by Elise Bowerman
There are a variety of meditation styles, just like yoga practices and workouts. Everyone can meditate. Meditation classes are offered in yoga studios, city programs, and the like.
"Profound physiological and psychological changes take place when we meditate, causing an actual shift in the brain and in the involuntary processes of the body.
This is how it works. An instrument called an electroencephalograph (EEG) records mental activity. During waking activity, when the mind constantly moves from one thought to another, the EEG registers jerky and rapid lines categorized as beta waves. When the mind calms down through meditation, the EEG shows waves that are smoother and slower, and categorizes them as alpha waves. As meditation deepens, brain activity decreases further. The EEG then registers an even smoother, slower pattern of activity we call theta waves. Studies on meditators have shown decreased perspiration and a slower rate of respiration accompanied by a decrease of metabolic wastes in the bloodstream. Lower blood pressure and an enhanced immune system are further benefits noted by research studies.
The health benefits meditation produces naturally reflect the mental and physical effects of this process. At the very least, meditation teaches you how to manage stress; reducing stress in turn enhances your overall physical health and emotional well-being. On a deeper level, it can add to the quality of your life by teaching you to be fully alert, aware, and alive. In short, it is a celebration of your self. You are not meditating to get anything, but rather to look at and let go of anything you do not need."
- Mara Carrico, A Beginner's Guide to Meditation, Yoga Journal
"Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It’s a way of entering into the quiet that’s already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day." - Deepak Chopra
How To Meditate
In Mara Carrico's article from Yoga Journal (above) she gives delightful and practical ways to begin and maintain a meditation practice.
Pema Chödrön's book, How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, is another excellent resource.
Guided meditations are also very profound and offer powerful healing. There are multiple resources on the web offering guided meditations through words, phrases, and visualizations.
Being a busy mom of two children and one dog, plus a wife and taking care of my own self, finding the time to meditate in silence is challenging. There are a million reasons to block my meditation practice. So what works for me, right now, is to focus my attention while walking outside (in nature) acknowledging all that is divine and connected to One. Having mindfulness when walking with or without my family helps me to feel more steady, and gives me a clearer frame of mind to work with. All the nonsense that was taking up space in my mind leaves, allowing me to have a clearer view of what is happening in my mind and how situations affect me.
This feeling will stick with me for a while, sometimes hours, sometimes days. When I am with others there is a sense of me that is watching from an outside perspective from what is happening. This helps me to not take things personal and gives me strength to continue on my path in this life without worry or fear.
Also, my children and husband can tell whether I am due for a meditation practice or not! When I skip a few days, or if life has delt some tough hands, I get scattered and emotional. It's amazing what five minutes in "mommy time-out" can do!
Lastly, what is super cool when you have been meditating for a while is that people will ask what you've done differently - they can't put their finger on it, if you've cut your hair, lost weight, etc. - but they see you differently, in a postive way. When you work or heal on the inside, it radiates to your physical body! Bonus ;-)