About Me

I have been a teacher of fitness and health for thirty years. In 1989 I was certified for personal training with the National Acadamy of Sports Medicine. I had a gym in Santa Barbara for eight years. Co-owned and created a spinning bike company which manufactured bikes for five years. Also I have worked with nutrition companies for twenty years. Along with many wonderful non famous people I have trained many celebrities, and members of the Royal Family. My own athletic past consists of long distance running, long distance cycling, cross country skiing, down hill skiing, rollerblading, hiking, sand running, track work, and weight training. I have authored two fitness columns in local papers, and have been writing this blog since January 2010.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Meditation; A Tool for Relaxation and Inner Peace

Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety. It will help calm you when things around you are not. Meditation can improve not only your mental state, but your physical body will benefit too.

Meditation seems to be a solo undertaking, but in reality it will take the feeling of isolation and loneliness away replacing it with a sense of connectedness and inner peace.

Meditation is usually associated with spiritual practices. However, it also has many health benefits physically and mentally. It will lower blood pressure, lower oxygen consumption, decrease respiratory rate, decrease depression and anxiety, decrease muscle tension, enhance the immune system, and increase serotonin production which influences mood and behavior.

According to Dr. Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind Body Medical Institute at Boston’s New England Deaconess Hospital, meditation can be an important complement to conventional medical treatment for depression, anxiety, hypertension, cardiac arrhythmia's, migraine headaches, insomnia, and many other conditions.

University of Massachusetts Medical School, recorded the brain waves of stressed-out employees in a high-tech firm in Madison, Wisconsin. Split into two groups, one group was asked to meditate while the other was left alone as a control group.

All participants had their brain waves scanned three times during the study. Researchers found the meditator's were calmer and happier than before.

Webster’s dictionary defines meditation as “deep thought”. A more appropriate definition might be the absence of thought, or clearing the mind of chatter. By the way that is easier said than done. When trying not to think of things, you find yourself thinking of trying not to think of things.

Neuroscientists have found that meditator's shift their brain activity to different areas of the cortex – brain waves in the stress-prone right frontal cortex move to the calmer left frontal cortex. This mental shift decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. There is also less activity in the amygdale, where the brain processes fear.

Daija Napier, founder of the Insight Meditation Center of Boston, states that “Meditation frees persons from tenacious preoccupation with the past and future and allows them to fully experience life’s precious moments.”

“Many people tend to live in a state of perpetual motion and expectation that prevents them from appreciating the gifts that each moment gives us. We live in a state of insufficiency, waiting for a mother to love us, for a father to be kind, for the perfect job or home, for Prince Charming to come along or to become a perfect person. It is a myth that keeps us from being whole.”

There are many types and ways to meditate. There is Transcendental, Zen, Mindfulness, Buddhist, Christian, and numerous others, but a good way to begin is to find a quiet comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes, and begin to relax the muscles in your body. Breathe slowly and naturally, and as you do, repeat a focus word, phrase, think of a place that makes you feel good, or prayer silently to yourself while breathing.

Don’t worry about how well you are doing. When thoughts come into your mind, let them pass and gently return to the repetition of your focus word or phrase. Try this for ten to twenty minutes. When finished, open your eyes and take a minute before rising. Practice this technique once or twice daily.

The longer an individual practices meditation, the greater the likelihood that his or her goals and efforts will shift toward personal and spiritual growth. Remember meditation is a practice, not a one time deal. Like exercise, it needs to be part of your daily regime for staying healthy and balanced.

Sometime life gives us difficult and challenging times. With meditation we can acquire an inner peace allowing us to handle these times with less stress and fear. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we deal with it through meditation.

Think of it as a mini vacation away from worry, fear, and chaotic thoughts. It’s free and you don’t have to travel far to get there. Ahhhhhhh, my kind of vacation!

Till tomorrow,

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