Meditation has been around for many thousands of years. It is a technique geared towards inner discovery and enlightenment. Its' also used for deep relaxation, freedom from thoughts and inner peace. There are many forms and techniques of meditating, varying from silent motionless techniques to very vigorous physical ones.
The Goals of Meditation
Many people meditate for different reasons, thus achieving different goals. One of the most common reasons for meditation, is relaxation from peoples busy and stressful lifestyles. Stress! The culprit for many ailments and poor health is at an all time high in many a persons life. The combative results of meditation often brings much needed relieve like the rain falling upon a half thirsty tree to this problem. Other people meditate for deep spiritual reasons, such as to achieve enlightenment. Enlightenment in this case is to reach your true self, the self uncluttered with what we call the ego. Then others again meditate to develop better concentration and control of the mind (stilling their thoughts).
The Benefits of Meditation
Meditation relaxes the body almost to a sleep like restfulness, yet it's a hundred times better than sleep itself in terms of benefits. With continued meditation over time, you'll notice your memory increases. You'll be able to remember things with much better clarity and accuracy. Your concentration strengthens to the point where little to no distractions occur once your mind is engaged in a task. Slowly but surely, like a veil being removed from your eyes, you'll see things much clearer (be conscious of) and begin to live in the present with a renewed happiness. Serenity and deep relaxation marries itself to you as a season mediator. What this means is, over time, you'll be able to turn on the serenity feelings at will to some degree. Especially during stressful episodes in your life.
There are many kinds of enlightenments, but for the subject of meditation, we'll stick to the relevant one. For many people, meditation is simply a means to relax and combat stress. In reality, meditation is much more than a stress buster. Other than the many benefits it rewards you with, it's ultimate gift is something that many spiritual teachers call enlightenment. The goal of enlightenment in meditation is to go beyond the ego. Ego! According to the dictionary is the self, the part of the mind that reacts to reality and has a sense of individuality. This description of the ego is exactly what enlightenment seeks to transcend and unveil as the totally false self.
When a person is born, they eventually absorb various thoughts, ideas and beliefs from family and other people they come into contact with. As time goes on, they grow and these ideas, thoughts and beliefs become so ingrained within their mind, that they see them as an inseparable part of them self. Consider this! If you were to tell me who you were, you'd probably tell me: What your gender is, say what race you belong too, what kind of career/job you do, nationality, hobbies, your age, weight etc. Anything that you identify with, may be brought out to help explain your case of who you are. This is all well and good, but essentially, those things don't reflect your true self of who you really are. Meditation with the goal of enlightenment will transcend this usual state and place you in a state of consciousness where such identification is pointless. The true you is eternal and unchanging. All the former descriptions I just mentioned to you, are not permanent and subject to change at any given time. The enlightened state allows you witness your true self in an altered state of consciousness beyond the thoughts and attachments you grasp to help you identify who you are. In this altered state of consciousness, you see the eternalness of yourself and your true nature. You're on the outside looking in at the world as if it were a grand show or movie. In your ordinary state of consciousness, you'd be taking part as an actor or actress inside this movie (life). Playing whatever part your thoughts and ego wish you to play, but as your true self, you will be in the world (the movie) not of it. You are able to choose your interactions sensibly and avoid unnecessary suffering, pain and regret. You become aware of the limitations of your ordinary state as oppose to your enlightened state, where you rise above the rushing of your thoughts and emotions that change constantly. One minute you are happy, the next you are sad. In your altered state of consciousness, you exist as almost a pure state of consciousness that is untouched by the influences of random thought and emotions. All false identifications of yourself is observed and then tossed into nothingness until you need them again in your ordinary state of consciousness, but with one difference. You'll be able to always see them as false labels and not the real you. They will have their uses in the ordinary world, but they will no longer control or deceive you into believing this is who you are.
Meditation offers a sensible solution to health, personal and professional problems. It also provides a solution for peaceful enlightenment, if that's what you're after. There will come a time in your life, when the chorus of life starts sagging and prompts you to pick up your conductor's stick (meditation) and start correcting the insufferable songs, into a beautiful symphony that breathes life back into your soul.
Gabriel Foster is the editor for http://www.gabrielfoster.com, the online magazine for both vegetarians and natural health enthusiasts.