Meditation is like a precious diamond. It shines with countless facets and benefits for body, mind, and soul.
Here are 21 facets and reasons to meditate. If you are feeling ambitious, why not consider focusing on one each day over the next few weeks as a sparkling motivation to develop or deepen your practice.
1. HERE AND NOW
Happiness can only be found in the fullness of the present moment. If we stand in front of the most amazing rainbow in the sky and our thoughts are somewhere else, how great will be our joy?
What is it then that pulls us away from the present moment? It is the mind and its natural restlessness. It chronically drags our attention towards another place, another thing, and another time.
The minutes are more important than the years.Paramhansa Yogananda
Meditation stills the mind and we find ourselves sitting right here and right now, where alone the rainbow of life, of fullness, of happiness shines.
In the higher meditative states, we learn to enter into superconscious time which is known as the “Eternal Now.”
2. FINDING HAPPINESS
We all want happiness and usually search for it in things, situations or people. No doubt a harmonious partner brings us joy, as does a nice vacation or a good Italian pasta. However, whatever happiness has not been gained or found inside ourselves will have to be lost again. Our joy will vanish with the ever-changing circumstance.
How can we truly gain lasting joy? For that, we need meditation. We need to daily enter into our calm center.
In that precious space of calmness, we initially find inner serenity, then happiness, and finally joy. The more we find this inner serenity, the more independence we have from whatever is happening outside of ourselves.
Paramhansa Yogananda said that meditation gradually turns us into “smile millionaires,” and we learn to “be even-minded and cheerful at all times.”
Should we enter into the higher states of meditation, our inner joy will be transformed into divine bliss.
3. superconscious guidance
When we encounter some of life’s troubles, they usually make us restless. Let’s say we are short of money. We might with some agitation think about solutions but in this unsettled or nervous condition, we may never find our best answers.
O smile-millionaire, scatter thy golden smiles, freely, freely, everywhere.Paramhansa Yogananda
Meditation has the power to make us calm. In that calmness, we naturally open up to intuitive, superconscious guidance.
When our meditation deepens, intuition will not only infallibly guide our lives but allow us to clearly understand others and become insightful about various situations and subtle intentions. We may also understand and be more sensitive to animals.
Without relaxation, happiness becomes a difficult task. You probably know how tense your shoulders, forehead, or abdomen can become. When you tense these body parts and try to affirm “I am really happy!”—it is hardly possible. Isn’t it?
Unfortunately, our busy and challenging lives can create a host of physical and mental tensions for us. Just walking through a busy city can easily create stress, especially if we are sensitive.
Meditation, on the other hand, opens the floodgates of inner peace and automatically bestows a natural sense of relaxation to the body and mind. If we meditate regularly, that peace will become second nature to us.
In advanced stages of meditation, the body can become so relaxed that it almost seems to float.
You are so much more than what you know. The great spiritual masters say that our human potential is enormous. Nevertheless, we struggle with our limitations, fears, and weaknesses. Why? It is because we are satisfied with the surface of things. We don’t feel who and what we are deep inside.
Meditation holds out a secret to us for finding our true Self, our true identity—our Soul and the full potential it holds within each one of us.
In the deeper states of meditation, our full potential reveals itself to be virtually infinite. Not even the stars are the limit.
6. quality of life
Yogananda states that “The disease of the nervous system is the cause of all diseases.” Our nerves are assaulted daily. They are shaken, rattled, overloaded or “shot” by emotions, loud music, crowds of people, aggressions, tensions, and agitations.
Meditation, on the other hand, calms our nerves, thoughts, and persistent worries. It has notably proven to diminish stress. The result is a much higher quality of life. According to researchers and doctors, meditation also provides us with a stronger immune system and subsequently with better health overall.
Yogananda says that in advanced states of meditation “we become calm all the time; calm, and never restless.” Meditation can make our nerves happy and our health radiant.
7. union with all
Why is our world so full of suffering? One of the main reasons is that we feel separate from one another. We feel separate and apart from people with other points of view, beliefs or characteristics. We think of ourselves as separate from different cultures and other countries.
The ego often defends and supports these feelings: “I am a very special person.” “We are the best club.” “We are the best country.” These types of divisions and separations are a disaster. Why? Because in the end, they will invariably result in suffering.
Meditation opens us up to the natural perception that everything is One. Feeling this connection with all life and with everyone results in a marvelous sense of union, love, and happiness.
In India since ancient times this union was the true meaning of “yoga.” The highest state of yoga is called samadhi, which bestows bliss.
8. dance of life
In the West, the rational faculty like a king sits on the throne of life. Rational and important decisions are made by the intellect.
If you can’t dance physically, do so in spirit.Swami Kriyananda
Yet, to be happy, life needs to have a natural flow. It cannot be like a strategic and rational game of chess. The artists of life see themselves within a dance of life which is full of intuitive action. Too much rational thinking kills that process and also the fun of it all. Maybe this is why Swami Kriyananda advises us to dance more. “If you can’t dance physically, do so in spirit.”
Meditation stills the rational process and opens us up to that intuitive, flowing, and “dancing” attitude.
What happens in the advanced stages of meditation? We shall dance with Spirit and dance with nature, filled with inner joy.
9. life as it is
Often we make ourselves miserable by wishing things to be different and other than they are. “If only I hadn’t done this,” or “If only it were sunny today.” Life is what it is — always a mixed bag — and never only sunny for anyone.
Regular meditation teaches us to live increasingly in a state of inner peace and helps us to see and accept life just as it is.
Whatever comes of itself, let it come.Paramhansa Yogananda
Yogananda put it this way: “Whatever comes of itself, let it come.” This does not mean that we should not make changes when change is warranted or necessary. It just means that we should gladly work with things as they are instead of wishing that they were different.
In higher stages of meditation we become truly “realistic.” At those stages we clearly perceive reality as it is without wishing it was something otherwise.
10. moving from surface to center
Imagine a turning wheel. If you sit on the edge of it you will find yourself on a roller-coaster going up and down, down and up, all the time. Life is like that for most people. Every upward movement of happiness is followed by a downward movement of unhappiness.
The secret is to find the center of the wheel. If you reach that, life will still turn around you but you won’t be flung up and down and thrown off your center. Where is that center located? It is, yogis explain, in our own (astral) spine. Meditation takes us there. The spine, according to Yogananda, is “the altar of God” within us. It is forever serene, peaceful and harmonious.
In short, the more we meditate, the more we escape the relentless roller-coaster duality of life by centering ourselves in the faithful joy of the soul.
The deeper we enter into meditation’s advanced stages, the greater our constant joy will be.
11. stability in tough times
Stand unshaken in the midst of crashing worlds.Paramhansa YoganandaYogananda encourages us to “stand unshaken in the midst of crashing worlds” but how are we to do this? How do we find at least relative stability during the crises and crashes of life? How do we stand unshaken when a partner betrays us, a parent, friend or pet dies, our business fails, or when a midlife crisis or violent illness hits us?
In such unsettling times, we will regain our well-being much sooner if we have practiced meditation regularly. Our meditative effort builds in us a formidable castle of harmony and strength that helps to keep us stable when difficulties threaten to overcome us.
In advanced stages of meditation nothing can touch us anymore as our reality lies within, not without.
12. depth and sensitivity
Our daily reality is ruled by what we see, hear, touch, smell, and taste. On the surface and sensory level we may experience a magical world but this experience is only superficial. If we are attached to experiencing life only through the senses, our lives are likely to remain relatively crude, material, and narrow.
Should we become slaves to the senses, we will actually live a rather animalistic life. Sri Yukteswar points this out in Autobiography of a Yogi:
“How can sense slaves enjoy the world? Its subtle flavors escape them while they grovel in primal mud. All nice discriminations are lost to the man of elemental lusts.”
Meditation, on the other hand, pulls our life force away from the senses. In that process our perceptions gradually become more subtle and deep. Suddenly we realize how very rich, refined, and marvelous life truly is and can be.
In the higher stages of meditation we perceive that behind all seeming appearances, life is divine.
God can be described as the subtlest Reality there is — the non-material Presence behind all matter, energy and thought. In order to touch that Reality, deep silence is needed on all levels — in body, mind, and feeling.
Silence is the altar of Spirit. Where movement ceases, God begins.Paramhansa YoganandaThat silence, found in meditation, allows us to inwardly look through all outer appearances until we are able to perceive the Divine One.
Inwardly and in deep silence we first touch God’s Holy Presence. We may initially sense it as a deep feeling of peace. Slowly our inner communion grows. It can come to us as countless experiences. Finally, we feel His Reality not only within but everywhere.
14. BEAUTY IN TRUTH
Our beauty depends not only on cosmetic creams, stylish haircuts, and a pleasing physical form and appearance, but on something much, much more. There is a beauty that can naturally shine outwardly from within us. The eyes especially are known as the windows of the soul. They can become extremely magnetic and beautiful when the soul flourishes and shines through.
Meditation makes the soul blossom and the eyes shine brightly. It makes us more luminous and charismatic. A scientific study has shown that even the skin remains younger with daily prayer and meditation.
In higher stages of meditation beauty is recognized mainly as a soul quality. In the subtle (astral) world, too, beauty is determined only by character. Sri Yukteswar explains in the Autobiography of a Yogi that “beauty in the astral world is known to be a spiritual quality and not an outward conformation.”
15. DIVINE inspiration
We all have a fantastic artist within that isn’t nourished by the mind. True art is never an entirely rational product. It flows from higher inspiration. How can we open up to that creative flow and inspiration?
The answer is with meditation. Why? Because the superconscious mind that we access in silence is the fount of endless creativity. It gives us natural inspirations for painting, poetry, music, dance, and other creative expressions.
In higher stages of meditation, art becomes divinely inspired.
Many factors contribute to a couple’s happiness. For example: having fun together, physical tenderness, sincere respect, daily signs of care and attention, acceptance, forgiveness, reliability, and loyalty.
There is a subtle “couple-magician.” Meditating together can unite couples or groups of people on a deep soul level. Although unseen to human eyes, magnetism is exchanged, energies are harmonized and a united aura is formed.
In higher stages of meditation, the two separate souls perceive themselves as one. There cannot be a more intense and intimate union.
On a deep level we all know and understand so much more than we realize. Wisdom is one of the aspects of the soul. Alas, it often remains hidden and buried deep within.
Meditation gradually digs into the inner depths, unearthing our innate wisdom. Yogis in fact teach that inner realization is smriti, meaning remembrance: we simply need to remember the deeper aspects of this world, of ourselves and our lives.
Even worldly wisdom and ability are enhanced through meditation. The most successful businessmen always seem to have a natural intuition for what action is correct. We too can develop it, through meditation.
In deeper stages, our wisdom gradually becomes like that of the saints.
18. natural life
Meditation naturally furthers and supports a balanced, harmonious, and natural life. Meditation connects us with Mother Nature. We rediscover our innate instincts for healthy food, natural lifestyles, and wholesome environments.
Meditation spontaneously makes us love nature. We are able to feel our oneness with it. In deeper stages, we feel it as a part of ourselves and we feel ourselves as part of all that is.
19. divine aspects
Meditation results in an increased inner receptivity to life itself — to its deeper aspects and to our noblest and highest inner qualities. These qualities, aspects of the divine, are said to be eight: love, peace, calmness, joy, wisdom, energy, light, sound.
By meditating regularly one of these noble qualities will particularly manifest in our lives. These noble qualities emerge from within and flourish like precious flowers.
In deeper meditative states we don’t only experience these qualities, we become them. We feel not that, “I am Mary,” but “I am love.”
Concentration is the key to success in everything. Unfortunately, our concentration is often weakened by the television, the computer, constant distractions, and a multitude of sensory input.
Regular meditation develops our concentration like a muscle. Meditation isn’t easy for most people but every day of practice tones and strengthens our “muscle.”
In the higher stages of meditation, concentration becomes natural. When we love something, we automatically concentrate on it. Then there is no effort, only joy.
21. freedom, love, and enjoyment
Daily meditation settles us at our center. A natural consequence of being centered in the Self is an increasing sense of non-attachment to the world. Such non-attachment does not diminish our participation, our love, nor enjoyment of life. Rather, it increases them. We love more deeply, enjoy more fully, and live more freely. True love and joy depend on our sense of inner freedom.
In deeper stages of meditation, our non-attachment grows and with it our inner freedom, joy and capacity to love. We will love more freely and embrace more fully the incredible drama and adventure of life itself.
The tree of meditation grows slowly and its many sweet fruits do not immediately appear—but when they do, life assumes a richer and sweeter taste. Nothing else can feed us with quite as much joy and nourishment as the Self. So be patient, practice regularly, and stay inspired.