Health Care Dialogue
Kim S. Hwang, PsyD
AAP STAFF COLUMNIST
Dear Ms. Meditation, “I see two questions. First, will meditation die off? I have no idea. Although, I don’t believe it meditation will die off anytime soon. Right now, over 30 million people world wide self-report to meditate daily. Second, does meditation really work? Meditation, if practiced over time and with competent instruction works for many people who engage in the discipline. If you were interested in trying meditation, I would recommend taking a class at a well-known and respected place.
I first started meditating about two years ago. Initially, I found it extremely difficult and I was convinced that having one eye open while everyone else had both eyes closed was probably not the best way to relax. But, after a while, I learned to relax my body and mind, clear my thoughts and reduce the angst of the day. I had to take several meditation classes before I was ready to practice on my own. Now, I meditate almost every day, at least 6 out of 7 days. At the same time, I could definitely benefit from a refresher class. The ties to meditation trace back to Asia, evolving from Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. Its challenge is to reflect internally versus process externally, which is much of what Western society has taught us to do instead. Through a process of thoughtful reflection, deep breathing and mindful training, the hope is to transcend to an emotional tempo of homeostasis and for a bit of time leaving confusion and anxiety behind.
Many people find that group meditation is much more powerful and that the collective energy results in a paramount experience of enlightenment. There are many forms of meditation and no one way to practice. The main components of meditation are finding quiet time, repeating a positive message and letting go of resistance. It’s hard not to benefit from this process, no matter what you call it. It may not be for everyone, but it sure takes away the “Madness.”