Back in the late 1960s, meditation was all the rage when the Beatles and various other celebrities travelled to India to join transcendental meditation programs.
This form of meditation had first been introduced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1955. And during the 60s and 70s, he became a cult figure.
Health benefits of Meditation
Now US researchers have found that heart disease patients who practise meditation have reduced death rates - plus they also have significantly lower blood pressure than those who do not.
The study was conducted on 402 African American men and women with an average age of 59 years and who suffered from a narrowing of the arteries in their hearts. Divided into 2 groups, 1 group were asked to meditate for 20 minutes twice a day while the 2nd group received education classes to persuade them to change their lifestyle by improving their diet, exercising etc.
Over a period of 9 years, the meditation group suffered a total of 20 heart attacks, strokes or death while the 2nd group had 31 such events. The statistics pointed to a 47% reduction in deaths, heart attacks and strokes in the meditation group plus 80% of the group were still practicing their meditation at least once a day even after 9 years while their average blood pressure was significantly lower with a noticeable reduction in psychological stress in some of the participants. The research was carried out by the Medical College of Wisconsin with the Maharishi University in Iowa so there was a vested interest there. Nevertheless, although only a small study, I think you will agree that the results pointed to definite benefits from meditation.
Meditation is a form of stress management that will allow your mind to experience an oasis of peace and love within your heart and mind.
Meditation gives you control over your life
And it is not difficult so why don’t you have a go…
- Sit comfortably in a chair, sit on the floor cross-legged “lotus” position or you can even lie down on your back for a meditation if that suits you better.
- Start by breathing as naturally as possible. After a few times, try breathing with your abdomen only. Slowly, your breathing will deepen as you practice. Babies breathe with their abdomen but as we grow older, we become affected by stress, our lifestyle and the environment so that we start breathing way up in the chest area and this is wrong.
- For meditation, we need to breathe deep and low from the abdomen. Say the word “calm” with every breath and you can then visualize every part of your body in turn while repeating this “calm” mantra. There are 3 different paths to follow. Start with the top of your head and visualize your scalp muscles relaxing. Don’t forget to say “calm”. Repeat this with every body part as you move down through your face, throat, chest, stomach, abdomen, thighs, knees, legs, ankles and feet.
- When you've relaxed your feet, visualize all the tension in your body leaving through your toes.
- Then for the second path, start from the temples of your head and work down, focusing on the sides and upper extremities. “Calm” must be your mantra again and move down your jaws, the sides of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists and hands. Once you've relaxed your hands, visualize all the tension leaving your body via your fingertips.
- The third and final pathway begins on the back of your head and relaxes the back side of your body. Go from the back of your neck, to your upper back, middle back, lower back, back of thighs, calves and heels.
Keep practicing this first attempt at meditating and it will improve daily
If you feel quiet and relaxed and you are paying attention to your breathing, then you are on the right path. As time goes by, you can find out about further meditations to increase your repertoire. The important thing is to get into the habit and remember that stress can be the root of many illnesses from high blood pressure and heart disease to even cancer and depression.
A great way to get rid of that stress.