When we make up our minds to do meditation, we always have different intentions and goals before getting started with it.
Some are looking for a mental health routine to help take their health to optimal levels. Others are looking for a way out of the stressful world they live in and others meditate to feel what meditation is like and enjoy many other varying benefits.
Let’s take a deeper look at what the goal of meditation is for various practitioners.
The Goal of Meditation
1. To be able to remain in the present moment
Being aware of the present moment has been found to have many health and social benefits.
Many people tend to get stuck in the past and its regrets. They get caught up in what they did wrong a few weeks, months, or even years back, and focus on where they made a mess in their lives.
Other people worry too much about the future and what it might bring. They become anxious and never really get to enjoy and appreciate what the present moment offers them.
For these reasons, people turn to mindfulness meditation to help them know, understand, and experience the joy of the now and master the art of dwelling there.
Frequently engaging in this meditation style brings about a state of relaxation as it washes away the thoughts of the past and the future that weigh people down.
In addition to this, staying in the present can help overcome stressful scenarios fairly easily as proven by a study taken on 143 adults for a period of 20 days which found positive effects after the participants received mindfulness training (1).
Staying in the present has also been proven to help with mental health symptoms.
According to a 2019 study, mindful practices contributed to an improvement in people who were struggling with anxiety and depression (2).
Another great benefit of living in the now is that it helps in improving relationships.
Three compiled studies in 2018 suggested that actually staying present with a partner in a relationship proved to have a great overall impact on the relationship (3).
Therefore, if you are seeking to have a healthy relationship with your partner, why not add practicing mindfulness meditation to your priority list?
Mindfulness also helps you regulate your emotions and allows you to better respond to challenging situations and remain calm and composed even in the heat of anger.
2. To cultivate inner peace and harmony
Finding a place of serenity within themselves is another goal people have when they take up meditation.
We all know how life can be sometimes.
Problems come up from all sides and you feel you have barely any mental energy to handle them, and this usually results in depression, frustration, and stress.
But by engaging in a meditation exercise, you are not only able to balance the breathing rate that helps you relax but also have the mental space you need to think things through and get a proper solution to your problems.
While meditation is not the direct solution to your troubles, it allows you to have the resources such as mental clarity, insight, attention, and balanced emotions that go a long way in helping you find the answers to your particular situation.
Almost all types of meditation, when practiced in the long term, help you find peace and inner harmony (4).
3. To cultivate compassion
Throughout our lives, we have experienced suffering, pain, and heartbreaks.
We have been hurt by people we loved the most, we have lost our loved ones to death and accidents, and we have seen other people try to inflict harm on us or on other people we love.
And this might have made some of us lose trust in humanity and make us close-minded and selfish, not wanting to relate and open up to others, especially strangers.
But different meditation styles such as compassion meditation and loving-kindness meditation can help restore hope to humanity by making us more compassionate and kind to people, which can be passed on to others and reignite the concept of love and unity.
Compassion allows us to extend love to others and ourselves and on top of this, it helps us to be aware of things such as the emotional pain we might be experiencing, unhappiness, and even feelings of dissatisfaction.
In order for us to experience compassion on a deeper level, we need to first extend this quality to ourselves as individuals, so that we are more forgiving and kind to others in the long run. The key aspect here is “let it start from you.”
So by strengthening this practice in our lives, we are able to grow to become more loving, kind, and compassionate that also makes our lives easier and better, and gives us peace of mind (5).
4. To boost general well being
Meditation has also been found to help with a wide variety of health issues that contribute to improved overall well being.
Some of the health aspects it comes in handy, include:
~ Helping with memory
A 2014 study showed that meditation can help with age-related cognitive decline (6).
Another study showed that meditation increases the concentration of the gray matter in the brain especially in the regions that are associated with memory processes, emotional regulation, and self-referential processing as well as perspective thinking (7).
Also, a study also concluded that meditation can help with Alzheimer’s disease which is known to bring about cognitive decline.
The study found that meditation especially Kirtan Kriya, coupled up with physical exercise, mental stimulation practices, and dietary modification among other factors can be instrumental in dealing with Alzheimer’s (8).
~ Helping with addiction
Addictions can be hard to get over but with the right kind of help, one can overcome them. Luckily, meditation is one way to fight addiction.
~ Helping with eating disorders
There are many eating disorders that various people deal with and they can be overwhelming at times when you are trying to build self-discipline.
If you are trying to manage your eating habits, meditation can really go a long way for you as it helps with binge and emotional eating (10).
~ Helping with sleep
For some, losing sleep at some point or simply being an insomniac is inevitable especially with our hectic lifestyles. However, since sleep is essential, we must find ways to ensure we are sleeping well to boost our overall health.
Meditation is actually a good alternative to most forms of insomnia treatment and has been found useful in dealing with chronic insomnia (11).
It helps cultivate a good environment for falling asleep easily and having restful sleep throughout the night.
~ Reducing blood pressure
There are a myriad of possible contributors to high blood pressure and if not handled well, this case can turn out to be life-threatening.
Meditation comes to play here too and a study revealed that transcendental meditation had a positive effect on systolic blood pressure especially amongst older people that took part in the research, that is, women and those that initially had higher blood pressure levels (12).
5. To enhance self-awareness
Putting it in simple and plain words, self-awareness entails understanding yourself on a deeper level in the most honest way possible.
Here, you get to discover yourself in terms of your thoughts, actions, feelings, emotions, weaknesses, behavior, and strengths.
Mindfulness meditation is rewarding here because it helps you realize that not everything is worth reacting to and thus being in control of your emotions pays.
Also, through journaling which is a form of meditation, you are able to keep tabs on your feelings and get to monitor the various patterns of your life and how you behaved in different situations.
This helps you make a conscious decision and effort to direct your patterns in the right direction for the sake of your own health and happiness.
6. To have a deeper connection to a higher power
People who are spiritual or religious, believe in a higher power than them that helps them dwell in peace amidst this chaotic world and find balance in their lives.
Christian meditation, Buddhist meditation, Hindu meditation, and other forms of spiritual and religious meditation help you as the practitioner strengthen your religious and spiritual beliefs and be able to work on your life well.
By constantly meditating, you come to the awakening of this higher power and you are able to not only tap into it but also make it part of your life that really goes a long way for you in terms of tranquility and contentment.
The Real Essence of Meditation
While the benefits of meditation make good goals to want to do meditation, it is much better to aim at cultivating and mastering the meditative state in your life.
The meditative state is the mental state that allows you to be alert but calm. It gets you into relaxed wakefulness that helps you have the full experience of meditation benefits.
By taking your time to build this state through consistent meditation and then aim to spill it over to other areas of your life, you are able to live more wakeful and poised, and this is something you enjoy in the long term.
So we strongly encourage you to aim for that and you will get to fully enjoy the benefits you find interesting and life-changing in meditation.
In summary, people have different goals when it comes to meditation, and it is okay since we are all different and seeking different forms of fulfillment.
However, we should try to work on cultivating and maintaining the meditative state in our lives which will help us get to benefit fully from the practice.
Also, we should be doing meditation frequently.
If you can meditate every day, it’s even better, but if you can’t, you can do it often as you can, based on your lifestyle, daily schedule, and other factors.