Meditation benefits you may not know

September 6, 2009

I haven't been feeling well the last few days, so I decided to take some time out to rest today. After sleeping for a little while this afternoon, I still didn't feel great, and hoped that some meditation might help. After finishing a long meditation session, I'm reminded of several meditation benefits, some you've heard of, and some you may not have heard of.

Stress reduction and relation

Of course many people meditate to relax, clear their mind, and reduce stress, and this benefit is absolutely true. Both during and after my meditation session today there were very few thoughts rumbling around in my brain. It really is a wonderful feeling to live unencumbered by thoughts about the past and future.

Loss of a sense of limits

Another meditation benefit you don't hear about too often is the loss of the sense of physical limitations. What I mean by this is that during today's meditation session, at one point I felt like I "came back" to my body, but it might be more accurate to say that I came back to an awareness that I had a body.

Up until that moment I wasn't thinking, my mind was clear, and my mind essentially wasn't aware that it had a body. I wasn't asleep, I was just "aware" (for lack of a better term), but I was aware without any physical limits. What I mean here is that when your awareness comes back to your body after not being associated with the body, you feel limited, essentially confined by the boundaries of your skin.

Because of this feeling of limitlessness, doing this today ended up feeling like I just took a vacation to some far away place. These days I do most of my work from home, and for the last 7-10 days I've been working harder than ever on a website project, with very few breaks. What "breaks" I do take normally involve going to the coffee shop or the grocery store. So this afternoon, for me to feel like I had no physical limits, well that was like getting out of the apartment for a while, and in this case, going on what seemed like a far away and very relaxing trip.

When my awareness came back to my physical body it was a little disappointing to feel restricted again, but it's not that bad, as I'll describe next.

Everything is new again

If there's any way you can imagine your awareness (consciousness) having no limits in the world, and then suddenly there's something of a rushing sensation, and you find your awareness back in a physical body, I hope you can appreciate that this can feel restrictive, or confining. In one moment you were "out there" (everywhere) and now you're back "in here", in this physical body, in a room, in some city, in some country.

But at the same time, now that your awareness is back in this physical body, it can also be a very thrilling feeling, because everything feels new again. I use my eyes, and I look down at my right hand, and I rotate it, first one way, and then another, and then I squeeze the fingers into a fist, and although there is some pain and stiffness in the old joints, it all feels very new, like I'm trying on a new jacket at the store, looking in a mirror and moving around to see how it feels and looks.

And then a little while later, when I'm in the kitchen and washing a bowl, I realize that the sight, sound, and touch sensations also feel very new, and I think how cool that is. I've washed dishes most every day of my life for 40 years, and here I am washing this bowl, and I think what a pretty color the bowl is, and how neat the water feels. Although there is that feeling of confinement, there's a lot of joy in those simple sensations at a time like this.

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