Meditation. What is it? Some thoughts by local author Peter Dennis

1 min to read

The practice of meditation has been around for millennia. Although it has been a part of yoga and certain religions for centuries, it wasn’t until the late 1950’s, that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi introduced Transcendental Meditation to the West. With people like The Beatles, Hans Selye, Deepak Chopra, Clint Eastwood, Joe Namath and California Governor Gerry Brown embracing it, Meditation began to take root in our part of the world. Shortly afterwards, Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard University did much to “legitimize” meditation when he published the results of his research in his popular book, The Relaxation Response.

Meditation is not a life style; it is not about religion, philosophy or contem­plation. You don’t have to wear sandals, sit in contorted positions or make strange sounds to be a meditator.

Meditation can be defined as a simple, natural and effortless process for achiev­ing a state of deep relaxation in the body, while the mind remains alert and aware. It is a response in the nervous system, where a number of chemical and physiological changes take place.

Among the chemical changes we see a reduction in the production of Cortisol (the stress hormone) and an increase in Seritonin (the “happy” neurotransmitter), DHEA (the longevity molecule), Gaba (the calming neurotransmitter) and endorphins (the body’s natural pain killer).

Physiologically, we see these changes:

  1. The body becomes very relaxed.
  2. Brain waves change from Beta waves to Alpha waves.
  3. Metabolism drops significantly.
  4. The senses become a little more acute.
  5. The unconscious mind comes to the fore, and the individual becomes more receptive and more responsive to suggestion.

In my next article, I’ll explain why you might want to meditate. Here’s a hint: Meditators look younger, are healthier, handle stress better, and enjoy life more.

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