we have discussed what mediation is. Some of you might wonder how is it relevant to yourselves. There are benefits but there are benefits in a lot of things, like eating garlic for instance and some people cannot stand garlic. So. If you are just looking for the benefits of meditation, the internet is full of them. Just google for it. One podcast I would like you to listen to is this:
It is worth listening to it more than once. It is about 30 minutes long and towards the end listen how he says that giving help to others without expectation of any reward makes out brains so healthy. It has a great beneficial effect on our system. When you think about it, man is a social animal and somehow, along the way we have split ourselves into smaller and smaller communities with our own territories to defend with resultant aggressive adrenaline pumping into our system. (This is all so scientific you know ;))). Giving without reward was the way people must have lived even before the invention of the barter system. I can imagine whole villages functioning in this rewardless system where people did things for each other and they in turn got rewarded by others doing things for them. But there was no contract in advance as to whether people were getting paid for what they did. I hope you can follow what I am saying.
I know what I am talking about because in the 1940s I lived in a small village with only ruts for lanes through which flood waters flowed when it rained. There were houses built in their own compounds on higher ground on both sides of these rut lanes. The whole village was bounded on three sides by tarmacked roads. These roads marked the boundary of the village. As children we could run about all day around the village and play as we liked. Older children looked after the younger ones. Most of the villagers were related to each other by marriage or by descent. It was not unusual for the adults to call us in and give us something to eat at any time of the day. No permission had to be asked from parents. There was no expectation of payment for food or baby sitting. Even as a toddler of about three I was free to wonder about safe in the knowledge that I would be looked after by some adult. Of course there were limits and if I strayed too far someone would be sure to pick me up and carry me home. Society at one time functioned like this all over the world.
Scientists are still in awe of the high social order that the Aboriginals achieved. They were supposed to have achieved the highest functioning social order of any nation at one time. This is how most of the world must have functioned before the reward system took over. I have nothing against the reward system but when you are being rewarded with £30 million an hour to sit in the Bahamas getting your toe nails massaged, is carrying things a bit too far. That is where we have come today.
But you get my drift. To come back to my point, doing things for others with no expectation of reward is thought to be one of the best things you can do for the benefit of your own mental and physical health. In our present society it goes against all conventional wisdom, but please do your own reading on it. Just ask yourselves, do you get greater pleasure giving something or receiving something. If it is the latter, I withdraw defeated. I don’t know if it is me or you who needs to go and see a shrink.
Right! You are still waiting for me to answer the question, “why meditation”? I can only answer you from a purely subjective point of view. As I have said, I did mediation when I was young and recently about a year ago I took it up again. I find that it has made me stand back and view life with a sort of detachment. Of course I am involved in day to day chores and worries and let my responsibilities keep me awake. But I find I have more resources to fall back on. The detachment makes me think things through carefully without jumping in with both feet as I would normally do. I have a sense of security, as if someone is at my back watching over me. Any panic I might feel in a crisis is that much less and my mind feels like it is more in control, to take decisions, to take charge. I feel I am more tolerant of small irritations caused by unthinking behaviour from others. I find I carry a slight smile on my face which is an indication of what is going on behind the surface. It is all about a relaxed attitude. The profit makers have cottoned on to this and in the 60s pushed Transcendental Meditation as the big engine to increase productivity and thus profit margins. As you can imagine I view such irreverence with a certain distaste. But they have got a point. With a fresh and refreshed mind you are clear headed to make the right decisions and define priorities. All this is tied up with mindfulness meditation to which I shall come to it at some point.
There are a whole lot of claims made for the physical benefits of meditation, including the reversal or prevention of Alzheimer’s, of diabetes, of cancer, of benefits for the heart, of lowering of blood pressure, reduction of stress. etc. It would be too exhausting for me to write all of it down. Also I can only tell you of those benefits that are feasible in my opinion. Sometimes people get carried away and make wild claims. If I have the time I shall come back to this, because it is an important topic and I shall tell you what in my opinion are the benefits worth considering and what seem possible given what meditation does to your anatomy.
If you are keen on further reading for yourselves, Huffington Post has a series of articles on this topic, the first of which is the podcast i told you about. Happy reading!