Life is definitely no walk in the park but who says it has to be a run through a noisy, congested street?
Is it becoming more difficult for you to wake up in the morning? Are you beginning to dread the events of the day? Well, maybe it is time to do something for yourself. First, stop. Then, breathe. And while you are at it, maybe it would help if you meditate.
The mention of Meditation usually brings about images of old men humming away, or should it be ìoommingî away the whole afternoon. Now, humming away doesnít seem to be helpful, right? Research, however, has proven that Meditation helps us relax and develop our power of concentration.
You do not need to leave your room.
Remain sitting at your table and listen.
Do not even listen, simply wait.
Do not even wait, be quiet, still and solitary.
The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked.
It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
According to Dr. Joan Borysenko, a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, Meditation is anything that brings us to the present and keeps us there. This makes Meditation easy for us to incorporate into our lives. Now, do not start thinking of making shopping as your form of Meditation. Living in the NOW is one thing to keep in mind when meditating.
The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness
Meditation may take on many forms but its foundation basically lies on three principles:
- In order to concentrate, we focus on one thing or object.
Our object of focus may be our breathing, a word that we repeat whether verbally or mentally, or the sensations that we feel in our body. Meditation usually involves the senses for when we smell, feel, or listen, we start to live more in the present.
- When our thoughts start to wander, we take them back to our object of focus.
“Quieting” the mind is not easy so don’t castigate yourself every time you find yourself thinking of other things aside from your object of focus. Reprimanding yourself will just make it more difficult for you to focus. Whenever you find yourself thinking of some other thoughts, don’t fight them but rather acknowledge them and let them pass. Meditation has nothing to do with hiding our thoughts or suppressing them. When you get distracted, just go back to your object of focus.
- During Meditation, ignore all irrelevant thoughts and sensations.
Meditation doesn’t bring us to another place of existence so don’t expect it will. When meditating, we will still be able to hear the people around us. However, we don’t let these distract us. We don’t let these bring us out of the NOW.
The Me in Meditation
So you ask, what do I get from Meditating?
Meditating is an efficient and effective technique that helps us control our mind and relax our bodies. It does not only make us more conscious about whatís happening around us but we also become aware of whatís happening within ourselves.
Meditation may not be able to turn that one big, busy street called life into a park, but it might just help you stop and see the flowers around the corner.
As you go along with your Meditation, you will eventually experience a development in your physical and mental health. According to some studies, this is manifested by a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisol which is a major stress hormone, decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha which is a brain wave associated with relaxation. During Meditation, one goes through a state of deep relaxation, while his mindís awareness level is increased. This results in faster reactions, greater creativity, and improved comprehension.
Physiological Benefits of Meditation
- Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
- Lowered levels of cortisol and lactate-two chemicals associated with stress.
- Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage.
- Improved blood pressure.
- Higher skin resistance. Low skin resistance is correlated with higher stress and anxiety levels.
- Drop in cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is associated with cardiovascular disease.
- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing. This has been very helpful to asthma patients.
- Slows down the aging process.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
- Increased brain wave coherence.
- Greater creativity.
- Decreased anxiety.
- Decreased depression
- Decreased irritability and moodiness
- Improved learning ability and memory.
- Increased self-actualization.
- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
- Increased happiness.
- Increased emotional stability.
Spiritual Benefits of Meditation
The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Many individuals who initially learn meditation for its self-regulatory aspects find that as their practice deepens they are drawn more and more into the realm of the “spiritual.” In her work with many cancer and AIDS patients, Dr. Borysenko has observed that many are most interested in meditation as a way of becoming more attuned to the spiritual dimension of life. She reports that many die “healed,” in a state of compassionate self-awareness and self-acceptance.