There are many books and articles that have been written about the effects of stress on health.
Such modern ailments as ulcers, high blood pressure, gastritis, insomnia, asthma, cardiovascular problems,have been attributed to stress, or at least aggravated by it.
In the 1950s, experimental psychologist Robert Ader, for example, discovered that “rats that were restrained at the peaks of their activity cycles, and so presumably felt more frustrated by the restraint,were significantly more likely to develop gastric erosions.”
Because many human diseases have been associated with stress, many programs or techniques have been developed to control it. Some of these methods require physical activities such as walking, jogging, yoga or ballroom dancing. Others involve psychological training and reorientation of focus of attention or attitude.
Although many of these methods have proved to be effective for most people, they are not the only ones necessary to achieve what Dr. Herbert Benson calls the “relaxation response.”
Simple meditation is the easiest way to control stress and enable one to relax mentally and physically. But I have met people who tell me, “I don’t know how to meditate.”
Maybe the problem is in the word “meditation.” It connotes religious or mystical elements.
Dr. Benson studied differentmeditation techniques, methods or modules, both Eastern and Western, and found that all of them can be reduced to the following characteristics:
A quiet environment to reduce outside distractions;
A mental device—a word, object or sound to focus or concentrate on;
A passive attitude, or a letting-go feeling;
A comfortable position—no need to learn how to sit in a lotus position, which requires months or years of training, to be comfortable or at ease with it.
There are as many types of meditation as there are meditators, each of which has its own adherents. Psychologist Lawrence LeShan, for example, wrote a book, “How to Meditate,” which is a veritable smorgasbord of countless meditation techniques. His advice: “Try each and see what works for you.”
The simplest method of meditation that I have found effective for me and for my students is simply to sit down in a comfortable chair, with your two feet on the floor, hands on your lap, spinal column straight but not stiff, eyes closed.
Then begin with three very slow deep breaths to induce physical relaxation. This step alone will reduce your heart rate immediately.
Then relax parts of your body one by one, beginning at the head until you reach your feet.
After these, just focus on your breathing normally and effortlessly. Do this normal breathing for about 15 minutes.
Then count from one to five and open your eyes.
If your mind wanders or goes elsewhere, just return your attention to your breathing and get back on track.
There is no need to memorize a mantra or assume difficult physical positions. Simply be as comfortable as you can and breathe normally.
You are now in a meditative state. It is as simple as that.
Try it. You have nothing to lose but your stress.
The next Basic ESP and Intuition Development Seminar will be held on May 30-31,9 a.m.-5 p.m., in Makati. Call 8107245 or 0908-3537885;e-mail [email protected]