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Meditation Benefitsmeditation benefits

 

Everyone knows that a happy life requires good health. Proper diet, adequate exercise, and sufficient rest are necessary to keep our bodies strong and fit. If we neglect these demands, our bodies become weakened and resistant. Highly susceptible to infection, we eventually become ill.

More important, but less well known, is the inner self's need for spiritual nourishment and attention. If we ignore our spiritual health requirements, we become overwhelmed by negative material tendencies like anxiety, hatred, loneliness, prejudice, greed, boredom, envy, and anger.

In order to counteract and prevent these subtle infections of the self, we should, as recommended in the Vedic literatures, incorporate into our lives a program of self-examination and steady inner growth, based on spiritual strength and clarity of thought.
In the preliminary stages of meditation, the practitioner experiences a clearing of consciousness, peace of mind, and relief from unwanted drives and habits. As one develops more realization by meditating, he perceives the original, spiritual existence of the self.

 

Dr. Herbert Benson, a pioneer in establishing the efficacy of meditation for health through his research at Harvard in the early 1970s, showed that meditation acts as an antidote to stress. Under stress, the nervous system activates the "fight-or-flight" response. The activity of the sympathetic portion of the nervous system increases, causing an increased heart beat, increased respiratory rate, elevation of blood pressure, and increase in oxygen consumption. This fight-or-flight response has an important survival function. It helps an organism to run quickly to escape an attack or to fight off an attacker. But if activated repeatedly, as happens for many people in modern societies, the effects are harmful. Many researchers believe that the current epidemic of hypertension and heart disease in the Western world is a direct result.

Dr. Benson demonstrated that the effects of meditation are essentially the opposite of the fight-or-flight response. Meditation:

  • Decreases the heart rate

  • Decreases the respiratory rate

  • Decreases blood pressure

  • Decreases oxygen consumption

  • Decreases muscle tension

  • Gives overall better health

  • Gives better sleep

  • Makes one calmer

  • Gives better concentration


In the Caitanya Caritamrta, a seventeen-volume commentary on the life and teachings of Sri Caitanya, founder of the modern-day Krishna consciousness movement, the ultimate benefit of meditation is described as follows: "The result of meditation is that one awakens his love for GOD and tastes transcendental bliss. Ultimately, one attains the association of GOD and engages in His devotional service, as if immersing himself in a great ocean of love."
 

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