The side effects of meditation are positive and countless. Studies have demonstrated that those who meditate on a regular basis have reduced illness, stress, and need for rest.
But one of the most compelling reasons to meditate is that the process of meditation itself is sublime. Meditation is not dependent upon the result, but the act of meditation itself is a blissful one, transporting one to a state of contentment and tranquil awareness during the training of meditation itself, not just at the end of training. Actually, because the means equals the end, the training has no beginning and never ends.
All of us in modern times experience a constant onslaught of stress. We are bombarded by uninvited energies in the form of such things as television, noise pollution, arguments, and angry or envious people. In order to counteract this enormously overwhelming force of negativity and distress, we need a superior power, gathered within ourselves; and meditation connects us to this internal reservoir of cleansing, enlightening energy.
In former times, nature surrounded people in their daily routines and rituals of existence. There were no artificial sound vibrations from telephones or machinery; there were no stresses and diseases resulting from urban industrial complexities. There was the sound of water, the hum of the wind, the beauty of the stars in the sky, and the scent of the earth. There were natural tempos in every aspect of life, as people planted seeds, nurtured them into foodstuffs, and as they observed the cycles of nature they felt a connection to them. Nowadays we can live our entire lifespan without ever contacting nature in a direct way. We live in artificially controlled climates, we gather food from fast food restaurants or from stores where it is packaged in a factory; we invite a total divorce of ourselves from our natural origins and our organic, original pace of life.
Meditation allows us an easy, convenient, portable method to enter into those lost natural rhythms and aesthetics, by closing out the world around us, letting go of our bodies, and clearing the mind of all the artificial stress it gathers knowingly or unknowingly during the course of lives.
Meditation costs nothing, it has no harmful side effects, and it won’t add calories or cholesterol to your body. Nor is it addictive in the sense of drugs and alcohol. But it does provide practitioners with an elevated sense of well-being, often compared to a natural “high” more powerful than those induced by drugs, and this component of meditation is one that can be fully embraced for positive, healthy benefits.
The human body is a complex creation, and in the brain the body naturally produces drugs that are hundreds of times more powerful than pharmaceutical narcotics. As one meditates, the body secretes mysterious hormones and chemicals that actually provide an incredible rush of energy and happiness, and this is only one of the amazing side effects of meditation practice.
Meditation is different things to different people. Some use it in place of, or in addition to, psychotherapy. Others find it most valuable as a tool to enhance sports or work performance, and to increase the memory and other mental functions. Some people rely upon it to help them deal with grief or the aftermath of trauma or tragedy, and to regain a contentment and appreciation for life’s beauties. And there are those who use meditation as a creative tool to inspire them in the arts. Meditation gives us stronger and more sustainable vigor, sexual energy, and calm, as it provides a restfulness that is comparable to deep, exceptionally restful sleep.
There are countless reasons to meditate, and one way to make the world a better and more peaceful and harmonious place, is for all of us to dedicate some time out of our stressful lives to pause and drink from the mental oasis of meditation practice.