By Constance Weygandt

When we sleep, our mind and our body rejuvenates itself. Meditation helps us to achieve a state of restful awareness at other times. Restful awareness can sometimes provide a deeper rest than sleep. The benefits of meditation are many.

· Meditation may cut back the flow of stress hormones. These hormones cause a rise in blood pressure which damages our arterial walls.

· People who practice meditation before surgery have a shorter recovery period, bleed less, need less anesthesia and their wounds heal faster.

· Studies have shown participants who meditate to have higher levels of antibodies and positive emotional states.

· Meditation helps to reduce stress and fatigue as well as enhance creativity and intuition which aids in decision making.

· Meditation leads to better health and longer life. The results of stress can accelerate the aging process. Studies suggest that Meditation’s role in lowering blood pressure, easing stress and increasing the function of the brain helps to slow aging.

There are thousands of books and tapes available on meditation and relaxation techniques. Any of these would be helpful to begin a practice of meditation. One simple beginning technique is to focus on your breathing.

Sit upright in a comfortable chair with your hands resting at your sides. You may also lay flat but make sure your spine is straight so there is no obstruction to the flow of air. Breathe in slowly while counting to eight. Exhale through your nose and count to eight. Concentrate on your breathing. Feel the air enter and fill your lungs and abdomen on the inhale. When you exhale feel your breath slowly leaving your body. Concentrate only on your counting and breathing. If thoughts intrude, just view them as you would writing on a blackboard and then refocus. You may be aware of the sounds around you. If you get distracted, it’s okay. Refocus on your counting and breathing. Begin with 10 minutes of deep breathing a day and move to 20 minutes a day.

This technique is a very simple introduction to meditation. When you master this, move on to relaxation and visualization techniques. Enjoy twenty minutes of silence a day. Besides the improved physical effects, with time and practice, you can gain a type of bliss, joy and peacefulness. Meditation puts us in contact with our higher selves where creativity, intuition and energy reside. Rejuvenate your whole self. Meditate.