When my spiritual teacher Baba Hari Dass heard us complain that we were too busy to meditate, he would be firm in telling us that this was absolutely the most important time to do so. When able to follow this advice, I find that meditation slows down time, allows clearer thinking and gives me a break from the stress of life.
It’s like exercise or brushing one’s teeth: get into the habit and it almost happens on its own; fall off the wagon and it’s like pulling those same teeth to get back on. That’s where group energy helps. Our teacher emphasized that to progress in spiritual life one needs five things: regular personal practice, study of scripture to clarify the path, positive work, play and group support!
Not that scientific evidence convinces many of us to do anything, but there is a lot of research on the benefits of regular meditation: decreased stress through regulation of the mind and nervous system which becomes permanent over time; improved concentration; ability to lead a healthier lifestyle with less alcohol/tobacco/caffeine and better food; more self awareness leading to decreased aggression; increased happiness which shows up on brain scan patterns; more self acceptance; delayed aging with better cognition and more brain cells; improved cardiovascular health (in one study, 40 of 60 meditators were able to stop their blood pressure medication); and improved immunity, with fewer colds and flus.
So what does lead us to new habits? Mostly pain, in some cases a natural evolution and/or inspiration by others. In my case, it grew out of meeting my teacher and learning a whole new philosophy of being—lucky me. I would love to pass on the blessing: consider taking a class with one of the many mediation teachers in the Ottawa area and see what happens…
Katherine Willow N.D. directs the Carp Ridge EcoWellness Centre ½ hour NW of Ottawa and offers mediation, talk and tea on Thursday mornings—all levels of meditators are welcome. Optional donation.