The article below about the benefits of meditation appeared in the May 29, 2006 issue of Jet Magazine.
The Benefits of Meditation
By Jet Associate Editor Marti Parham
It is a fact that stress is something that is felt by both the young and the old. Experts believe that one of the best ways to overcome the emotional, mental and sometimes even physical strain is by practicing the ancient art of meditation.
“I think of meditation as a life skill,” says Elesa Commerse, president and lead instructor of The Deep Calm, an Evanston, IL – based firm that specializes in teaching meditation. “It’s something that children and adults need to know how to do to get the stress off. That’s what meditation does. It shows you how to systematically relax your body to work with your muscles, to breathe in a healthy way, and to quiet your mind and body so that you can experience the deep peace and calm that are available to all of us.”
According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), a component of the National Institutes of Health, when a person meditates he or she learns to focus his or her attention and to suspend the stream of thoughts that normally occupy the mind. The practice of meditation, which Commerse says for beginners may last anywhere from 5 minutes to half an hour, is believed to result in a state of greater mental calmness and clarity, psychological balance and physical relaxation, which makes for a healthier you.
While there are many different types of meditation, the NCCAM cites four of the most common elements:
A Peaceful Location
A clean, quiet place with as few distractions as possible is best for focusing your thoughts.
A Comfortable Posture
Meditation can be done while sitting, walking, lying down or standing.
A Focus of Attention
Often times the meditator may focus attention on a mantra (a repeated word, sound or phrase), an object or deep breathing.
An Open Attitude
Having an open attitude during meditation means letting distractions come and go naturally without stopping to think about them.
Though meditation originated in ancient religious and spiritual traditions, Commerse points out that it is a non-denominational activity that can be practiced by all, no matter your religious preference.
“There is confusion that, ‘if I meditation it will conflict with my religion,’” she says. “That is absolutely not true. Hold on to your beliefs because your faith helps with healing as well.” Commerse adds, “The body and the mind are connected. Meditation can help people in so many ways if they just embrace it.”
For more information on the benefits of meditation, visit www.nccam.nih.gov.