The Benefits of Starting a Practice
here are many things in life that are beyond our control. However, it is possible to take responsibility for our own states of mind and to change them for the better. Meditation is a means of transforming the mind. Meditation practices are techniques that encourage and develop concentration, clarity, emotional positivity, and a calm seeing of the true nature of things. By engaging with a particular meditation practice you learn the patterns and habits of your mind, and the practice offers a means to cultivate new, more positive ways of being. With regular work and patience these nourishing, focused states of mind can deepen into profoundly peaceful and energized states of mind. Such experiences can have a transformative effect in our lives and the lives of others that we come in contact with.
The benefits of meditation include the following:
- lower blood pressure
- improved blood circulation
- lower heart rate
- less perspiration
- slower breathing
- less anxiety
- lower blood cortisol levels
- increased feelings of well-being
- less stress
- deeper relaxation
The relaxation techniques incorporated in yoga can lessen chronic pain, such as lower back pain, arthritis, headaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. Yoga can also lower blood pressure and reduce insomnia.
Aside from the array of physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, which has been known to have devastating effects on the body and mind. Stress can reveal itself in many ways, including back or neck pain, sleeping problems, headaches, drug abuse, and an inability to concentrate.
Yoga can be very effective in developing coping skills and reaching a more positive outlook on life. Unlike more traditional forms of exercise, yoga’s incorporation of meditation and breathing help a person improve his/her mental well-being. Regular yoga practice creates mental clarity and calmness; increases body awareness; relieves chronic stress patterns; relaxes the mind; centers attention; and sharpens concentration. Body and self-awareness, in particular, are very beneficial, because it can help with early detection of physical problems or ailments and allow for early preventive action.
Yoga is known to help with the following:
- increased flexibility
- increased muscle strength and tone
- improved respiration, energy, and vitality
- the maintenance of a balanced metabolism
- weight reduction
- cardio health
- improved athletic performance
- protection from injury
Breath Work (Pranayama)
Practicing breath work (pranayama) can provide psychological, psychoanalytic, spiritual, cognitive, and physical benefits. Breath work has also been employed in a variety of treatment programs, including those for individuals who have been dealing with grief or loss, trauma, drug addiction, alcoholism, and related emotional and psychological issues. We also practice various forms of breath work to lead us into Meditation and while practicing Yoga. Our breathing takes place in our body. Through breath awareness we can find the blockages in our body and by taking our breath to them, work with them and release them. There is no body work that can succeed without using the breath to support it.
Breath work allows you to learn how to do the following:
- awaken healing energies and calming forces within you
- control and direct many unconscious reactions or “involuntary” processes
- regulate your physiological, emotional, psychological and spiritual states
Buddhism is a path of practice and spiritual development leading to Insight into the true nature of reality. Buddhist practices like Meditation are means of changing yourself in order to develop the qualities of awareness, kindness, and wisdom. The basic tenets of Buddhist teachings are straightforward and practical: everything is interconnected; actions have consequences; change is possible. Buddhism addresses itself to all people irrespective of race, nationality, sexuality, or gender. It teaches practical methods which enable people to realize and use its teachings in order to transform their experience, to be fully responsible for their lives.
The Buddhist tradition over thousands of years has created an incomparable resource for all those who wish to follow a path — a path which ultimately culminates in Enlightenment or Buddhahood. An enlightened being sees the nature of reality absolutely clearly, just as it is, and lives fully and naturally in accordance with that vision. This is the goal of the Buddhist spiritual life, representing the end of suffering for anyone who attains it.