When I meditate, the first physiological effect I feel is my heart rate slowing down. If I mange a long, deep meditation, it almost feels as if my heart has stopped beating (in a good way). It is as if everything is suspended in space and I feel weightless. I must admit that these moments are extremely fleeting within a 20 minute session, but the more I meditate the more of these blissful moments I have.
Researchers at George Health Sciences University conducted a study with 62 teens who had high blood pressure. The ones who meditated twice daily for 15 minutes had lower left ventricular mass than a control group, which means the risk of heart disease was significantly reduced.
This is just one of the benefits of meditation. Given that high stress levels fire off chemicals in our bodies, which lead to ill health and aging, it’s become increasingly important to figure out a mediation practice of some kind.
I have been practicing TM Meditation for years and this works very well for me, however, I do have to do it!! This means that at least once a day, I drag out my mediation cushion ( or any old cushion), switch off my phone, tell the kids to leave me alone, and just start. Thinking about it and procrastinating is way more painful than actually doing it. It’s amazing how inviting housework can become when I know I need to meditate – anything but sit still.
However, when I do sit still and focus on my mantra and/or my breath, I can begin to detach from my thoughts. They are no longer who I am, and they no longer have the power to control me. The attraction of meditation for me is that I get to be in charge, and for someone who likes to be in control, this sits well. Being the “observer” of my thoughts allows me to choose whether or not I want to have them or not: Does that particular thought serve me or support me? The answer is almost always a negative, and so I can let it go and move on. Occasionally I get to a fleeting moment of stillness in the space between the thoughts, and that’s the nearest to nirvana that I’ve ever been.
If you are new to mediation, or want a good guide, I just picked up a wonderful book called “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron, who draws from Buddist teachings. She gives the most simple and beautiful instructions to start a practice, which won’t frighten you or put you off.
With social networking taking over-stimulation to breaking point, I feel I have a responsibility to myself to slow down and listen to that still, small voice within.