By Kristy Dusevic CHC
Everyone seems to meditate these days, from the rich and famous to the everyday “Joe.” If you’re not familiar with meditation, you may be thinking it is that thing that the Buddhist Monks do, you know, where they sit for hours in silence or chant who knows what? Well, the answer to that is yes, that is one form of meditation. There are hundreds of various forms of meditation that have been researched and proven extremely beneficial. Today, we are going to start with the proven benefits of meditation.
Dr. Ernest Holmes said….”royal road to freedom suggests a goal that motivates only some to discover meditation. Others seek effects like greater energy, zest peace, joy, increased mental awareness, increased alertness and decreased physiological tension, to name a few. Ultimately though, every traveler discovers that the path taken in meditation leads towards spiritual growth.” If these reasons to mediate are insufficient, significant research has shown the physiological and psychological effects of meditation.
Here is just a partial list of the benefits of meditation:
* Increased oxygen to the cells
* Lowered metabolic rate
* Lowered blood pressure
* Increased healing ability and resistance to disease
* Decreased stress effects
* Greater perspective
* Calmer attitude
* Increased pleasure
* Increased awareness
* Improved memory
* Increased self-discipline
* Increased ability to concentrate or focus
* Improved coordination
* Better digestion
Wow, and that is just the short list of the many benefits one can achieve with a meditation practice. That’s right, meditation is a practice. Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist – so how does one learn to meditate? “In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing,” University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. And different meditation practices require different mental skills.
It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.
Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala (or rosary). Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.
In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
If this seems like it’s not something that would work for you to start, there are still many other forms to start with. Many forms of yoga are considered meditative. Linking breath with movement is a great way to focus inward. Have you ever simply taken a walk in nature either by yourself or even with a group and no conversation takes place? You are just listening to the amazing sounds of nature around you? Well, this is also considered a form of meditation. Movement meditation is good for people who find peace in action and prefer to let their minds wander.
Nearly all great religions and many philosophies embrace meditation as one of the great practices for spiritual growth. A regular commitment to meditation is essential to spiritual living. It will transform, soften and deepen your consciousness The practice becomes easier and more joyful overtime. It is best to enter any meditation practice with an open mind also considered, ” A beginners mind.”
Set aside time every day to meditate; It will change your life. If you would like to learn more about meditation, I will be leading a meditation mini-workshop on October 7th from 3:00-5:30. I hope you can join us!