Ask yourself the question: “Is meditation important?” The answer may be yes but I believe that for many of us: “It is really NOT that important!” We may be experimenting with this idea of meditation because someone says it is helpful or one learned about it from a news article or tv program. It is the current fad thing to do.
One believes that meditation will help with one’s anxiety and stress or quiet one’s thinking mind. These aspects are true but meditation can offer a lot more and recognizing that may be motivating to practice.
It changes the function of our brain to a top down rather than a bottom up approach. The pre-frontal cortex that is responsible for attention and self-regulation becomes more dominant than the amygdala that is the centre of fear. As we put in the practice the practice does us. We become more self-regulated. There is less that triggers us, we don’t react so violently and we recover quicker. We develop greater resilience. We become spontaneously and innately joyful independent of some external object or experience to make us happy. We experience a greater capacity for awareness. In seeing the everchanging nature of the breath and its impermanence we develop a greater insight into the true nature of reality that allows one to dis-identify with the self leading to a decrease in our suffering! A unified concentrated mind slows down the baseline cognitive activity allowing one to more clearly see experience with insight. With continual focus on one object we are less likely to rest in our Default Mode Network that is important in the creation of self and rumination. Our tendencies for greed, hatred and delusion decrease. As we become less identified with our sense of self we don’t need to defend our wounded ego as much. This opens one up to seeing the interdependence and interconnectedness of existence with a resultant greater compassion and empathy.
In appreciating the multiple benefits of meditation this can be the impetus for developing a more consistent and dedicated practice.
by Dr. Phil Blustein
Dec. 21, 2023