The Origins of Meditation
Originally meditation was viewed solely as a Buddhist practice reserved for the monks.
Then in the late 1960s and early 1970s—the time of Aquarius—people associated meditation with the Hippies seeking transcendence.
Over the years, there have been thousands of studies done on the benefits of this woo-woo fad. Who knew?
As of late, western medicine has begun to get on board with claims of stress-reduction and as an effective method to manage fear and anxiety.
Wow! There really must be something to it! So…why aren’t more of you actively participating?
I am not saying that meditation is a magic bullet. There is no such mystical one shot treatment, not even in pill form. But with the amount of research showing favorable results, what’s stopping you from giving it a try?
What Is Meditation?
Some people think that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness. Different meditation programs approach this in different ways, all bearing positive benefits to better oneself.
What began as an Eastern faith devotion has spanned and spread to all countries, cultures and creeds. The meditation discipline has expanded to all people searching for a calm mind and a relaxed body.
Do You Meditate?
Have you ever noticed that when you ask individuals if they participate in a daily meditation practice, you receive one of two reactions. The first is a wide-eyed look of enthusiasm accompanied by the affirming head nod. The second and polar opposite response is the agonizing deep sigh, followed by the eye roll or the glazed over look.
You can immediately sense that these people are fearing a lecture on the benefits. They obviously have a preconceived notion to the concept; they know little to nothing about the subject and choose not to broaden their knowledge concerning it.
For those in the latter category who appear to have an aversion to the concept, theories and techniques of meditation, would be inclined to change their opinion if they opened themselves to the experience and gave it a chance.
I am not referring to attending one class, session or workshop. I am not suggesting that you read a book or a hundred books on the topic. Educating yourself about meditation is fine, but to receive the benefits, you actually have to do it!
Schedule Some Time For YOU
When I say give it a chance, I am saying that you must be committed to the practice of mindfulness meditation. You absolutely have to structure your schedule to incorporate the necessary time allotment designated for meditation in your daily routine.
This takes planning. Expecting quiet time to miraculously appear is unrealistic. You have to block these moments of meditation the same way you do breakfast, lunch and dinner. Find an arrangement that works best for your busy day. Be honest with yourself—especially if you are one who uses the excuse that you have no time for meditation because you are always playing catch up and running from here to there. It would probably suit your needs to begin your morning with 15-20 minutes of meditation. This will manifest a centered and calm tone throughout your day.
With a dedicated practice you will eventually experience the benefits. Look for results in about 4-6 weeks. You most likely will notice that you have become more tolerant and compassionate toward incidences that previously would have sent you into a tizzy.
The Effort is Worth the Reward
I relate this to dieting. It is so difficult to stay committed to a weight loss program, but once you step on the scale and see that you have dropped those unwanted pounds—well, it’s motivation to stay the course and keep up the good work. You are reassured that the effort is worth the reward.
You may slip up while on your diet. You could fall off the wagon and cheat with some chocolate cake. That’s fine. The same applies to meditation. You may miss a couple of days but you must get back to it. It will eventually become a habit you will not want to break.
At this point in your practice you may be inclined to incorporate another section of time (15-20 minutes) for meditation before bedtime. This will ensure a good night’s rest.
On your journey toward your goal, you are feeling more and more worthy, whole, confident and capable. You have discovered the profound changes available when you become mindful. Learn to trust your newfound wisdom and have it propel you to the next level of enlightenment.
Misconceptions of Meditation
What Meditation IS:
- A process of transformation directing your attention in a clear and calm way
- Developing Awareness and strengthening qualities such as compassion and kindness
- Expanding your wisdom about yourself and life
- Provides mental and physical health benefits
What Meditation IS NOT:
- Something to fear
- An excuse to do nothing
- A self-induced trance
- A practice solely for hippies and monks
- Conflicting with your religious beliefs
- Requiring hours of silence per day
Physical Benefits of Meditation
1) Lowers high blood pressure*
2) Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety and panic attacks*
3) Decreases tension related pain (tension headaches, ulcers, muscle and join problems)*
4) Increases Serotonin production that improves mood and behavior*
5) Improves the immune system*
6) Increases energy and quality of life*
7) Reduces aging and promotes longevity*
8) Helps with having restful sleep*
9) Improves breathing*
10) Reduces inflammation*
Mental Benefits of Meditation
1) Helps to effectively manage stress, fear, panic, anxiety and depression (reduces cortisol)*
2) Improves emotional stability*
3) Creativity increases*
4) Happiness increases*
5) Gain clarity and peace of mind*
6) Helps you feel more connected*
7) Increases your attention span*
8) Increases awareness*
9) Enhances self-esteem and self-acceptance*
10) Better decision-making and problem solving skills*
11) Gives an appreciation for life*
How To Meditate: A Brief Exercise
If you are still in doubt and not wanting to buy what I’m selling, I suggest you try this experiment.
This will only take a few minutes. Find a relatively quiet environment. Sit or lay down. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Deeply inhale and exhale. Feel grateful for the air in your lungs. Inhale and exhale. Repeat. Feel blessed for being alive. Inhale and exhale.
Congratulations, you have just participated in mindfulness meditation.
Physical Benefits of Meditation
- Barnes, Vernon A., Frank A. Treiber, and Harry Davis. “Impact of Transcendental Meditation® on cardiovascular function at rest and during acute stress in adolescents with high normal blood pressure.” Journal of psychosomatic research 51.4 (2001): 597-605.
2. Solberg, E et al. “Stress Reactivity to and Recovery from a Standardised Exercise Bout: A Study of 31 Runners Practising Relaxation Techniques.” British Journal of Sports Medicine 34.4 (2000): 268–272. PMC. Web. 13 Dec. 2015.
7. Hoge, Elizabeth A., et al. “Loving-Kindness Meditation practice associated with longer telomeres in women.” Brain, behavior, and immunity 32 (2013): 159-163.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23602876
10. Gerbarg, Patricia L., et al. “The Effect of Breathing, Movement, and Meditation on Psychological and Physical Symptoms and Inflammatory Biomarkers in Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Inflammatory bowel diseases 21.12 (2015): 2886-2896.
Mental Benefits of Meditation
- Taren, Adrienne A., et al. “Mindfulness meditation training alters stress-related amygdala resting state functional connectivity: a randomized controlled trial.” Social cognitive and affective neuroscience (2015): nsv066.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/260481762. Lee, Yu-Hao, et al. “Improved Emotional Stability in Experienced Meditators with Concentrative Meditation Based on Electroencephalography and Heart Rate Variability.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 21.1 (2015): 31-39.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/253543143. Lippelt, Dominique P., Bernhard Hommel, and Lorenza S. Colzato. “Focused attention, open monitoring and loving kindness meditation: effects on attention, conflict monitoring, and creativity–A review.” Frontiers in psychology 5 (2014).
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/252950254. Ramesh, M. G., et al. “Efficacy of Rajayoga Meditation on Positive Thinking: An Index for Self-Satisfaction and Happiness in Life.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 7.10 (2013): 2265.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/242984935. Pickert, Kate. “The art of being mindful. Finding peace in a stressed-out, digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently.” Time 183.4 (2014): 40-46.
6. Hutcherson, Cendri A., Emma M. Seppala, and James J. Gross. “Loving-kindness meditation increases social connectedness.” Emotion 8.5 (2008): 720.
7. Bueno, Viviane Freire, et al. “Mindfulness Meditation Improves Mood, Quality of Life, and Attention in Adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” BioMed Research International (2014).
8. Hasenkamp, Wendy, and Lawrence W. Barsalou. “Effects of meditation experience on functional connectivity of distributed brain networks.” Frontiers in human neuroscience 6 (2012).
9. Crescentini, Cristiano, and Viviana Capurso. “Mindfulness meditation and explicit and implicit indicators of personality and self-concept changes.” Frontiers in psychology 6 (2015).
10. Capurso, Viviana, Franco Fabbro, and Cristiano Crescentini. “Mindful creativity: the influence of mindfulness meditation on creative thinking.” Frontiers in psychology 4 (2013).
11. Barnby, Joseph M., et al. “How similar are the changes in neural activity resulting from mindfulness practice in contrast to spiritual practice?.” Consciousness and cognition 36 (2015): 219-232.
About the Authors
Kamaira Philips, Bachelor of Music (BM), is a co-founder of Mind Body Spiritual Awareness. She is an operatic soprano, an intuitive energy healer and modern shaman, a meditation instructor, a certified EMT and a scientist. Kamaira is researching topics related to immunology and alternative medicine at UNC’s Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center and at the UNC Program on Integrative Medicine.
Kaylee is a co-founder of Mind Body Spiritual Awareness. She has been mindfully aware of and practicing her psychic abilities since she was a child. Led by her spirit guides, Kaylee has obtained a vast wealth of knowledge and experience with the ethereal realm and alternative modalities of energy healing. Kaylee is a shamanic healer and New Age artist.