I began meditating in my late teens after I was exposed to the research of Herbert Benson, who wrote the book The Relaxation Response. It was a wonderful study into how people meditate and the benefits of meditation. It was basic but very helpful. It got me interested in both practicing and studying meditation.

While I found meditation relaxing after doing it a short while, it wasn’t always easy to do, and I wasn’t always motivated to do it. I meditated often, but not regularly. I did it because I understood the medical benefits. I knew it was good for me, good for my heart. Dr. Benson talks a lot about the medical benefits of meditation.

Over the years, as I pursued my degrees in psychology, I studied different forms of meditation, tried different practices, and really began to enjoy the effects. I meditated periodically. I would sometimes take breaks from it but I’d always come back. I explored different forms, different traditions, and developed my interest and love of meditation.

I think the tipping point was when someone came to me for help and advice. This person, whom I respected, was intensely spiritual, and shared with me the opinion that meditation was one of the foundational tools of personal growth. “If you really want to grow, meditation is really the key both spiritually and psychologically,” this client said. So I started to explore meditation from that perspective and found the remark to be true. Because I was passionate about growth, I decided to truly dive into meditation. Although I had spent decades academically, professionally, and in my private endeavors studying personal development, I had not deeply studied the spiritual, meditative methods of growth.

At that point in my life, I came to realize that studying psychology had taken me a long way in my own personal development, but that it could only take me so far. Meditation could take me to my goal of being a happy, whole person on a consistent basis. So I had actually learned from someone I was counseling that meditation was the main way to grow in all aspects of my life.

Although I had all these degrees and training which helped me develop excellent skills in dealing with my stresses, anxieties, and emotional issues, I still hadn’t achieved the goal of reaching my full potential as a whole, healthy human being. I needed to seriously apply meditation to actually reach this goal in my life. In the East, they call it “enlightenment”; in the West, some writers call it “awakening,” and psychologists refer to it as “self-actualization.”

What consistent, regular meditation started to do for me was help me get in touch – on a consistent, regular basis – with who I am, why I’m here, and my oneness with everything around me. Psychology and the medical world had taught me good tools for functional living, but hadn’t taught me how to live. Meditation has taught me how to live fully, how to live in the present, and how to savor every moment.

There was one final lesson I needed to learn. Although I had become quite good at meditating and was very relaxed and peaceful on the meditative mat, when I left the mat my mind continued to chatter. I learned I didn’t have to leave that meditative state when I left the mat. I could go through my day, continuing in my meditative state of being at peace, being at one. While the mind chatter is still there, I’ve learned how to acknowledge it, witness it, and not be distracted by it. I’ve learned how to remain in the now, how to be present with what is.

One of the changes that has come along through my meditating is that I require less sleep. I generally go on three to six hours a day now. Like most people, I used to require six to eight hours of sleep to function. Also, during my meditations sometimes I have very “mystical” experiences where it’s incredibly magical and I am one with the universe. I’ve learned not to attach myself to these experiences; I don’t expect them, but sometimes they come and are intense and enjoyable beyond words. I’ve become one with myself and at peace.

If you want to be the most fully functional human being you can be, meditation is the way to achieve this. If growth and spirituality are important to you, meditation is the tool to getting there. We all can experience the joys, wonders, and incredible peace that truly surpasses all understanding, with regular meditation.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and has a blog at http://www.Meditation-Enlightenment.com He is the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He has a weekly podcast that explores the world of Happiness at http://www.HappinessPodcast.org He also creates a weekly podcast that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net