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Please Meditate: It's Good for You

12/09/2010 08:58 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Olivia Rosewood Author, Tai Chi Gold Medalist, Meditation Guide, Wellness Expert

Why did Einstein get all of his most brilliant ideas while relaxed in a bath or strolling through nature? Do you ever solve a difficult problem after you've stopped thinking about it, perhaps just as you're drifting off to sleep? How is it that Def Jam mogulRussell Simmons tripled his wealth in the months after beginning to meditate? In his autobiography, Mr. Simmons explains that he once believed that being anxiety-ridden and compulsively thinking were connected to his success, because that's how he'd always been. When he began meditation and yoga, he became happy and relaxed. Already a millionaire several times over, he said to his yoga teacher at the time, Steve Ross, "I've gotta stop meditating or I'm going to lose all my money." The opposite was true: his fortune tripled, and Russell had the great experience of having happiness, peace and great wealth. Meditation brings clarity. One might find more insight and better, more powerful thoughts after a meditation practice is established. If you could win a chess game in two moves instead of 30, wouldn't you?

There are now mountains of science showing that meditation will help rebuild damaged brain tissue, as was first discovered by Harvard Medical School back in 2006 in cooperation with scientists from all over the world. They had their test group spend 40 minutes each day in zen meditation, and then they measured their brain tissue daily. The results were very exciting. The ability to rebuild damaged grey matter is directly linked to the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer's, and so this phenomenon continues to be fervently studied. Meditation helps to regulate brain chemistry and assist those who suffer from ADHD, anxiety and OCD. The University of Wales, in cooperation with the University of Toronto, studied the prevention of depression in patients using mindfulness meditation and found it to be an effective treatment.

The practice of meditation is very simple: one must only quiet the mind without falling asleep. What's so hard about that? It doesn't seem complicated. In theory, it is easy, but in application, most people have difficulty quieting the mind. The well-known teacher Eckhart Tolle describes modern civilization as being made up of "compulsive thinkers." We can't seem to stop thinking even when we want to. Many resort to sleeping pills to stop the thinking because they're exhausted and need sleep but can't quiet the incessant chatter that haunts their tired brains. Could quieting the mind be so easy that it's difficult?

"Why would I want to quiet my mind?" You might wonder. "Thought is everything to me. The more I think, the smarter I become, and intelligence leads to happiness and fulfillment." This is true if you are using your mind. But what if your mind is using you? Quieting it in a meditation practice won't make you less intelligent. On the contrary, it will help you to access, use and enjoy your intelligence.

In meditation, the mind is viewed as a wonderful servant. Perhaps you've seen the Disney classic "The Sorcerer's Apprentice"? What happens when the apprentice, Mickey Mouse (the servant for the purpose of our metaphor), starts playing with the magic of the sorcerer while he's out? The servant doesn't know how to control the magic, and pretty soon the sorcerer's workspace is flooded, the thousands of brooms are bringing in more and more water, and every move Mickey makes seems to worsen his situation. Why? Because Mickey shouldn't be in charge. The mind is similar to the Mickey character. When it is dominant, it can become destructive by over-thinking, over-worrying, over-consuming, producing fear and not being creative.

In meditation, by quieting the mind, the servant is put in the back seat, and the master is empowered. Are you aware that there's another part of yourself beyond your mind? There are lots of words to describe this aspect of a human being. My favorite word is "soul." You can also say "creative aspect" or "higher self." When one meditates, one exists -- for just a few minutes -- as that soul-aspect.

This leaves the question of, "How?" There are so many ways to quiet the mind. I don't feel it matters how you get there as long as you find a way that works for you. Experiment with different methods and teachers until you find a one that's effective for you personally. But please meditate. It's good for you.

You are welcome to join me for a 20-minute guided meditation ending with a brief silent meditation on my YouTube channel by clicking here.

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