Today, I love meditation…but I haven’t always loved it.
In the past, it felt like another time-eating activity, with little real benefit.
Then something changed. I kept hearing from the leaders in medicine and business that I respected – Dr. Paul Anderson, Dr. Mark Hyman, Vishen Lashanki, Dr. Joe Dispensa, Tim Ferris – that it is an integral part of our healing, and our success.
Once I started in earnest, with focused intention, I was hooked. Those few minutes a day of calming my mind, setting an intention for how I wanted my thoughts and energy to be for the day, began to change how I moved through the day. I was able to get through a busy workday without feeling drained or overwhelmed. This took time, and I am definitely still learning and growing, but I am convinced that meditation is an integral part of my long-term health plan that will keep me healthy into my later years.
Meditation is a technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is different from the normal waking state. Meditation is not a part of religion; it is a practice, or a state of being, that can be harnessed regardless of your spiritual belief system.
In meditation, the mind is relaxed. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is calm, and the happenings of the outside world can feel a bit removed. When people become more practiced, it is possible to achieve an inner state that the mind becomes silent. And having the awareness of the present moment. Being here now.
There are different types of meditation, all of which can be helpful, although some are more difficult than others. I recommend beginning with the ‘Contemplation’ form of meditation, which includes forms of visualization, and guided meditations. These are easier as they distract one’s active ‘monkey-mind’, which in the beginning can be a bit like trying to get a toddler to sit down and focus. The mind is programmed to think, and this style provides constructive, guided input to help your brain focus in the area you desire.
Types of Meditation
Focusing on a single outside element, such as a candle flame or light. One of the harder styles to start with, as the mind tends to be active and distracted. Better for the person who is more practiced or advanced in meditation.
This style includes a form of visualization, and guided meditation. This can be a great place to begin and is also amazing for helping the brain to ‘see’ the state you would like to be in for the day.
Chanting is repeating a single word or phrase. This style can be a little easier than the Concentration style, but still a little difficult for newer meditation practitioners. Chanting can also be a great way to begin meditation, then move into a guided meditation.
Transcendental meditation goes into deeper state of meditation which can take you into a state deeper than sleep. You reach this place from any of the forms above, although typically it is from chanting or concentrating. Many experienced meditation practitioners consider achieving this state to take time and practice to achieve.
Benefits of meditation
1) Reduced stress on the body – lower levels of cortisol and cortisol spikes; improved levels of growth hormone, melatonin, serotonin, and other brain neurotransmitters, increased testosterone levels in men and women.
2) Body benefits: reduced blood pressure, improved mood, improved sleep, libido; and very possibly longevity. One study looked at reduced stress/perception of stress in new mothers. The moms who perceived less stress were found to have longer DNA telomeres over a period of time, which is associated with improved longevity.
A Simple Start: How to Meditate
Find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed.
Sit or lie comfortably, with your eyes closed.
Bring your awareness to touch on each area of your body, allowing all of the muscles to relax.
Breathe in deeply, and exhale slowly to the count of four as you release each area of your body – your head, neck, back, chest, abdomen, pelvis and legs.
Begin either your chosen visualization meditation, or start with an inhale for a count of four, and release for the count of four, while quietly saying ‘Release.’
Do this for as long as you feel necessary (ideally 5 to 20 minutes), all the while bringing your mind back to the present moment if it begins to wander.
Meditation Resources I love:
1) Headspace (guided meditation subscription service)
2) Insight timer (free timer and guided meditations)
2) Daily Om
Guided meditation programs
1) Christie Marie Sheldon
2) Dr. Joe Dispenza, DC
3) Daily Om
So that’s it! All you need is a clear space, and a few minutes to begin your journey. If you are open to sharing, I would love to hear about your experiences, and how meditation has helped you, or if you’re feeling stuck and need guidance. We are here for you!
Many blessings – Dr. Jaeggli