The majority of Thai people (nearly 95%) are Buddhists, and one of the principle features of Buddhism is its focus on meditation and thus the attainment of nirvana: a transcendental state in which desire and suffering are overcome and the practitioner escapes the cycles of karma and reincarnation to attain a higher state.
There seem to be as many methods of meditation as there are teachers, but some of its common features are using a single word (often the name of Buddha) as a focus, controlled breathing, and an attempt to view your thoughts dispassionately and from the outside, thus finding ways to control and dismiss your worries and find solutions to your problems.
For example, you may be worrying about any number of things: your family; your relationship; your job; your health; and events in the wider world. Sometimes these worries can feel like spinning plates: just as you give one a little twist to keep it going, another will start to wobble. You run to set it going again, but now three more are wobbling and before you know it you are sitting among the shards of a ruined dinner service.
But by using meditation to explore these thoughts – these plates – from the outside, you can attain a sense of calm which allows you to gently remove the plates you don’t need and focus on a way to keep the remainder spinning. Particularly skilled meditators can even remain in this higher state when they are not actively meditating.
Through meditation, we can build up areas of our brain and actually rewire it to enhance positive traits like focus and decision making and diminish the less positive ones like fear and stress. Most importantly, this means there is a possibility to change your brain for the better in a way that is long-lasting.
You don’t need to be a Buddhist to benefit from meditation – anyone can do it with the help of a good teacher.