Meditation is not just a prologue from yoga but is a technique that can serve multiple functions of the body. This mindful practice may benefit your heart. By allowing your mind to quiet and calm (not as easy as it seems, but not uncommon to have ten thousand thoughts racing through your brain), meditation can reduce stress, which often follows or accompanies health problems including heart disease.
Meditation has been around for thousands of years and was originally meant to deepen one’s understanding of life and the mystery surrounding it. Nowadays, people practice meditation to improve their physical and emotional well-being. If you have anxiety over a major illness, meditation just may be the way to ease that anxiety so that you can focus on healing or recovery.
Some research indicates that meditating can help certain conditions such as heart disease, pain, depression, fatigue and sleep problems. This does not mean that meditation will cure these problems, and it may not help certain patients with certain illnesses, but may be a useful addition to other treatments.
Just as there are many types of yoga practices, there are many types of meditation techniques. If you are new to this practice, you may want to try one of these methods offered here. It cannot be stressed enough that your mind will not always reach that level of quiet that you’d like. The mind and your thoughts will wander as you sit and try keep it still, but don’t let that deter you from giving it your best shot. Even the most experienced practicioner will find often that it is difficult to quiet the mind.
But do find a quiet and comfortable place to sit. If possible try to practice meditation when you are less distracted by noise (television, radio, children, etc.), although it is not always within your control. You will find that your mind will go into a million places, like what to cook for dinner. It may get sidetracked by an outside noise like an ambulance or fire truck. Whatever the distraction, recognize it and then let it go. You may find yourself doing this frequently during your meditation, but it’s okay. It does not mean you’re doing something wrong.
This story discusses the link to stress and heart failure, and how meditation may reduce stress to prevent it. For instance, studies found that participants with high levels of stress, which can raise blood pressure (an illness that can lead to heart failure or stroke), were able to improve their pressure through transcendental meditation(TM). In fact, one researcher found that TM “helps to rest the mind and body” and can reset the body’s own self-repair and homeostatic mechanism.”
In the San Francisco Bay Area, you can find a plethora of meditation centers that may suit your needs and help you begin a meditation practice. In Oakland, the East Bay Meditation Center offers a different meditation sitting group every night during the week, including a people of color sitting group and a Friday open sitting group that includes both movement and meditation. Go to their site to find out more information about the groups and weekend workshops and classes they offer for a variety of body and mental health needs. The weekday group sittings and most workshops are free, but they do accept donations.
There is also the Siddha Yoga Meditation Ashram in Oakland near Emeryville. A beautiful center with a number of meditation rooms and programs offered daily. Click here for a look at their schedule.