truths about yourself and the world
- Teaches you how to better handle difficulties in your life
- Gives you inner refuge, intuition and guidance for making choices in your life
- Helps you avoid wrong decision-making and do the right thing
- Increases your ability to be present, alive, and to have equanimity in this fast changing world
- Develops kindness, compassion and wisdom
- Helps to be more aware of your thoughts and actions (awake)
Why is Meditation Relevant to My Life?
It is no surprise that most of us live stressful lives in the modern day world. Studies have shown that the elevated sense of anxiety experienced daily make little but progressive inroads into our psyche. With time, these little inroads form highways of how we perceive change and process emotion. Eventually anxiety, irritability and anger become the automatic manner we respond to daily matters.
Imagine the long-term devastating effects of this trait as it becomes ingrained into personality. Coupled with daily anxiety, it is no wonder that physical disease and mental illness subsequently manifests itself in the individual.
Depression is broadly defined as a medical condition that affects how you think and behave, and the way you feel and function. According to the World Health Organisation, it is one of the most common mental health problems and is faced by over 121 million people worldwide.
Yet our ability to think is what sets us apart from animals. However this same benefit can also become a crippling attribute. On any given day, approximately 60,000 thoughts run through a person’s mind, 95% of which is repeated over and over again. The mind is a constant hub of activity, not the most productive of course, since it is scientifically proven that stress and worry cause more harm than good.
Fortunately for us, the practice of meditation gives us a break from thinking. It is the opportunity to be present in both body and mind, wherever you are, in whatever you do. It is about according something or someone with the time, respect and attention it needs.
Meditation is the antithesis to multi-tasking, a symptom of modern day life and a virtue that is over rated. Recent studies have increasingly shown that multi-tasking actually reduces rather than improves, one’s productivity. Even the most complex swiss-army knife can only do one thing at a time.
So, What Am I?
Hence it is very important to turn our attention over to the necessity of meditation in our daily life. To understand why this is, we must first understand that which makes up “I”.
In Buddhist teachings, one’s personality is made up of five aggregates:
Of the five, only one represents the physical body (form), while the other four aggregates (feeling, perception, disposition, consciousness) together present the mind, the mental aspects of a person’s personality.
While we consider the mind and body as two separate aspects of our personality, they can never exist independently. This mutual relationship between mind and form shows that –
- The mental aspect of personality functions in a far wider and more complex field than the physical aspect
- All human activities are led by the mind, hence the mind is a forerunner of all things
- Yet it is clear that more attention is paid to the physical aspects than the mental aspects of personality
Therefore, it is our duty to safeguard both our mental and physical health.
Where Do I Start?
Our daily activities towards maintaining good health and wellbeing are mainly physical and they have only a little influence on the wellbeing of the mind.
Food, clothes, ornaments and medicine that are connected to our day-to-day life are related with the physical wellbeing of the personality. Although they indirectly affect mental behavior, they do not directly improve mentality.
It is hence important to understand the real nature of mental behavior and what directly improves it in relation to our daily life.
Why Is It Important to See The Real Nature of Mental Behaviour?
According to the Buddha, the human consciousness has four innate tendencies that causes great unhappiness to us:
We are guided by these mental factors that are inherent in our consciousness. Although these are common to all human beings, their intensity defers from person to person. It is a shame to accept these mental characteristics as belonging to us, just because they are common to all untrained beings.
So how do I see things as they really are?
We must first want to genuinely and clearly understand the true nature of the mind. This is to understand these negative tendencies honestly and to accept them as the inherent nature of the untrained mind that cause us endless pain and discomfort like anger, jealousy, discontentment and depression.
But because the mind is the forerunner of all human behavior, the process of thinking precedes every action. We have a choice now to train the mind in a new, better way of being. This training is called Meditation.
How can I learn to see things in a better way?
“To refrain from unwholesome actions,
To cultivate wholesome ways of being,
To cleanse one’s mind
Is the advice of all the Buddhas”
– The Dhammapada, Verse 183
The practice of meditation is where we start to train the mind in wholesome ethics, concentration and wisdom.
Gradually and eventually, this repeated process of settling down the mind helps to reduce and eliminate unwholesome negative tendencies, while skillfully replacing them with wholesome ones that cause happiness like generosity, compassion, clarity and benevolence.
A positive state of mind imbued with wholesome attributes like peace, kindness and contentment in turn creates good thinking and good action. This now becomes your new reality on how you see the world and how the world sees you.