Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Have you ever felt unable to control your own thoughts? That you can’t switch off no matter hard you try. That your mind is a ticking time bomb ready to explore due to the pressures and expectations of daily life. Having answered yes to all of these questions myself, I thought I would try something different and attend a Buddhist meditation retreat in Preston. In today’s post, I wanted to share my experience and explain why we should all embrace meditation in some way!
Going in to the retreat I was expecting to feel a little bored. One of my biggest struggles is maintaining concentration and I anticipated that this would be no different. Having briefly tried meditation in the past, with limited success, I began to think that it simply wasn’t for me and would never work. I’d heard lots of good things from others about how much it’d helped them but unable to control my constant racing thoughts, I gave up soon after. Much to my regret now!
As the day progressed, session by session, hour by hour, I noticed that my attention span was beginning to grow. The thoughts that had niggled me at the start became less significant, I was more able to concentrate on my breathing and time seemed to pass at the rate of knots. Four one hour sessions was a daunting prospect at the beginning of the day, however come the conclusion I didn’t want it to finish.
The readings from the teacher were both insightful and relatable, the environment and atmosphere were perfect and the meditation provided me with a sense of calmness and peace like never before. Something that I didn’t believe was impossible. Not only that but it really left me wanting more. This unique experience had given new perspective and its clear benefits meant I was in no doubt that I wanted to practise this regularly. Even if it was just five minutes a day, I thought. Who knows, it could really transform my life!
Meditation is the secret of all growth in spiritual life and knowledge.James Allen
Despite having its many sceptics, meditation is not only practised and admired by more people than ever before but the world of science has recognised its benefits and began researching it in depth. It’s become a real talking point.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans have revealed that with regular meditation, the brain’s density increases in areas responsible for creativity, short-term memory, concentration, decision- making and self-compassion, plus crucially that people who partake in regular meditation are less likely to produce stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. Basically speaking, a meditated mind is more peaceful, nourished and able to cope with the pressures and rigours of daily life!
Although often praised for its mental benefits, meditation has also been known to slow ageing of the brain, improve our immune systems and also aid faster recovery from a variety of physical conditions including psoriasis and chronic pain. The benefits are literally endless!
Even nowadays, despite its constant exposure, a misconception remains that meditation is very complicated. That it has to be done a certain way. The truth is, it doesn’t. Should you be reading this and are now encouraged to start practicing meditation yourself, you’ll be pleased to know that there are so many different types. From mindfulness to chakra to guided meditation, you’ll be spoiled for choice. The beauty of that is you can find a method that works best for you and is tailored to your needs. Different things work for different people!
If my argument for the power of meditation has failed to convince you, all I would say is to give it a try. In such a fast-paced world with never-ending work and almost no time to relax, what’s the harm in trying something new? Millions of people around the globe (including myself) have been positively influenced by meditation, therefore who’s to say it couldn’t change your life too? The keys to success are hard work, patience and discipline!
Thanks for reading,