In this podcast, Kim and Tony discuss the benefits of meditation, the research behind it, their own experiences with meditation, and offer some practical tips for starting your own meditation practice. Meditation can be the basis for health, creativity, and growth, and it doesn’t have to be linked to any specific religion or set of beliefs. You can customize your practice to your needs.
The Benefits of Meditation
According to over 200 studies over the past 40 years by universities and research institutions, benefits of meditation include:
- 42 percent decrease in insomnia
- 10 percent improvement in test scores and GPA
- 21 percent increase in high school graduation rate
- Twice the effectiveness found with other relaxation techniques in reducing trait anxiety
- 47 percent reduced risk of cardiovascular-related mortality
Article about the Harvard study that showed changes in the way the brain processes stress after eight weeks of meditation
Study from Psychoneuroendocrinology that shows how meditation can influence the brain at a genetic level, reducing inflammatory gene expression
How to Develop Your Own Meditation Practice
You have to find a practice that feels good—authentic—to you. Kim and Tony share their experiences and talk about their paths here, but yours may be very different.
See which books or programs you’re drawn to. One place to start your meditation journey is the Self-Realization Fellowship with Kim’s guru, Paramahansa Yogananda.
Make time to meditate at the beginning of each day to set the tone and at the end of each day to put a break between the activity of the day and restful sleep. Ideally, you should meditate 10 percent of your day (2-2.5 hours), but that’s not realistic for most people, especially beginners, so do what you can, when you can.
You can meditate to search for God and a higher consciousness or you can do it for your heart health and stress. You can realign in just 10 minutes midday if that’s what you have, but the best times to meditate, at minimum, are morning and night. All meditation is good, so don’t feel confined by any “rules” for meditation.
Passages from The Bhagavad Gita: Royal Science of God-Realization as Translated by Paramahansa Yogananda
Passage 1: Very seldom does man realize that his health, success, and wisdom depend in great part on the issue of the battle between his good and bad habits.
Start your meditation, a good habit, and more good habits will follow as you develop the discipline to tune in and slow down. This helps limit outside influences and allows stress to roll off your body. You focus your mind with meditation and that carries over into other areas. You may find that you have fewer cravings and you’re less reactionary to the things that go on in your life. You don’t have to be perfect. Just make progress by creating good habits that serve you and help you reach your highest potential.
Passage 2: The ego is circumscribed by age, nationality, likes and dislikes, form, possession, wish for fame, personality, pride, attachment, everything that serves to circumscribe and limit…The fault of the ego makes the mind narrow and limited. Pride chokes and suppresses the illimitable soul qualities.
Any descriptive label is a limitation. Tuning into your thoughts takes you beyond those labels. Without that practice, you can start to feel narrow, limited, frustrated, jealous, or competitive, because you feel like you’re what these descriptors are. In reality, we’re so much more.
Passage 3: When the soul is identified with spirit, it feels itself one with the joy of limitless space. When the soul, as ego, limits itself to a particular body, the soul identified with a body loses consciousness of omnipresence and becomes identified with the trials and misfortunes of a small ego.
It’s easy to get caught up in the struggles of daily life. Tune in to realize how much power you have and feel expansive. All your dreams can then start to manifest because there are no limitations when you’re connected and away from the ego’s ideals.
What It Means to Be a Heart Warrior
When your heart is actively involved, your actions are coming from your heart. Connect to the type of meditation your heart is telling you to do and then devote to that. Bring more heart into your presence and life. That gives you courage and passion. When your actions come from ego, you’ll have imbalances, struggles, and issues. Limitations and ego create fear, which in turn creates stress and are bad for the body.
The Power of Joy
Realize that joy comes from the inside, not outside sources. You’ll be less reliant on outside sources to feel joy, and you’ll begin to attract people who are more in alignment to whom you feel a deep connection. In order for this to happen, you need to make your meditation a habit. Routinely find stillness.
Practical Meditation Tips
- Start small. Feet on the ground, eyes closed, back straight. Listen to your breath and breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Do this for about three minutes each morning. Beginners can even meditate while lying in bed as soon as they wake up.
- Look for books, techniques, and teachers that appeal to you so you can learn and create your own personalized practice.
- There is no right or wrong.
- Try putting one hand on your heart and one on your stomach. The one on your heart reminds you to infuse everything you do with love. This helps increase creativity. The hand on your belly, the third chakra and solar plexus, has to do with taking action in the world, confidence, and being in the world. Connect the two. Take action, but live from a place of love.