This weekend I had the unexpected delight of seeing Russell Simmons while I was having dinner with friends. Why was I so excited to run into this hip-hop heavyweight and entrepreneur extraordinaire? Because Russell is a yogi and a meditator, of course!
In his latest New York Times best-selling book "Success through Stillness: Meditation Made Simple" he talks about his yoga practice and his passion for meditation. I was excited to be able to spend a few minutes with him talking about how I use meditation in my practice with my patients.
I was asking his advice on how to encourage anyone who thinks they can’t meditate to try it. Many of the answers he shared with me are in his book, but the bottom line to start meditating is to sit and breathe.
I know for many of my patient and many of you, the idea of meditating is something that you think is beyond your abilities. However there is growing interest in the results you can receive from meditation.
One of the topics I asked Russell’s advice on was how to get past the obstacle he calls, “Why you think you can’t meditate.” (It also happens to be a chapter in his book.)
Many of you may think that to meditate you have empty your mind of every thought. While that would be awesome, on Day One that is not what meditation is about.
My definition of meditation is to calm the mind and reduce the number of thoughts, especially the negative thoughts that are present. Our minds tend to have a negative bias of thought. Our negative bias is an evolutionary survival mechanism where our mind focuses on negative scenarios to protect us from threatening situations.
Meditation is one of the best tools to change our negative bias way of thinking. It not only creates peace and stillness, it also creates space for positive thoughts and creativity. There are physical and health benefits as well.
Meditation has been shown to:
• Decrease anxiety, worry, depression
• Reduce release of stress hormones
• Improve quality and quantity of sleep
• Lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• Improve immune function