There is increasing evidence of the physical and psychological benefits of meditation. The physical benefits of daily meditation are substantial. They are said to include decreased blood pressure, drop in cholesterol levels, reduction of free radicals, improved lung functioning, lower levels of the stress-related chemicals cortisol and lactate, and even a younger biological age.
The psychological benefits include decreased anxiety, depression and irritability plus increased feelings of vitality, happiness and emotional stability together with improved memory and brain wave coherence. Meditation is now often recommended for patients undergoing cancer treatment.
What is Meditation?
The term Meditation is seemingly derived from two words: the Latin meditari meaning to think, dwell upon and exercise the mind, and the Indo-European mederi meaning to heal.
There are various kinds of mediation - some involve movement of the body, such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, dancing and even walking or jogging; others are static and are practised sitting, standing or lying. All have one common aim - that is to focus on quietening the mind; when the mind is 'filled' with the feeling of calm and peace, it cannot take off on its own and worry, become stressed or depressed. In order to achieve this, meditation techniques can be grouped into two basic approaches:
• Concentrative meditation focuses the attention on the breath, an image or a sound (mantra), in order to still the mind and allow greater awareness and clarity to emerge. Like a zoom lens in a camera, the focus is narrowed to a selected field.
• Mindfulness mediation teaches an even-handed, accepting awareness of whatever arises in the mind and all that is around in terms of sensations, feelings, sounds, smells and images. Like a wide-angle camera lens, you will be aware of the entire field but not engaged with it.
How to Get Going
The Complete Idiots Guide to Meditation by Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson www.amazon.co.uk
www.metta.org.uk - for Meditation contacts and centres in the UK
Buddhist Meditation classes in the UK www.meditateinlondon.org.uk
Try Yoga and Meditation in Sri Lanka: www.ulpotha.com
Combine Transcendental Meditation and Ayurveda in the USA: www.theraj.com
Go on a Mindfulness Retreat in Thailand: www.hereandnowholiday.com
Try a one-day retreat: www.relaxforhealth.net