A Simple Daily Technique For Meditation
Make a habit of meditating once a day
Meditation is some new-age 60′s thing, right?
The practice of meditation became very popular during the 1960′s as a result of The Beatles experiments with Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in India. However, meditation has been around for thousands of years, especially as part of religious practices.
Dhyana (meditation), originated around 1500 B.C. in the Hindu traditions of Vedantism, in which four kinds of meditations were developed and practiced. Meditation spread to China and India in the 6th and 5th centuries B.C. Around 20 B.C., Philo of Alexandria described a “spiritual exercise” of attention and concentration. By 300 A.D., Plotinus had developed Western meditative techniques, although Christian meditators did not find the techniques fulfilling; Saint Augustine describes trying Plotinus’ methods and “failing to achieve ecstasy”.
Over the centuries, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Sufism and other religions have all developed some form of meditative practices. Many of them require specific phrases to be repeated, or for meditation to be performed in specific postures. Western Christian meditation differs in that it does not require the repetition of a phrase or action, nor does it require a specific posture to be used. Some of these type of meditation include: guided meditation, mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, Qi gong, Tai chi, Transcendental meditation, and Yoga. Most of these different forms of meditative practices for use by non-Hindus have became widely known as “Yoga”.
So, are there any health benefits from meditation?
Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, Yoga meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement. Both religious and non-religious meditation has been the subject of extensive scientific research. However, after decades of scientific studies, the scientific basis of meditation remains murky.
According to a Mayo Clinic study on the health benefits of meditation, meditation is “considered a type of mind-body complementary medicine.” It produces a state of relaxation, where you can focus your attention and reduce thoughts that produce stress. “This process results in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.”
In a 2011 study on the effects of mindfulness meditation, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha waves.
“Our data indicate that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you,” said Christopher Moore, an MIT neuroscientist and co-author author of the study.
Participants in the study were asked to meditate for 45 minutes per day. After eight weeks, those who had been trained in meditation showed larger changes in the size (amplitude) of their alpha waves.
Another study on alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation by Richard Davidson and Jon Kabat-Zinn showed that eight weeks of mindfulness-based meditation created significant increases in brain activity associated with positive emotional states.
The benefits of meditation continue even after you have finished meditating, which can help you stay calm throughout the day, and possibly help relieve symptoms of allergies, anxiety disorders, asthma, binge eating, cancer, depression, fatigue, heart disease, high blood pressure, pain, sleep problems, and substance abuse. While meditation isn’t a replacement for diagnosis and treatment of a serious medical condition, it may be useful in addition to your other prescribed treatments.
Meditation sounds complicated. How do I get started?
Meditation is actually very simple, and there are many ways to get started. As you know from reading my other blog posts, I like to take a “simple daily change” approach. For meditation, I have personally used a book called “The Relaxation Response” by Dr. Herbert Benson, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. The practices for activating the relaxation response described in the book are simple to follow, easy to do daily, and were significant in supporting my journey to health.
Directions for Dr. Herbert Benson’s Relaxation Exercise
The relaxation response brings your system back into balance, deepens your breathing, reduces stress hormones, slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and relaxes your muscles. Keep in mind that this is just one of the many suggestions for meditation in Dr. Benson’s book, as well as countless other resources on meditation.
- Sit quietly in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes.
- Deeply relax all your muscles, beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face. Keep them relaxed.
- Breathe through your nose. Become aware of your breathing. As you breathe out, say the word, “one”, silently to yourself. For example, breathe in … out, “one”,- in .. out, “one”, etc. Breathe easily and naturally.
- Continue for 10 to 20 minutes. You may open your eyes to check the time, but do not use an alarm. When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes, at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened. Do not stand up for a few minutes.
- Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation. Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace. When distracting thoughts occur, try to ignore them by not dwelling upon them and return to repeating “one.” With practice, the response should come with little effort. Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive processes seem to interfere with the elicitation of the Relaxation Response.
- Every day. Namaste.
- Lowered stress
- Gaining a new perspective on stressful situations
- Increased happiness
- Increased self-control
- Building skills to manage your stress
- Increased self-awareness
- A focus on the present
- Reducing negative emotions
Clicking the button below will take you to a page where you can add a reminder to your calendar for Meditate. You must have a Simple Daily Change account to set up calendar reminders.