If there is any intervention on your mind and body that has absolutely no adverse effects, it is this exercise of meditation. All other interventions, including aerobic exercise , although their benefits far outweigh risks, have atleast minimal adverse effects, either wear and tear of cartilage or pulling a muscles etc. And the effects of drugs on mind and body, no matter how benign the drug is, can show its effect.
Type in meditation in any internet search engine, either it is general search engines such as google or scientific ones such as pubmed or eurekalert, you will not find a single scientific study among the thousands, that points out even one adverse effect on our body or mind. If this exercise has such good effects on our body, why is that most of us don’t do it or why is that most healthcare practitioners don’t ‘prescribe’ this to their patients or seekers?
Because of one main reason. We start off on the mistaken footing. We start by asking – “I heard good benefits from doing meditation. Now, teach me how to meditate.” This is where we start off on a mistaken footing.
Understanding meditation – we must ask, “what” is meditation, before we ask “how” to meditate.
Because, if you jump to “how” to meditation before know what it is actually is, you will be disappointed and so stop the exercise before you see the good benefits from it.
In any practice of meditation, the first thing you were told to cultivate is to try and free your mind of your thoughts or silence your mind. The fact is you can never be free of thoughts.
Meditation is not trying to be free of thoughts, but becoming a witness to your thoughts. By becoming a witness to your own mind, you will free yourself from its influence. It is like becoming a mirror to your own image. The mirror looks more or less the same, but the image changes with time. Your true-self is like the mirror upon which you caste your image. If you are able to see the changing person, you will see that the voice within you is the unchanging background upon which all play happens. Now, this is meditation. The breathing exercises, stretching the body are only aids to accomplish this end goal. Participants in the mind-body intervention in various scientific studies reported that not only did the mind-body exercises reduce the impact of stress on their daily lives, but they also slept better, felt calmer and were motivated to resume hobbies and other enjoyable activities. But, even this activity becomes a habit and the benefits slowly start to dwindle. Unless you understand the entire framework of mind, your mind-body exercise will become a mere habit and eventually disappointing.
Ask, “what” is meditation, before you ask “how” to meditate!
What is going beyond the mind mean?
It means understanding your mind’s limitations and its entire frame work. For instance, the idea of ownership is inherent to our mind. We say, we own land when infact it is the land that owns us. Unless our mind takes this as reality of things, it cannot make strategies to protect its abode, the body. Realizing that our mind is an instrument to care for our body, we cannot see the reality behind all the tricks our mind plays. Going beyond our mind means realizing its role. Our mind plays within the boundaries of its own projections. We become hostage to the contents and influence of our mind. Coming out of this influence by realizing the role of mind is meditation.
How is this “watching our mind” useful to my daily life? Because, by realizing our mind’s purpose, we come to understand why we make the decisions we make, from day to day. When we chose that handsome person as my life-partner, you will realize that it is our mind’s way of picking the better person for a better progeny. More examples.