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
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
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