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Friday, February 22, 2008

Meditation - How it Works

Meditation is the art of focusing your mind, restraining your thoughts and looking deep into yourself. Practicing it can give you a better understanding of your purpose in life and of the divine, as well as provide you with certain physical and mental health benefits. But how exactly does Meditation work? Here you will find out more about the mechanics of Meditation and its effects on your mind and body.

First of all, you need to know that focusing your mind is a lot easier said than done. It may be simple enough to empty your mind of thoughts but to prevent them from coming in is a lot harder than you’d expect. Here are a few tips that might help you get started:
  • Practice in a clean, quiet place.

  • Make sure that you are comfortable, from the clothes you wear to the way you position yourself.

  • Warm up and stretch a little bit by doing some Asanas. Doing some Pranayama is also advisable.

  • Empty your mind of all thoughts.

  • Now here’s the hard part: prevent other thoughts from coming into your mind. To do this, it might help to concentrate on a single object such as a candle. Look at the candle and just focus on it. As some would say, be one with the flame. This will take a considerable amount of practice to master, so be patient.
Once your mind is finally clear of thought, you will feel calm yet aware; a feeling that most experts say cannot be described by words. Only experiencing it will give you a clear idea of how it feels.

As you go along with your Meditation, you will eventually experience a development in your physical and mental health. According to some studies, this is manifested by a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisol which is a major stress hormone, decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha which is a brain wave associated with relaxation. During Meditation, one goes through a state of deep relaxation, while his mind’s awareness level is increased. This results in faster reactions, greater creativity, and broader comprehension.

One of the most remarkable findings on the effects of Meditation is a decrease in metabolism. This was shown by a drop in oxygen consumption, up to 20% below the normal level. Heartbeats per minute were also reduced. Blood pressure stayed at low levels.

Other benefits arising from Meditation are:
  • increased lung capacity

  • improved immune system

  • recharged nervous system

  • reduced stress

  • improved memory

  • aids in the treatment of some diseases like asthma

  • open-mindedness

  • amplified moral virtues such as patience and compassion

  • awareness towards sin, temptation and guilt

  • increased faith in one’s religion
Meditation requires discipline, determination and patience. You won’t get it on the first try, but constant practice will help you go a long way. All of your efforts will pay off someday when you attain the physical and mental health benefits mentioned above and even more.

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