Loyola University Maryland

Counseling Center

What is Meditation?

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Meditation is commonly described as a training of mental attention that awakens us beyond the conditioned mind and habitual thinking, and reveals the nature of reality.  In this guide, the process and the fruit of meditation practice is understood as Natural Presence. Presence is a mindful, clear recognition of what is happening here, now and the open, allowing space that includes all experience. The art of practice is employing these strategies with curiosity, kindness and a light touch. The wisdom of practice is remembering that Natural Presence is always and already here. It is the loving awareness that is our essence.

Benefits of Meditation

Studies on the relaxation response have documented the following benefits:
  • Lower blood pressure;
  • Improved blood circulation;
  • Lower heart rate;
  • Less anxiety and stress;
  • Lower blood cortisol levels;
  • More feelings of well-being;
  • Less stress;
  • Deeper relaxation;
  • Positive effects on the brain;
  • Improved immune function;
  • Improvement in posture and physical well-being;
  • Increased ability to concentrate;
  • Increase in natural creativity and problem solving and;
  • Improvement in interpersonal relationships

Yet, the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher might say, the goal of meditation is not a goal. It is simply to be present. In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated, or "enlightened," practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calmness of mind and sense of inner balance.