By: Marlene Affeld ~
Amazing advances in information technology over the past decade have transformed our lives forever. We communicate with friends and family worldwide with only a click of our smartphones, tablets or laptops. We become aware of new events occurring around the globe, even as they happen.
While this access to instant information is gratifying and enhances many areas of our lives, it has also resulted in an unrelenting bombardment of sensory information. Regardless of whether our bodies are at work or rest, are minds are constantly engaged in a diverse array of mental activity, absorbing, sorting and categorizing. In both the physical and the mental sense, life can see endless movement; a monotonous treadmill with no “off” switch. Meditation can be the “off” switch, providing relaxation techniques, stress relief and a calm away from the stimulation of the world.
In medicine, meditation is best known as a stress management tool. Stress can increase the risk of many conditions including digestive disorders, heart disease, depression, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Persons under duress are more likely to make poor choices that threaten their health, such as overeating, smoking, drinking or substance abuse. Meditation is a useful method to defuse symptoms of stress as they arise, thus reducing the chances of a negative health outcome.
What Is Meditation?
QigongInstitute.org advises, “Meditation is going mainstream; use your mind as medication. Find out how you can reshape your brain to deal with pain and other problems noting, “More doctors are now prescribing it almost as a medication to help with healing and more. Meditation is gaining respect in the medical community as more research reveals this practice of calming the mind and focusing isn’t just an exercise in self-indulgence. It can actually bring real changes to the brain. Imaging shows meditation can allow the brain to make new connections and even grow new neurons in this state.”
Many people us a mantra when meditating. PsychicLibrary.com explains the meaning of the word, stating, “The word “mantra” is a combination of two Sanskrit root words: “man” meaning the mind and “tra” meaning instrument or tool. Therefore, mantras are instruments (tools) of the mind — sounds or vibrations (with or without specific meanings) that enable you to attain a deep state of meditation and consciousness, either alone or during a religious ritual. Mantras are central to the practices of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism, giving people access to the divine and to personal and spiritual transformation. “Om” (or “Aum”) is the most basic mantra sound vibration and is believed to be the sound of the universe.”
Meditation is not a religion and in fact, has a way of crossing religious, ethnic and cultural barriers. Anyone can benefit from the practice of meditation, it’s free, and no experience is required. It’s not complicated. Meditation is simply the act of concentrating on a point of focus and committing to return to that point of focus when your mind wanders, as it will.
Don’t worry if your mind wanders in meditation; it happens with everyone. Meditation is an exercise for the mind that helps tune out “mind chatter” so more important realizations can be focused upon. Through meditation, we take the time to get to know ourselves, to tap into the inborn wisdom inherent in all of us.
The objective of meditation is to quiet the mind, usually by being mindful of our breath or by repeating a mantra. Training your mind to be quiet may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever try! Some days you’ll be successful; some days you will find it quite frustrating. That is why so many people who attempt meditation give up on it; patience and persistence are required.
Meditation should take place in a safe, quiet place where a person can feel free to release conscious thought and tap into the subconscious. While the meditative experience is unique and different for everyone, the benefits are many and universal in nature.
Amazing Health Benefits Of Meditation
Meditation has been shown to help people develop a sharper mind in a diverse array of areas. This means you will be able to absorb information faster, resolve problems and understand the underlying motivations behind your actions with a clarity previously unknown. Meditation also improves memory and increase memory capacity.
ArtOfLiving.org explains how meditation helps us focus, stating, “When a river is calm, its reflection is clearer. When the mind is calm, there is greater clarity in the field of expression. Our powers of observation, perception and expression improve. As a result, we are able to communicate effectively and clearly.”
QigongInstitute.org describes the health benefits of mediation, stating, “Meditation offers significant heart benefits. Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction. It appears to produce changes in brain activity that can lead to less sympathetic nerve outflow from the brain to the rest of the body. It also can lower heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, oxygen consumption, adrenaline levels, and levels of cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. There are many types of meditation that can result in physiological benefits, such as guided meditation, transcendental meditation, and mindfulness meditation. It takes at least 10 minutes of meditation per day to get the physiological benefits.”
It is the nature of the mind that we allow small intrusions and irritations to dominate our thoughts and disturb our peace of mind. It can seem foolish but even minor problems become a major source of concern. Meditation teaches us to put the mind in its proper place; we learn to quiet the mind and become detached from useless thoughts.
Through meditation, we train our minds so that negative emotions are unable to disturb our inner tranquility. Even when bad things happen, we have developed a mental presence to not allow it to hurt us to the degree it once did; we experience inner peace in the midst of worldly turmoil. Meditation can make the difference between living a peaceful, proficient, and prosperous life and not.
ReturnOfKings.com describes the benefits of meditation for men, commenting, “When we allow the compulsive thoughts mentioned above to crowd our mind, it makes us agitated and angry. Or sad and lethargic. Meditation allows you to take a step back and view your life for what it really is. And that fresh perspective not only allows you to better address the problems at hand, but it also serves to put your body and mind at ease. Once you’ve gained a clearer insight, you can proceed with the weight of the bullshit lifted off your shoulders.”
Meditation can relax your mind, improve your mood and is a proven and effective way to reduce stress, depression, anxiety, and pain. Meditation is an exercise for the mind. We exercise our bodies to stay healthy and physically fit. Meditation does the same thing for our minds. By practicing self-awareness, we are improving and maintaining our psychological well-being and keeping our minds fit and healthy.
MeditationWorkshop.org explains how medication helps expand our awareness and broadens our perspective, stating, “When we live in the mind we inevitably see the teeming imperfections of the world and other people. The faults of the world may seem unending, but we can never get satisfaction by focusing only on the failings of others. When we meditate, we become aware of the good that underlies the world. Meditation spontaneously encourages us to have a positive view of the world. This is because in meditation we develop a oneness with others; we extend our consciousness and do not feel separated from other people.”
Meditation does a lot more besides aiding in lowering heart rate and blood pressure. It has been used to help people manage anger issues, quit smoking and conquer alcohol and drug addictions. Meditation relieves depression and anxiety and help with chronic insomnia. Meditation also regulates hormones, including reducing cortisol, a stress hormone, and boosting DHEA – the youth hormone.
WildDivine.com comments on the benefits of meditation, noting, “Meditation helps you recharge your mind and discover the connection between your mind and body. When you are aware of this connection and what is happening with your body, you can also begin to control the way that your body responds to certain situations. Need to increase energy, no problem, you can do that. Need to calm down? You can do that too.”
Ultimately medication is an exploration of the self. Like any type of exercise, meditation only produces results if practiced regularly. The meditative experience should be practiced until it becomes a regular daily habit; a gift you give yourself. There are two common types of meditation: transcendental meditation and mindfulness meditation.
As you explore meditation, you will find that there are many different techniques that produce different results. Some techniques have a tendency to work better for in certain situations and are dependent on the environment, the psychological and emotional makeup of the individual; factors that can change daily or even hourly. As an example, one day a certain piece of music may activate your relaxation response while on another day the same tune may jangle your nerves.
Technique all boils down to finding what works for you. How a technique works is simply a matter of who you are at a particular given moment as we are all constantly in a state of change. Experiment with various techniques in different circumstances and conditions. With a bit of practice, you will learn how different practices work for you and how to use them to quiet your mind.
UCLA Mindful Awareness Center – Free Guide Medications
OvercomingMultipleSclerosis.org advises, “The first part of the process is to quiet the conscious mind enough to start to get in touch with the subconscious. This is the value of meditation. Some prefer other methods of quieting the mind. Yoga, tai-chi, playing music, gardening; all may be equally good, depending on personal preferences. Until the mind slows down though and leaves enough gaps in the constant stream of mental chatter, the issues bubbling up from our subconscious remain elusive. While music or gardening may be helpful in quietening the mind, they are only really capable of slowing the mind a little.”
Quickbooks.Intuit.com writes about ‘The Sublime Benefits of Meditation for Business’ noting, “Steady and deep breaths will help to quiet your mind and get you focused on your body. It also gives you something to focus on when you’re trying to clear your mind. Concentrate on your diaphragm rising and falling as your lungs expand and contract. You can also visualize your breath by thinking about a balloon contracting and expanding, or as the rise and fall of a buoy in the ocean with each inhalation and exhalation.”
BreathMeditation.org describes the practice of breath meditation, suggesting, “The breath is a kind of barometer of the subtle energies of body and mind. Sometimes it is very smooth, light and easeful, and at other times it feels heavy, even constricted, or clogged, sticky, ragged, uneven, and generally uncomfortable and somehow feels “not right.” When this occurs, do not try to interfere with it or “make it better.” Rather, just relax and be calmly aware and let it be as it is. If you do this, the problem in the subtle energy levels which the breath is reflecting will correct itself and the breath will become easy and pleasant.”