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Meditation Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy Meditation is the practice of techniques which keep the mind focused in the moment and unoccupied with content related to other times and other places. The mind can be compared with an incredibly large cineplex in which the film is ready to roll about any subject at any time. These films relate to what happened in the past, what might happen in the future and what should be happening in the present if only things were different.

Meditation has been practiced in the East for thousands of years and in recent times it has been imported to the West and its effects in matters of health put under study. Reports surfaced in the 1960s of meditation masters in the East who could control their own autonomic body functions, such as pulse rate and blood pressure. These functions had been considered by Western medicine to be out of conscious control, but study of these masters of meditation gave proof to the opposite. Many health care professionals who had become alienated from the idea of using drugs to control autonomic body functions (due to side effects) readily embraced meditation as a viable alternative. Stress reduction, pain reduction, and treatment of hypertension all  without drugs are a few of the possible benefits of meditation.

There are two types of meditation. One focuses on the breath and the other emphasizes the identity of the meditator as a witness to life experience, a witness who has the option to remain above reaction to this experience. Focus on the breath is an attempt to bring the subject into present time by relieving the mind of the burden of attending to what is not happening in the present. Focusing on the life process, which includes thoughts, feeling, sensations, etc., is intended as an exercise in not reacting and seeks to center the subject in a peaceful inner space. Both techniques aim to bring the subject into the here and now and when this happens, the autonomic functions of the body tend to normalize.

This sheds new light on the nature of autonomic dysfunctions, such as hypertension. Apparently it is a the reaction of the central nervous system to the absence of some core essence of the person. What this core essence may be is up for debate, however when this essence is returned to the body in present time, the functions of the body come back into harmony.

The nature of the mind is that it wants what it wants when it wants it. This fundamental nature stands in opposition to the discipline required for successful meditation. In the middle of an excellent meditation the mind goes off and says: "Enough of this, you need to get to work" or something similar. Then it commands your body to stand up and get on with whatever it is which is being used to distract you. When it is time for the next meditation, the mind goes off and says: "You can do this later, what you need to do now is ________." This circumstance, the nature of the mind, makes a teacher of meditation a useful adjunct to the practice of meditation. As in many other endeavors, one can do it for oneself but is much less likely to muster the discipline if doing it alone compared to doing it in an interpersonal structure with a teacher. Other endeavors are similar in this aspect —  exercise, for example

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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