Now before you go and think I’ve gone all metaphysical on you (again), last Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal featured an article called “Doctor’s Orders: 20 Minutes of Meditation Twice a Day.” Not Om magazine, friends. The Wall Street Journal.
We’re talking western medical docs here. Not that I think doctors are the end all be all, because I think many of them are on a very wrong path in their attitudes to healing others. This isn’t their fault, entirely, as the healthcare system in our country is a train wreck. Many simply bought a ticket for treating sick care instead of health care.
I do recognize, however, that our culture still listens to doctors and holds what they say in high (sometimes, Biblical) regard. So here you have it, in the business newspaper straight from primary-care docs out of Boston’s prestigious Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center: Meditation is being prescribed the same way medicine is being prescribed.
“I recommend five minutes, twice a day, and the gradually increase,” said Aditi Nerurkar, a primary-care doctor.
Anybody who has meditated for any period of time knows why. Consistent meditation, starting slow and titrating up, can be therapeutic for living. Medicinal, even. The article goes on to say how meditation is recommended for anything from insomnia, depression, and anxiety to irritable bowel syndrome (and everything in between!) It works not instead of, but rather compliments, remedies already in place.
And it’s free! (No, you don’t have to wear a long robe. Or you can. Go naked. Get fancy. No dress code for meditation.)
Why, then, isn’t everybody doing it? I’m willing to bet if I surveyed 20 random people, I’d only hit about 5%. (That would increase in certain geographical regions–like mine–because it’s often looked upon as voodoo.)
It’s not voodoo. It’s a “pause that refreshes” my mother used to call it. It’s taking a moment in a go-and-don’t-stop world to breathe deeply, to clear the chatter, to discover what’s been trying to get your attention. To listen.
Let’s say you’re in. You want to do it. Where do you start?
There are many techniques. Guided meditations are fantastic for both beginners and veterans, especially when focus is challenging. I’ve recently fallen in love with Omvana (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/omvana-meditate-relax-sleep/id595585396?mt=8), an app on my Iphone that offers both free and paid meditations. Their goal is to have everybody in the world meditating twice daily. The app allows you to mix background tracks with guided meditations on a number of topics, including weight loss, confidence, inner beauty, sleep, well-being, focus–the list goes on. This morning I listened to a man focusing on health to the background of a Native flute.
Of course, you don’t need an app. Just a quiet place and you breathing deeply then returning to the breath when you inevitably start thinking about what you are going to make for dinner. (I’ve said too much.)
I look at meditation just like exercise: 7 days a week is my goal. Not 3 hours, just 30 minutes total and I break that up. I do a guided meditation in the morning (always changing) and a quiet meditation in the shower, then usually one right before bed. I sleep like a baby when I do that and get very full dreams. If I miss, I notice a difference.
As meditation works its way into mainstream, it gives me hope. Hope that we will take more responsibility for our health proactively and less reactively. Then, who cares about the healthcare system? We’ll only need it once in a great while, if at all. And just think–we can use all that extra time spent complaining in meditation.