A simple search in search engines reveals a great deal of information about meditation and mindfulness. Some regard mediation as a mental focus on a special image, word or idea and some refer to it as the training of the mind to be able to stop thinking for a short while and be present. Although there are many different kinds of meditation, all seem to point to the fact that we can influence our mind by not identifying with the thoughts and feelings that pass through our mind. In many Buddhist teachings we learn to be the mere non-judgmental observer, without being taken over by what comes to mind and identifying oneself with the content of the mind.
I believe that intent and motivation behind any practice or activity determines the results of that practice or activity. Therefore, it is important to know why you choose to sit still with closed eyes rather than spending time Watching TV, being with your friends or family, etc. While studies show that meditation can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, make your sleep much more peaceful, and has anti-aging effects, these are only a few physical health benefits as meditation can have tremendous effects on the level of peace, joy and happiness you experience in your day to day life.
Mindfulness techniques help you feel the joy of living in the present moment and experience the world through all your sense perceptions rather than being lost in thoughts of future or past. Present moment is all we have after all, but our mind convinces us that the future or past are more important and there is no time for enjoying the moment. The mind controls us and uses us, rather that us being able to use it. With meditation we find that it is possible to turn off thinking if we intend to and that is the beginning of true liberation.
You do not have to be religious, spiritual or follow any special rituals to be blessed by the benefits of mindfulness exercises. As a result of regular practice, you come to experience an inner joy ,which is not comparable with the pleasure of having material things, status and admiration, or even happy relationships. This immense joy arises from a deep place within you, when you have gone beyond your mind and experience “being” in the world, as a particle of this vast universe, not separated from it by obsessive thinking.