Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day.
- Deepak Chopra
Definitions of meditation vary, depending on the form being practiced. The Australian Teachers of Meditation Association states that 'in its broadest and most universal definition, meditation is a discipline that involves turning the mind and attention inward and focusing on a single thought, image, object or feeling'.
Buddhist 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.
There are now hundreds of studies published in scientific journals showing that meditation, practiced regularly, can be helpful in managing, preventing and coping with a range of mental and physical health problems.
- Anxiety and panic disorders
- Drug rehabilitation and quitting smoking
- Insomnia and improved sleep hygiene
- Chronic pain
- Helping people with cancer cope with their treatment
Regularly meditating has also been shown to cause changes in the structure and function of the brain, in ways that seem to boost learning, concentration, emotional intelligence, and both mental and physical resilience. There is also research to suggest meditation can help boost immunity, improve DNA repair (a cellular process important to preventing a range of illnesses) and slow the changes to DNA that occur with ageing (and predispose us to diseases associated with ageing such as cancer).