By Yamuna Loyal
‘The most powerful benefit that I have experienced from meditation is that it makes my mind much sharper. It allows the haziness in my mind to be cleared away so that everything makes sense to me and connects with my ideas. – Jamil Nasir, Lawyer
Gone are the days when meditation was some wacky word that only strange and different people used. Nowadays, meditation is being increasingly recognized as something which really offers some practical solutions to our national epidemic – namely Stress Factor 10.
Stress & Stress Related Illness
In our fast moving world, meditation, concentration, and relaxation are becoming vital tools for success both in the workplace and at home. Meditation has been used extensively to alleviate stress induced conditions both in business and at home. These can range from simple headaches and high blood pressure to arthritis and heart problems.
Medical research has confirmed that meditation has a profound influence on decreasing the harmful effects of stress. Prolonged levels of stress can lead to illness and consequent absenteeism. From my experience, teaching meditation in the workplace, as well as in courses up and down the country, meditation helps to dissolve stress effectively, helps people to learn to relax at will and thereby stay effective throughout the day.
In a study with 77 men and women following a ten week program of meditation, ALL reported a remarked improvement in their stress symptoms.
Does it really work?
Research in the US with the pioneering heart surgeon Dr Dean Ornish, has shown that heart disease can be reversed through lifestyle changes which include meditation, correct diet, yoga and exercise. Meditation is a key component of Dr Dean Ornish’s therapy which is the only scientifically proven treatment to reverse heart disease.
High Blood Pressure
In a study of 36 people, the average blood pressure declined significantly after several weeks of practising meditation.
Peace of Mind
Meditation has been found to bring greater calmness and clarity of mind which in turn results in greater effectiveness in the workplace. You can practice meditation in the boardroom or the bedroom, before a sports game, important interview, while travelling, or at home. Wherever you find yourself, the benefits are always effective and far-reaching.
Successful people know that it is not intelligence that determines how successful we are in business, but a positive self belief that what we want is achievable, coupled with the will and right actions to follow through with an effective strategy, of course. Meditation teaches you to take charge of your mind, thoughts and beliefs, decreasing the gap between potential and output.
We all know how important and essential enthusiasm and passion are for achieving success. Learning how to increase your emotional intelligence and turn negative emotions really does increase motivation and help maintain high energy levels, even when the going gets tough.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a highly effective method for working on the mind. It promotes an alert and skilful state of mind which requires us to remain present and ‘with’ whatever is happening in and around us.
How do you meditate?
It’s about sitting quietly and focusing the mind – often on the breath or a word such as ‘relax’. Concentration and visualisation also play a big part in the process. ‘Focus’is the key word. People often say that they have ‘tried to meditate but couldn’t switch off.’ This is absolutely right. It is almost impossible to sit down, close your eyes and just meditate. There is a definite process that facilitates meditation. Here it is:
– The first thing you have to do is to energise your body. You cannot meditate if you are tired. All you will achieve is sitting up sleep!
– Secondly, you need to do something called ‘Energy Block Release’ movements. (see Dru Yoga DVD) These movements facilitate the release of negative or unwanted energy from the muscles and organs of the body. They take away the aches and pains that can beleaguer our attempts at sitting still.
– Relaxation is the next and most important step. The mind needs to be relaxed in order to focus. Deep relaxation releases stress at a profound level, which in turn clears the mind of unwanted emotions and thoughts, clearing the way for concentration.
– Focusing the mind in a one-pointed way is essential to the process of meditation. This can include counting your breaths, focusing on one point, watching the seconds hand on your watch.
In my experience of a two hour session in the workplace, it takes one hour and forty minutes to prepare people who are not at all familiar with meditation to get to a point where they can actually focus the mind for twenty minutes. But those twenty minutes are very impressive! With all the mental gunk out of the way, the experience of meditation becomes possible.
The experience? What is that?
It is a sense of deep stillness and calm. The mind becomes essentially still, untroubled and free from thought and in that space everything inside you becomes peaceful and relaxed leaving you with a wonderful sense of wellbeing and that wonderful ‘I can do anything now’ feeling.
What are the Long-Term Benefits of Meditation?
Check this out: Scientific research shows that people who meditate enjoy:
– better memory
– clearer thinking
– greater ability to focus
– increased creativity
– Sharper intellect
– More alertness
– Higher IQ
– Sharper intellect
– Decreased anxiety
– Decreased depression
– Decreased irritability and moodiness
– Increased feelings of happiness and wellbeing
– Increased emotional stability
– Inner calm
– More self-confidence
– Deeper appreciation of self and others
– More harmonious behaviour
– Ability to feel better about self and others
– Less anxiety, anger and depression
Learn to Relax
The beauty of learning the skills of meditation is that you learn so much more on the way. One of them is the ability to relax at will.
This is how it goes. You get upset and tense up. The tension makes you feel bad and so more tension is created. The cycle perpetuates itself until you reach a maximum level or until you break the cycle and ‘let go’. This could be talking to someone, having a hot bath or going for a walk. The interesting thing is that if you regularly allow yourself to get into a stress cycle, then the maximum level of stress that the body can tolerate also rises. After a while, maybe a few years, you will find that you are suffering from hyper-stress and the body is seriously out of balance. At this stage, the body’s natural defence may become lowered and result in burnout or illness.
Here is a powerful aid to relaxation to start you off:
– Simply count your in and outbreaths. You could try this while out walking, using your steps to count as you synchronise the breath to your walking. Then adjust your breathing so that you make the inbreath equal to the outbreath.
– Ideally you would start by practising this equal breathing with a count of four.
– For example, breathe in: one, two, three, four, pause.
– Breathe out: one, two, three, four, pause.
– As you become more practised you can increase the count to five or six and so on.
Once you learn to relax at will and you learn to let go, you will start to experience more clarity about your life. This is because you have started to clear the clutter of disorganised, stressful thought patterns. Think of it as feng shui for the mind! And then you are ready to further investigate the art of concentration.
Practice gazing at an object for a few minutes every day. Typical objects that are used as a candle flame or a flower as the brain finds natural, non-linear shapes more restful than the linear environments that we are normally subjected to. Gazing is not staring. It is a gentle, unbroken point of contact on an object by the eyes. The eyes should be softened so that the process takes no energy from you, but adds to your energy.
Yamuna Loyal is an writer, singer and songwriter and meditation teacher. She promotes meditation as a means to resolving many of life’s deeper issues. As well as teaching Dru meditation courses in the Dru UK Course Centre in Snowdonia, she also runs the Sound Certificate Course and is the author of A Survivor’s Guide to Cancer: The New 7-Point Plan to Reclaim Your Health having survived cancer twice. Her e-book is available as a download from http://www.survivingcancer.co.uk
Article Source: Why Not Meditate?