Balancing Life and Health

Why Meditation?

Cheers to America's new "push-up" for the brain! Comparing meditative training to a new workout routine is perfect. Once you get hooked on the physical benefits of moving your body, results appear, and our minds become hooked to meditation techniques in the same way. If you keep up a consistent meditation routine, it will become a positive addiction which you'll crave.

Meditation and the concept of mindfulness have existed for thousands of years. People are initially drawn to meditation for a variety of reasons. Moving beyond emotional upsets and stressful thought patterns into a soothing sense of wellness at the core has been at the center of the human condition for millennia. Some begin meditating on a doctor's recommendation, seeking to lower blood pressure, hypertension, cholesterol or pain levels. Others crave restful sleep to improve their ability to concentrate during the day. A growing body of scientific research shows the simple act of sitting, breathing and feeling body sensations confers long-term changes in brain function associated with positive feelings and increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA. Meditation mitigates the harmful effects of the fight/flight/freeze response brought about by stress and anxiety, by decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline.

Getting Motivated!Back to Top

It's a hectic world. You plan your day while eating breakfast (if you have time), checking messages, having conversations with family about their day while watching the weather forecast. You may be asking yourself, "What's for dinner tonight?" or "How many stops on the way home?" or "Where are my car keys?" And so it goes . . .

Finding time to meditate may seem like an expensive luxury. Lois's initial goal in the 1990's was to sit daily for only five minutes in the same place at the same time and follow the breath. Now her daily meditation is the foundation of her daily life! It was the realization that meditation was a pleasant pathway to habit change, self-transformation and, ultimately, contentment that kept her motivated. Persisting through the early stages of beginning a practice ultimately led to experiencing the precious gifts of meditation on all levels - physical, mental and spiritual.

Participants in guided meditations at Temple University, The Becoming Center and local corporations offer their own motivations for maintaining a regular meditation practice:

Understanding MindfullnessBack to Top

Practicing mindfulness means refocusing again and again on the present moment with the goal of achieving alertness and focused relaxation. Deliberately paying attention to bodily sensations and thoughts without judgment is an essential basic. What are your top ten tunes that loop through your mind and refuse to be turned off? Are you aware of how thoughts and feelings affect your attitude, emotional state, relationships and productivity at work?

All mindfulness techniques are a form of meditation. A basic mindfulness meditation is to sit quietly, focusing on your breathing or a word (mantra) repeated silently. Can you feel subtle body sensations, such as an itch, without judgment and let them pass? While walking did you notice sights, smells, sounds? How did your lunch taste? Did you feel that hug? Is it possible to allow emotions of sadness, joy, anger to be present without judgment? In his poem, "The Guest House," Rumi writes, "This being human is a guest house/ every morning a new arrival."

Meditation ResourcesBack to Top

Hay, Louise L. Meditations to Heal Your Life. Carson, CA: Hay House, Inc., 1994.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment-and Your Life. Boulder. CO: Sounds True, 2012. Meditation cd included.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Wherever You Go There You Are. New York: Hyperion, 1994.
Salzberg, Sharon. Real Happiness - The Power of Meditation. New York: Workman Publishing Co., Inc., 2011. Guided meditation cd included.
Schiffmann, Erich. Yoga The Spirit & Practice of Moving into Stillness. New York: Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 1996.
Stahl, Bob and Goldstein, Elisha. A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2009. Guided meditation cd included.