Just saying this word to new cardiac rehabilitation patients would put them into a stress response. Meditate! Who has time for that? Yeah right some old hippy remedy, or what monks do. I can’t do that. Most people don’t understand the purpose or how to meditate. Quieting the brain is the key to successful mediation. Many think they are relaxing when reading, watching television, or playing on the computer. These activities engage the brain they don’t quiet the brain. There are many benefits one can receive from meditation benefits:
1- It lowers oxygen consumption.
2- It decreases respiratory rate.
3- It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
4- Increases exercise tolerance.
5- Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
6- Good for people with high blood pressure.
7- Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the levels of blood lactate.
8- Decreases muscle tension
9- Helps in chronic diseases like heart disease, arthritis etc.
10- Helps in post-operative healing.
11- Enhances the immune system.
12- Reduces emotional distress
13- Enhances energy, strength and vigor.
14- Helps with weight loss
15- Reduction of free radicals, less tissue damage
16- Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
17- Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
18- Prevented, slowed or controlled pain of chronic diseases
19- Relaxes our nervous system
20- Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behavior.
21- Resolve phobias & fears
22- Helps control own thoughts
23- Helps with focus & concentration
24- Improved learning ability and memory.
25- Increased feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
26-Helps let go of the little things
27- Increased ability to solve complex problems
28- Helps keep things in perspective
29- Provides peace of mind, happiness
30- Helps you discover your purpose
31- Brings body, mind, spirit in harmony
32- Increased acceptance of oneself
33- Helps learn forgiveness
34- Changes attitude toward life
35- Helps living in the present moment
Meditation takes practice
I often talk about having a tool kit, and understanding how the tools work through knowledge and practice. It may seem hard initially but with practice becomes easy. Then the next challenge is to remember to use your stress management, meditation and relaxation skill when you need them the most. When stress occurs we rarely think “Oh lets mediate.” No we are busy responding to stress. With heart disease consider using when dealing with the emotional component of accepting the chronic health condition that heart disease can bring. Accepting it, forgiving yourself, letting go of the old you, accepting the new you, changing your lifestyle, the stress of relationships. Use it when anticipating or receiving medical care, waiting during fearful times.
You Can Meditate. Here are some tips for meditation that might make a daily meditation practice feel a little more manageable.
- Find or create a quiet, relaxing environment.
- Sit with good posture.
- Relax the whole body, muscles, skin, tongue, ears, neck,…everything.
- Let your attention focus on only the flow of your breath.
- Silence your mind
“Rest” in the rare silence that meditation offers
- You should be comfortable enough to concentrate, but not so comfortable that you feel the urge to sleep.
- The benefits of meditation can be experienced long before the practitioner has been successful in maintaining focus or clearing the mind, simply as a result of the practice.
- Make time to meditate. Start with 5-1o minutes.If you find it difficult to meditate for the length of time you have chosen, try a shorter time for a while. Almost anyone can meditate for a minute or two without experiencing intrusive thoughts. Then, as the mind calms, you gradually lengthen your meditation session until you have achieved the desired length of time.
- It is easy to lose track of time while meditating. Being concerned about time can be distracting to meditation. Some people find it helpful to set a timer and let it be concerned about how long you have to meditate.
- With good posture,you breathe easier as your lungs will have more space. In fact, you may notice how most of the muscles in your torso work to help you breathe, from the muscles in the base of your pelvis to the ones in your neck, centered on the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. They work just a little, assisting the diaphragm. If you notice this, it’s a good sign you have established a good posture. The right posture is easy and comfortable.
- Don’t worry about whether or not you are doing it right. Do what works best for you. What works for some people might have other techniques that might not work for you.
- Trust the process.
Being in the present - If you are reflecting on past events – take a time out and be in the present. What around you is positive, is it the sunshine, the breeze, family, friends, a flower, a pet, a companion, a song…take the time to be in the present. Sure the past comes back, but if it is too much to bear and you can tell it is effecting your health, teach yourself through meditation to be in the present.
Breathe - Sounds like a cliché right? Well it isn’t. When we experience a major stress we often breathe short and shallow only filling the top most portion of our lungs. Take a few deep cleansing breathes. Make your belly extend out when you breath in. This is a great one to practice and use when you experience a health stress. If you are lying in the ER freaking out about what is happening and feeling powerless, use the breath. Meditate or focus on nothing more than taking a breath in through your nose, feel the air as it travels down into your chest. Try and make it feel like you are bringing the breath right down to your pelvis.Then slowly exhale out through your mouth. Listen to the sound, feel the cool air go in, and the warm air come out.
Imaging - This one is my favorite for when those stressors haunt me at night and I can’t sleep. Put your focus to where you are feeling peaceful. For me it’s at the beach. What do you see? What do you feel – warm, cold, a breeze, the warm sand, the cool sand below? What do you smell? What do you hear – the waves lapping the shore, the birds, children laughing. Sure at first you hear the clock ticking and the voices in your head pulling you away from your peaceful place, but the more you practice this the better you are at tuning them out. Initially just stop and acknowledge the things breaking you away, but then go back to your peaceful spot. This is a great one to practice during medical procedures, it helps to keep your heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate lower, and gives you a sense of control.