It changes our bio-chemistry. Blood pressure is decreased. Endorphins that enhance well-being and good feelings are released and thus not only help with mood and stress, but reduce cortisol levels in the body, acidity in the belly, tightness in the muscles, and overall edginess.
It changes our relation to breathing. Most people don’t breathe fully; thus the brain does not receive maximum oxygen to think clearly or the muscles in order to have adequate stamina and vitality. Most meditation practices include a component related to breathing. At Spirit Fire the focus is metaphysical as well as physical, and just by having breath as a focus people begin to breathe better. Just as importantly, they begin to realize when they are not.
Meditation changes our relationship to our feelings. This is because meditation opens us to beauty, goodness, Godness, to hurt and pain that has not been fully realized or released, and to joy that have not been experienced in a while. We often don’t allow ourselves to feel fully; we are afraid to do so. That’s because we would have to open in order to feel more: more joy, more forgiveness, more peace or letting go. Being a personal practice meditation allows each person to explore the deep and semi-uncharted waters within. Meditation also gives a container for both the exploration and what might be encountered. If we encounter a moment of grace, meditation will hold it in sacredness. If we encounter anger, meditation will allow it room. If we encounter pain or sadness, futility or remorse, meditation will open the space of empathy within. Eventually, meditation becomes the empowering support of non-judgment of one’s self, then deep love and peace can pour in.
Meditation changes how our mind works. In some ways this is the most important result of meditation. By nature, the mind is an activity machine. It was made to handle myriads of bits of information simultaneously. As you are reading this undoubtedly there is noise somewhere around you, sights other than the page within your vision, you are breathing and possibly smelling something on the air, and your skin is being touched by your clothes. While you are reading you might also be thinking about things people have said, things you want to say to others, appointments, the list that didn’t get done, etc. The point is that the mind handles all this and more every minute of the day. It’s an activity machine.
Meditation helps the mind learn to do something additional or different with this natural tendency of activity. At first the mind needs to learn to withdraw from being sensorially bound, jumping into action at the whim of every sense. Then it can learn to focus in a whole new way:a meditative way. This focus is different from the usual use of analysis, deduction, computation, or even reading an engrossing book. It eventually becomes a beam of light shining wherever we point it. It cultivates clarity, insight, and prioritization. These result in simplification, at first in the mind, and then little by little, in one’s life. As the mind has less reactiveness and is less of a Mexican jumping bean, our life is also less reactive and more calm, rhythmic, and composed.
Meditation also changes our relationship to our self into a relationship with our Self. We move from being a person with primarily only everyday mundane awareness, getting through the needs of the day, to a person getting in touch with deeper considerations, probing questions, or sensing a new creative spark seeking outlet and expression. We touch into and are touched by a deep goodness, by the grace of the sacred, and the wise love of the soul. Then things really get interesting!
Why meditate? Because meditation changes everything. As people change in positive ways they want to see positive change around them. People create avenues for service, and try to transform their workplace, community, country, and the world into a better place. As we say at Spirit Fire, “only a change in consciousness can change the world.” Meditation changes consciousness and so changes the world. It changes everything.
The Practice of Living Awareness meditation, meditation podcasts, and meditation retreats help you learn to meditate or deepen an existent practice. Check this blog for information.