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Top Ten Reasons To Start Meditating Today

posted by Jerry Kolber
“Meditate Daily” has been hovering
on my to-do, someday, or maybe lists for more than ten years, since
the late 1990′s.  Two years ago the universe conspired to deliver
me to the doorstep of the Interdependence Project, where the clarity of instruction and friendliness of the community led nearly
immediately to my committing to a daily meditation practice.  Though
I miss a day here and there, the positive effects of the practice are
so profound that when I don’t make it to the cushion I feel it in my
bones.

Sometimes people ask me why I meditate,
or have specific questions or misunderstandings about meditation, and
my answer seems to vary depending on what I’ve experienced that day
or how that morning’s session went. But I have noticed that I offer
some of the same answers over and over, and so here are my top ten reasons
anyone should start a meditation practice today.
 


1. Meditation makes you calmer. 
By offering you tools to deal with stress and stressful thought-patterns,
meditation helps you develop the option of remaining calm if you so
choose.
 

2. Daily meditation offers you a sense
of connection to all things by helping you notice that there is an observer
beyond your usual understanding of the term “observer”.
 

3. Meditating helps you deal better with
anger, desire, lust and other potentially intoxicating emotions.
 

4. Being a regular meditator does NOT
mean you no longer experience emotion; your experience of emotion just
becomes keener and more subject to choice rather than habit
.

5. Meditating regularly leads to an increased
sense of empathy and compassion, towards others and towards yourself.
 

6. Becoming a regular meditator will
increase your creativity, creating more space for new ideas to arise
and to be noticed, and lowering any resistance you may have to new concepts
and ways of thinking.
 

7. Meditating makes you healthier. Not
only does it help you become aware of how to handle pain and illness
better, but scientific studies show that “Meditating slows breathing
rate, heart rate, and blood pressure and heart rate. Some evidence suggests
that meditation may also aid treatment of anxiety, depression, high
blood pressure and a range of other ailments.” (Mayo Clinic) 
Anecdotally and personally I can concur that all of this is true.
 

8. Daily meditation will make you smarter
by growing your brain. A 2005 Harvard Medical School study showed that
“Brain regions associated with attention, sensory awareness and
emotional processing — the cortex — were thicker in meditators. In
fact, meditators’ brains grew thicker in direct correlation with how
much they meditated”. 
 

9.  Meditation is a great to deal
with your psychological “junk”, offering a great option on
its own or in combination with any form of therapy. By noticing your
thoughts arise, and recognizing that they are just thoughts, you slowly
peel away the layers that cover your true self.
 

10. Meditation is an excellent adjunct
to any spiritual or religious practice, and can be a gateway to deeper
spiritual revelations and the essential meaning of interdependence.
Combined with my study of Buddhist philosophy, my experience of daily
sitting practice is that it offers a complete spiritual path that integrates
seamlessly with my daily life.

Bonus benefits: Meditating makes you sexier, brings you new spiritually aware and cool friends if you join a group (or visit the IDP podcasts online), and can save you money through the side effect of reduced consumption.  

All this and more for just ten to twenty
minutes a day.  I can honestly say that beginning a daily meditation
practice has been one of the most positively life-effecting decisions
I’ve ever made. If my ten reasons for why you should start a daily practice
gets you meditating even for one, two, or five minutes today, I
will be deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of your
decision.



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Dayne | TheHappySelf.com

posted July 29, 2009 at 8:28 pm


This is such a great article and I am also a firm believer in the power of meditation. It’s amazing how such a small time, out of our day, can greatly change our mind, our body, and our life. Thank you for pointing out 10 great reasons to meditate, everyone should take it to heart and start doing it today.
Thanks again!



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Carole -Rejuvenation Lounge

posted July 29, 2009 at 8:35 pm


A very thoughtful article. Love it. I’m waiting until meditation makes me sexier. Wondering how long it might take !
Peace, love and travel
Carole



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Mahala Mazerov

posted July 29, 2009 at 10:16 pm


This is a good list, and my hope is it will help people get started or stay motivated.
But the one thing you don’t mention, maybe because it is so hard to put into words is meditation changes you at a fundamental level. You still want health, better emotional balance, and so forth, but these aren’t the goals any more. You develop a core of inner well-being, and from that springs genuine kindness for others as well as yourself.



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Kelli

posted July 29, 2009 at 10:32 pm


I’d love to have some tips on how to get started. My mind wanders, my cell phone beeps and life creeps in as quickly as I close my eyes. Help!



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Vince

posted July 30, 2009 at 2:15 am


This is a really great top ten list Jerry. A friend of mine got me into a regular meditation routine and I can’t believe I didn’t try it sooner. I am always more relaxed which has not only reduced my blood pressure, but also has made me more successful at work. Anyone can post their own list to our site http://www.toptentopten.com/. The coolest feature is you can let other people vote on the rankings of your list.



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Lindsay

posted July 30, 2009 at 3:07 am


Hi Jerry,
This comment is not really relevant to your post, but I don’t know where else to write…I am hurting so much right now for the world. My heart is breaking, breaking with sadness at the suffering being felt throughout our country, and the dismal state we find ourselves in today. I visited a factory in the Bay Area today, and I looked at the sad faces of the hard-working staff…who are fearful of the plant closing in the next few weeks due to the recession. Job loss for thousands…health insurance loss for thousands…inability to pay rent, buy food, clothes. Schwartzaneggar slashed the budget today. Millions/billions in health care and education were cut. That’s people’s lives. That’s people’s future. I am trying to see silver linings, trying to have hope. But, I am just consumed with pain. Trying to breathe it in and out – tonglen is all I can think of to do. Any suggestions?
Much love,
Lindsay



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Jerry Kolber

posted July 30, 2009 at 7:39 am


@Dayne – thanks for the kind words!
@Carole – it will take approximately 9 to 14 months of daily meditation practice for it to make you sexier. If you miss just one day the clock starts over.
@Mahala – you are totally correct, it is impossible to put into words the fundamental change that happens in your perception after doing regular meditation for a while. I am just at the beginning of my practice having only been doing it for two years and look forward to even deeper changes. I’m not at the point yet where I am “goal-less” and I also see that you cannot set a goal to become goal-less.
@Kelli – I am not a meditation teacher so cannot offer you any personal instruction. The best idea is to find a local group of meditators (every large city and many smaller ones have them – google it) or to start here at Shambhala Sun. http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=26&Itemid=161 .
@Vince – that is awesome that meditation helped you become healthier. makes me happy.
@Lindsay – I work in film and television and was getting very excited once about a great review of one of my shows in a newspaper. Someone with more wisdom than I leaned over to me and said “If you believe the good reviews, you also have to believe the bad reviews.” I look at the world the same way. When things are good we try to hold on (grasp) and worry about when they are going to start decaying – i.e. we are deeply concerned about the impermamence of things being “good/happy”. But when things are bad, we seem to have no problem grasping strongly onto the situation, and believe that not only are things bad they are going to get a whole lot worse.
I don’t know if this is a modern phenomena or human nature, but my advice is this: All things change, all the freakin’ time. Recession, unemployment, hard faces are as much part of life as abundance, joy, and spaciousness. You need no further proof that things will change then to think of yourself and your world five or ten years ago (or five or ten seconds ago) – everything’s different and yet your awareness is still present and able to make the most appropriate choice, if you’ve developed the tools to do so and choose to. At core, your awareness/observer is always flickering with the same steady intensity; it’s when I start to layer my judgments, hopes, expectations, fears, etc that I get deluded about the true nature of my experience.
keep hope. the world is a beautiful, magnificent, terrifying and sun-filled place. meditate, put on some great music, dance, run, write to others to ask how they are feeling as you’ve done, talk to some of those people with hard faces about how you can hope together. share your fears. eat some chocolate.
and know that despite all of that, no matter what you do, there are going to be dark days and light days.



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Stacy Vajta ~ Expanded Pathways

posted July 30, 2009 at 9:59 am


Nice list. I think so many people are intimidated by the thought of meditation and that it has to look this way or that, or be such a precise practice. I tell my clients, just sit and breath and listen within…that’s a start! And with things seemingly speeding up all around us, taking that time to slow down and connect really does help to bring the body, mind and spirit into balance so we can process what comes our way.



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Mu

posted July 30, 2009 at 10:16 am


Great list, Jerry. I would add, based on my own philosophical slant, a caveat in the form of #11:
We do not practice meditation with any of the wonderful benefits of it (as listed in #1-10) as ends, for we approach the means as the only end. In this way, we simply act and we do so without attachment.



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Ethan

posted July 30, 2009 at 10:17 am


Awesome list Jerry. If folks want a great book to get started with meditation, my very favorite is Turning the Mind into an Ally by Sakyong Mipham:
Find it here: http://tinyurl.com/lphhhk
Also you could check out One City, the book I wrote that gave rise to the Interdependence Project and this blog:
Find it here: http://tinyurl.com/lpm2wf



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Lindsay

posted July 30, 2009 at 10:18 am


Hi Jerry,
Thank you so much for your beautiful reply to my comment. Last night was a rough one — I got very little sleep and was pretty consumed with thoughts and pains and uncomfort. But, the ability to write to you inspired me to keep breathing through it all…and waking up this morning to read your message just speaks truth in volumes. I love that you reminded me to look five/ten years ago at my life, or five/ten seconds ago, to see that things are constantly changing.
Thank you for the ability to connect to you. I still haven’t found a comparable community to the ID Project out here in Calif, and this blog reminded me that we do all live in “one city” and all I had to do was reach out.
Bless you Jerry. I miss you all.



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Mahala Mazerov

posted July 30, 2009 at 10:19 am


Hi again Jerry,
I hope it’s appropriate to post this — and if not, certainly delete, no worries — but I wanted to let people know I’m in the early start up process of creating an online meditation community for exactly some of the challenges expressed here: People don’t know where to start, worry they’re doing it wrong, find it so hard to maintain a practice in the midst of daily distractions, and have questions with no place to go for answers.
If it’s of interest, check out http://luminousheart.com
I also invite everyone to use the contact form on my site to ask me any meditation questions they may have.
Thanks again for this great article.



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Jerry Kolber

posted July 30, 2009 at 12:51 pm


@ Mu – I did not understand the idea of goal-less-ness until well into my practice so I was trying to avoid bringing it up here. But point well taken.
@ Lindsay – so glad I could be here to communicate with you , and thank you for sharing so intimately with us. Ethan’s book One City is a great one to help through dark times – he’s a really smart, contemporary and light-hearted teacher.
@ Mahala – thanks for sharing the resource!



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Julia May

posted July 30, 2009 at 5:09 pm


Great post Jerry! – my favorite thing that meditation does is
“lowering any resistance you may have to new concepts and ways of thinking.”
Not just creatively, but in life, too!



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Jeff

posted July 30, 2009 at 8:44 pm


Thanks Jerry! Great inspiration to come back to when I get off my practice.
Keep up the good work!



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AZ

posted July 31, 2009 at 7:36 am


No 11 – Meditation creates a way to see oneself as dignified, treat onself with dignity, and to treat others with dignity.
No 12 – Meditation makes it not only okay, but desirable, to be within that bubble of intense self-honesty, to really look at oneself, one’s thinking, beliefs, behavior, and the effect one has on the world. It compells one to be truly respectful.



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Jerry Kolber

posted July 31, 2009 at 9:51 am


@AZ #13 – Meditation makes your food taste more delicious!



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Ethan

posted July 31, 2009 at 10:28 am


@Jerry #14 it’s good for indigestion.



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AZ

posted July 31, 2009 at 1:15 pm


#15 Meditation makes you more light-hearted and brings more laugher into your life.



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meditating

posted August 7, 2009 at 1:58 pm


Wow! your website have the great information aboutmeditating.I’m sure I wiil be back agin.



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Chris

posted August 17, 2009 at 5:01 am


Hey Jerry, I loved your response to Lindsay. Totally on the money. I’m one of those tragic “creative” types and I’ve struggled with positive and negative interpretations of my efforts. A lot of them from me believing the negative, being too hard on myself and sending me into major depression. But conversely I’ve never felt comfortable getting buoyed by positive reviews – it’s a great quick win for the ego which I do believe is important, but then it can become a monster, as is the ego’s want.
This line: “If you believe the good reviews, you also have to believe the bad reviews.” is brilliant.
That is such a succint explanation of the whole problem.
I’ve started to realise that getting good comments or lots of comments isn’t really what fulfils me, it’s my pride in creating something honest and worthwhile, no matter if people like it or not.
Anyway, just wanted to share. Keep it up yeah.



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Gloria

posted September 8, 2010 at 8:57 pm


What I think is one of the most important points you make is at the very end: You only have to commit to 5 minutes a day…I an sit with the best f them after a yoga class or before a yoga class, but I have always found it difficult to commit when I am at home…so many other things are calling to me…not that I end up doing them :) but It does help to know that five minutes a day is worthwhile. Even if you do so in the morning when you are awake and still lying in bed. Just sit there or lay there and breathe. Inevitably, I think, the time you commit to sit will increase. It’s just like getting on a treadmill–start small and then keep adding on segments of time in little intervals. You can use your cell phone timer–set it to five minutes, and see what happens :)



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