MEDITATION: bringing the mind home.
Modern man is too impatient and wants to master the art of meditation immediately. ~Swami Rama
Rule you mind or it will rule you- Buddha
Benefits and Technique
The word meditation is derived from two letter word meditari (to think about, contemplate) and mederi (to heal). At its root lies the concept that meditation is not just a spiritual practice, but equally important for a healthy mind and body. Although meditation practitioners have known the benefits of meditation since ancient times, it is only now that scientific research is beginning to prove that meditation has a positive effect on us on a physiological level. Meditation is a course of action to train the mind as fitness methodologies are a course of action to train the body. However we need to be very clear that mind-body is intertwined. The fundamental premise in integrative medicine is the fact that mind and emotions play an important role in our health. Hippo-crates, the father of modern medicine taught that good health depends on a balance of body, mind and environment.
Research on the processes and effects of meditation is a growing sub field of neurological research. Using magnetic imaging (MRI), Harvard researchers found that meditation produced physiological changes in the brain’s gray matter. A research was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital by researchers from Harvard University and published in 2011 which documented the physical changes in the brain as a result of mindfulness. Some areas in the brains of the study participants thickened after eight weeks of practice and they reported reduced stress after the period. MRI scans revealed decreased gray matter in the amygdalae and increased gray matter in the hippo-campus. The amygdalae are the parts of the brain that help the body deal with anxiety and stress. The hippocampus, which demonstrated an increase in gray-matter density, is the area of the brain that controls memory, learning, self-awareness, introspection and compassion. It has been concluded that meditation builds brain cells, increases gray matter and allows the brain to slow responses to stress, providing better concentration, learning and memory.
Various findings seem to show that training the mind through meditation can have an enormously significant impact on the function of the brain. It demonstrates that emotional tendencies can be altered, and destructive tendencies can be reduced significantly.
In eastern philosophy, the goal of meditation is no goal. It is simply to be present. The eventual benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances. The liberated, or “Self Realized,” practitioner no longer pointlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner balance.
Meditation is therapeutic and a way of understanding ourselves which reveals life in a new perspective resulting in self transformation and expansion as an individual.
However, it is only, practice which will eventually yields results and it’s mandatory to be regular and consistent to harvest the benefits.
It’s impossible for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” There are various meditation techniques. One of the easiest ways to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath —
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe naturally without making any effort to control your breath
- Focus your attention on the movement of breath. Bring your awareness to your nostrils, throat, chest, shoulders, rib cage and belly observing the process of breathing. Make no effort to control your breath; simply focus your attention. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Maintain this meditation practice for 3-5 minutes to start, and then attempt it for longer periods.