By Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum | Posted Dec 6, 2022
“Om”…Is that what you think about when you think about meditation? Do you picture someone saying a sound aloud with their legs in a crisscross? That is what we often picture when we think of this idea of having some sort of meditative practice. What we should think about instead is what meditation can do for us, not what it looks like! There are all different ways to meditate. All we have to do is figure out what is best for us. There are different forms of meditation, and what works for one person might not work for you.
The American Heart Association came out with a Scientific Statement explaining the benefits of meditation. It not only reduces stress, but it also helps with stopping smoking, reducing blood pressure, stabilizing sugar metabolism, and decreasing metabolic syndrome. It helps with the dilation of the arteries and improves blood flow. The American Heart Association considers meditation to be an important part of preventing heart disease, because of not only its beneficial effects but also because it is something that all of us can easily use.
So, what is it? There are multiple kinds, from Transcendental Meditation, which uses a mantra that is said quietly while sitting still for 20 minutes twice a day, or Samantha meditation, focusing solely on breathing and sitting in stillness. There is Zen meditation with a focus on belly breathing, the relaxation response, and many more. There are more similarities than differences in that there is stillness and a focus on something else besides the stressful checklist of to-dos in your head or the feeling of pressure to be somewhere, do something, or take care of anything. It is simply about you, being in the present, and using all skills possible to trick your mind into being calm, whether it is using breath, a mantra, an object, a word, or absolutely nothing at all.
Now that the meditation skills have been revealed to you, find a place to sit. You can decide if you want to be crisscrossed, on a chair, the couch, your bed, or the floor. You get to choose. Pick a word or phrase to say in your head. Decide if you want it to mean something to you or not. Breathe slowly and say your word. Focus on it, and if thoughts come into your mind, just let them go and focus back on the word and your breath. Try that for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, and try it for 20 minutes if you can. If you’re one of those people that sitting for 30 seconds is a huge problem, then start with 2 minutes until you can see that you can actually do it!
Ready, set, OM!
For more information: tm.org