In Mind Over Medicine, in my latest TEDx talk and in many blog posts like this one, I talk about how the body is equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that can be flipped on or off with thoughts, beliefs, and feelings that originate in the mind. Mind Over Medicine has a whole section which teaches you the 6 Steps To Healing Yourself (you can read it for yourself by buying the book here.) But one of the many simple ways you can flip on your body’s self-repair mechanisms is via meditation.
With this definition of meditation, anything can be a meditation – not just sitting with your eyes closed in the lotus position, but walking, making art, cooking, shopping, dancing, driving… whatever.
When the nervous system is stressed, as it is during the “fight-or-flight” stress response that is so commonly triggered in modern day life, these self-repair mechanisms are disabled and the body is at risk for disease. Meditation has been shown to decrease stress-related cortisol, reduce respiration and heart rate, reduce the metabolic rate, increase blood flow in the brain, increase activity in the left prefrontal cortex (which is observed in happier people), strengthen the immune system, and lead to a state of relaxation. Meditation also reduces work stress, anxiety, and depression, promotes cardiovascular health, improves cognitive function, reduces alcohol abuse, improves longevity, promotes healthy weight, improves immune function, and heightens quality of life. Deepak Chopra recommends the “RPM” (Rise, Pee, Meditate) approach to meditation, suggesting that those who can will be well served to meditate first thing upon arising.  However, if you, like me, have young children, you may find it easier to meditate when the kids are napping or away at school.
Regardless of when you do it, it’s crucial to make the time in your schedule to help your nervous system relax.
If you’ve never tried a sitting meditation before, start by creating a peaceful environment in which to meditate.
Some people have rooms exclusively dedicated to meditation.  Even a small closet can be tricked out to become a special space designed to help your body relax and your soul connect.
If you’re new to meditation, start with just five minutes per day and aim to work up to twenty. Closing your eyes minimizes visual distractions, helps you come back into your body, and starts to settle you. Meditation teacher Jack Kornfield suggests that if you notice yourself remembering, planning, or fantasizing, refrain from judging yourself, but do call it out. If you feel like expanding your meditation practice, try adding some of these meditation techniques to those listed above.
To circumvent distracting images that may appear in your mind, you may also try scanning your body for any parts that don’t feel relaxed and visualizing your breath going to those tense spots.
You can also try visualizing a grounding cord, coming out of your bottom like an electrical cord or tree roots, dropping through the floor, coursing through the soil and into the bedrock, and landing at the core of the earth, where you can plug in. Thank you Lissa for the post ?? for me it helps singing mantras or painting mandalas or practicing taichi, but sometimes just focusing in my breath and letting everything else go works fine. I began meditating about three months ago and I’ve been working my way up to 20 minutes.
When you are meditating and notice that during it you feel much tension or emotional distress, stop immediately.
Interestingly, you are the first person I have come across who says against meditation practices. I am sorry dude but that is total nonsense ?? when you have the correct teacher and you do meditate correctly you will always only gain improvement in mind in soul and even in body. That meditation works for you and your buddies doesn’t mean it works for anyone else. If you read Buddha Brain, see the film Happy, or the film Dhamma Brothers, you will see that Mindfulness Meditation (through findings in nueroscience) changes the structure of the brain to increase the capacity for positive experience, thus increasing the capacity for and the strengths of the positive networks in the brain. Meditation is simply learning to sit still without focusing on anything more than your breath.
Please do some research on positive psychology, mindfulness, yoga, and then try it for awhile. I also appreciate the book recommendations, I have read Waking the Tiger previously and am very familiar with attachment trauma. The issues you speak of come when someone is using advanced techniques without a full understanding of what they are.
Are you aware you are responding under an alias (positive psychology is real), and that it’s therefore not clear to me who you are?
You say that problems may only arise with more advanced techniques, but it’s well-documented that some patients will shoot into full-blown anxiety at the first hint of somatic mindfulness.
Good evening, Mr.Maarten, thanks for this information, but these practices are being done by ancient hermits and sages thousands of years ago which was continued from generations to the current generation. Scientists Discover That Bacteria Have a Collective Memory Plastic Waste in the Ocean Will Outnumber Fish by 2050 When I Dream of a Planet in Recovery… Environmental Research Reveals Seattle Salmon are on Drugs — Thanks, Humans! As a health-conscious person, you’re already in the loop about the importance of eating your veggies, skipping the booze, cigarettes, and fake foods, daily exercise, plenty of zzzzz’s, and regular check-ups. What I found shocked me.  What I discovered was certainly never introduced to me in medical school.
Alleviate loneliness. The Italian immigrants of Roseto, Pennsylvania ate meatballs fried in lard, gorged on pasta, and smoked, but they had half the risk of heart disease as the rest of the country. Couple up. A UCLA study reviewed census data and found that those who never marry are 58% more likely to die at a young age than those who exchange vows. Get it on.  Those with healthy, happy sex lives live longer, have a lower risk of heart disease and stroke, get less breast cancer, bolster their immune systems, sleep better, appear more youthful, enjoy improved fitness, have enhanced fertility, get relief from chronic pain, experience fewer migraines, suffer from less depression, and enjoy an improved quality of life.

Engage in work you love.  Those stuck in soul-sucking jobs are at greater risk for sudden death. Express your creativity. We tend to dismiss the importance of creative expression in a society that devalues the arts as mere “hobbies” you can fit in after you’ve earned a living and spent quality time with your family.
Get happy. Happy people live up to ten years longer than those who are unhappy, depressed, or anxious.
Meditate. Toxic relationships, work stress, pessimism, loneliness, and depression all trigger “fight-or-flight” stress responses in the body, and when the stress response is activated, the body’s natural self-healing mechanisms are flipped off. Join her newsletter list for free guidance on healing yourself, and check her out on Twitter and Facebook. It is equipped with natural self-repair mechanisms that repair broken proteins, kill cancer cells, fight infections, prevent aging, and maintain the homeostasis of the body. Only when the counterbalancing relaxation response is activated, when the sympathetic nervous system is turned off and the parasympathetic nervous system is turned on, can the body heal itself. Mind Over Medicine lists many ways, but one of the simplest and most effective is meditation!  Meditation has been scientifically proven to activate the relaxation response, and as a result, almost every health condition improves.
If you work outside the home, you may find it easier to meditate over your lunch break or just before bed. I have two altars I’ve created at home, one in my bedroom and one in my home office, which I sit in front of to meditate. The point is to create an environment conducive to freeing your mind from its daily clutter and relaxing your body.
You don’t have to sit in the lotus position unless you want to, but sitting on the floor helps you feel grounded, connects you to Mother Earth, and roots you into your body when you meditate.
Criticizing yourself for meditating “badly” or beating yourself up because your monkey mind won’t calm down will only stress you out, defeating the purpose of making attempts to help your body relax so it can repair itself. Imagine your breath as golden light flowing to the tense places and filling them with relaxation. Allow anything that no longer serves you to release down that grounding cord, into the earth’s center, where it can get recycled.
That really tends to help make it a permanent habit rather than something you do every now and then. And if they do, it means that in the past, the capacity of the body to self-regulate was not fully developed. Propagated by some spiritual teachings, but clearly contradicted by recent findings in neuroscience. It may seem outlandish to you now, but there’s a reason this stuff has been used for so long.
I have no stake in debating with someone who is not open to a conflicting standpoint, especially on the internet. However, based on my name, noted titles, and having read these you can see I have an interest in the topic.
I’m saying that when harm has already been done, as is the case in traumatisation, one should 1) not attempt somatic mindfulness without proper guidance and 2) work as much on coping as on observing the mind and body, with anxiety as a definite stop sign. If paying attention to those sensations in the body produces anxiety, then breath meditation would be a remedy and would have no negative effects at all. But as a physician fascinated by why some health nuts still suffer from chronic illness, I dug deep into the medical literature to study what else really makes us healthy – and what predisposes us to illness.
Individuals who attend religious services regularly live 7 ? years longer (almost 14 years longer for African-Americans) than those who never or rarely attend religious gatherings. Optimists fare better when suffering from cancer, recover better from coronary bypass surgery, enjoy healthier immune systems, and live longer than pessimists. Depression increases your cancer risk, is a major risk factor for heart disease, and is linked to a variety of pain disorders, while chronic anxiety has been shown to increase cancer risk and carotid artery atherosclerosis, which predisposes to stroke. The average person experiences 50-100 stress responses per day, which, over time, poisons the body.
All text, graphics, audio files, java applets and scripts, downloadable software, and other works on the web site are the copyrighted works of Allison Crow and Soul-Full Living, LLC. When the body gets sick, whether from the common cold or something more serious, like heart disease or cancer, it’s almost always because the body’s self-repair mechanisms have broken down, usually because of stress.
In his research at Harvard, Herbert Benson demonstrated that meditation is effective in treating angina pectoris, cardiac arrhythmias, allergic skin reactions, anxiety, mild to moderate depression, bronchial asthma, herpes simplex, cough, constipation, diabetes mellitus, duodenal ulcers, dizziness, fatigue, hypertension, infertility, insomnia, nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, nervousness, postoperative swelling, premenstrual syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, side effects of cancer, side effects of AIDS, and all forms of pain – backaches, headaches, abdominal pain, muscle pain, joint aches, postoperative pain, neck, arm, and leg pain.
When I sit down to meditate, I light the candles, burn some incense, and take a moment to let my altar soothe me.
Because I live on the California coast, I often meditate at the ocean on a rocky beach that is usually deserted or in Muir Woods, among the peaceful redwoods. The minute you notice your thoughts starting to wander, come back to your breath and try to empty your mind.
Remain compassionate with yourself, and pat yourself on the back for any progress you make. You can also visualize this grounding energy of the earth’s core coursing up through the grounding cord and filling you with healing light.

In addition to a free self-healing meditation of my voice guiding you through a meditation designed to activate your relaxation response,you’ll also get the 10 Secrets To Healing Yourself ebook, a Diagnosis Journal designed to help you determine the root causes of your illness, and a Prescription Pad so you can write The Prescription for yourself.
I am drawn, however, to the stillness of meditation (no hand placements, as with my Reiki self-practice) and am enjoying that practice tremendously.
If those tensions are too big, and you keep meditating, the nervous system will experience complete overwhelm, which is very damaging. For what I have seen, it doesn’t work for at least 50% of the people who try, but because no one warns them they continue and damage themselves even more in the long term.
Scientists are now using brain imaging to study buddhist monks brains and can see the positive difference in the brain structure and neuron activity. For example – Yale School of Medicine and Behavioral Science recently did some studies on the positive impacts of these items on the brain.
I will say that I practiced zen buddhism for four years and thus know what I’m talking about.
I am simply pointing out that your statements are a bit overzealous for the specific reading above.
Paying attention with acceptance of negative sensations in the body is a way to overcome those senstaions by desensitization of the fear response, this is a remedy, however i agree people may do it incorrectly and increase there problems. Researchers concluded that it was because they lived communally, celebrated regularly, and had a huge network of friends. Studies show that, when it comes to health, you’re better off alone than stuck in a toxic relationship.
One study looked at 12,000 men over nine years and found that those who failed to take annual vacations had a 21% higher risk of death from all causes, and they were 32% more likely to die of a heart attack. One study found that high levels of religious involvement were associated with lower rates of circulatory diseases, digestive diseases, respiratory diseases, and just about every other disease studied. People with a positive outlook are 45% less likely to die from any cause than negative thinkers (and 77% less likely to die from heart disease). In a study of nuns, researchers found that 90% of the most cheerful nuns were still alive at age 84, compared to only 34% of the least cheerful. But meditation can reverse this process.  Harvard physician Herbert Benson studied “the relaxation response” that meditation induces and found it instrumental in treatment of conditions as wide ranging as cardiac arrhythmias, asthma, allergies, herpes, diabetes, ulcers, hypertension, infertility, PMS, AIDS, and chronic pain.
If your mind continues to wander and your breath isn’t enough to empty your mind, try counting your breaths or repeating a one word mantra like “peace” or “one” to clear your mind. If you have trouble finding your tension, try tensing and releasing each muscle, starting at your forehead and moving down your body all the way to your toes.
I notice less stress, and even physical symptoms I used to have have disappeared and my relationships are improving. Depressive feelings, diminished aliveness and less healthy aggression (to do what you want) are some signs meditation is not healthy for you.
Meditation and yoga can be useful, but under guided practice, and it should not be romanticised as is done in the article above and the comments below. However, as you stated the meditation in the article is romanticized, I would personally word it as over-simplified, but that is neither here nor there. However anyone would be okay to do a breath meditation as long as they are just observing breath, and not trying to control the breath itself. Studies suggest Americans are at even greater risk of sudden death from heart disease and stroke due to overwork.  If work is stressing you out, you may be shortening your life. If you’re ready to convert from pessimism to optimism, read Martin Seligman’s book Learned Optimism. Any unauthorized redistribution or reproduction of any copyrighted materials on the web site is strictly prohibited. Herbert Benson refers to as the relaxation response which is our ability to heal ourselves by reducing stress through meditation. If sitting on the floor is too uncomfortable, sit in a chair and place your feet firmly on the floor to develop a sense of grounding.
In your mind’s eye, see the part of your body affected by the illness returning to wholeness and health in as much detail as you can muster. It may become so in the future, but that takes work with people who are trained in restoring stress regulation.
However, when you’ve found your calling and are doing what you love, your nervous system relaxes, and this flips on your body’s natural self-healing mechanisms.
If going to church or temple or the mosque relaxes your nervous system, it’s good for your health.

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