Meditation A Path to Health by Dr. Christie Smirl


Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years by monks, sages, seers and householders to induce profound healing and transformation. Science has proven that meditation is beneficial to reduce anxiety and depression, increase memory and focus, regulate heart rate, lower blood pressure, balance neurotransmitters that affect our emotional health, normalize cortisol levels, reduce the effects of aging, replenish degenerated brain matter, soothe the nervous system and help reprogram negative mental patterns.

So why don’t more people meditate? Students exclaim “My mind won’t be quiet.” or “I just can’t control my mind.”. That’s the whole point! Meditation take practice, time and repetition. I often offer the analogy that meditation is like lifting weights. When you first start lifting weights you don’t just curl 100 pounds your first try. You start small and build from there. The next obstacle that keeps many people from developing a meditation practice is that there are so many different types of meditation creating confusion. So let’s pick a starting point and and examine a practical view of meditation.

The human mind experiences stressful emotional fluctuations and stresses when removed from self examination and discipline. Although it is true that you can meditate by just sitting still and quieting the mind for a bit, that does not encompass the full realm meditation. The ultimate goal of meditation is to reach for moksha, a state of liberation from suffering, duality and samskara. Meditation can not only clear your mind of unwanted pain, but it can also bring you a deeper sense of contentment and bliss.

The practice of meditation can be approached from an eight part process. The first layer is examines the yamas. The yamas are different ways of looking at your personal internal compass. Close examination of the yamas helps align one’s life direction and reduce cognitive dissonance. The second layer delves into the nyamas. Nyamas are personal practices to attain a healthier life. Now at this point students often say, but I just want to learn how to meditate. My response is that to attain the fullest effects from meditation, one must build the foundation properly.

So, let’s look at the third step which are asanas. Asanas are yogic poses that open up subtle body channels, keep the body healthy and get all the wiggles out before sitting down to meditate. The fourth step is called pranayama. Pranayama is breath work practice that increases the pranic energy available to the physical and subtle body. Mindful breathing exercises also help eliminate toxins from the body and help regulate the autonomic nervous system. The fifth step is called pratyahara, which is defined as control of the senses. In yoga and Ayurveda there are very specific recommendations for proper use and cleansing of the sense organs in order to receive and assimilate sensory stimuli more accurately. The sixth step, called dharana is where we get into the nooks and crannies of meditation by developing the ability to deeply concentrate and cultivate inner perceptual awareness. After a firm dharana practice has been established then dhyana is embarked upon. Dhyana is devotion and meditation on the divine which leads one to the last layer of meditation, samadhi. Samadhi can be understood as complete union with the divine. This stage is considered to be the deepest form of meditation where all suffering ceases.

The eight stage process can take a lifetime to attain, but don’t let that put you off. Start some form of meditation today. There are many different types of meditation such as walking meditation, japa meditation, mindful meditation, pranayama meditation, chanting meditation or kirtan. The types and styles are vast and I know you can find a technique right for you. Here are several starting places. These are all free educational videos that I have recorded to help students in their practices.
Chakra Balancing Guided MeditationHere is a guided meditation that helps balance and integrate the energetic/emotional centers of the body. Just sit, listen and follow along. I have also included an introduction to chakra function and physiology.
Breath Based Meditation Technique

Here is a video illustration a meditative breath technique called nadi shodhana. It is a very relaxing breath technique that is excellent for anxiety, insomnia, stress or fear. This yoga breath control method helps clear your mind, sharpen concentration, balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain and subtle body.
Mindful Movement and Breath Based Technique

This gentle mindful movement practice called pawanmuktasana series one, helps integrate the mind, breath and body. When practiced regularly it has the ability to regulate the flow of prana, balance emotions, relieve anxiety, reduce joint stiffness and reintegrate body-mind-breath coordination.
Mantra Based Meditation Technique

Mantra is the repetition of syllables or phrases to help retrain the mind away from chaotic uncontrolled thinking patterns. Mantra meditation increases concentration and can propel the mind in more positive directions. Here is a basic beeja mantra practice you can try.

If you want to dive deeper into meditation, contact me through my website to learn about classes and programs I offer year round.DR Christie Smirl Healthier Vibrations.jpg

Dr. Christie Smirl has over 25 years of medical experience. She completed a Doctorate of Ayurvedic Medicine from American University of Complimentary Medicine, Master of Science and Nurse Practitioner from Loma Linda University. She is also an E-RYT 500 Yoga Teacher Trainer, YACEP, Reiki Master/Teacher, Tantric Energy Healer and Musician.
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