The Last Word on Meditation
Let's be realistic As far as sports are concerned, meditation has an image problem. In the Western World, especially the sports world, meditation is usually characterized as passive, weak, and feminizing. In all honesty, most of us tend to believe that the only people who meditated were scrawny little guys sitting around in a cave wearing diapers and old bed sheets around their heads.
Actually, this may be the greatest misconception of meditating. While it is true that most of the advocates of meditation are not heavily into sports, there are a number of American "jocks" trying to trip out with meditative procedures. Interestingly, the major complaint that most non-meditating athletes had concerning the procedure is that it was difficult to learn and too time-consuming. In fact many athletes said that they would try meditation if there were a quick and easily learned technique.
Well, there is good news for all of you—such a technique has recently been discovered. Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard physiologist, has developed an effective meditation technique, which can be learned in just a few minutes. All you have to do is find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed for at least twenty minutes, and proceed as follows:
1. Lie down or sit in a comfortable position
2. Close your eyes and relax all of your muscles. Starting with your feet and legs, try to feel muscle relaxation spreading upward throughout your body to your neck and face. Try to maintain this restful state.
3. Make sure you are breathing only through your nose. Now concentrate on your breathing. As you attend to your breathing, silently say the word "one" to yourself as you breathe out.
Do not count your breaths — just continue to say "one" to yourself as you exhale through your nose. Pay attention only to your breathing. Do this for about twenty minutes (you may want to set an alarm so you will not be thinking about the time).
4 Maintain a passive attitude and allow yourself to relax.
When other thoughts intrude, just dismiss them by saying "oh well" to yourself and continue to repeat,"one" silently as you exhale.
Give this technique a try, and as you continue to practice each day, you will achieve a deeper state of tranquility. You will also notice that your ability to concentrate and focus your attention will be improved. Before you know it, you'll be seeking Nirvana and with it, your Universal Self.
The Book on Meditation
If you're not quite ready to seek out your Universal Self, then maybe you need some hard facts on meditation. At present there is a prolific amount of research, which indicates that during meditation, respiration is lower, and there is a dramatic decrease in oxygen consumption, blood lactate and carbon dioxide elimination. Also, alpha brain rhythms and galvanic skin resistance (GSR) are increased during meditation, while heart rate and respiration are decreased. What does all this mean? Simply that meditation is an excellent method for bringing about a relaxation response.
Actually there are quite a few techniques that can bring about such a response. Just for starters, there is autogenic training, progressive relaxation, biofeedback, hypnosis, and religious techniques. In fact, just about everything works. Well, not everything, but there are a lot of techniques that can produce an altered state of consciousness that, in turn, can produce a relaxation response.
But hold on, there seems to be a difference between the relaxation response induced by meditation and all those other techniques. In fact, there is some quality research that indicates that very point. For example, when meditation was compared to sleep it was found that the relaxation response produced by meditation is indeed deeper than sleep, or at least some stages of sleep. One researcher (Ron Wallace) reported that the trance state produced by meditation was different from the awaking dreaming or sleeping states. In short meditation seemed to bring about a kind of fourth state of consciousness—a state that was unique to meditation.