The mind has always fascinated me. When I was 18 years old I decided to enter a Tibetan Buddhist monastery. I wanted to find out more about the workings of my inner world. I could never have imagined the journey that I was about to embark on. Now, 18 years later, it’s time to share some of the benefits of mindtraining that I have personally experienced. Most of you may even know some of the points from modern scientific research. So let’s explore the benefits of mindtraining and meditation practice.
5 Benefits of Mindtraining
When I speak about Mindtraining, I refer to conscious exercises that strengthen wholesome mental qualities. Mindtraining sets the stage for deeper practices, such as the training that leads up to the state of Meditation and beyond. Much of the work that we do in the Dharana Mentoring and Spiritual Counseling sessions is Mindtraining. Examples of Mindtraining include mindful walking (walking meditation), the development of kindness, gratitude and forgiveness, the cultivation of mental energy and many others. Below I list some of the benefits that come from such a training:
1 Better Structures
Imagine a man who has the wish to go down the street and buy some ice-cream. If he gets side-tracked and involved by whatever pops up on the way, he will never reach the ice-cream parlor. Our mind is the same. If it doesn’t have any clear structures it will get pulled into whatever comes up. Instead of reaching the ice-cream parlor of happiness, it will remain involved in its own infinite bustle and noise. Such a mind without structure or direction is completely lost in itself. It’s also the direct cause or remaining unsuccessful.
When it comes to creating clear structures, I find that Meditation practice has done a lot for me. I have noticed a dramatic decrease of inner confusion and chaos over the years. So I introduced my mind to more order and better structures and my life began to reflect these changes. I am now able to finish things I’ve started, organize my thoughts, lead constructive conversations, give my life a clear direction and achieve what I set out to do.
2 More Self-Respect
Knowing what I want and should do in order to get to where I could be is one thing. Most people know that they “should” exercise more. They are painfully aware that they “should” make more time to care for themselves, take a break, meditate, seek forgiveness, be more kind, use their phones less etc. And yet we often continue to disappoint ourselves again and again. “Another day has passed and I haven’t done anything that I could truly admire.” Such are the silent thoughts buried underneath a meaningless existence without purpose or growth.
One of the most powerful transformations is hidden in doing what you know you should do – because it serves you. One of the first things I learned was to sit in Meditation whether I felt like it or not. I learned to sit because it is good for me, regardless of how I felt about it at that moment. Soon I began to feel a sense of new empowerment and self-respect. I could do what benefits me, even though it was often very difficult. This skill became stronger over the years and now it has become one of my best friends. I know I can trust my own guidance because it’s not based on feelings – but truth instead.
3 More Happiness
Did you know that most of our unhappiness is caused by thought alone? Yes, even the heaps of unhappiness that surround you everywhere in this world! All human actions begin with thoughts and intentions. If thoughts are dark, actions become tainted. Tainted actions create a tainted world. A world full of darkness leads to dark thoughts in return – and so the vicious cycle turns. Fortunately it works the other way round as well! All it takes to create the initial momentum for happiness to grow, are wholesome and better thoughts.
The power of shaping my reality by using thought skillfully is one of the wish-fulfilling jewels I have found on this path. Taking responsibility for our actions is a true lifechanger! It’s so big, so impactful, so empowering that it’s hard to put in words. And it’s not an easy one to learn either. Most people prefer the comfort of identifying with the victim mentality. It’s often more convenient to stay within the familiar field of inactivity and powerlessness (role of a child) than to be confronted with our responsibilities (role of the adult). Happiness is not something that happens to you when you are lucky – it’s a result of skillful actions!
4 Better Relationships
You are the contribution to your world. If you are at ease, the world is a bit more easeful around you. Likewise, if you carry the fire of anger then the world around you become a bit more hot and unpleasant. We often worry about pollution, but hardly consider the pollution of negative emotions and thoughts that freely flow into the world. We may contain a virus by introducing quarantine measures but we don’t contain divisive ideas, hate or egomania. In short, who you are in every given moment is your contribution to who you’re with.
Better relationships arise as a direct consequence from relating to yourself in better ways. If we stop blaming each other and see our own suffering, our attention is already at the right place. The only thing left to do is to take responsibility and care for ourselves with kindness. Through the practice of Meditation you can learn to relate to yourself in kind and skillful ways. This will naturally result in more fulfilling relationships with others. After all these years of practice I would say that your external relationships are a reflection of how you relate to yourself.
5 A Sense of Purpose
It took me an agonizing 18 years to find my sense of purpose – in a monastery. Before I entered, my life came to the point where I actively sought to end it. I simply could not find any meaning in a society where production and consumption are apparently the only reason we go to school and learn. I was done with this world! The turning point came to me in the monastery, when I really started learning that there’s a whole universe of possibilities inside of myself. Up to this point I never really considered that my own mind had any value whatsoever…
The questions I get asked the most are about purpose. So many people these days seem to suffer from aimlessness, confusion and a lack of purpose. I am not surprised! In a world like ours it’s hard to find clarity and direction. It’s like being lost in a dense jungle. Running around frantically, we try to find a way out until we finally die of exhaustion. To me, meditation is like a tall viewpoint far above the canopy of trees. It helps me to see clearly and get an overview. Once I know where I am, I know my direction. My purpose is then simply to start walking.
If you enjoyed reading this article, you may be interested in some more background information about the Dharana Mentoring and Coaching Program.