Meditating For Health

by Anne Kelly, KFYR-TV, Feb 11, 2008

Bismark, ND (USA) -- There are lots of things you can do to lower your blood pressure. We all know you can start eating healthy, become active, or even take certain medication, but not everyone is aware of another way to lower their bp.

Meditation has its roots in the Buddhist religion. The act of clearing one`s mind and relaxing one`s body has long been viewed of as a way to reach enlightenment. A therapeutic social worker who is also a yoga teacher says meditation can be beneficial to your health, even if you`re not Buddhist and even if you never reach enlightenment.

"[It] elevates my mood, makes me feel much better, makes me more content with myself," says Steve Fisher.

He says it also gives him a much welcomed break from the stress of his work as a free-lance writer and cartoonist.

"When I`m in the middle of a 300-page book, you get pretty tied up cause you`re thinking hard all the time, so I go over and sit down on my blanket and put my back up against the wall and get rid of all that," Fisher says.

Fisher has been meditating since he began taking yoga classes with Susan Thompson. Thompson is also a therapeautical social worker who recommends the practice of aligning the body, mind, and breath to all her patients.

"It relaxes the system, the neural pulse system, so that the body can reduce the stress and it reduces the heartrate," Thompson says. "It reduces the blood pressure. It reduces muscle tension, all of those things."

Thompson says to get the most benefit out of meditation, it`s best to set aside 30 minutes for it every day, but she suggests beginners start meditating for five minutes at a time and then slowly increase the amount of time in five minutes increments.

Fisher has worked his way up to 15 minute blocks of meditation but says sitting still and focusing his breath for so long wasn`t always so easy.

"Have you ever gone down to a river when you were a kid and you looked in the shallow water and there was minnows there? And as soon as you got close to them, poof, well thats what my thoughts were like at first," he says. "You know they scattered this way and that way and I`m chasing them around."

Thompson says individuals who meditate aren`t expected to completely empty their mind of all thoughts. She says they should just try not to get caught in a specific thought because it may keep their body from relaxing.

If you decide to try out meditating, Thompson recommends giving it a try in the morning or in the evening when it isn`t quite so bright outdoors. And while she did recommend 30 minutes a day, she says the benefits of meditation are still tremendous even if you`re just doing 5 to 10 minutes daily.