What Can Meditation Do For You?
By Brian Dean
(Published in the November 2008 issue of Intercoastal Connector)

Back in the 1960s and 70s, we were introduced to the term meditation. This is something that had been around for centuries, yet was just becoming popular at that time. Unfortunately, it brought about images of people sitting around contemplating their navels or chanting “OM” for hours on end as they tried to find the spiritual tone of the universe. While meditation can be some of that, it is much more. It is a method of calming, of being, of creativity, as well as a means to make changes in yourself. And it does not require a lot of time. Meditation can be done in as little as 15 to 20 minutes or less depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Meditation deals with the mind, the most powerful organ in the body. The mind can do many things. It can heal the body, block pain, change the way we perceive things, and in doing that change our stress levels. In fact, we can reduce our stress, calm from anger, decrease anxiety.

There is a medical term called “the Placebo Effect”. It involves the way the mind makes things happen because it believes certain things. If a person has a headache, and they are given an aspirin, and told that it will make their headache go away, it might not. If they truly believe that it will not, their headache will remain even though they are being given proven medication. At the same time, if you take that same person and give then an M&M and tell them the same thing, their headache will go away if they believe it will. Basically, the mind makes it happen.

Meditation works in a similar way, but you control it. You are in command. In a way, it could be considered self-hypnosis, but it is still more than that. People get scared when they think of being hypnotized and that fear carries over to meditation, but in truth you are in complete control of what you do. You will not do anything that is contrary to your will. You won’t start barking like a dog or cackling like a chicken. You define what you do, or want to do. You set the conditions.

How we perceive things is what controls our stress levels. If we see things as bad, then our stress goes up. If we hate the job we do, our stress and anger can rise. Meditation can help take the labels off, to see things as they are and not define them as good of bad. Once we do this, we accept them and reduce our stress.

There are many styles of meditation, but for the most part it is a journey inside your mind where you can rest or make changes. Guided meditations are most popular. This is where you put in a tape or CD, and a voice walks you through a journey of some type. Many of these deal with creating a calming environment for you to experience. This helps relieve stress by giving you some calm time. Some do this by having you visualize a calm place, like a beach of stream. Others allow you to create a sanctuary within you mind and then take you there to rest and recuperate.

Other meditations are working meditations. These involve making changes in yourself. Through these types of meditations, you can set up keywords to use in various situations. These keywords can change the way you are feeling, instantly. Using them can make you calm from stress or anger, or give you strength when you need it.

Other working meditations help you deal with past experiences. This works on the belief that we are a combination of our experiences, and those experiences control how we react to various situations. To give an example, if a person was mugged in the parking garage at work, they would react differently each time they parked their car in a garage, any garage. They would be afraid. Maybe they’d start parking somewhere else. Some of this is reasonable, but some is pure reaction. Meditation can help diffuse this reaction by working with these experiences.

But although there are many detailed guided meditations, there are simple ones too. The idea of counting to 10 or taking a deep breath when you get angry is actually a meditation. It is a way of calming before reacting, but just like keywords, you have to remember to use it.

Exercising can be a meditation in itself. Just going for a walk, letting your mind clear does wonders. There is also yoga meditation which is done in various yoga positions. This allows focus on many things and can be calming as well.

Try this simple meditation. Go somewhere calming, whatever that place is for you. It might be the beach, or simply the back yard. Close your eyes and listen to the sounds. Hear the waves coming on shore, or the water moving. Listen to the birds, or the rustling of trees. Feel what is there whether it be a cool breeze or the warmth of the sun. Let any thoughts that come into your mind go back out again. Just keep your mind open. After you have done this for a couple of minutes, count slowly from 10 to one, then open your eyes and go about your business.

When you come to a stressful point in your life, take a moment and find someplace quiet (yes, it can even be that room). Remember the feeling you had when you did this meditation. Recall the feel of the breeze or the warmth of the sun. Recall the sounds of the birds. Then count from 10 to one. All this only takes a moment. When you are done, you will be calmer and able to go back to your stressful situation with a calmness you did not have a few moments before. Try it. You’ll be surprised.

Meditation CDs can be found online at places like Amazon.com. Teachers can also be found locally that can give you the basics of meditation. This allows you to learn the basic concepts and then do whatever you want to do, accomplish whatever you want to accomplish on your own time. Don’t dismiss meditation as something to be afraid of, or thinking about your navel. Try it. See how much you can improve the way you feel.