Musings: Meditation On Meditation And Country
A discouraged friend of mine once described meditation as “underwhelming,” disappointed it did nothing for him. Apparently he was expecting a show. The prospect of sitting around doing nothing except breathing and contemplating your navel is, admittedly, a tough sell.
Despite reading about all the remarkable benefits of meditation for a solid thirty years as a holistic magazine publisher, it’s only within the last couple of years that I’ve actually been able to maintain a daily practice. Before then, I’d start every so often and then lose interest; like my friend, I didn’t feel much happening and my time was way too valuable to sit and do nothing. But on my most recent foray to the source, I found my balance fairly easily and this time the daily habit took hold, just like taking off on a bicycle. As weeks turned into months of experience and settled into a routine, the sense of sinking into a deeper, relaxed state was predictable and it felt good, like the let-down reflex a nursing mother feels from her suckling infant when oxytocin floods her system.
Pain relief specialist Lee Albert confirms that feeling in his interview this issue: “Different states of meditation give you different brain wave frequencies. As you get a little deeper into meditation, your brain wave frequencies change and your body starts to produce feel-good chemicals like oxytocin. Because people don’t know how to meditate and produce that in their own body, they start looking for it in a drug, which is going to be harmful in the long run. Even breathing exercises release these feel-good chemicals in your body. Science can show that your body is making these chemicals; we are made to have them in our system.”
Which is why I don’t give up, even some days after sitting 15 or 20 minutes patiently bringing my mind back again and again and again to focus on breathing as it flits after more interesting thoughts and engaging emotions. But when I persist, I eventually land gently in a space where my body feels light, and even tingly, my mind pleasantly at peace. The longer I’m able to stay in this balanced and focused state, easily breathing in and out, the longer my cells bask in the uniquely transformative energy of meditation.
Elizabeth Blackburn, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, is a Nobel Prize winner for her work identifying the telomeres at the ends of each chromosome as the key to fending off disease and aging. She recently reported in AARP Bulletin that while it’s well known that stress deteriorates telomeres, studies now confirm that meditation aids telomere maintenance. “The better your telomeres are protected, the less chance you’ll have of getting any of the big diseases,” Blackburn says. “In addition, it’s good to know that they respond not just to impairments but also to improvements.”
People routinely underestimate the power of meditation because the results are subtle and cumulative. Yet mystics, masters and yogis have been filmed using meditation to raise their body temperature enough to dry wet sheets in freezing temperatures, precisely control breath and heart rates, and block out extreme pain. What other possibilities might be inherent in our untapped — dare we say — superpower?
The latest apocalyptic TV series boasting the ultimate doomsday title, “How The World Ends,” offered a surprisingly uplifting segment amidst all the notorious predictions of death and destruction. Fade out Nostradamus and cities burning around the world; cut to people participating at a new age meditation retreat. In addition to building bomb shelters and prepping, meditation makes the list as a possible path to altering the course of history. And why not? For all we know — and we don’t know at this point — meditation might develop powers of mind allowing us to access skills we have only dreamed about mastering such as flying, telepathy or bi-location.
Or seeding a new America. On the surface it’s hard to comprehend how the cosmic forces-that-be would want to rollback progress for women, minorities, immigrants, the environment, renewable energy, consumers, children, workers, veterans, sick people and world stability, and replace it with authoritarianism, war, racism, disregard for science and the environment, vulgarity, lies, chaos and the theft of vast amounts of money, resources, time and morale from the American people.
Yet, these are exactly the disastrous circumstances the world awoke to on November 9, 2016. In “American Winter,” an essay by Krista Bremer in The Sun (February 2017), the Gambian cashier working in an affluent American neighborhood supermarket remarks, ““Of course Trump won. God sees the suffering America has spread around the globe.” She felt Trump would be a fitting representative of a rich country that pursues its interests with callous disregard for vulnerable people at home and abroad.” Is the new president what Americans deserve, a harsh mirror of the self-absorbed, ill-informed citizens we have become?
Suddenly we are paying attention. All over the country, children are being ripped from their mothers or worried sick about it happening on a daily basis. Muslims are being targeted and banned from entering America. Protections for workers, consumers, sick people and the environment are gleefully being stripped away as victories. Perhaps the election of the current president and his administration reflects our collective wisdom in knowing that pain and danger are the two triggers we cannot ignore, ones that would compel us to go deep and go global.
Vywamus, a teacher of higher consciousness, notes this issue on page 68 that, “Many men and women currently on the world stage are doing you a service by giving you a chance to see more clearly what’s going wrong. What they say and do is actually helping to speed up the breakdown of the old forms that no longer work. You must make the excursion into the deeper level of your consciousness, where you will find your real source of power. Who you are at this deep level of yourself is more powerful than anything you actually say or do, and it will help move you and others in the direction you need to go to make the new forms that actually work in your everyday physical reality. You cannot create new forms or a new reality that lasts without going to this level of yourselves.”
The protests against the current US president are not just limited to America; they are global. Humanity is simply responding to its own evolutionary call. We want to evolve, not devolve, and this election is proving to be our catalyst. It’s time to engage the powers we were born with and rekindle our commitment to truth, justice and the American way in every way we can. That means work and paying attention on a daily basis. Americans must also take the necessary civic actions to help create the new forms that we wish to see inaugurated in this country. “The most important political office is that of private citizen,” said Louis Brandeis, Supreme Court Justice from 1916-1939. Each one of us plays a vital role in this group momentum; your actions matter. For this purpose, suggestions from Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda are included in this issue.
No topic is more appropriate for discussion in Spirit of Change than one that has added so much stress to the lives of so many ordinary and extra-ordinary Americans. Now more than ever during this time of political upheaval is the time to boost your own health. Meditation enhances any other treatment you are using, and best of all, it’s free. Apply liberally. The new Spirit of Change Journal of Natural Healing is now available online at spiritofchange.org/journal with first person natural healing success stories. We’ve included a sampling of the accounts for you to read in this issue beginning on page 52. Learn what works by reading other people’s successes, and then contribute some of your own to this natural healing database online. Help shift the healthcare paradigm back to mainstream natural healing available to everyone.
Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change holistic magazine.