In my last article, I mentioned that many benefits accrue to those who practice regular meditation. In this one, I will be more specific. First, by "regular meditation", I mean approximately 20 minutes every day, give or take a few minutes, and without missing very many days. It’s much like physical fitness, if you do it regularly, the benefits will come, not immediately but soon enough.
In my case, the benefits started showing up after about three weeks, which seems to be fairly typical. They manifested in four distinct ways that I recall, and there were probably others that I never recognized or can’t recall. They were:
• One day driving to work, I looked through the windshield at the sky and noticed how very clear everything was. It was as though cobwebs had been pulled back from my mind and everything was more vibrant and less fuzzy.
• I was a typical ‘Type A’, rising executive at the time, and one day as I was flying through the office, I said hi to someone and asked how they were. I noticed, strangely, that I actually stopped and listened to the reply. I found myself truly interested.
• At that time, I was the junior on the executive committee of a mid-size Canadian food processing company and was responsible for three portfolios. The executive meetings were somewhat intimidating and I always felt some difficulty in expressing my views and presenting ideas. After meditating for about three weeks that changed, not dramatically but noticeably. I found it easier to articulate ideas more fluently, both in that forum and elsewhere.
• Things that used to bother me didn’t as much. I became a calmer person, and as you know, one’s perspective is more objective and balanced when calm and relaxed.
To expand a little from personal experience, I have been teaching people to meditate since the early 1990s. Some of my students have provided testimonials which can be seen on the OnRichmondHill.com site as well as on my own. Here is what some of them have reported:
• A high school student, who used to go blank whenever the word "Math" was mentioned, reported calming down, looking at the problems carefully, and achieving 90%.
• A Public School Teacher overcame what she described as chronic insomnia and a Registered Nurse reported that she is better able to sleep and calm down faster when upset.
• A Chartered Accountant reported that a five to ten minute short meditation helped him to prepare for stressful client meetings.
• An Insurance Sales Rep. found that meditation helped him to stay focused and effective in both his business and personal life. These benefits were echoed by another small business owner.
• A Credit Manager felt more positive energy in her life, which made her feel more alive.
• A Human Resources Manager reported that meditation helped him to think more clearly when planning and dealing with objectives. He also said he had fewer cravings for sweets and snacks when under stress.
• An elite runner told how she can more easily let go and not always have to be in control.
• An Executive Assistant reported that meditation helped her commit to a jogging program and to other goals in her life.
These results are not at all exceptional and many people report them. As well, there are a great many more benefits that have been demonstrated and proven in laboratories. Here are just a few where improvements were reported from a list of over 50:
Ability to focus attention Academic performance
Athletic performance Cardiovascular efficiency
Contentment Cordiality and good humour
Creativity Emotional stability
Energy level Interpersonal relations
Metabolic stability Resistance to disease
Respiratory efficiency Self-esteem
As well, science has reported, that in addition to other areas, meditators have experienced reductions in alcohol use, anxiety, criminal activity, depression, excessive weight, high blood pressure, irritability, smoking, and use of prescription drugs.
The one potential benefit that may surpass all of the above, that mystics have been pitching for centuries, is that meditation increases consciousness, and increasing consciousness is how the human species evolves. More about that in my next article, but for now, the bottom line is that meditators look younger, are healthier, handle stress better, and enjoy life more.