Listen to your authentic self daily.
Meditation is an exercise for the brain. Science continues to prove to us that meditation changes the brain for the better. Just as movement strengthens muscles, the practice of meditation improves brain waves, brain functions, and much, much more. Studies have shown the health benefits of meditation include reductions in pain, anxiety, depression, and stress, an improved immune system, less pain, and lower blood pressure, not to mention improved concentration, creativity, and clarity of thought.
Meditation helps us see ourselves from a new vantage point. We have over 80,000 thoughts per day and most are repeated on autopilot. Despite this, we often believe we are our thoughts and yet most of our thoughts are reflexive and automatic and just random electric firings in the brain. Some of our thoughts have been handed down generations from grandparents to us; they may not be our beliefs much less our own original musings. Meditation helps us separate from those thoughts, recognize them as thoughts only and watch the thoughts as if watching a movie.
So many people claim they CAN’T meditate. They say they can’t turn their brain off. Of course we can’t turn our brain off just as we can’t stop our hearts from beating. But we can slow our breath. We can relax our bodies, which then slows our heart. And we can watch our thoughts and try to focus away from our thoughts which can change our mental state. But it requires dedication, consistency, and practice.
If you had never run a mile in your life and I asked you to run a marathon, your answer might be, “Impossible.” But I would say we could start with daily practice. Perhaps one mile a day of walking and increase the mileage and speed slowly but steadily. This is how many non-athletes have joined the marathon craze. This too is how I expect many non-meditators will begin to partake in this activity originally associated with Indian Ashrams only.
How can one get started on meditating?
Commit to a particular time daily. It can be as short as 3 minutes, although many experienced meditators suggest 20 minutes twice a day. Meditation can be done wherever you are; you can have an ideal meditation corner in your house, but realistically, it can be done anywhere you are – just ensure you are comfortable. It is best to take some deep cleansing breaths before you start your meditation routine. Be present with yourself, be kind to yourself, and don’t judge yourself; accept yourself and accept the meditation. Scan your body. Notice what body parts are more relaxed and where you are tense. Get to know your body. Be quiet and embrace the meditation. When it is over, reflect on how you feel and how you felt.
There are many ways to meditate. I like a combination of a gentle focus on my breath while reciting a mantra. Select a favorite word. Some people use a religious word, others a word that reminds them of a peaceful place or time. Some experts suggest the word should not conjure an image since it may distract you. Sit peacefully without struggle and gently focus on the word. Your mind will likely wander and you will have thoughts. Do NOT judge yourself; just notice the thought and gently return to your word. This is indeed the PRACTICE of meditating. See Transcendental Meditation or Ziva Mind.
A single word helps you focus on that word without struggle. Which helps you tune out everything else – especially the daily stress and endless list of chores. This is mission critical in order to relax, de-stress, and rejuvenate.
Others meditate through group classes or in a yoga class.
Some practice “loving kindness meditation”… repeat a short phrase or mantra such as: “May I have mental happiness, may I have physical happiness, may I be free from fear, may I have emotional well- being.” This same prayer can be adapted to meditate on a friend or stranger.
We have a meditation teacher who teaches the IAMRITA technique. This technique is by design 20 minutes and incorporates many meditation techniques in one 20-minute sitting.
SATANAMA is yet another meditation. This is great for those who really have trouble quieting the mind. Sit comfortably and touch your thumb and forefinger. Repeat the word “SA.” Then move your thumb one by one to each next finger — “SA TA NA MA” with each change of finger. Repeat “SA TA NA MA” out loud 10 times, then repeat it 10 times while whispering “SA TA NA MA.” Finally, repeat it 10 times while speaking silently in your head, “SATANAMA.” Then repeat the sequence quietly for 10 times, whisper 10 times, and finally out loud 10 times.
These are just a few sensations and guidance for you to develop your own unique meditation practice. Thanks for letting me help you on this private journey.
At West Coast Women’s Reproductive Center, we strive to provide women with total wellness and help them with fertility. To learn more or schedule a consultation, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, call us at 818-986-1648, or attend a class: find our schedule at WomensReproduction.com.
Dr. Tina Koopersmith is a board-certified OBGYN and REI as well as a board-certified practitioner of Integrative Medicine. For over 25 years, she has served the women of San Fernando Valley and beyond, helping women achieve total wellness and fertility. She is a graduate of Duke University Medical School and specializes in empowering and honoring women.