I’ll admit, I’m writing this meditation article because the subject intrigues me. Personally, I’ve never tried meditation, but I know of several people who do practice it and swear by its benefits. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure five months ago. My doctor gave me two months to try and bring my blood pressure down to normal-range. I lost some more weight, continued my exercise program, took certain vitamins and herbs under the counsel of a nutritionist, and strictly lowered my sodium intake. Two months later, my blood pressure barely budged. My doctor had no choice but to put me on medication. Not only did my father have high blood pressure, but I also tend to be the intense, anxious, perfectionist type.
Stephan Bodian, author of “Meditation for Dummies,” says if you’re like most people, you’re so caught up with what’s happening around you – the look in other people’s eyes, the voices of family and coworkers, the latest news on the radio, the messages appearing on your computer screen – that you forget to pay attention to what’s happening in your own mind, body, and heart.
So why try meditation? Numerous studies have proven that if you meditate regularly, you might lower your blood pressure (aha!) as well as your cholesterol level. Meditation also keeps stress under control, eases anxiety and even chronic pain. It provides your mind and body with a deep state of serene attentiveness.
Meditation can be practiced anywhere – home, office, on an airplane, or in a hotel room. It can also be done by anyone of any age, profession, culture or religion. Meditation will not conflict with your religion, as it doesn’t involve any belief, philosophy, religion or change in lifestyle.
Exercise (or even relaxation) does not do the same thing for your mind and body as meditation. Yes, walking, jogging, fishing, golf, gardening, reading a book, etc., are all enjoyable activities and to some people are relaxing, but they don’t release the deeply rooted stress and tension because the body and mind are engaged in activity.
To get you going, here are some tips from Stephan Bodian and Jon Kabat-Zinn (author of “Wherever You Go There You Are”):
- Vow to meditate every day, even if only for five minutes. Consistency is what’s important.
- Find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed. Eventually, just being there will be calming.
- Find a comfortable sitting position. You can use a cushion, or lean back against a sofa.
- Focus on your breath (deep breathing), a word (or mantra), or a visualized object.
- Begin each session with a few deep breaths and consciously relaxing your body with each exhalation.
Stephan Bodian also says not to worry if you’re meditating the “right” way. There is no “wrong” way to meditate! One day you may feel full of energy, your mind will be clear and you think you’re getting the hang of it. The next day you might be so overwhelmed with thoughts or emotions that you sit for 20 minutes without even noticing your breath. The point is not to do it right, but just to do it – again and again.
Meditation, combined with an exercise program and a healthy diet, will undoubtedly improve your mind and your body. After researching and writing about the topic of meditation, I’m ready to try it. How ’bout you?
For further reading, look for “Meditation for Dummies” by Stephan Bodian; “Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life” by Jon Kabat-Zinn; and “The Best Guide to Meditation” by Victor Davich.