I heard it said that meditation is the sound of one hand clapping. The intention is to quiet your mind and experience your core nature, which is described as peace, happiness, joy and bliss. A common misconception is that you need to sit in an uncomfortable position on the floor and try to get all thoughts out of your head. This is why most people fail after trying for a short period of time, or won’t try it at all. I love the scene in 2010 film Eat, Pray, Love where Elizabeth Gilbert (played by Julia Roberts) is staring at the clock and every sound is getting exponentially louder. It is a hilarious example of the pressure we put on ourselves while trying to do everything perfect. The art of meditation is not about trying to get it perfect.
Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years and there are many different forms. Knowing which one is right for you can be difficult. I encourage you to meditate (if you are not already doing so). There are so many benefits that range from calming and healing physical, emotional, and mental stress to experiencing higher levels of consciousness and achieving self-realization through connecting with a universal wisdom. All of these will help you to increase health in mind, body, and soul.
No matter how you meditate, once you start you will experience the benefits. Don’t worry about the silence, the music, the incense or whether you are meditating while sitting up, lying down, walking or running. Find a way that works for you and enjoy the experience.
In a Pennsylvania laboratory, a Presbyterian minister sat in a state of deep, silent prayer. She was well experienced at the art of praying since she had been religiously doing it daily for over 34 years. This time, as she reached the height of connection with God, neurologist Andrew Newberg injected a harmless radioactive dye into her arm. As she continued to pray, the dye migrated to the parts of her brain where the blood flow was the strongest.
“The more active a particular part of the brain is,” Dr. Newberg tells us, “the more blood flow it gets. The less active it is, the less blood flow it gets.”
The brain scan showed increased activity in the frontal lobes and language area of the minister’s brain. This is what happens. More blood flow in any area of your body makes it healthier. When you meditate or pray, you literally make your brain healthier. The frontal lobe, which is active when you are engaged in a conversation, also allows you to listen and speak. This means you can increase your communicative skills with regular meditation or prayer.
A video of this study can be seen courtesy of the Science Channel online. What I found particularly interesting was that the brains of meditators, who were believers in a spiritual power, had more brain activity than in the brains of meditating atheist, God is unimaginable. To a believer, experiences of God are more than just thoughts and are just as real as the physical world that we all sense, therefore the experience is neurologically real.
Our brain is where reality becomes crystallized for us. If you focus on a belief, your brain perceives it as real and then sends signals throughout your body to act on those thoughts. The deeper you go into meditative prayer, and the more spiritually connected you are, the more intensely you can neurologically increase the health of your brain as well as your reality. This is an important point because as you seek to transform your body and health, you can literally reprogram your brain through the activity of spiritually-charged meditative prayer.
Over 85% of people confronting a major illness pray.
Increasingly, evidence is showing that prayer works. Many studies are being performed to uncover the mystery of how this is possible. Although it is yet to be fully explained scientifically, it is fair to say that most people pray because we feel a connection to spirit and we believe that praying will work. The core of what we have working for us when we pray is faith.
Trying to explain the spiritual world in a scientific manner is man’s desire to make the unknown, known. The result of prayer, or connecting with spirit, is certainly tangible when you see what it does for your body. However, what spirit actually is is intangible. True faith in spirit is giving up that expectation to be able to put God in a box. It is the act of believing in something that you cannot explain or do not fully understand, yet you trust that it is present and at work. It is like having the faith that your blood cells are flowing to all parts of your body even though you may not understand how they are working. We do not understand why the earth is rotating, but we have faith that it is.
Deepak Chopra talks about how once people are given a diagnosis and accept that reality as being true, there are certain things that happen in your body that propagate the actual belief. Prayer and faith together allows you to create a different belief that propels you in the direction of that belief. If you believe that you are a person who gets sick regularly, or if you believe that you have a weak immune system, that will set off a chain of events in your body making those beliefs true.
The opposite of this is focusing on what you want rather than what you are afraid of. There is something about that belief and that focus when it pertains to your health. If you have been overweight all of your life and you have beliefs that you always will be, then focus on visualizing yourself in the body of your ideal weight and you will make that reality come true. If you have an illness, put yourself in a state where you actually visualize and believe that the illness is going away. The more you faithfully meditate and pray, the more you will increase the healing process and bring your mind, body and soul into harmonious health.
To the mainstream, yoga may be considered mere exercise. However, in my observation, yoga cultivates life balance, flexibility and strength as well as a connection to life energy. Life energy that is strong makes you feel totally vibrant and alive while weak life energy makes you feel dull and fatigued. The essence of yoga is a union between your mind, body and soul and can serve as a spiritual connection as well, which as you read about in meditation and prayer above, serves to increase your overall health.
The practice of yoga includes simple meditation, stretching, holding specific bodily postures and breath control. There is certainly no downside to adding this type of movement to your routine. It is thought to open up the energy centers in your body, known as chakras, so that life energy (or spirit) can freely flow. If you have a clinical mind, you could find many correlations between the chakras and the physical body’s systems, organs and functions.
I encourage you to practice some form of yoga and take actions to keep your chakras clear. This can be accomplished by breathing deeply into every cell of your body, exhaling fully, speaking your truth, living an authentic life, connecting to the ones you love and the nature around you, and being open to the power of the ultimate, universal connection that we all share.
We are All Spiritual Beings. The question of soul, spirit or life energy has been around for centuries and always comes back to what you believe. Everyone’s belief system is personal. I respect whatever your personal connection is and fully support your journey to wholeness. I believe that we are all connected and one in the same universe. Whether you pray five times a day while facing east or you only pray on Easter, whether it’s regimented or only when you get into trouble, the point is it’s all centered around faith; A faith in something that is larger than us that has the ability to work in our lives. We may not fully understand, but we can believe and have faith it works.
As you pursue a healthy physical life through conscious breathing, sufficient hydration, pure whole nutrition, fun movement, enjoyable sex and deep, regenerative rest, I encourage you to also achieve the richness and fulfillment of a healthy spiritual life.