What exactly is Meditation?
Meditation can be described as simply paying attention. You can begin meditation by paying attention to your thoughts as they occur. You can also begin meditation by paying attention to your breath. Sit in a quiet and comfortable place where you know you will not be disturbed and begin to count your breaths from one to ten. If you lose count, begin again at one. This may seem frustrating if it is your first time doing the exercise, but please don’t discount the amazing power of meditation.
Many studies have shown that meditation can have a profound effect on the rate that you age. According to Dr. Sarah Lazar, a Harvard instructor who was working for the Massachusetts General Hospital, meditation greatly improves brain function and reduces the effects of aging. One of the most notable studies on the connection between meditation and anti-aging was done by Dr. Robert Keith Wallace and published in the International Journal of Neuroscience in 1982:
“Dr. Wallace found that subjects with an average chronological age of 50 years, who had been practicing transcendental meditation for over 5 years, had a biological age 12 years younger than their chronological age. That means a 55-year-old meditator had the physiology of a 43-year-old. Several of the subjects in the study were found to have a biological age 27 years younger than their chronological age. This study has since been replicated several times. Other studies have also shown the beneficial effects of transcendental meditation on the aging process.”
By understanding the chemistry of stress, we can come to appreciate the incredible benefits of a regular meditation program. It is believed we come into this life with a certain amount of energy, much like a battery with a full charge. As we use this energy, the battery loses its charge over time. If the battery is not recharged on a regular basis or we make excessive demands on it, then the battery’s life will be shortened.
Around the turn of the last century, a German physiologist by the name of Max Rubner came up with what he called the rate of living theory. Basically, what his theory said was that our lives were governed by the way we burned energy. If you burned the candle at both ends, there wouldn’t be much candle left in a very short time. If we live our lives this way, we increase our stress, and by increasing levels of stress hormones like cortisol, we put the body into an accelerated aging mode. Obviously, the answer is in doing just the opposite. When we set aside quiet time to meditate, we can reduce stress levels quite dramatically. This reduction in stress results in a smoother-running physical body.
Remember how stress contracts everything. When you’re under stress, the phrase is “You’re uptight.” This is literally true. This is why people who have high levels of stress have high blood pressure or hypertension. Meditation is a very simple answer to all of this.
SUCCESS EXERCISE: You can successfully learn to meditate simply by counting your breaths. You can also use a meditation practice of being aware of each thought, and especially the space between two thoughts, in everything you do all day long.
This particular exercise does not require you to sit in the lotus posture, nor does it require a special room or location. In fact, both of these practices can be done anywhere at any time. It’s simply a matter of reminding yourself to be aware of doing it. It’s a wonderful way to take a break from the stress and responsibility of daily activity. You will come back refreshed and energized, ready to do some of your best and most productive work. Additionally, your home life and domestic affairs will greatly improve when you practice meditation. Others will find you a more calm and pleasant person to be around.