The word meditation conjures up different things to different people. To some it is an ancient oriental tradition with a person sitting in lotus position in a dark, incense-smoke filled room chanting in some unknown language. Others envision a person in an almost zombie-like trance doing absolutely nothing for long stretches of time, while others have the opinion that it is some kind of religious cult. There are a number of schools of thought, techniques, and suggestions, but there is no absolute right or only method, and each person can discover their own preferred way to meditate.
Maybe sharing some synonyms for meditation will take away some of the mystique and open your vision to the value it may have for you personally. Some alternate terms for meditation are activities like deep relaxation, reflection, pondering, introspection, mental exercise, contemplation, personal audit, considering, weighing your options, Tai Chi, yoga, and even prayer.
As mentioned, there are no hard and fast “must do” rules for you to start to implement meditation in your life. The best thing is to set aside some time, be regular, and don’t feel pressured. You don’t want to be too stressed to meditate. Intuitively we know that relaxation is good for us, but the reality is that you can’t force it. What you can do is put yourself into surroundings that are free of disruption, conducive to privacy, and quiet. As with all things, some people are just better at it than others, but everyone can benefit.
Historically, there are claims of numerous positive effects from deep relaxation, and now the hard science has confirmed several important physical and mental health benefits.
- Meditation encourages calmness, serenity, and even emotional balance. It has proven effective in dealing with anxiety, tension, depression, and associated sleep problems.
- Meditation has a fortifying influence on the immune system. Studies at Harvard Medical School and Ohio State University found that it activates disease-fighting genes and may improve certain medical conditions such as asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and even cancer.
- Meditation has a positive impact on heart disease by lowering blood pressure, decreasing inflammation, and diminishing the effect of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
- Meditation has been shown to alter the function of certain areas of the brain affecting the neural pathways that are responsible for processing pain sensation. Not only does it diminish the initial pain, but it’s proven much more satisfying with chronic pain than the use of opiates. Of particular interest recently is meditation’s promise as a successful form of treatment for post traumatic stress disorder or (PTSD).
Meditation is not a substitute for prescribed medical treatment, but may be employed in addition to other competent treatment regimens. There are so many advantages to meditation, like being free and it’s portable—you can practice it anywhere, from a waiting room to on an airline flight. It’s very private, personal, and custom, it requires no special equipment, and it can be done any time for any length of time. It’s basically R & R for the soul.
So, why meditation? Because some questions just can’t be answered by Google.