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Harvard Medical School studies have shown that meditation slows the heartbeat and decreases blood pressure and breathing rates; it also changes brainwave frequency to the long alpha waves associated with deep relaxation. Regular practice leads to greater powers of concentration and a sense of 'control' and efficiency in one's life. Not only does meditation help with the mind, it can relieve pain and even help with circulation problems such as chilblains and those suffering from Raynaud's disease. In a US study, Vipassana or 'mindfulness meditation' was shown to alleviate anxiety and depression. There are many schools of meditation but, with a little guidance, anyone can meditate alone, in a quiet place. But it is said that a greater benefit can be derived from meditating with others.

First really popularised in 1960's Britain by the Beatles who followed Maharishi Mahesh Yogi's transcendental technique, meditation has a long history and a guaranteed future in this hectic world. Meditation has been practised for centuries and is often associated with religion. But as a state of 'altered awareness' it is a highly effective way of 'switching off' and calming the mind. As such, it is hugely beneficial to health on many levels, particularly when dealing with stress-related conditions.

What to Expect
Meditation can be taught at a weekly class or while on retreat lasting a week or two. Depending on the technique you choose, you may be asked to recite a mantra, or concentrate on your breathing, or the flame of a candle. The point is to focus on something which 'stills' the mind. Many meditators sit cross-legged on the floor, or use special stools, but you can meditate just as well in an upright chair, especially if you have mobility problems. It is important to be comfortable, and warm. In time, you will discover that it is possible to 'sit' for lengthy periods. The only hazard is the likelihood of falling asleep!

Professional Bodies
British Wheel of Yoga
1 Hamilton Place
Boston Road
Lincolnshire NG34 7ES

Friends of the Western Buddhist Order
51 Roman Road
London E2 OHU

School of Meditation
158 Holland Park Avenue
London SW1P 4YY

Transcendental Meditation
London SW1P 4YY

Vipassana Trust
Dhamma Dipa
Harewood End
Hereford HR2 8JS

Information graciously provided by Holistics UK
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