Meditation: Resting Your Mind
The human brain is still the most complex object known to man in the entire cosmos. Considering that we know so little about so much, you can only imagine how little we know about the brain. As a matter of habit, we often think of the mind to be separate from the brain. Even with our knowledge that thinking can be detected by brain activity, this is still a widely held belief. For the most part, we consider our mind to be a metaphysical part of our being, somehow connected to the brain to sustain our consciousness. Regardless of where you think the mind resides, its similarities with the body cannot overlooked.
When we think of our bodies, we think about food, exercise and rest to keep it healthy, but somehow when we think of the mind, we barely even manage to hold a solid concept of what it is. However, on closer inspection, it becomes easier to draw parallels with the body. Just like we digest food in our body, we digest information in our minds. As with food, information can be healthy or unhealthy for our minds. In fact, one may say some ideas buried in ‘unhealthy’ information can be cancerous to the mind. Alternatively, useful information, like food, can be healthy and necessary for our growth as conscious beings. Not surprisingly, most of the information we require to positively expand our minds is more tasking to ingest. This is similar to how eating healthy can be quite a task, but binge eating on fatty foods, like watching mind numbing shows can be quite addictive.
When it comes to exercise, we understand that our bodies need it to maintain agility, and for those of us that stretch, flexibility. In relation to the mind, we have to think over issues rather than just go along with the motions. But again, it is always easier to do what requires the least effort. Some even go as far as saying the human tendency towards not thinking is the very reason we need guidance through law and governance. We may rather have someone else do the thinking for us then just follow whatever they decide is best.
Now, lets think about rest. While we may eat poorly and avoid exercise, there is only how much we can deprive the body of sleep before it shuts down completely. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about resting the mind. For the most part, we can go through an entire lifetime without meditating for a single day. It has not helped that the idea of meditation has been sold to us as supernatural, or something so complicated that we cannot possibly perform it accurately and gain from its benefits, unless we learn the teachings of some great spiritual sage.
The Eastern philosopher Lao Tuz best described meditation in relation to the mind with his illustration using a bowl. He said, “The usefulness of a bowl is in its emptiness.” Meditation is simply the act of freeing or emptying the mind of thoughts to enable us gain fresh perspective on issues that surround us. In the post-industrial era, the need for this ancient practice has never been direr. With our minds constantly being bombarded with information while trying to balance demanding careers and relationships, it is all too easy to break under the stress or fall into depression. By taking out as little as fifteen minutes in a day to rest in calm, we can reduce stress levels and gain perspectives that could enable us tackle life’s problems more effectively.
No matter your religious leanings, the benefits of meditation are free and available to all. It certainly doesn’t hurt if you try.
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