What Meditation Is
Simply put, meditation is sitting still and quieting your mind. It is the act of being totally present with what is, without making mental commentary. When you meditate, you are in the most pristine, natural state of being. In other words, your mind is quiet and you are just being. Think of meditating as the freedom to just be. Theres no pressure. There are no deadlines. And while there are a lot of different styles of meditation, theres really no right or wrong way to do it. You are simply in a calming, peaceful state of being. I believe that when you are in this quiet state of mind, you are a human being, instead of a human doing
While youll find that meditation is peaceful, its not exactly peace of mind. However, meditation is freedom from the mind. By that, I mean that during meditation, your mind will be free from your egoic thoughts or mental commentaries. The egoic mind gets conditioned to build up a sort of wall around who you are.
Meditation breaks down that wall so that the mental commentary (mind chatter) isnt there. Meditation allows you to say, Who am I if I am not these thoughts? This is the most important question on the planet. And its through meditation that you can ask that all-important question and to go into yourself for true self-discovery. You see, when you are meditating, you are thought-free, and you lose the sense of fear and desire. If youre in a state of fearing something, then you are in a state of wanting something.
Physical Effects of Stress
Lets face it. Were living in very stressful times. If stress is allowed to continue over an extended length of time, the result can be bad for both your mind and your body. Let me give you an analogy to demonstrate this point. Hold out your arm straight at shoulder level. Keeping it in that position probably wont bother you at first, but the longer you hold it there, the more it will hurt. The pain will get worse and worse until you cant stand it any longer. Finally, there will be so much pain that youll have to drop your arm to your side. Stress is like that. In the beginning, it may not bother you much, but over an extended period of time, it will take a toll on your health, both physically and mentally.
Studies show that prolonged stress can weaken the immune system and lead to a plethora of health problems, like high blood pressure, one of the biggest killers on the planet. In fact, studies show that stress-related illnesses account for more than 60% of all doctor visits in this country. Unfortunately, most people alleviate their stress with things like alcohol, chocolate, or prescription drugs. But simply numbing the pain by depending on one or more of these crutches isnt the long-term answer. Instead, why not practice daily meditation? It has been scientifically documented that meditation lowers blood pressure by allowing you to completely relax your body and clear your mind. Meditation reportedly reduces stress-induced hormones in the blood, alleviating anxiety, anger and many types of illness.
Thats right. Meditation can help with illnesses. Scientific studies have shown that meditation not only helps with stress reduction, it can also actually increase physical healing. It has been successfully used to help patients suffering with everything from cat allergies, to heart palpitations, to back pain.
How is this possible? Being in a meditative state increases the amount of endorphins produced by the brain, and its these endorphins that can assist our bodies in the healing process. These same endorphins make us feel happy and give us a positive, uplifted sensation. I call it the ultimate natural high!
Initially, when people begin to meditate, they might not feel much. If this happens to you after a few times of trying to meditate, dont get discouraged. Like everything else, meditation takes practice. And remember, practice makes perfect! Everybody who has meditated consistently for a while will tell you that meditation is very relaxing and peaceful. If you practice meditation long enough and regularly enough, that peacefulness will be carried with you throughout the day.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com. He also co-hosts, with Elizabeth Cappellettti, M.A., the weekly TV and web-show entitled The Holistic Success Show, which can be seen at http://www.HolisticHealth.TV.