The benefit of meditation, which the Westerners recently discovered, was well appreciated over twenty-five centuries ago in the East. After some practice, many practitioners will experience tranquilized mind, and feel a sense of calm pervades the whole body.
During 1970s, University of Massachusetts at Worcester, USA, started a stress-reduction program. This center for Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) still exists today. By sitting still and following the movement of air entering and leaving your nostrils, your electroencephalograph reading will show that gamma waves which are associated with attention and learning are generated. Is not this good for you?
During meditation, unusual amount of brain activity in the left side of the pre-frontal cortex is going on. It was confirmed that experienced practitioners had an average 5% thicker cortex. This part of the brain is associated with positive emotions. You will there before be more alert and happier than the others.
The mental images you see when your eyes are closed are your own creation. They can be anything a person may imagine. These are called Nimittas. For most people, they are beautiful lights of various colors, eg while, blue, purple, gray, yellow, orange etc. Sometimes they are bright and unstable, vibrating or flashing and changing shapes, like the clouds.
Some people also see eyes or faces when their eyes are closed. These are very normal and we should not be attached to them for our own safety. If they are too fearful, just open your eyes and they will be gone. Do not be attached to whatever you see. If a certain thing appears in front of you every time you meditate, just have a paint brush ready, dip it in ink and hold it while you meditate. When that thing appears, gently mark it with your brush and then open your eyes. What has been marked?
For more advance practicers, within next few minutes after the nimittas, maybe few hours, days, months, or years, (depending on how well you have practiced so far) Jhana will happen by themselves later on.
According to the Buddha: for one who indulges in Jhana, four results are to be expected: Stream-Winner, Once-Returner, Non-Returner, or Arahant.
If you encounter difficulties, you need to consult experienced practitioners. These people normally do not request money for assisting you. If they do, be aware. It is better to consult those who do not ask for monetary rewards.
Meditation is a form of psychotherapy. The number of psychiatric patients is increasing rapidly and many hospitals can not cope. Those people ended up in the hospital because they did not know how to cope with stress. They need to relax mentally. They are ambitious. They struggle too hard.
During meditation, you will also be taught how to get rid of longstanding anger and hostility which weakens your lungs and speed up age-related decline. When the lung volume drops, you do not get enough oxygen. Your energy Declines, your immune system weaknesses, that sickness and disease start to crop up.
Moreover, women and men in their forties need not be miserable if they care to look after their mental health. I am talking about majority of the people on this planet, regardless of whether they are rich or poor, white, black or yellow. If rich people are not affected, then most people in the United States of America should be very happy. Are they?
Even though you may be aged 70 or over, you can remain mentally as healthy as a 20-year old if you care to maintain your health. And one of the methods is meditation, which can slow down your heart rate and breathing rate per minute.
Meditation may also prevent you from ending up with diabetic, high blood pressure or cardiovascular problems, because the elasticity of your blood vessels will be improved and your blood toned up. As a person thinks of compassion, his body system stimulates the cells to generate valuable chemical compounds to produce energy and vitality. So we can say metta has tonic effect on the whole physical constitution.
The following are some of the other benefits of meditation:
Getting rid of your tension and find some relaxation
Calm down your worries and find permanent or temporary peace
Develop the courage to face or overcome your problems
Gain self confidence
Help you to understand the nature of your fears
Help you see the true nature of life (if you are heart-broken)
Help you to be more focused and concentrated in your studies
Help you to have contentment and not to harbor jealousy towards others
Help you to overcome the fire of anger, hatred and resentment
Help you to understand the danger of jealousy
Help you realize how to overcome your dangerous habit