Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Proven Benefits of Meditation - Can We Afford Not to Try?

Mediation reduces stress.

“That sounds like a lot of mumbo, jumbo. Sitting still doing nothing would make me more stressful because then I’m not accomplishing the things that are causing my stress!” Have you ever felt that way? I have. It’s a Western culture affliction. We are consumed by the need to do more, be more, get more. Can’t do that if we take time out to just be still for ten minutes, now can we? Or can we afford not to?

Psychology Today has scientific proof that meditation works. Meditation has profound physical and psychological effects on our bodies. Regular meditation can reduce heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce pain, and strengthen our immune systems. Scientists have proven that the stress causing brainwaves in the right frontal cortex are converted and moved during meditation to the calming brainwaves in the left frontal cortex. This results in reducing mild depression and anxiety. Seems like a much healthier solution than whipping out the prescription pad for Prozac.

A quote from Psychology Today says - In a study published last year in the journal Stroke, 60 African-Americans with atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, practiced meditation for six to nine months. The meditators showed a marked decrease in the thickness of their artery walls, while the nonmeditators actually showed an increase. The change for the meditation group could potentially bring about an 11 percent decrease in the risk of heart attack and an 8 percent to 15 percent decrease in the risk of stroke.

I think those are exciting results accomplished through the power of meditative thought, no drug intervention, no surgery to scrape the plaque away from hardening arteries.

Here is another example from Psychology Today - Researchers at the Maharishi School of Management in Fairfield, Iowa, found that meditation has a pervasive effect on stress. They looked at a group of people who had meditated for four months and found that they produced less of the stress hormone cortisol. They were therefore better able to adapt to stress in their lives, no matter what their circumstances were.

There are many types of meditation and beginners often wonder if they are doing it correctly. The determining factor - if you feel better, happier, and less anxiety filled afterward, you are doing it right.

Meditation also brings us face to face with ourselves, our connection to all around us, and the problems we must come to grips with. Meditation puts us in the middle of ourselves, which can be an uncomfortable place to be. Most of us want to fix things NOW instead of accepting them the way they are and moving forward.

According to Roger Thomson, Ph.D., a psychologist in private practice in Chicago and a Zen meditator, “Mediation encourages its practitioners to become aware of the fundamentally distorted aspects of an overly individualistic view of human experience. Recognizing that the true nature of all individuals is emphatically non-individual, neither lasting nor separate, is the wisdom of Zen."

Do a short quiet time meditation where you focus on music and visual images while remaining still for ten minutes. I found a great sight that offers IPOD downloads of “meditation rooms”. The rooms feature soothing music and images in various themes. My favorite is forest. My husband’s is space.

Try it. There is nothing to lose but ten minutes stuck in freeway traffic or standing in line at Starbucks. It’s free and as endless as your imagination. Let me know how it works out for you.

8 comments:

franscud said...

Excellent post. Our society is definitely overly medicated and chemically dependent. It's funny that people have such an abiding trust in modern drugs developed by companies more interested in profit than health. I'm willing to give it a try, and meditation doesn't come with all those nasty side affects.

Lotus_in_the_hills said...

Hey Lisa, thought I'd chime in on this one :) Like you say, there's lots of different kinds of meditation, the main point of each is awareness. Clearing your mind doesn't mean dosing off. Quite the opposite; you give yourself one thing to focus on, be it your breath, or your posture, or an simple object that's easy to focus on (something monochrome, for instance). Meditation can be done standing, walking, sitting, lying down. The point, in Buddhist meditation at least, is to be able to refine the mind, which is normally all over the place. Isn't a little more focus something we could all use?

Lisa McGlaun said...

Lotus,
Thank you for this additional information! I know you are knowlegable about this subject and having you weigh in is great.

Peace,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Francis,

I want to make meditation part of my daily routine. I did for a while and I felt so much better and more at peace. I know I NEED to do it again.

Best Wishes,
Lisa

OMYWORD! said...

Lisa - I know I NEED to do it again too. Thanks for the reminder. Even though I wrote a humorous article in March of this year on my blog about meditation versus coffee, I actually have experienced very powerful, but subtle results from meditation. As Americans we are prone to a "quick fix" and sitting around watching your breath seems like a joke. But it is so amazing and life changing. What does it hurt to sit for 10-15 minutes and focus your brain? Nothing at all. And there is so much more to gain.

Robert said...

Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a message on the shout box. I haven’t quite worked out to shout back but it doesn't sound very polite especially in view of your recent post. It would be rude of me not to answer at all!

As for speeding angry motorists we have them here too, but try one or two other European countries; some of them can get very agitated, aggravated, animated with superb gesticulations worthy of a sculptural expression one day!

I will eventually get to work the shout box with my English “stiff upper lip”!

Lisa McGlaun said...

Lisa,
Oh my gosh! We have all kinds of quick fixes and distractions designed to numb our minds and bodies. It's crazy.

I think most of us are so afraid of ourselves, we can't fathom the idea of sitting quietly alone for a few minutes. And if we have a few minutes we whip out our cell phone to call someone to distract us..lol.

Hugs,
Lisa

Lisa McGlaun said...

Robert,

I'm so glad you came by. I loved looking at the sculptures on your blog. I think I'd be scared to drive in Europe. I've never been to Europe and excited to go one day.

Don't worry about the BC shout box. I just wanted you to know that I'd stopped by and enjoyed what you are doing.

Come back again any time and please contribute to the comments..:)

Best Wishes,
Lisa