I love this article from Mindworks about the purpose of Meditation.
1. Inner peace and calmness
Imagine what happens when you neglect your housework for too long. Dirt and dust accumulate, garbage piles up and everything’s out of place. Now picture your body as your home. A lot of junk gets stored in your mind, soul and body every single day. It may be in form of negative emotions, thoughts and energies. When you lack regular mindful meditation, this junk can accumulate to toxic levels. If left unprocessed, feelings of stress, anxiety and depression can become so overwhelming that they affect your quality of life. Regular meditation can counter this toxicity by instilling a deep sense of calmness and peace of mind. This in itself is a very rewarding experience.
2. The ability to abide in the present moment
People tend to disregard the simple power of living in the here and now. Meditation grounds you in the present. It will likely make you calmer and more level-headed. Your self-awareness will also improve, and it will be easier for you to acknowledge your thoughts, feelings and sensations without necessarily reacting to them. As a result, you’ll acquire a taste for living in the present moment.
A mind that is tuned in to the present is less likely to be overwhelmed by negative, anxious or stressful feelings about the past or future. Studies suggest that mindfulness meditation actually rewires the physical brain. Those parts of the brain that are responsible for anxiety, depression and poor concentration shrink whereas those regions associated with cognition, happiness and calmness increase in size.
3. Unlocking the source of inspiration
The active mind can be seen in terms of two components: the conscious and the subconscious. The conscious mind is responsible for active thinking and decision-making. It doesn’t hold long-term memory. Rather, it processes a single thought at a time. It has been suggested that the “conscious mind commands and the subconscious carries out.” The subconscious mind can be the source of great ideas, solutions and inspiration. For some meditators, an important goal of meditation is to unlock joy and creativity from within. Meditation trains the mind to be unreceptive to distractions, and by the same token it gives the mind’s natural inventiveness more space to reveal itself – and the conscious mind the means to take note of it.
4. Well-being and fulfilment
We’re all looking to lead happy, fulfilling lives. Most of us look to external sources for our happiness – relationships, material circumstances, recognition, etc. This may be effective when things are going our way, but when we depend on circumstances beyond our control for happiness, we’re setting ourselves up to fail because external circumstances are always changing. One day we’re healthy, the next day we’re sick. One day we’re employee of the month, the next day the company packs up and moves overseas. One day we’re hopelessly in love, the next day we’re not.
According to the highly esteemed meditation teacher and philosopher Trinlay Rinpoche, our minds are the only true and lasting source of happiness. Meditation gives us the means to access the mind’s inner wealth so we no longer need to depend on outer circumstances for fulfillment and well-being.
Buddhists have long believed that meditation and compassion go hand in hand. Now there are studies that validate this belief. One reason is that mindfulness seems to highlight our interconnectedness, and the recognition of interconnectedness naturally builds empathy. In an article published in Atlantic Magazine, professor of psychology David DeSteno writes, “Mindfulness meditation […] has lately been promoted for its abilities to enhance the brain and heal the body, but many of its most experienced teachers argue that its fundamental purpose involves the soul. As Trungram Gyalwa, one our Mind Trainers and an exceptional teacher in the Tibetan tradition, recently pointed out to me, meditation’s effects on memory, health, and cognitive skills, though positive, were traditionally considered secondary benefits by Buddhist sages. The primary objective of calming the mind and heightening attention was to attain a form of enlightenment that would lead to a deep, abiding compassion and resulting beneficence.”
It may not be as lofty as the top five, but a final meditation perk is better sleep. According to a recent study conducted by the Harvard Medical School, mindfulness meditation reduces fatigue, insomnia and depression within one month of beginning practice. Due to the rising levels of stress and anxiety today, many individuals suffer from some sort of sleep disorder. One unique side benefit of meditation is that by helping us declutter the mind, it promotes a better quality of sleep.