You might do it, you might know people who do it, you might have some pretty fixed ideas about what it is and who does it, but I’m here to say, meditation can help anyone create lasting happiness within their life, with no major lifestyle changes or massive effort. Happiness is, of course, what we all strive and work for. What if it’s not a case of one more promotion, or a new girlfriend, but simply meditation that could bring you the happiness you need?

What is Meditation?

Obvious question, right? Wrong! So many people have the wrong idea about what actually constitutes meditation, and there’s so much pseudo-scientific spirituality circling around it, it can be an intimidating practice to get into.

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Without getting too technical, meditation is the act of focusing the mind in order to induce different states of relaxation or consciousness. It’s not all about sitting in full lotus position and going ‘omm’, indeed, meditation has never been more detached from spirituality and religion.

Whether that’s a good thing or not is a debate for another day, but for now, that renders meditation as a practice anyone can enter into, regardless of religious or spiritual leaning, or cynicism. Meditation is about focusing the mind by minimising the thoughts that buzz around like flies, distracting you from the true, logical path, and preventing you from truly seeing the situation as it is.

Meditation is not all about sitting in full lotus position and going ‘omm’, indeed, meditation has never been more detached from spirituality and religion.

If all that sounds a little too good to be true, then you’ve clearly never tried meditation consistently. The best analogy for the effects of long-term meditation I’ve heard is this; imagine you’re a general on a battlefield, except you’re in the midst of the action. You can’t see anything for the scuffling men, and the erratic violence going on around you.

Meditation allows you to climb a vantage point, and directs your men to address issues and situations. It allows you to see the lay of the land, and how things really are, without emotions and thoughts clouding your judgement. Essentially, it lets you take control. That’s the real aim of most modern meditators, as opposed to some airy notion of nirvana.

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Why Does Meditation Help with Happiness?

It all comes down to allowing you to focus clearly on what you need to get done. When we’re in trouble, the vast majority of us do not react well. We make bad judgements, perform poorly, or even worse, we bury our heads in the sand, and pretend the situation’s going to fix itself. The problem with this is that life isn’t just occasional speedbumps, its small issue after small issue, with some big problems mixed in for variety.

Meditation gives you the chance to see your problems clearly for what they are, and this in turn allows you to deal with them, properly and maturely. It’s a way to clear your mind of crowded, bombarding thoughts, and focus on one problem at a time, till you’re no longer in trouble. If you’re not in trouble of any kind, and your life is going smooth as can be, meditation is still going to be your best friend. Here’s why.

It’s a way to clear your mind of crowded, bombarding thoughts, and focus on one problem at a time, till you’re no longer in trouble.

If you want to stop feeling unhappy and unsatisfied, but you can’t really see anything going particularly wrong in your life, you’re in need of meditation. You’re distracted and blinkered by your day to day life that you literally can’t see which elements of your life are leaving you cold, and unsatisfied.

If you’re getting caught in the small issues, the big issues are really going to floor you. Without a strong, centred base, things like break-ups, grieving and chronic injuries are going to be extremely tough to deal with. Regular meditation can help usher in a motivated, adaptive and positive mind set, very similar to stoicism, without the dry, religious overtones and connotations.

The Science

While there’ve been numerous studies conducted over the last hundred years, results have been consistently inconclusive, but it has been hinted at that regular meditation causes changes in the brain structure. The benefits of practicing meditation and mindfulness for anyone experiencing any kind of mental health issues or challenges have been well documented, and meditation is commonly used as a treatment.

continue to part 2