Meditation – what is it and what can it do for me?
According to Wikipedia:
“Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive, “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference.”
It’s been shown time and time again that meditation reduces our stress levels allowing us to enjoy more of life and feel better physically, mentally and emotionally. It puts us in a better frame of mind to deal with life and its challenges.
We’ve all had days (or have it permanently) when our mind is racing with thoughts, most of us have over 60,000 thoughts a day – 48,000 of which are negative. I know that some days I have more than 60,000 thoughts; I reckon its somewhere up near the 90,000 mark! If this is also you, then you will benefit from a few minutes of daily meditation.
Most people think that when you start meditating that you need to do so for 30 -40 minutes a day and not have one single thought in that period. That’s a lot of pressure! Thankfully, this is not the case.
You can achieve peace of mind and better health by meditation for just 5 to 10 minutes a day. Yes, just a couple of minutes a day can drastically change your mindset and so your physical health.
Meditation is all about awareness. Awareness of our mind, body and spirit. When we meditate we are more in tune with our body and the world, more connected to others and to ourselves.
Here are some statistics on meditation: (source Joel Sparks)
“Stress is a major cause of many things such as coronary disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes and high blood pressure. All of these afflictions have been shown through scientific study to be lessened or otherwise depleted with the help of meditation. In fact health insurance statistics on people who meditate regularly have shown that they are less prone to illness. The actual statistics were that those who meditate reduced the likelihood of being hospitalized for coronary disease by 87 percent, and the possibility of getting cancer by 55 percent.
Many doctors have studied the statistics on people who meditate and now prescribe meditation for their patients. These patients have reported more energy, higher productivity and more patience. Business owners have reported that among employees, who meditate, absenteeism is lower, production is higher, and the quality of their work is better thus proving the statistics on people who meditate are right.
A Detroit based chemical plant posted the following results three years after implementing meditation:
- Absenteeism fell by 85%
- Productivity rose 120%
- Injuries dropped 70%
- Profits increased 520%
- According to reports, there have been over 1500 separate studies since 1930. All were related to meditation and its effects on the practitioners. Some statistics on people who meditate include results like:
- Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen consumption are all decreased.
- Meditators are less anxious and nervous.
- Meditators were more independent and self-confident
- People who deliberated daily were less fearful of death.
- 75% of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
- Production of the stress hormone Cortisol is greatly decreased, thus making it possible for those people to deal with stress better when it occurs.
- Women with PMS showed symptom improvements after 5 months of steady daily rumination and reflection.
- Thickness of the artery walls decreased which effectively lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke by 8% to 15%.
- Relaxation therapy was helpful in chronic pain patients.
- 60% of anxiety prone people showed marked improvements in anxiety levels after 6-9 months.
- It has been documented that people who use meditation and relaxation techniques may be physiologically younger by 12 to 15 years; could this possibly be the Fountain of Youth? While there are probably many other studies to look at, I believe that the results reported above are tell-tale.
- Meditation, relaxation, reflection and deliberation can affect the physical body in a positive way just as stress and other factors effect the body in a negative one. In either case science and the statistics on people who meditate, has confirmed the positive effects of meditation beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
How to meditate:
There are a number of ways that you can meditate, some of which are:
1) Buddhist mediation – the Dublin Buddhist Centre regularly run courses for people to learn Buddhist meditation. Click here to access their website:
2) Guided meditations – these are generally cd’s that you can buy online or in the health stores. They are stories that you listen to that are designed to help you relax and become more grounded. They are fantastic for those who find calming their mind a real challenge as you’re distracted from thinking in order to follow a story.
3) Make up your own! – Spend a couple of minutes every day sitting with your legs crossed on the floor or upright in a chair (if you lie down there’s more of a chance that you will fall asleep). Place a “do not disturb” sign on the door if you need to.
As thoughts come and go watch them like clouds across the sky, entering and leaving your conscious mind. Be an observer of your mind. If you find yourself thinking too much then bring your attention to the rhythm of your breathing. The changes in your body as an in-breath turns to an out-breath and so on, how the breath feels on the inside of your nose, etc. Concentrating on your body and how it feels. You will find that your mind calms down automatically.
Or if you like you keep your eyes open and put your attention on the flame of a burning candle. This keeps your mind preoccupied so that it won’t jump around thinking so much.
You can try any or all of the above to find out which works best for you.
Some days it will be easier than others to meditate. I regularly do the Buddhist meditations as I find them really fabulous. However, there is one practise where you’ve to count your breaths, the idea being that you get to 10 without having a single thought. Most of the time I don’t get beyond 3.
Life does get in the way and some days will be easier than others so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re finding it tough, just observe that and keep with it. You will notice the effects almost straight away as you feel calmer, more at peace and healthier in mind body and spirit with stress a thing of the past.
Remember, just 10 minutes a day will make all the differrence.
In love, light and laughter