Meditation Information

Mediation is NOT a religion but is a lifestyle choice. In fact, I believe,
“Prayer is talking to GOD. Meditation is listening to GOD.”

meditation for deep relaxation

Stress is relative to you. People are not stressed by the same things. “It’s safe to let go. Relaxation requires letting go, while tension comes from holding on. Letting go can seem a bit scary at first, but once you have experienced how safe and enjoyable it can be, letting go becomes easy. Your efforts account for only a small portion of what happens in each meditation, maybe 20%. The rest of what occurs is based on factors beyond our control. There is no failure in meditation, only failure to do it.” ~~ Jim Malloy

What is meditation?

Meditation, no matter which type, has one thing in common – it focuses on quieting the busy mind. The intention is not to remove stimulation but rather to direct your concentration to one healing element – one sound, one word, one image, or one’s breath. When the mind is “filled” with the feeling of calm and peace, it cannot take off on its own and worry, stress out, or get depressed.

According to Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, meditation can be broadly defined as any activity that keeps the attention pleasantly anchored in the present moment. When the mind is calm and focused in the present, it is neither reacting to memories from the past nor being preoccupied with plans for the future, two major sources of chronic stress known to impact health. “Meditation,” says Dr. Borysenko, “helps to keep us from identifying with the ‘movies of the mind.’”

How meditation works

Studies have shown that meditation (in particular, research on Transcendental Meditation, a popular form of meditation practiced in the West for the past thirty years), can bring about a healthy state of relaxation by causing a generalized reduction in multiple physiological and biochemical markers, such as decreased heart rate, decreased respiration rate, decreased plasma cortisol (a major stress hormone), decreased pulse rate, and increased EEG (electroencephalogram) alpha, a brain wave associated with relaxation. Research conducted by R. Keith Wallace at U.C.L.A. on Transcendental Meditation, revealed that during meditation, the body gains a state of profound rest. At the same time, the brain and mind become more alert, indicating a state of restful alertness. Studies show that after TM, reactions are faster, creativity greater, and comprehension broader.

A laboratory study of practitioners of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s transcendental meditation (TM), carried out by Benson and Wallace at Harvard Medical School towards the end of the 1960s, provided the first detailed knowledge of the many physiological changes that go with meditation. Some of the meditators, whose ages ranged from seventeen to forty-one, had been meditating only a few weeks, others for several years. All recorded changes associated with deep relaxation.

The fall in metabolic rate (the rate in which our body burns calories) was the most striking discovery. This was indicated by a dramatic drop in oxygen consumption within a few minutes of starting meditation. Consumption fell by up to twenty per cent below the normal level; below that experienced even in deep sleep. Meditators took on average two breaths less and one liter less air per minute. The meditators’ heart rate was several beats less per minute. During meditation, blood pressure stayed at ‘low levels’, but fell markedly in persons starting meditation with abnormally high levels.

The meditators’ skin resistance to an electrical current was measured. A fall in skin resistance is characteristic of anxiety and tension states; a rise indicates increased muscle relaxation. The finding was that though meditation is primarily a mental technique, it soon brings significantly improved muscle relaxation.

Meditation reduces activity in the nervous system. The parasympathetic branch of the autonomic or involuntary nervous system predominates. This is the branch responsible for calming us.

During anxiety and tension states there is a rise in the level of lactate in the blood. Lactate is a substance produced by metabolism in the skeletal muscles. Lactic acid appears in the blood as a result of anaerobic metabolism when oxygen delivery to the tissues is insufficient to support normal metabolic demands. During meditation blood lactate levels decreased at a rate four times faster than the rate of decrease in non-meditators resting while lying on their backs or in the meditators themselves in pre-meditation resting.

The likely reason for the dramatic reduction in lactate production by meditators was indicated when further studies of meditators showed an increased blood flow during meditation. Benson and Wallace found that there was a thirty-two per cent increase in forearm blood flow. Lactate production in the body is mainly in skeletal muscle tissue; during meditation the faster circulation brings a faster delivery of oxygen to the muscles and less lactate is produced. The two investigators summed up the state produced by their meditating subjects as wakeful and hypometabolic (a decrease in the body’s basal metabolic rate). The physiological changes were different in many ways from those found in sleeping people or those in hypnotic trance states. Meditation, they said, produces ‘a complex of responses that marks a highly relaxed state.’ Moreover, the pattern of changes they observed in meditators suggested an integrated response, mediated by the central nervous system. “Through meditation we can learn to access the relaxation response (the physiological response elicited by meditation) and to be aware of the mind and the way our attitudes produce stress,” says Dr. Borysenko, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind. “In addition, by quieting the mind, meditation can also put one in touch with the inner physician, allowing the body’s own inner wisdom to be heard.”

Taoists and those trained in the Eastern medical model believe that the mind of emotions is governed by the Fire energy of the heart. When your emotions are not controlled, the fire energy of the heart flares upwards, wastefully burning up energy and clouding the mind. The mind of intent, or willpower, is controlled by the Water energy of the kidneys. When unattended, the water energy flows down and out through the sexual organs, depleting essence and energy and weakening the spirit. Taoists believe that when you are ‘sitting still, doing nothing’, as in meditation, the flow of Fire and Water are reversed: Water energy from the kidneys and sacrum is drawn up to the head via the Central and Governing channels, while emotional Fire energy from the heart is drawn down into the Lower Elixir Field in the abdomen, where it is refined and transformed and enters general circulation through the energy channels. On the spiritual/mental level, this internal energy alchemy (process of transformation) enables the mind of intent (Water) to exert a calming, cooling, controlling influence over the mind of emotion (Fire).

History of Meditation

From East to West
Although there’s a paucity (scarcity) of recorded history on meditation, its roots travel back to ancient times. Researchers speculate that primitive hunter-gatherer societies may have discovered meditation and its altered states of consciousness while staring at the flames of their fires. Over thousands of years, meditation evolved into a structured practice. Indian scriptures called “tantras” mentioned meditation techniques 5000 years ago.

Buddha, “one of history’s major proponents of meditation,” and a major meditation icon, first made his mark around 500 B.C. His teachings were spread far and wide across the Asian continent. Separate countries or cultures adopted different forms of the word “meditation,” and they each found their own unique way of practicing it. Buddhist- and Hindu-based Easter-style meditation practices are still the most popular today.

Meditation was spread to Western society thousands of years after it was adopted in the East. It finally started to gain popularity in the West in the mid-20th century. In the 1960s and 1970s, many professors and researchers began testing the effects of meditation and learned about its multitude of benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

Meditation is a practice that gives balance physically, emotionally and mentally. Today, people are using meditation to treat anxiety, stress, and depression. The “deep rest” that meditation gives a person dissolves stress and enables him or her to makes better choices through clear thinking. Those who meditate report higher levels of self-esteem. The practice has also been used to help people quit smoking, conquer drug and alcohol addictions, reduce blood pressure and reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause. Meditation aids in lowering heart rate and blood pressure by slowing down breathing, which reduces the amount of oxygen needed. Along with the mind, muscles gently relax. “Some experts have compared it to a ‘reset button’ for your body.” (“Meditation as Medication”)

However, meditation shouldn’t be used as a replacement to traditional Western medicine, but as a supplement to treatments your doctor has recommended for you.

Through experiments and tests using practiced meditators, Herbert Benson, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, discovered that meditation counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system – the one that gives humans the desire to fight or flee in any conflict situation. While primitive people needed this response in hunting situations, today it is the reason for many of our everyday stresses. During meditation, blood flow is directed to the parasympathetic nervous system instead. This is the part of the brain that triggers relaxation, a slower pulse and energy conservation – the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system.

Many studies are still being conducted about the effects of meditation. As more scientific knowledge is gathered, meditation will become a more accurately and frequently prescribed treatment.

Psychological Benefits Physiological Benefits
Reduced stress and anxiety May help lower blood pressure
Increased creativity and intelligence Prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases
Reduced depression Boosted immune system
Increased learning ability, moral reasoning and memory Lowered cholesterol levels
Reduced irritability and moodiness Improved airflow, especially in those with asthma
Feelings of vitality and rejuvenation Younger biological age
Increased emotional control  
Increased self-esteem  
Increased alertness  
Improved relationships  
Improved concentration  

Meditation Techniques

There are a wide variety of meditation techniques available, some for specific purposes and others just variations with the same ultimate purpose. However, two main categories comprise all forms. These are concentrative meditation and mindfulness meditation.

Concentrative Meditation
“Concentrative meditation focuses the attention on the breath, an image or a sound, in order to still the mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is like a zoom lens in a camera; we narrow our focus to a selected field.” Sitting and silently focusing on dynamics of breathing is concentrative meditation in its most basic form. Breathing is a natural and readily available object of meditation. When a person is anxious or alarmed, the breathing becomes “shallow, rigid and uneven.” But when the mind is tranquil and balanced in concentration, breathing becomes slow, deep and even. Absorbing yourself in the repetition of your breathing will allow you to reach a point of simultaneous stillness and awareness.

Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness meditation’s purpose is to increase awareness of the inundation of “sensations and feelings” around oneself, but at a distance. In mindfulness meditation, you experience every aspect of your environment without consciously thinking about it. “The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories worries or images.” Through this practice, meditators are said to gain an intense calmness and clarity.


Anderson, Nora, M.S., In-light-in.
Singh, Rajinder, Meditation as Medication.

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