Meditation has been proven to reduce blood pressure*, heart disease*, stroke* and pain***. With a regular meditation practice the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, which usually shrinks with age, retains plasticity which allows for stronger focus, emotional processing and well-being.**
Meditation is exercise for the mind. It helps us become aware of the types of thoughts we replay over and over in our mind and gives us the ability to reduce the this thinking about the past and future. By doing this, we are able to live in the present and find great enjoyment in the small moments of our lives.
We have a Meditation CD which leads the listener through two guided meditations and one seated Shamatha practice. This CD has been used by teens to relieve migraines, by members of AA to support their recovery and by men and women with terminal cancer to find peace at end of life.
“Meditation helps us put a buffer between stumuli and our reaction,” says Cyndi Lee, founder of OM Yoga Center, NYC, who taught me this meditation practice.
Shamatha (pronounced sha-ma-ta) is a Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice. I suggest doing this simple meditation practice for 10 minutes first thing in the morning. Here’s what to do:
- Sit in a comfortable position, on a pillow, with your ribs lifted up and away from your hips. Hands, palms down, resting on your thighs with your elbows next to your body.
- Gently gaze at the floor, four feet in front of you. You will blink during meditation as you would if you were having a conversation.
- Notice the breath in your body. When you notice that you are thinking, simply think to yourself, in a kind tone, “thinking” and come back to noticing your breath.
- That’s it! You are successful no matter how many times you said ‘thinking’ to yourself. This practice is exercise, for the mind, to practice being awake in every moment. We go back to noticing our breath, when we find ourselves thinking, because our breath is always in the present moment and it quickly brings our minds back to the present.
*Studies performed at Medical College of Wisconsin
**The American Journal of Hypertension reported that psychological distress and blood pressure was lowered while coping abilities were increased in students who meditated 20 minutes once or twice per day for a period of three months. Studies were conducted at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.
***Studies performed at University of North Carolina at Charlotte