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Is Meditation a Spiritual Practice?

Recently I asked on a social media platform: Do you need to be spiritual to meditate?

The answers on my poll came in NO. Although spiritual traditions include meditation as part of their teachings, it does not belong to one religion or faith. The practice can be used for relaxation and stress relief, while others can use it for a greater connection to something greater than themselves. Meditation can lead us to a present-moment state, where we witness our mind and body. It is a process that evolves. Meditation teaches the skill of focus and reacquaints us with a sense of self. It can be a time to add prayer, mantra and affirmations if desired. There is no rule or one way to meditate. At its core, meditation is the training of the mind, just like we train our bodies. Our minds are dynamic, and meditation is not transforming into a thoughtless mind as one of the many misconceptions. Instead, it is the process of watching many thoughts.

Neuroscientists are proving the incredible and direct effect of meditation

has on humans physiologically. When they peak into our brains with MIR they can see the data and the difference between a practitioner and a non-practitioner. It is fascinating that they can see that the brain can change structurally. The brain changes passed the age of twenty-five, as the previous belief no longer stands true. They see the increase in the grey matter where the neurons reside, and the insula is greater. Neuroscientists can see how the hippocampus increases in volume. The amygdala, which is involved with fear and emotions has more grey matter, and studies show how the amygdala has shrunk, all desirable outcomes of meditating. There are many studies that are extensive.

If you are not as interested in the scientific element, you will be to know that meditation has a calming effect. One of the most important benefits of meditation is its role in our Nervous system, promoting a feeling of ease and grounding.

Emotionally it leaves us feeling tranquil and more even keel. The mediation practice is not going to bring fireworks. It is the opposite. Unlike a strong vinyasa flow class, which gives high sensory feedback, meditation is a lower-level sensation and of

course stimulation. This is the reason many people give up on it quickly, it can be boring to sit there alone and quiet, or it can be scary. Less stimulation can be a favourable contrast to our busy lives.

We have to buy into the value of it to practice meditation just like we buy into the importance of physical activity for our bodies. I suggest checking out the numerous studies. Be patient with yourself and realize it is a process that takes time. You may feel more comfortable having led meditations on an app or in a class setting. You do not need a designated room like a yoga room in your house, but it is helpful to have a quiet space and choose a comfortable position to get started. You can start with a few minutes, any time of the day that works for you, or you can make it longer or shorter. It is your time and choice. Include it into your day in the same way as brushing your teeth. There are numerous approaches, and one might fit, so we have to diversify our experience with it, just like trying different yoga classes. You do not have to be spiritual to meditate, only to believe it has many benefits for your whole being, which you will notice quickly. We can use meditation in a way that is authentic, spiritual, or not.

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