See also Practical Philosophy.
L. Kutscher, M.D.
See our patient offices in NY and NJ
Basically, meditation consists of controlling the incredible constant flux of ideas and stimuli which rush through our brain at any given moment. These techniques are all based on focusing on one stimuli (such as breathing) to the exclusion of all others. Although meditation can be used in a search for "oneness with the universe," we are talking here about simple techniques designed to produce physiological stress reduction in the human body.
Experienced "mystics" try to focus on nothing, something that most of us can do for about two seconds (at least before thinking about the fact that we are thinking of nothing--try it!) For beginners, probably the most effective techniques utilize controlled breathing as the center of focus.
|Find a quiet, comfortable place. Try the bed.|
|Take long, slow breaths, listening to the sound of the air coming in and out. During the inhalation phase, first, pull your abdomen out, and next expand you chest.|
|Try to think of nothing but the act of breathing. When your mind wanders--and it will--gently and without recrimination return to focusing on the breaths. You will be amazed at how much our minds resist being tamed from their usual habit of rapid wandering.|
|As a useful adjunct, try progressive muscle relaxation. This is a good way to
learn to recognize tight muscles.|
|After relaxing the entire body as above, do it again.|
|Next, take five deep breaths, each time imagining yourself sinking further into the bed.|
|Finally, try just laying there, thinking about nothing. Nearly impossible, but try your best.|
|This should all take about 5-10 minutes. Ideally, practice once or twice a day. Set a routine time, and commit to it. We know you are busy!|
|Remember this feeling of relaxation. Later, during the busy day, when you feel stressed or your muscles tightening, just taking 10 deep breaths (count backwards from 10 to 1 with each exhalation). With practice, your body will return to the same state in 10 breaths as you achieved during a full meditation.|
|There are dozens of meditation techniques. Try some of the books below.|
|Herbert Benson, M.D., et al. The Wellness Book.|
A scientifically based book on techniques and lifestyle changes to reduce stress, based on a program of the New England Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School. Lengthy book capable of guiding the patient to major lifestyle changes, but individual parts are simple to use. Good, easy relaxation exercises. Fairly "flowery" but still scientific. Click here to order from Amazon.com.
|Herbert Benson, M.D. The Relaxation Response.|
Multi-million copy selling book on meditation techniques to reduce physiological stress. Deservedly popular. Good for people seeking to avoid "flowery" language. Click here to order directly from Amazon.com.
|David Harp and Nina Feldman, Ph.D. with forward by Ben and Jerry. The New Three Minute Meditator.|
A multitude of fun, simple meditation exercises sure to contain something for everyone. Easy to use. Not too flowery. The forward by Ben and Jerry may make this book appealing to kids. Click here to order directly from Amazon.com.
|Check out any appealing book on Hatha Yoga, which combines deep breathing meditation at the same time as muscle stretching and fitness. Clik here to order Yoga: 28 Day Plan from Amazon.com by Richard Hittleman, which combines a regular yoga routine with meditation. Practical and straight forward, combining physiology and "spirituality."|
© 2004, 2006 Martin L. Kutscher, MD
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