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Guest column: What is meditation and is it good for your health?

Meditation is a practice in which an individual focuses his mind on a particular thought, object, or activity to achieve a mentally clear and calm emotional and stable state.

Meditation lowers the heart rate, lowers stress hormones, lowers blood pressure, reduces anxiety and depression, reduces pain and improves self-awareness and controlling attention. Meditation is good for your body and your brain and is included in practices like diet and exercise to have overall excellent health based on lifestyle. Long-term benefits include more happiness and peace of mind, greater enjoyment of the present moment and less emotional reactivity with fewer negative emotional and mood swings.

Meditation is easier than you think. A quick taste of meditation can be done by these simple steps:

  1.  Find a quiet place and sit comfortably with your back relatively straight.
  2. Take a few deep breaths, close your eyes and relax your body.
  3. Choose a word or phrase that has special personal meaning to you.
  4. Begin to breathe through your nose and repeat the word or phrase quietly to yourself. An alternative is simply rest your attention on your breath as it comes in and out.
  5. Keep the meditation going for five or 10 minutes and then slowly get up and return to your daily routine.

The good part about meditation is the basic practice is quite simple and you don’t have to be an expert to receive the benefits.

Meditation practices have spiritual roots, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hindu and Buddhism. Spiritual meditation practices help obtain higher states of consciousness and ultimately achieve the pinnacle of their particular spiritual paths. Christian meditation is a form of prayer to get in touch with and reflect upon the revelations of God. Christian meditation aims to aid in the personal relationship based on the love of God. The gentle repetition of prayers is a way to move to deeper meditation and open ourselves to God’s word and the Life of Christ.

An excellent aid in meditation is by using an app. I use the app called “CALM” on my phone and find it helpful. This app encourages you to use a daily “calm,” which usually lasts 10 to 15 minutes. It welcomes you and encourages you to sit, close you eyes and relax your body and breathe according to instructions. Concentrate on your breaths in and out and keep your attention on this and nothing else. Music or a pleasant sound of nature is used to enhance your focus and attention. It encourages you to focus on how you feel and continue to relax and be peaceful. You are encouraged to have positive thoughts and emotions.

Designing you own practice of meditation is an individual choice and can include many different paths uniquely suited to your needs. You may want to experiment with different forms of meditation and trust your intuition to tell you which ones are best suited for you. Meditation may be done by yourself, with a group or class, or with the internet or app. Motivation, discipline and commitment will help make it a part of daily life. The more you meditate, the more you will receive the benefits, and the more you will want to continue this practice.

Meditation has been labeled advanced technology for the mind and heart. More great reasons to meditate:

  1. Awakening the present moment.
  2. Making friends with yourself.
  3. Connecting deeper with others.
  4. Relax body and mind.
  5. More happiness.
  6. Increase gratitude and love.
  7. Deeper sense of purpose.
  8. Experiencing focus and flow.
  9. Feeling more centered and balanced.
  10. Enhancing your performance at work and play.

I am trying to make meditation a regular part of my lifestyle like proper diet, exercise, rest, learning and socialization. I believe this practice will make you a healthier and happier person.


**Original article posted here.

Dr. Eichelberger is retired from Greenwood Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Montgomery Family Practice Residency Program. He is is a physician volunteer with Hospice and Palliative Care of the Piedmont. Send comments to: The Doctor’s Prescription, P.O. Box 36, Ninety Six, SC 29666.