I know from reading over time that research shows meditation does many wonderful things for us, not just spiritually, but also mentally and physically. Can I site the studies that prove it? No. I merely have my own experience of shifts in myself as well as recollection of reading about this. I heard the rebroadcast of Krista Tippet's interview with Dr. James Doty on her show, On Being (https://onbeing.org/programs/james-doty-the-magic-shop-of-the-brain-nov2018/). James Doty, according to the website: "is a clinical professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University and founding director of CCARE, the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. His book is Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart. He is also the Senior Editor of The Oxford Handbook of Compassion Science."
James Doty talks about the effects of meditation in the interview. Dr. Doty says that, "...even after brief periods of meditation, we can actually study the epigenetic effect of how our genes are changing their expression...." In other words, we are turning our genes on or off with meditation. He states that these effects can be seen after as little as two weeks. Dr. Doty says that science has found that meditation reduces blood pressure, stress hormones, inflammation (and hence the diseases triggered by inflammation), while at the same time seeing an increase in vagal tone. The vagus nerve is the path of communication between the heart and the brain. Ms. Tippet and Dr. Doty also talk about how meditation shrinks the amygdala and increases the thickness of other brain tissue as well as changing how people look at and respond to the world. It seems, then, that mediation can reduce our anxiety, fear, and aggression responses.
I know that meditation is sometimes a joy and sometimes a struggle for me. I remind myself that Jon Kabat-Zin says in his book, Mindfulness for Beginners, that each meditation is a new beginning. Sally Kempton in her book, Meditation for the Love of It, writes that everyone has a different gateway into meditation, and that, in fact, someone's gateway can change over time. These help me keep up the discipline of showing up for meditation. These help pay attention to my process. So, what have I found by meditating and paying attention.
I have found myself changing over time which echoes what Dr. Doty talks about in this interview. I had a fairly volcanic temper when I was a child. It would just erupt out of nowhere suddenly. I think that, fortunately for me and my family, it was not an everyday, let alone, weekly occurrence. I did manage to learn to keep it somewhat in check as I grew up. It would, however, explode once in a while even as an adult. Meditation was the technique that slowly, slowly made a difference. It has calmed me, it has made me more introspective and in touch with the metaphysical aspect of the world as I also began exploring the psychic. To be truthful, therapy helped, but I firmly believe that meditation was the practice that helped me become the much calmer, more reflective person that I am today. I believe that meditation has helped me in the following ways:
1. I am less judgmental of others and of myself.
2. I have a deeper connection to the metaphysical, which has enhanced my psychic ability. This has made my work with clients deeper and more satisfying.
3. I am becoming physically healthier as I am more mindful of how I treat my body. I practice more self-care than I used to. I pay more attention to the quality of the food I eat. I prefer holistic medicine.
4. I have more patience, knowing that things take as long as they take. This aspect helped during the time of the creation of my book, Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be. Opening the Heart went from being a set of cards with an accompanying book, to meditation images combined with the original book. It also has a set of exercises that were added to the book once the decision was made to make it a book rather than cards. Bringing the book to publication was certainly a lesson in patience, which patience was enhanced, as far as I am concerned, by meditation.
5. Meditation has made it easier to practice what I call radical ambiguity and radical persistence. It seems that one of my lessons in this life time was to learn to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity. I define radical ambiguity and radical persistence as showing up despite not knowing when something might occur and keeping working at what needs to be done. I suppose another way to say it is keeping living your life in face of not knowing.
6. I used to be more tied up in knots and worried about the financial piece of my life. Yes, I still have concerns, but they rarely keep me up at night. One of the meditation sayings in my book is "Breathe deeply. Breathe slowly. You can breathe through anything." I find this to be true. One of the ways to meditate is to slow your breath and to observe it.
7. Speaking of my book, almost all of it was channeled from my angels and guides. (Yes, with their permission, I tinkered with it.) Meditation made it easier to work with them and receive what they wanted me to put in Opening the Heart.
Do I meditate for hours a day? No. In fact, as Dr. Doty points out, 20 minutes a day can have profound effects. One need not be what Krista Tippet calls an Olympic meditator, i.e., one who has meditated 30,000 hours or more, to benefit from a regular meditation practice. Meditation can do so much for everyone. I believe, but could be wrong about this, that the military is now asking troops returning from war zones to meditate and do yoga. I also believe that it and yoga are being taught in some elementary schools. People are teaching meditation in prisons, where it is helping the prisoners relieve stress and to become calmer. It is being shown to help in many situations.
Haven't started to meditate yet? There are many ways to do it. Turn on the kitchen timer, go into another room and sit and breathe. Talk a walk and observe your breath and what is around you. Lay down on your bed and release yourself into the arms of the divine. There are probably many ways that I don't know about. Don't have 20 minutes? Try 5 or 10 minutes. You might find you want to do 20 minutes. Do you wake up early sometimes and can't go back to sleep. Have the intention to meditate and follow a mantra. I sometimes do a mini meditation when at a stop light or stuck in traffic. I follow my breath.
I just know that I am healthier and more content than I would be without meditation.
Kathryn Samuelson, as an intuitive, channels your angels and guides who are delighted to connect with you, and who are uniquely suited to answer your questions and address your concerns. She can receive information as to who your angels and guides are, as well as receiving information for you about family, health, job and career, and life path among other issues and concerns. In her life coaching practice, she welcomes all clients, but specializes in helping those who are undergoing a transition in their lives—whether it is a move, a job or career change, a loss of some type, or some other transition issue. She was certified as a life coach in 2007 by the University of New Hampshire. She is the author of the book called Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be, which she created with her friend, Linda Lewis. For more information: www.kathrynsamuelson.com, email@example.com, or 781-799-7332