Is meditation a lifestyle choice? Well, yes and no.
Sometimes we face a choice that will change the way live our lives — to move to the suburbs, or stay in the city; to give up our day jobs and pursue that dream of self-employment; finally knuckle down and take that Yoga Teacher’s training course.
These are difficult decisions. They all involve giving up something we are comfortable with, and embarking on something entirely new, something that will radically change our lives. And the problem is, of course, we do not know whether that change is going to be for the better, or for the worse.
We have to do some serious thinking, guessing about what shape the future might have — because if we decide to make the change, all that is certain is that our lives will be radically different.
Deciding to take up a daily meditation practice is a lifestyle choice in one way — it will radically change your life. The physiological effects of meditation are clear, and the structure of your brain will change. This will open up new vistas of behaviour for you: you become less anxious, less stressed, less angry; you become more social, more tolerant. You become a better problem solver.
No matter how we behave now, we can all do with a dose of that. No-one is perfect!
The flow-on is of course obvious — any physical symptoms of anxiety, stress, anger and so on will be reduced. Blood pressure can drop, non-specific stress-related maladies such as IBS and vague recurring headaches can clear up.
All of this leads to a better way of being, for your benefit and for all of those around you.
A radical change in lifestyle.
But it lacks the downside of the other type of lifestyle decision. You do not have to give anything up, you do not have to sell the home in the city and gain a leafier and more relaxed aspect (‘But will we like it?’). You do not have to give up your job (‘The savings will last, but then what? Will we survive?’).
As an active sacrifice, you give up only two things. First, 20 minutes a day. Now, really, everyone has 20 minutes a day. I know it is easy to say, ‘No, I don’t,’ but that is simply not true. Experience in the city and subsequently working with extraordinarily busy people from all walks of life has shown that there is always 20 minutes.
The only other thing you give up is your current lifestyle. You give it up for a better way of being.
You do not have to sell anything, move home, change job, refinance the house.
You sacrifice 20 minutes a day, and you give up anxiety, stress, overweening anger and the rest; and you gain sociability, tolerance, problem-solving skills.
And before long, the 20 minutes daily practice is no longer a sacrifice — it is not even an investment in a new lifestyle. It actually becomes so enjoyable, you do not wish to miss a day.
So, taking up a daily meditation practice is a lifestyle choice. But it does not have the downsides of other lifestyle choices. It is simple, easy to make, and the benefits are obvious and certain.
Don’t you have to join the growing movement to improve your way of being?
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