Monday, August 2, 2010

Meditation or medication?

by Brittany Geragotelis

Last night this girl I know was talking about what keeps her from going ballistic in this crazy, insane city. Her answer? She said her choices were either meditation or medication. She picked meditation and has reaped all the rewards from it—minus all those pesky side effects.

Now, I understand what she's talking about, since I meditate myself. Sometimes I sit quietly and say mantras to myself ("Help me do the right thing") and sometimes I picture my body filling with light and calm vibes. Most days I write gratitude lists, and that's my meditation, since it's just some quiet time for me to reflect and listen to the universe. I know people who meditate when they work out, others who listen to guided meditations and a few who sit down in the Lotus position and stare at the flame of a candle until their minds go blank. All of these are great ways to meditate and all can impact a person's well-being.

In case you're not familiar with meditation, here's a basic list of the benefits of this practice:

* Improves general health. When your mind focuses on a particular part of the body, the blood flow to that part increases and cells receive more oxygen and other nutrients in abundance.
* Improves your concentration. Meditation strengthens the mind, making it able to provide guidance to the physical body to effectively execute all its projects. Studies have found a direct correlation between concentration exercises (meditation) and the performance level of sports professionals.
* It's the wonder drug. Meditation techniques are used to manage all sorts of things from life-threatening diseases to reversing mental illnesses. Here are just a few things meditation can help with:
—Lowers oxygen consumption.
—Decreases respiratory rate.
—Increases blood flow and slows heart rate.
—Increases exercise tolerance in heart patients.
—Creates a deeper level of relaxation.
—Brings high pressure down to normal.
—Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering levels of blood lactate.
—Decreases muscle tension and headaches.
—Builds self-confidence
—Increases serotonin production, which influences positive feelings and moods.
—Helps to alleviate chronic diseases like allergies and arthritis.
—Reduces PMS.
—Helps post-operative healing.
—Enhances the immune system.
—Reduces emotional distress.
* Helps alleviate phobias. Meditation can help to resolve the deepest of neuroses, fears and conflict which play their part in causing stress and ill health.
* It's a stress buster. Research has found that there's a counter-balancing mechanism to the fight-or-flight response in most stress-inducing situations. As stress is kick-started by stimulation of the hypothalamus of the brain, relaxation can be reached by stimulating other areas of the brain. This is achieved through meditation, which leads to a state of deep rest.

I've been trying to convince a friend of mine who recently found out that she's been having seizures, that many of her symptoms would be helped through regular meditation. See, she's not too psyched at the idea of having to go on meds to tame her episodes. That's where a little deep breathing and relaxation come into play. Hopefully, this little list will be enough to get her to at least try it.

As for the rest of you out there in the blogosphere...if you haven't tried it yet, why not check it out? What's the worst that could happen? You feel better rested, less stressed and generally better. Yeah, sounds horrible....



Anonymous said...

Meditation is great, kinda like dancing with no movement.

Brittany said...

OMIGOSH! This is such a perfect description of what meditation is like! Love it!