Monday, December 7, 2009
Kipling Swehla - Newsletter 2009
I have a confession. The first groggily mumbled words out of my mouth every sunday morning are, "I don't feel like going to meditation today…" It's become an on going joke because it's always followed a couple hours later by my proclamation, "WOW do I feel great! I'm so glad I went to meditation." and my girlfriend gives me her weekly response of an eye roll.
I know, as Eastern religions have known for thousands of years, that meditation energizes and invigorates the body and mind, but it seems that recently the media has come to the same conclusion through interviews with Western scientists and medical experts who use clinical studies and scientific research to offer logical explanations to validate a hypothesis that meditation is beneficial.
One recent interview with a psychologist described meditation as the leading approach in psycho therapy because there is a connection between emotions and breathing patterns. The Fight or Flight response is physiologically triggered by rapid shallow breaths. This is an innate message to the brain to prep the body for imminent danger which when you live in a densely populated urban environment can be problematic. Anxiety and anger are just as contagious subliminally as a yawn, but through routinely practiced meditation, you become aware of your breath, your consciousness, and your environment and are able to respond appropriately to situations.
In an interview with Dorris Taylor on NPR's Speaking of Faith, after discussing the endless possibilities and profound benefits of stem cells, she discussed studies which show that meditation actually increases the number of stem cells in your body. This evidence implies that through meditation, you can reverse the aging process. I can just hear Lao Tsu's response, "You don't say…"
During meditation, I find it usually takes me about 15 to 20 minutes for my mind to get fully settled in. Doing Tai Chi prior to sitting is the perfect primer and allows for the full 40 minutes of meditation to be an optimal experience. I look forward to practicing the Tai Chi form twice through prior to meditation beginning this sunday.