Meditation is a practice for transforming the mind. There are many types of meditation stemming from a variety of traditions both secular and religious, including Christianity. What they tend to have in common is they all help us train our minds to focus attention in a particular way that leads to greater understanding and wisdom. We are fortunate to have so many paths to choose from and I encourage you to experiment so that you can find the method that works best for you.
Wherever the mind wanders, restless and diffuse in its search for satisfaction without, lead it within. – Bhagavad Gita
Although its not a panacea or a cure, research is showing that there may be numerous physical and mental health benefits to practicing meditation. There is evidence that it is useful in managing pain, reducing blood pressure, easing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms and flare-ups, decreasing symptoms of insomnia, anxiety and depression, lowering the incidence, duration, and severity of acute respiratory illnesses such as influenza, promoting healthy behavior, increasing compassion, and reducing self-critical perfectionism and feelings of inadequacy.
When discussing meditation as a science and technology, it’s important to acknowledge the ultimate goal is a profound cognitive shift to a more accurate perception of one’s self and one’s relationship to the world. This cognitive shift, is traditionally known as “liberation,” “enlightenment,” or “awakening” (the latter being my preferred term), which in turn, produces a dramatic and persistent increase in well-being. – John Yates, Your Brain as Laboratory: The Science of Meditation
The form of meditation I primarily practice and teach is called vipassana, or insight meditation. In the US we tend to recognize this as “mindfulness meditation”. Vipassana practice involves sustained, moment by moment attention to inner experience. Its intention is liberation from suffering through “training [the mind] to see experience as it occurs, without misperception, invalid assumptions, or wrong inferences” (Buddhaghosa, The Path of Purification). Through consistent practice, we become more aware of our habits and patterns and less attached to concepts and conditioning. We get better at seeing things as they truly are rather than as we think they should be. Over time we develop a more balanced and compassionate mind that is increasingly able to respond with patience and wisdom.
When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place – Bhagavad Gita
Meditation is a practice that can be learned and many people find it useful to have guidance along the way. I have experience teaching meditation to individuals, groups, and organizations. If you are interested in developing, maintaining, or deepening a meditation practice, consider joining the Midwest Alliance for Mindfulness through which I offer classes and other events. See my calendar for current offerings. Please also feel free to explore my resources page to aid in your self-study. Take a moment to view this Ted Talk about how a meditation practice can help cultivate a deeper, more sustained happiness:
Meditation aims at breaking through all conceptual limitation and barriers so that we can move freely in the boundless ocean of reality.
– Thich Nhat Hahn