Meditation isn’t magic, although it effects have been described as magical and it isn’t a belief or a religion. It is simply a technology – a set of simple techniques that use what you have (your mind, senses, and body) to create a communication between you and your mind, and between your mind and your body.
Meditation is perhaps the easiest and the most beneficial thing you can do for your overall quality of life, both while waiting for a transplant and ongoing after the transplant procedure. There is an emerging wealth of studies have shown that meditation has health benefits. Many of these benefits are related to the decrease in stress that occurs through meditation.
Physiological Benefits of Meditation
-Deep rest-as measured by decreased metabolic rate, lower heart rate, and reduced work load of the heart.
-Lowered levels stress chemicals
-Reduction of free radicals- unstable oxygen molecules that can cause tissue damage. Improved blood pressure.
-Drop in cholesterol levels. Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
Psychological Benefits of Meditation
-Increased brain wave coherence.
-Decreased irritability and moodiness.
-Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
The scientific perspective:
Neuroscientists have found that meditators shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex – brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdala, where the brain processes fear.
Recent research indicates that meditating brings about dramatic effects in as little as a 10-minute session.
To explore exactly what part of the brain meditation acts on, researchers at Harvard Medical School used MRI technology on participants to monitor brain activity while they meditated. They found that it activates the sections of the brain in charge of the autonomic nervous system, which governs the functions in our bodies that we can’t control, such as digestion and blood pressure. These are also the functions that are often compromised by stress. They also found less activity in the area of the brain that produces fear.
The spiritual perspective:
Meditation takes us to the source of happiness, which is to be found in our own peace of mind. Meditation is a time to be with yourself. Meditation is a time to connect with your breath, a time to be present to the life force in your body, a time to re-establish your own rhythm, a time to talk to your higher self, a time to be in love with your unique life. Meditation is between you and YOU. Just like a daily shower cleans your body, a daily meditation cleans your mind, to help you focus your energy, avoid mistakes, stay healthy, and become more kind and prayerful. It helps you clear your subconscious, and to stay fully present. It is perhaps hard to imagine that happiness can be found during the most traumatic of circumstances, and can occur from the simple act of being.
Meditate with a still mind and you’ll be amazed and delighted to discover an unexpected source of happiness within yourself.
Meditation shows us that happiness is not dependent on outer circumstances, but on our inner attitude. The benefits of meditation are real, but, it also requires perseverance. The mind takes time to tame. How to start mediating: When you decide you want to learn to meditate your first step should be to gain knowledge of one or more basic breathing techniques. Most beginner meditation classes will be taught a simple eight count breath focus as a starting point. It is important to give much consideration to finding a comfortable position to sustain throughout your meditation, which can be sitting or lying as you prefer. The more you learn to meditate, the easier it will be to become comfortable and clear your mind.
Whilst it’s important to learn about the power of breath, don’t get hung up on it. When I first starting meditating, I was concerned that I couldn’t hold my breath in for as long as the teacher was instructing us to and I felt out of sync with the rest of the class. I was also disappointed that thoughts of all kinds would enter my head and my inner voice would just not be hushed.
With practice and less trying, you become an observer to your thoughts and breaths. The more you deepen the focus on your breathing, the less you will want to think and the more relaxed you will become. After a few minutes of observing your breathing and allowing thoughts to come and go you can move on to some deep breathing.
To start with, three basic deep breaths will suffice. After the three you will notice you don’t need to breathe as often or as deeply.
Thoughts may come and go, but don’t give them any energy or reflection. Gently remind yourself to return your focus only to your breathing, however you prefer to do it. If you feel after a period of time that you are ready to come out of your meditation, you can softly wiggle your fingers and toes, then move your arms and legs, open your eyes and slowly sit upright or stand. If you are happy to fall asleep then allow yourself to drift off without a second thought and you will find you have a refreshing, rejuvenating feeling upon waking.
Many meditations use sounds (mantras), sometimes words that represent big thoughts (Love, Truth, God), and sometimes just simple sounds. Using basic sounds with rhythm penetrates the mind and redirects the flow of thoughts to allow something new to come in. The words come from many traditions, and can be in many languages.
Even if the words and language of a given mantra is unfamiliar to you, they are not about chanting to something, or some god that you don’t know. Chanting is a energetic act that changes your brain, stimulates hormonal balance, and engages you in a special type of communication with your own mind, about truth and clarity.
My favorite mantra for healing is the Gayatri Mantra. I first heard it attending a Brandon Bays Journey Seminar and then again at a concert with Deva and Miten. I bought the cd at the concert and enjoy listening and chanting along regularly.
The Gayatri Mantra has been revered for thousands of years by both Hindus and Buddhists alike. It is considered a supreme vehicle for enlightenment. It is called “The Mantra of Spiritual Light” because it infuses the Spiritual Light of Creation into all the seven Chakras. It heals the body, feeds the Spirit and illumines the Intellect. “Om Bhur Bhuvah Swah, Tat Savitur Varenyam. Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat.”
It is said this mantra purifies the mind, destroys pain, sin and ignorance, brings liberation, and bestows health, beauty, strength, vitality, power intelligence and magnetic aura. There are a number of differing, yet similar English translations/interpretations of this mantra. My two fave are:
We meditate upon the radiant Divine Light of that adorable Sun of Spiritual Consciousness; May it awaken our intuitional consciousness.
I invoke the Earth Plane, The Astral Plane, The Celestial Plane, The Plane of Spiritual Balance, The Plane of Human Spiritual Knowledge, The Plane of Spiritual Austerites, and The Plane of Ultimate Truth. Oh, great Spiritual Light which is the brilliance of all Divinity, we meditate upon You. Please illumine our minds.”
To appreciate the benefits of meditation it is essential to meditate yourself. Alas, it is not sufficient to just read about it. Start meditating today!