I recently had an appointment with my therapist, and he mentioned that I should try meditation.  I suffer from anxiety and depression, and I was eager to try something different.

He suggested that for a beginner, listening to guided meditation can be helpful.  I found some things on youtube, and decided to give it a try.  However, I noticed that most of the tracks I listened to talked about "imagining your creator,"  "thinking of heaven," etc.  This got me worried that meditation isn't really good for atheists.  I know that I could do it on my own, but I don't really know how.  I know this may sound silly, but I always think that I'm doing it wrong.

I have read many studies that conclude that meditation does work, and I would love to try it, but now I'm skeptical.  Is meditation really effective?  If so, how would you recommend starting meditation for a complete beginner?  Any good tracks you would recommend that are free of bs?

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I think meditation can be a great way for some to relax. For me, it's like taking a break from the things that bother me and just "existing" for a bit...thus, easing stress/etc. I've honestly gotten similar effects from forcing myself to paint.

I find 30 minutes of quiet works well.  I mean really quiet.  The quiet you find in a quiet room, no fans, no radios, ear plugs inserted.  I like to hear the tinnitus ringing in my ears, that kind of quiet.  If your mind is too active find a mental task that steers you back to your "centre".  I just think "um".  My mental activity is to recite the alphabet beginning to end, end to beginning, beginning and end to middle, middle to either end...in the phonetics/radio usage (alpha, bravo, charlie...). 

Some neck stretches help the unwinding process too.  I find that I sleep better after a day when I've meditated, I'm mellower too.  It's MY time.  It took a long time to convince people I wasn't having a nap.

 

Ralph

Hi, Meditation does work but you do really need some help with it to start with from a professional instructor. They will find exactly the best method for you, and the best way to practice it when on your own.

Our Home birth Midwife practice uses it a lot and we have a contract with an instructor to come in and give our ladies classes. Without an instructor to give you a good grounding & to help manage your expectations or you can waste a lot of time.

I first saw it used when the parents of a young girl who had been very badly injured brought in an instructor to help teach the girl to use it to manage her pain, anxiety and anger (she was a very difficult patient). We nurses soon learnt that the best time to work on the girl (change dressings, clean er wounds etc) was right after a meditation session when she was at her most comfortable and calm. I could take her blood pressure before a session be something like 95/150 and afterwards it was down to low normal (65/112). We could of course have just upped her spinal morphine and worked on her anyway but I would say she was more comfortable post-meditation. After this experience I was convinced and so when I went onto to become a midwife I introduced meditation to the practice.

I meditated for the birth of both my babies and really got to a point in my head where I got my modern brain to shut off and let my primitive brain engage - the result was two very easy births. If you want to learn more of this aspect of meditation  read "Birth reborn" by Michel Odent.

Every day my wife still uses what she learn't twelve years ago. She does it right after doing her yoga exercises when her endorphines are flooding her system. It helps her to manage her anxiety and I would argue that it helps make her the calm mother she is.

Find an instructor, pay for a couple of sessions with them to help find the best method for you, in the long run it will be more effective.

Good luck,

Nina van der Roos

I am no meditation expert but from my own experience changing your focus does really seem to help. It does takes lots of practice. I put it to application when being life-flighted by helicopter after my heart attack. I just focused on an object, in this case it was a knob and switch just above my head, while staring at this I started to control my breathing which helped me over the anxious feeling.

Try reading the chapter towards the end of Sam Harris's great book The end of Faith it will dispell the idea that meditation needs to be connected to religion. Then i suggest that you need to find a good teacher and thats not easy because there are alot of charlatans out there.I found mine through yoga and buddhism but all depends where you live and whats around. I wouldnt recommend trying to learn from a video /cd etc you need to find other like minded people to get anywhere. Good luck

Meditation is simply a state of mind in which you find yourself totally relaxed. You can do this by numerous ways: religious people do it by thinking about imaginary friends, and normal people do it by thinking, for example, of the magnity of the universe, the stars, things that calm you.

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