Saturday, August 20, 2011

On the values of meditation . . .

I meditate regularly, at least 30 minutes a day or more.  Why?  Because it feels good, and that feeling lasts.  Whether one is counting rosary and saying Avi Maria, or chanting Om-Mani-Pad-Me-hung meditation has some measurable results on one's body, and this is why I posted sometime back about prayer being meditation in fact, if not in name.

Studies have indicated that using either other these two methods can easily slow a persons respiration rate to 6 breaths per minute in experienced meditators.  With slower respiration comes an overall slowing of one's entire body, including heart rate and blood pressure.  Advanced meditators with practice can go even slower than 6 breaths per minute.  The average resting normal range is somewhere in the realm of 12 to 18 breaths per minute.

After a conversation with a friend yesterday about age, and my joking that I'm slowing my aging process down, on purpose, I thought to see, by way of a simply counting breaths meditation how I was doing.

It was an interesting experience for me. Especially since while meditating it's not uncommon for me to have experiences/visions/dreams what have you.  So as I'm counting, I find myself on a quiet street in a town somewhere, and people start showing up, LOTS of people start showing up which can tend to make me very skittish to say the least.  Being crowded by strangers making noisy and causing me to feel trapped is something I've been fighting with for some years.  It has in the past caused me to have panic attacks, and well I'm not much fond of them.  But I stayed focused on what I was doing and noticed with each breath more and more people were vanishing.  All this while staying focused on counting my breaths.  So I didn't let the crow get to me, and I thought this a particularly cruel joke my mind was playing on me while I was trying to determine my meditating respiration rate.  The key here however was that like any meditation, a key is to not engage the thoughts that crowd ones mind.  Not get involved, just let them wander through without thought or judgement, which is exactly what I did.  But as this was going on the thought dawned that this may throw off my test by adding stress to my meditation.  Once again, I let this though pass through without engaging it either.

I'd set my timer for a short ten minute meditation which would give me a large enough sample to determine easily what my per minute respiration rate was.  Much to my amazement and great comfort it was three. Yes, 3 breaths per minute, while I didn't bother to check my heart rate, I know medically that with a respiration of 3 breaths per minute, my heart was probably looping along nice and slow at maybe 15-20 beats per minute as well.  I know my average resting, non-meditating heart rate is usually in the 50-60 beats per minute range, and exercise rate significantly higher than that in the 120-130 range I'll have to think about checking it while meditating since it's pretty much a given it will be much slower than my average resting rate.

So doing 3 breaths per minute, not bad at all.  Being "tested" with stress while meditating very not bad! :)

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