From the Office of the Parish Nurse
People who meditate say it reduces stress and improves well-being, among other mental, physical and spiritual benefits. Doctors often recommend meditation to help treat chronic pain, anxiety, high blood pressure and other conditions. How it works is not fully understood, though research is accumulating — and encouraging.
Meditation helps you draw attention inward and calm your mind. It comes in many forms, which typically involve combinations of posture, breathing, sound, visualizations or movement (for example, walking mediation). Some types of meditation involve a mantra, a word or phrase you repeat to yourself silently; others don’t. Finding a style that appeals to you will make it likelier that you’ll stick with a daily practice.
One very popular Meditation is Mindfulness meditation
Rooted in the Buddhist tradition, mindfulness practice isn’t concerned with formal posture, nor is a mantra involved; you simply sit in a comfortable position, or even lie down if you want. The emphasis is on the breath, awareness of the body and being fully present in the moment, without judgment. It can be done with eyes open or closed and is often guided. Research over the past 30 years suggests that mindfulness meditation may help in conditions such as insomnia, chronic pain, psoriasis, fibromyalgia and some psychiatric disorders. Some studies suggest that it can alter aspects of the immune, nervous, and endocrine systems and produce changes is areas of the brain associated with memory, learning and emotion.
Getting started: You can find many books and websites with instructions for mindfulness meditation. For instance, free guided meditations are available from UC Berkley Greater Good Science Center and the UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center. Or, you can practice regularly with a smartphone app such as Headspace (monthly or annual fees) or Insight Timer (free). Online videos by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. — who founded the Center and is largely considered the pioneer of mindfulness in the West — can be found at tinyurl.com/KZ-meditation.
June 2020 adapted from: Univ. of CA, Berkley, Wellness Letter