During most of our waking life our minds are engaged in a continuous internal dialogue in which the meaning and emotional associations of one thought trigger the next. We hear a snippet of music and suddenly we’re thinking about the first time we heard that song with an old boyfriend or girlfriend and how that relationship ended . . . and if we’re still holding emotional pain over that ending, those feelings may bubble up and then our mind may veer into criticism (“I can’t believe you’re not over this yet . . . ) or self-pity (That person broke my heart and destroyed my self-esteem”) or thoughts about the future (“Gee, I hope I never get such a painful relationship again . . . I better be more careful”).
All day long our mind may spin stories about our work, our health, our finances, our family, that funny look the store clerk gave us . . . Often we’re not even conscious of the internal soundtrack unspooling in our mind and yet it is one of the greatest sources of stress in our lives. Although the mind is capable of creating more life-affirming stories, it has a tendency to get mired in a conditioned pattern of thinking, returning again and again to thoughts of anxiety, depression, and limitation.
The Healing Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is one of the best tools we have to loosen the grip of sticky emotions, go beyond the mind’s noisy chatter, and experience the peace of present-moment awareness. Numerous scientific studies have found that a regular meditation practice produces tangible benefits for mental and physical health, including:
Decreased blood pressure and hypertension
Slower heart rate
Lower cholesterol levels
Reduced production of “stress hormones,” including cortisol and adrenaline
More efficient oxygen use by the body
Increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
Improved immune function and more restful sleep
In meditation we disrupt the unconscious progression of thoughts and emotions by focusing on a new object of attention. In the practice of Primordial Sound Meditation, that “object of attention” is a mantra that we repeat silently to ourselves. A mantra is pure sound, with no meaning or emotional charge to trigger associations. It allows the mind to detach from its usual preoccupations and experience the spaciousness and calm within. With a regular practice, the expansive awareness we enter during meditation begins to permeate our life outside of our meditation sessions. We develop a sense of centeredness that helps us stay balanced, creative, flexible, and energized in all our daily activities.
How Can I Learn to Meditate?
At the Chopra Center we believe that to receive the full benefits of meditation, it’s best to learn from a qualified teacher. Since meditation is one of the most valuable foundation tools that we teach, we offer instruction at every workshop, program, and event we offer, including Perfect Health, Journey into Healing, and Seduction of Spirit, our signature meditation retreat.
Led by Deepak Chopra, David Simon, and the Chopra Center’s master instructors, Seduction of Spirit is an opportunity to leave behind the demands of everyday life and experience a week of deep meditation, heart-opening yoga, and other practices for spiritual awakening.