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An Introduction to Meditation

by Pritti Bhatia


Meditation has been around for thousands of years, yet its benefits are only recently being appreciated as more research is done on the subject. What was once perceived as a practice done by monks and priests sitting cross-legged atop a mountain, is now practiced by people from all walks of life and across the globe.

So what's the hype and why should you consider learning or incorporate meditation into your daily lives? For one, it reduces stress and calms your mind. Recently, stress has been known to be the main cause of many diseases such as: heart problems, headaches, insomnia, skin trouble and gut issues. Our brain is divided into left and right hemispheres. The left part is used for analytical thinking, the past, the future, and critical thought. The right side controls creativity, problem solving, present moment awareness and intuition. Meditation balances the two sides of the brain so that one can make rational decisions. It also strengthens the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain involved in decision making. Meditation also helps lessen your body's chemical response to stress, by enhancing the workings of the parasympathetic nervous system which is the source of rest and relaxation, while slowing the sympathetic nervous system, which triggers the fight or flight response.

How can you enjoy the benefits of meditation without spending any money or without making you a yogi? The key is to be able to meditate anywhere, anytime, without any props such as candles or music so that you can access your own inner sanctuary, a place of calm and serenity no matter what is going on around you. Here's how:

Start with practicing in a quiet place at home in a comfortable seated or lying position. Close your eyes and concentrate on the tip of your nose. You can place your hands by your side, on your stomach or lap. Do nothing. Simply observe your breath. How does it feel when you breathe in or out? Does the air feel cooler or warmer? Is one nostril stronger than the other? The idea is to withdraw all your senses and to bring your focus to one point for concentration or dhyana. Then, starting at your feet, consciously think and relax each part of your body including your internal organs.

The first challenge you will face is in trying to stop your thought process. The brain's function is to think, just like the heart is meant to beat. You cannot stop it. The idea is to control your thoughts as opposed to allowing your thoughts to control you, by not taking any action on your thoughts as they arise. For example, say you think about dinner and what to cook. Immediately your mind will think of the next thing, what do I have in the fridge or what do I need to buy? One thought leads to another, and another. So, as the thought arises, you acknowledge it and let it go. Simply take no action. As you repeatedly do this, your thoughts will automatically stop. It takes practice, but be patient and persistent.

Alternatively, you can make use of mantras or positive affirmations to focus your attention on one thing. A mantra is a statement or word that you repeat. Or, you can just count your breath, 1,2,3,4...as you breathe in and 1,2,3, 4...as you breathe out.

As you practice more and more, you will notice a calmer you. You will be energised and sleep better. Meditation is a step you can take as you begin your journey to naturally awaken your body's own ability to heal itself.

Pritti Bhatia is an Energy and chakra balancing practitioner (Reiki Levels I, II and Master), Nutritionist, Pranyama (breath work) and Meditation teacher, Oracle Card and Tarot Card reader. Contact: pritti5hah@hotmail.com


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