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People often characterize meditation as just a means for relaxation — a way to slow down our breathing and quiet our thoughts — but it is so much more than that. Meditation is a unique, profound, and mystical experience that allows us to receive insight and guidance. When we enter a meditative state, we receive healing for our bodies and strength for our spirits.
1. Meditation Gives Us Answers to Our Questions or Problems
Baha'is believe that meditation is a part of prayer. When we pray to God, we often ask Him specific questions, and it’s while meditating that we wait and listen for the answer. Baha'u'llah, the prophet and founder of the Baha'i Faith, explained that it is necessary that we observe silence during this period of contemplation “because it is impossible for a man to do two things at one time—he cannot both speak and meditate.”
While we remain in this silent meditation, we are actually communicating with our spirit — or our higher self. During a talk in Paris in 1911, Abdu'l-Baha, the son of Baha'u'llah and the authorized interpreter of the Baha'i writings, further explained: “In that state of mind you put certain questions to your spirit and the spirit answers: the light breaks forth and the reality is revealed.” This is how we get insight and inspiration.
2. Meditation Is Good for Our Health
Not only are our spirits “informed and strengthened during meditation,” as the Baha'i writings say, but our minds and bodies are also strengthened as well. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation has been clinically proven to help lower blood pressure and relieve anxiety, stress, fatigue, depression, chronic pain, mood disturbances, and common menopausal symptoms. Other studies have also found that meditation increases our attention span, helps people fight addictions, and improves our sleep quality.
These mental and physical benefits of meditation will likely further enhance the spiritual effects we get from it. Baha’is believe that the body and spirit are connected, so naturally a healthier body will lead to a healthier spirit. In fact, Abdu'l-Baha wrote, “The more healthful his body the greater will be the power of the spirit of man; the power of the intellect, the power of the memory, the power of reflection will be greater.”
3. Meditation Helps Us Make Better Decisions
Meditation also heightens our discernment and clarity when we are making decisions, and helps us distinguish between what is right and wrong in our lives.
As Baha'u'llah wrote:
Meditate profoundly, that the secret of things unseen may be revealed unto you, that you may inhale the sweetness of a spiritual and imperishable fragrance, and that you may acknowledge the truth that from time immemorial even unto eternity the Almighty hath tried, and will continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns.
So, if we are ever unsure about why we may be experiencing certain problems and what our next step should be, we need to only meditate on the word of God to receive guidance and certitude.
4. Meditation Can Inspire Artistic Creations or Scientific Discoveries
Meditation is great for boosting our creativity and inspiring innovative ideas. I know whenever I write a poem, I feel like I’m in the zone, in a state of total reflection and absolute concentration. While I’m in this meditative state, writing feels effortless as I rapidly record rhymes that seem to flow into my mind from a continued source of inspiration.
Regardless of what discipline we’re in, or whether we’re more artistic or scientific, the Baha'i writings say, “The source of crafts, sciences and arts is the power of reflection. Make ye every effort that out of this ideal mine there may gleam forth such pearls of wisdom and utterance as will promote the well-being and harmony of all the kindreds of the earth.”
We are blessed to have these spiritual powers of thought, reflection, and imagination. We can use them to think of ideas to benefit our own lives and improve humanity’s welfare. As Albert Einstein said, “Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life’s coming attractions.”
5. Meditation Creates Spiritual Strength and Enlightenment
It is encouraging to know that if I read the word of God, and empty and purify my mind and heart from everything that is not godly, the Holy Spirit will come to my aid. As Abdu'l-Baha wrote:
I now assure thee, O servant of God, that, if thy mind become empty and pure from every mention and thought and thy heart attracted wholly to the Kingdom of God, forget all else besides God and come in communion with the Spirit of God, then the Holy Spirit will assist thee with a power which will enable thee to penetrate all things, and a Dazzling Spark which enlightens all sides, a Brilliant Flame in the zenith of the heavens, will teach thee that which thou dost not know of the facts of the universe and of the divine doctrine.
Isn’t it exciting to know that everything we need is lying dormant inside of us, and we only have to turn our thoughts inward to connect to God and find what we’re searching for? As Baha'u'llah wrote, “Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.” Whether we’re looking for physical healing or spiritual enlightenment, it’s comforting to know that meditation can guide the way.