Meditation in its many styles and forms has become increasingly popular in the West, and for a good reason: when practiced regularly, meditation has great potential to promote physical, psychological and spiritual well-being in our lives and provide a much needed antidote to the daily pressures and stresses of our modern society.
Many individuals are turning to meditation as a way of improving overall health, as more and more peer-reviewed research confirms that it is a viable method of improving issues ranging from…
- cardiovascular disease,
- inflammation and immune activity,
- to pain,
- and mental imbalances.
Meditation linked to higher telomerase activity
An interesting new study conducted at UC Davis and UC San Francisco shows that the positive psychological changes that occur during meditation are associated with higher telomerase activity, an enzyme important for the longevity and health of our cells at the DNA level.
The effect of meditation on telomerase is believed to be attributed to an improvement in a person’s ability to cope with stress and maintain overall psychological well being. These benefits represent a cornerstone of modern meditation-based therapy as a powerful tool for healing and personal growth.
Shamatha style meditation is a simple practice great for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.
Shamatha means “calm abiding” in Sanskrit, and this meditation focuses on allowing the mind’s natural state to be accessed by focusing the breath on a specific object and letting all other thoughts slip away. As the meditation practice deepens, the space between thoughts becomes greater and more profound, making room for our true inner nature of unconditional love, peace, and tranquility to arise and expand.
Sahmatha style meditation for beginners
You can begin by doing a clearing of the breath, if you want, or simply begin by just looking at something in front of you and breathe into it.
Place a picture, a stone or object in a place that can easily be seen from where you are comfortably seated. Focus your breath, your vision and your mind/concentration on the object in front of you in a relaxed way, without effort or strain.
If your thoughts wander away, gently bring your focus back to the object, by “breathing into” the object and focusing on your inhalation and exhalation, imagining that your breath is flowing into and drawing from the object that you’re meditating on.
When practiced regularly, Shamatha and other styles of meditation can allow you to reach a state of consciousness where your mind and body begin to heal.
Meditation can help you heal
When your mind quiets down enough and you can maintain a meditative state, the health benefits that follow can be potentially unlimited, but generally include decreased pain and stress, greater energy, better mental focus, better sleep patterns, and improved breathing due to increased lung and heart efficiency.
In addition, risk factors for a multitude of diseases including life threatening heart disease and stroke have been improved with the regular use of meditation as a balancing and strengthening self-care modality.
One of the noticeable outcomes of practicing Shamatha meditation is experiencing a state characterized by mental and emotional clarity, free from sluggishness, drowsiness and haziness. This experience will grow in intensity and stability over time.
The benefits of Shamatha meditation are the greatest when it is practiced on a regular basis.
The most important thing to remember is to start out at a pace that is reasonable for you, as placing a potentially unrealistic goal of meditating for a longer period of time may cause you to give up. Even just 10 minutes a day can help you gain control over a hyper-reactive mind state through the gentle discipline of a budding meditation practice, allowing you to experience greater and more profound access to your inner state of tranquility and healing.
Creating a “sacred space” that you can use for meditation and personal growth is also important, as the key to integrating meditation into your daily schedule is making the commitment to do it.
Daily meditation can help give you a sense of meditative posture, allowing you to review and regret inappropriate thoughts and behaviors, help you strengthen your commitment to improve tomorrow, and open your heart to take in healing energy while allowing your innate healing capacities to arise from within, unobstructed by thoughts and distractions.
“Like a blind rider riding on a wild horse”, our minds and emotions influence us in ways that sometimes seem out of control. Meditation allows us to access a higher perspective and uncover the most precious gift we have: our true essence of love and healing.
Dr. Isaac Eliaz, a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine since the early 1980's, is a respected author, lecturer, researcher, product formulator and clinical practitioner.
Since 1991 Dr. Eliaz has maintained a busy private practice in northern California that focuses primarily on integrative, holistic protocols for cancer patients. He leads an integrative medical team at Amitabha Clinic in Sebastopol, California with focus on cancer and other chronic ailments.
To learn more, please visit www.dreliaz.org.
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