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Meditation and Undiscovered Powers of the Mind

Updated on September 24, 2013

Stress knows no time

Undiscovered Powers of the Mind

The power of the mind is unfathomable. Its ability to affect the brain and body are beyond the scope of scientific knowledge. Which is why science continues to explore and discover more and more of the power of mind.

There are important immediate and cumulative practical benefits to regular meditation and its various forms, such as hypnosis, imagery and guided imagery. Meditation began as an ancient spiritual practice and is still widely used as such. Today it is a technique for countering the negative effects of stress, to relieve pain and for general well-being. There are many ways of relaxing the body and calming the mind by slowing brainwaves, also known as an altered state of consciousness or trance states. Altered states of consciousness are spontaneous in humans, but we can create them consciously for a specific purpose and to reduce the negative affects of stress hormones epinephrine and nor-epinephrine. These stress hormones affect attention and responsive actions and contribute to the fight-or-flight response, directly increasing heart rate and blood pressure. Stress also produces cortisol, which contributes to belly fat! Cortisol is the only hormone that increases with age.

We go in and out of trance states all day and night. When you watch television but your mind is “somewhere else,” that is an altered or a hypnotic state. Driving to a particular destination but discovering you were on the way to work is another example of a spontaneous altered state. Purposeful meditation differs from spontaneous meditation in its effects.

Meditation increases our ability to calm ourselves, increasing endorphins and other healing peptides and even our metabolism, on demand. Thinking processes and problem solving skills also increase through regular meditation. More profound benefits come from learning to go into an altered state at will to re-establish a healthy, calmer, more beneficial state of mind.

There are many forms of meditation
There are many forms of meditation

The Purpose of Meditation

With the stressors that we live with today we can not afford to leave meditation out of our daily lives. We can't eliminate all the stressors in our lives, but we can minimize the negative effects of stress on our health and emotions. The stress response, called the fight or flight response, was coined early in this century by Dr. Walter B. Cannon of Harvard Medical School. A set of profound involuntary physiological changes that occur when we are faced with a stressful threatening situation, the flight or fight response is meant for action, not thinking. Today we are seldom faced with life-threatening situations, yet daily stressors frequently fire off this same response. Every time we simply recall a stressful or upsetting event our brains go into the flight or fight response. Research has shown long term and permanent harmful biological changes from stress. Daily meditation can counter the negative effects of stress.

In the late nineteen sixties Dr. Herbert Benson, M.D., of Harvard Medical School, was researching the effects of hypertension when several people who practiced transcendental meditation told him that they believed they could lower their blood pressure through the practice of meditation. At the same time at the University of California in Irvine, doctors Robert T. Wallace and Archie F. Wilson also conducted similar studies. They all found that several major physiological systems responded by simply sitting quietly, allowing the mind to focus on relaxing. The metabolism and respiratory rate decreased, heart rate slowed and there were distinctive brain wave changes. This means we can use our natural ability to change our physiology to improve health and even reduce the need for medications , and more... Much more.

Simple Meditation from Author Jack Kornfield

Accessing Spiritual Wisdom

Another benefit of meditation, and maybe the most common, is access to inner, and outer, wisdom far beyond our wakeful awareness. When our brainwaves are high, in other words, excited or stressed, we are accessing more of the "physical" or "left-brain." When we are relaxed in body and mind, our brainwaves lower and we are beyond the physical, at least in mind. It is the mind where reality must take place before becoming physical. Without mind, there is nothing with which to create our reality. In practicing meditation, controlling the mind to go into what Dr. Benson calls the "relaxation response," where we access a higher mind. We go beyond the physical and into a higher vibration. We do this often, actually. When you have a profound moment or are creative beyond what you have learned, your brainwaves are slowed and you are channeling from a different "energy".

Meditation is simple. And like anything, the more you do it the better you get and the easier it becomes. Many people make it more complicated than it really is and defeat the whole purpose by worrying whether they are “doing it right.” There is no wrong or right in meditation. As a matter of fact, worrying about "doing it right" just raises the brainwave state into the opposite direction you are looking for. A vicious circle! Some meditations are more restful than others and sometimes the mind seems to just want to run non-stop. Let it be okay! That's what the mind does: think.

Commit to twenty minutes a day for 8 weeks, to experience peace and quiet. When we have expectations, we set ourselves up for disappointment. For example, many people expect "a spiritual experience," whatever that is. Or they expect to see angels or spirit guides. Maybe you will, but if you expect it, you will probably miss what you really need! Go into meditation expecting you will receive what you need. If what you get is 10 minutes of relaxation, then relaxation is what you need most. Desire for spiritual wisdom and an open heart is good. Just remember, spiritual is not necessarily religious but it can be. Go into meditation assuming you will receive exactly what you need.

Time is not a gift. It must be carved out. If you tell yourself you cannot find the time to meditate, remember that time is not hiding on you. What you do with your time is a choice. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. When you do not make time to do something that is healthy you are saying that they are not worth twenty minutes out of twenty-four hours! Then "you" are not high up on your list of priorities. That deep core belief affects behaviors and health! With regular meditation, most people find they require less sleep, sleep better and have more energy. So get up 20 minutes earlier. Most meditators prefer mornings, before the day gets too busy. It set the tone for the rest of the day, it actually energizes you later, and it's done!

You can meditate anywhere

Beautiful Relaxing Meditation Music

The Easy Guide To Meditation For Health And Wellness

Most people find it easier to meditate first thing in the morning before the busyness of the day begins, and your brainwaves are more relaxed from sleep.   Also practice before falling asleep at night to help you sleep more peacefully. Mohandas Gandhi said, “Meditation is the key to the morning and the latch of the evening.” Notice the difference between the two times of day, just as there is usually a difference between meditating alone and meditating with others. 

The seat of automatic emotions and behavior, the unconscious mind communicates through symbols. It loves symbols, so I stress the importance of creating your own sacred space. Your sacred space can be a simple corner of your bedroom with a comfortable sturdy, straight-back chair. I like a very small table next to my chair that holds a couple of pictures very dear to me. Remember, keep it simple. It is important for us to use our sacred space, because in times of need, just “remembering” our space helps us feel calmer. The brain will make the same connections with memory as with the event itself. 

Your sacred place becomes a signal to the mind that that "now is the time to commence with our going within, where there is wisdom and healing far beyond wakeful awareness. With practice, you will be able to elicit the relaxation response anywhere. You might start with remembering what it is like to be in your sacred space, then allow peace to come to you. There is a big difference between allowing and making.  What is important is that you dedicate  yourself. As the late Joseph Campbell, in The Power of Myth , said, “To have a sacred place… is an absolute necessity for anybody today.”

Meditation is Simple,

Sit comfortably with hands, arms and legs uncrossed , back straight yet comfortable. Some people relax by listening to soothing music. Relaxing music is a great way to ease into meditation. Music without words is best. The video music on this hub, for instance is a good one to start with. Try it.  

Start by taking three or four long, slow, deep breaths and hold for  10 to 15 seconds.  This activates calming neurotransmitters, like endorphins, which help us to relax and ease pain. Endorphins are the body's natural opiate. As you slowly let go of the breath through the mouth, invite your toes, feet, legs, buttocks, stomach, chest, arms, back, shoulders, neck and head to relax. Do this three times or more. I do these breaths seven times, because seven is a mystical number.  Whatever works for you is perfect!

Anyone who has tried to calm the mind before going to sleep knows how challenging that is! Remember, that is what the mind does does best: It thinks. When thoughts come, say to yourself, “Okay, good-bye,” they will go by. Thoughts just want to be acknowledged. Let them come and go. The problem is getting caught up in the thoughts and before you know it, you have gone from something you forgot to do, to a bad day in school years ago, all in a couple of minutes. When that happens, just one or two long, slow, deep breaths, reminding your shoulders to let go and remember to relax. Patience is the key.

If you want to stay healthier, get healthier or get off medication, relieve pain, sorrow, and grow spiritually, then make meditation a part of your daily life.  If your goal is simply to quiet the nighttime mind chatter in order to sleep better and/or to easily access your inner wisdom and insight, you, too, will be healthier for it, in body, mind, and spirit.


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