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Dr. Richard Isaacson

Meditation : Benefits and Practices

Meditation can be defined as an uninterrupted and intense contemplation or concentration on a specific subject or on nothing at all. The focus may be internal or external. The length of time spent meditating matters less than the control of breathing and, perhaps, the physical position one chooses. Some believe that meditation is the basis of spirituality, self knowledge, and wisdom, but many have very different ideas of not only the practice of meditation but its purpose, as well.


No matter the definition, it is undeniable that meditation combats the stress of a very fast paced world. Learning to breath peacefully through meditation will not only allow you to relax but will also increase your mental clarity, focus, and awareness when you practice regularly.

Physiologically, meditation effects the body in many ways including:

+ Improves immune function
+ Slows rapid pulse
+ Slows rate of metabolism
+ Lowers blood pressure
+ Lowers risk of heart failure, attack, and disease

There are a variety of methods to choose in meditation technique, but all of them reduce stress and create positive physiological effects. Some of the first meditative methods were employed for the purpose of spiritual exploration as if leaving the body behind. The detachment this created allowed for the body to de-stress and relax. More contemporary methods of meditation involve mental stress as a spur to growth and creativity. Either way, whether you leave your stress behind or manipulate it into something positive, meditation is the way to relax and allow your body to function without the crushing pressure of mental stress.

Types of Meditation

There are almost as many different forms of meditation as there are people who practice, but here are a few of the most popular forms.

Religious Meditation - Religious meditation focuses contemplative prayer or reflective thinking or contemplation, usually on aspects or tenet of the religion to better understand life’s purpose through its strictures. This includes meditation practices used by occultists, transcendentalists, Christians, Catholics,

Buddhist Meditation - Buddhist meditation’s focus is to liberate the practitioner from attachments and find enlightenment.

Primordial Sound Meditation - Deepak Chopra promotes primordial sound meditation as it requires the practitioner have no specific beliefs or religious lifestyle.

Taoist Meditation - Taoist meditation focuses on balancing energy within the body.

Technology Induced Meditation - Technology induced meditation is a new form f meditation that uses brain wave entrainment technology to create a meditative state. on the scene, this form of “instant” meditation uses ‘mind machine” brain wave technologies.

Zen Meditation - Zen meditation focuses on combining the reality of body, breath, and mind into one truth through zazen.

Meditative Exercises

Meditative exercises combine the tenets and purpose of meditation with exercise to further integrate the body, mind, and spirit. The most common include yoga and martial arts like t’ai chi and qigong.

Yoga - In ancient East India, yoga was developed as a religious exercise only and has evolved into various forms in the west which alternative and traditional doctors alike highly recommend for bone strength, flexibility, heart health, and mental well being. Through a string of poses or postures, yoga combines breathing exersices and meditation to tone and strengthen muscles while stretching and relaxing at the same time. There are a variety of yoga styles to choose from varying according to intensity, poses used, and more.

Martial arts - Martial arts is practiced through a series of fluid exercises meant to hone the body and mind. Young and old alike will find benefits to practicing martial arts as a meditative, stretching, and physical exercise that increase in difficulty as you progress.

The most popular meditative martial art is t’ai chi. T’ai chi is based on the Taoist philosophy and the concept of yin and yang. Practitioners learn how to defend themselves and counter attack their opponent in one movement. T’ai chi strengthens muscles and joints and improves blood circulation.

Qigong (pronounced chee-kung) is another martial art that is gaining in popularity and has great meditative benefits. A regular practice can build up vitality and the immune system while relieving stress.

No matter which form of meditation works best for you and your lifestyle, there is no doubt that the benefits are numerous and contribute to overall health of the mind, body, and spirit.

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