What is the point of meditation?

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What is the point of meditation?

This question comes up, in different ways, all the time.

Everyone wants to know: Why should I waste my time, sitting still and just watching my breath?
Quite reasonably, everyone considering developing a mindfulness meditation practice wants to know some version of, “why should I waste my time, sitting still (or walking slowly) and just watching my breath?”

It does seem silly, doesn’t it? Sitting, doing nothing. When you could be doing…something.

There are many potential answers to this question. Here are a few:

  • Even if your life stays stressful, you can feel less stressed if you meditate.
  • You can enjoy your life more, because it helps you get better at noticing all of life’s sweet moments.
  • You can have better relationships because you get better at pausing to reflect before you do or say something out of anger or fear or jealousy.
  • You will be able to concentrate on your work more effectively if you practice meditation, because you will be training your mind to stay focused in the moment without being distracted by random worries, desires or plans.
  • When stress happens at work or school, you can handle it without freaking out.
  • You will get better at understanding how others feel, and become a more patient and compassionate person.

If you want a far more expert opinion on this question, here’s Buddha’s answer to, “what is the point of meditation?”:

The purpose of our practice is to abandon ill will and hatred, and abide with a mind compassionate for the welfare of all beings.

In general, I’m pretty sure that abandoning ill will and hatred makes for a better life.

If you are thinking about trying out meditation, and any of these reasons appeal, sit down right now, close your eyes and count ten breaths. Then count ten more breaths. Then ten more.

That will be about 3 minutes of meditating, a decent start. Do it again tomorrow, working your way up to about 10 minutes at a time over the next few days.

To get a bit more guidance on developing a meditation practice, check out this post: How I started meditating. (And 4 steps to get you started.)

If you already have a meditation practice, tell us why you do it. We are eager to hear your thoughts.

Photo credit: Wonder for the Wander by Eunice Lituañas on Unsplash.

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The Mindful Twenty Something by Holly Rogers
“Wise, but not obscure. Practical, but lighthearted and inspiring.”

— MIRABAI BUSH, co-founder and Senior Fellow of The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society

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