Meditation is for personal transformation. ‘In all types of mysticism and in many spiritual traditions, meditation is the path to a pure and empowered mind,’ says Ajahn Brahmavamso. ‘The experience of this pure mind, released from the world, is incredibly blissful.’[i]
The benefits of meditation are two-fold,’ says Ajahn Brahmali, a Buddhist monk of over 11 years standing, another resident of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery[ii]. ‘The “ordinary” benefit of meditation, like getting rid of depression, anxiety and stress [allows you to] feel more peaceful, more relaxed, more at ease,’ he says, ‘because you feel more peaceful, more relaxed, you become more efficient in your work and you become a more pleasant person to be around. So, you become more socially adept. All of these things go together.
In ordinary life, most of us are generally unaware of our negative attributes. As a result, we make mistakes and do unintended harm to others, and ourselves by making the wrong decisions and saying the wrong things. Being mindful of our traits, through careful observation (meditation), allows us to ‘know ourselves’. This, in turn, helps us in taking responsibility for our actions, as we become more aware of our previous ‘blind spots’. Therefore, we can make wiser decisions and enjoy more amicable relationships.
Apart from the worldly side, there is [also] the spiritual side of meditation, [which can be] divided into two parts. One is the feeling of meditation—when you experience joy, peace, happiness, and tranquillity. And the other aspect is the insight aspect—where you come to understand the mind and the body. You understand what you’re truly like; you understand the world around you, basically,’ says Ajahn Brahmali. ‘[Hence,] you become wiser and you have less suffering. That’s what wisdom is all about. You have less suffering and you can help other people.
Meditation increases concentration, awareness, tranquillity, and it sharpens our ability to think. Simultaneously, it reduces tension, fear, restlessness, and worry. ‘The general effects of meditation are a gradual increase in calm and awareness. A person becomes more patient, better able to deal with the ups and downs of life, clearer-headed and more energetic,’ says Dr Peter Harvey, a professor and meditation teacher, ‘he becomes both more open in his dealings with others, and more self-confident and able to stand his own ground’[iii].
Meditation is also relaxing and enjoyable, the Buddha referred to it as ‘pleasant abiding’. Ajahn Brahmavamso, the Abbot of the Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Western Australia, described himself as a ‘meditation junkie’, says it is ‘a bliss better than sex’[iv].
[i] Ajahn Brahmavamso, Mindfulness, bliss and beyond (2006: 1)
[ii] In a personal interview with the author in 2009.
[iii] Harvey, Peter, An Introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, history and practices, (2000: 245).
[iv] Ajahn Brahmavamso, Mindfulness, bliss and beyond (2006:1)