The word ‘Meditation comes from the Latin root ‘meditatum’ which means ‘to ponder’.

Meditation can be described as a practice that helps silence the mind. Some even describe it as a state of ‘thoughtless awareness’ – a condition where your mind is free of the non-stop tick-tock of thoughts while being completely aware of yourself.

How does meditation work?

The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is a part of the Central Nervous System and regulates unconscious functions like the heart rate, digestion and respiration.

The Autonomic Nervous System is further divided into Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Nervous Systems.

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) is what is responsible for activities which have a ‘flight-or-fight’ response.  Anger, fear, fatigue, stress or in an extreme situation ‘a threat to survival’ – these are the times when the SNS is most active and hormones like cortisol are produced.

Meditation calms the Sympathetic Nervous System and activates the Parasympathetic Nervous System or the ‘good’ nervous system. Over a period of time, this regulates the heart rate, blood pressure, sweating among other benefits.

Benefits of Meditation:

Thousands of scientific studies have been done around the benefits of meditation. They have all confirmed what Indians have always known – that meditation is a holistic approach to a happy body and mind.

  1. A healthier body.
  2. Improved breathing.
  3. Increases energy levels and helps improve immunity.
  4. Helps control and regularise heart rate and blood pressure.
  5. Regulates production of stress-hormones like Cortisol by soothing the Sympathetic Nervous System.
  6. Helps focus and concentrate better
  7. Reduces anxiety and stress
  8. A greater ability to face tough situations.

Here are 5 simple steps to start meditation:

  1. Where? Any part of your home works as long it is quiet and there is no hustle-bustle around. Make sure the place you pick is also well-ventilated.
  2. When? Mornings are suggested by most experts simply because meditation allows you to start off your day on a good note.  Having said that, meditation can be done anytime of the day!  Don’t go by what others tell you – if middle of the day works for you then go for it.  Find a routine that works for you but be regular.  A few minutes every day will go a long way in your efforts to master this art.
  3. Don’t meditate on a heavy stomach: You don’t want to put yourself to sleep or feel drowsy.  At the same time, avoid doing it just before meal-times.  The idea is to find a spot in your daily schedule when you are relaxed and not distracted.
  4. Close your eyes: Try to ‘collect’ your thoughts and put them away for a little while.  Consciously tell yourself that for this short period of time you will not think about anything else.  Take a few minutes and normalise breathing and don’t rush into things.
  5. Start by focusing on your breath: Breathe normally for a few times.  If it helps count the number of breaths you take, to begin with. Mediation starts first by controlling your mind to ‘concentrate’ on one thing and not wander off.  As you learn to control your thoughts you will find it easier to get into in a ‘thoughtless’ state, and then to stay there longer.  Each time your thoughts run away to another topic, you must ‘come back’ to focusing on your breath.