Meditation and Feeling Good
Meditation has been used for thousands of years throughout the world to alleviate suffering and promote healing. Modern medicine is finally coming around to recognizing its value in all kinds of treatments. Meditation has been scientifically proven to be beneficial in several areas. Here are some of them:
- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
- Leads to deeper levels of relaxation.
- Enhances the immune system.
- Brings blood pressure to normal.
- Helps in chronic diseases like allergies , arthritis etc.
- Builds self-confidence.
- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
- Helps in post-operative healing
- Increases serotonin production which influences mood and behavior.
- Helps people with asthma breathe easier
- It decreases respiratory rate.
- Decreases muscle tension and headaches.
How do you meditate?
Many people think "I just can't get into it", or "nothing happens when I try it." Well nothing is really supposed to 'happen'. Meditation is simply a deep relaxation technique. Brain wave patterns indicate that the deepest relaxation results when thoughts are absent, or few and of no importance. The idea is to occupy your mind in a way that will eliminate those constant rambling thoughts.
All you need to get started meditating is a quiet place and a comfortable, preferably straight back hair. The goal is to eliminate all sensations of stress; to totally relax and feel in harmony with your environment.
- Relaxation...Sit with your feet apart in a relaxed, comfortable position. Put our hands in your lap with palms up. Your back should be straight and relaxed. Close your eyes. Now slowly relax each part of your body starting with your feet. You should consciously feel tension leave..."my ankles are totally relaxed"..."my chest is totally relaxed" etc. When you finish the process at your neck and face make a brief mental review of your body. Remove the remaining tension.
- Breathing...The best way to eliminate rambling thoughts is to give the mind something else to do. Your mental activity will now be focused on your breathing. All the cells of the body love deep breathing. To start with just take a few long, very deep breathes. Now count as you breathe. If you can feel your heart beat, count with it or count about one beat per second. Breathe in through your nose and count. Try for eight beats in and eight beats out or whatever you are comfortable with. Pay attention to any tension that might build up and eliminate it. Try to get to three or four breathes a minute for several minutes. If you do nothing but deep breathing your body will benefit.
- Listening...As you stop counting you continue to be conscious of your breathing at a little slower rate than normal. To keep random thoughts away as you breathe try making a sound like 'mmeee..' on inhale and 'ssooo'... on exhale. Listen to your sounds with your mind. Many practices suggest you adopt a mantra or specific sound to use with your breathing. Concentrating on the sound keeps the thoughts and stress away. Now listen to your inner ear. There will be a hum like soft ringing. Listen closely. It will seem to get louder until you think "the sound inside my head has never been this loud". Keep concentrating on the sound. You are listening to the universe.
- Being...You are in the now. Ninety percent of all thoughts are about the past or future. You are listening to yourself in the now. Your breathing is slowed, your metabolism is slowed, and your body is in harmony with all things. The neurotransmitters that send messages of anxiety and stress are on standby. Try to stay in this state for ten to twenty minutes and when you are ready, slowly open your eyes. Take a few more deep breathes before you return to activity.
Meditating twice a day is good practice. Some suggest early morning and late night. I like mid morning and mid afternoon. It's like a recess from routine. The first few days or weeks may seem uncomfortable or unproductive. Stay with the meditation habit and you are bound to experience real benefits.
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