Meditation Practices – (the non-pharmaceutical pill you can take today, to ward off your illnes

October 28, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

I have some observations from practicing and teaching meditation methods from over my last 40 years. There has been much stigma in the US regarding meditation going back to when the Maharishi introduced it to the Beatles rock band from 1959 and into the 60’s, and consequently the whole American counterculture of “hippies” of that era. I was quite young at this time but remember how adults around me would comment on how meditation was religious, cultish, and maybe even related to drug use. Some of these factors may actually be true for some people but definitely don’t need to be. Meditation and its many, many various methods can stand alone from any of my previous mentioned groups. Once people become informed and more educated, then they can logically determine for themselves that meditation is more of a mental type of exercise than anything threatening or unusual. Once someone realizes that meditation can come in many ways other than sitting still for long periods of time, such as playing or listening to music, walking, hiking, cooking, walking, producing artwork and many other skillful means, meditation can become less weird, unusual, or threatening. Moving meditation through yoga, tai chi/qigong, dance, and some others are a great way to get away from the stationary methods of sitting and standing meditation. However, if someone is closed minded to the whole idea of learning and trying something new, then it doesn’t really matter how hard another tries to convince them.

Time is another big deterrent to regular and consistent practice of meditation. Many people have the false assumption that if one is not sitting in the lotus position for hours on end, then they are not meditating or may not be doing it long enough to benefit. Studies have reported that some college students who practice mindfulness as part of their coursework, showed cognitive and wellbeing benefits, even when practicing for as little as five minutes twice a week, depending upon the type of mindfulness method implemented (O’Hare et al., 2023).

I have come to understand that it takes about 3 minutes of regulated slow breathing to engage the parasympathetic nervous system and its relative benefits of slower heart rate which affects metabolic functions, helping to induce stress relief, relaxation, and mental clarity. I have come to call the “foot in the door” approach seems to work best for beginners. This is when I suggest to someone with an interest in trying meditating, to start with using a timer set for 5 minutes. Almost everyone can agree that 5 minutes is quite easy to carve out and into one’s schedule. Often after the 5 minutes goes by relatively quicky and without incident, a beginner can easily add another 5 minutes, and then another of they feel better from the initial starting. Our mind has this interesting ability to adjust our perspectives on time and relative priorities as our thoughts and emotions level off to see what truly is more important.

Other challenges that I have encountered either with myself or others are physical discomfort, inability to relax and/or quiet the mind, boredom and even some people become so relaxed that they fall asleep. Practice, practice and more practice. Meditation is a slow path to a greater reward, that will pay off over time of the effort is invested. If you were to eat a salad once a month, this will not make you healthy. Similarly, meditating once in a while will not yield much results. Slow and steady wins the game.

Reference:

O’Hare, A. J., & Gemelli, Z. T. (2023). The effects of short interventions of focused-attention vs. self-compassion mindfulness meditation on undergraduate students: Evidence from self-report, classroom performance, and ERPs. PLoS ONE, 17(1), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0278826

Some other tips regarding meditation:

Meditation can offer numerous benefits for mental, emotional, and even physical well-being, but it’s not always an easy practice to master. Common challenges people face with meditation include:

  1. Restlessness and Impatience: Many beginners struggle with restlessness and impatience, finding it difficult to sit still and quiet the mind.
  2. Monkey Mind: This refers to the constant stream of thoughts that can make it hard to concentrate or find a sense of calm during meditation.
  3. Physical Discomfort: Sitting in one position for an extended period can lead to discomfort or even pain, distracting from the meditation experience.
  4. Lack of Time: Finding time to meditate regularly can be a challenge in our busy lives, leading to inconsistency in the practice.
  5. High Expectations: Some people expect immediate results from meditation, leading to disappointment when the benefits don’t manifest right away.
  6. Doubt and Skepticism: It’s common to doubt the effectiveness of meditation, especially if the benefits aren’t immediately apparent.
  7. Boredom: Sitting in silence can sometimes lead to feelings of boredom, making it harder to stay engaged in the practice.
  8. Difficulty Focusing: People often struggle to maintain focus on a single point of attention, such as the breath or a mantra.

To overcome these challenges and improve your meditation practice, consider these recommendations:

  1. Start Small: Begin with shorter meditation sessions and gradually increase the duration as your focus and comfort improve. Even a few minutes of meditation can be beneficial.
  2. Be Patient: Understand that meditation is a skill that takes time to develop. Results may not be immediate, but consistent practice will yield benefits over time.
  3. Accept Thoughts: Instead of trying to forcefully push away thoughts, acknowledge them without judgment and gently bring your focus back to your chosen point of meditation (e.g., your breath).
  4. Use Guided Meditations: Guided meditations, available through apps or online, can provide structure and support, making it easier to stay focused.
  5. Experiment with Techniques: There are various meditation techniques (mindfulness, loving-kindness, body scan, etc.). Experiment with different techniques to find the one that resonates with you.
  6. Create a Routine: Set a regular meditation schedule. Consistency is key to reaping the benefits of meditation.
  7. Adjust Your Posture: If physical discomfort is an issue, try different sitting positions or consider practicing walking meditation to reduce the strain.
  8. Lower Expectations: Approach meditation with an open mind and without lofty expectations. Focus on the process rather than the outcome.
  9. Join a Group: Meditating with a group or participating in meditation classes can provide accountability and a sense of community.
  10. Cultivate Patience: Patience is crucial. Like any skill, meditation improves with time and practice. Be kind to yourself as you navigate the challenges.

Remember that meditation is a personal journey, and everyone’s experience is unique. It’s okay to face challenges along the way; these challenges are often opportunities for growth and learning.

________________

I teach and offer lectures about holistic health, qigong, tai chi, baguazhang, and yoga. I also have hundreds of FREE education video classes, lectures and seminars available on my YouTube channel at:

https://www.youtube.com/c/MindandBodyExercises

Mind and Body Exercises on Google: https://posts.gle/aD47Qo

Jim Moltzan

407-234-0119

Contact for times, locations and costs.

www.MindAndBodyExercises.com

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