Meditation, has long been used to achieve a variety of relaxing states of mind. In fact, cultures have meditated and did not even know that the word was coined. Hypnosis is a form of meditation. When one is engrossed in a movie or book, and the phone rings, you jump and are startled, at that point you were in a state of meditation or quasi-hypnosis. Meditation is the ability to defocus from your state of conscious intrusive thoughts, and stress to tap into your unconscious.
Native Americans have used sweat ceremonies, monks have used prayer, and psychologists have used a variety of methods to achieve a state of relaxation with their patients. In the early eighties, sensory deprivation tanks were the rage, to help achieve a deeper unconscious state. "The Deep Self" by Lilly and "Journeys Out of the Body" by Monroe aided this popularity. This was then sensationalized by the movie, " Altered States " starring William Hurt. Sensory deprivation tanks aid one by closing off all external stimuli, sight, sound, and even temperature. One is suspended in a black box, with high saline water so flotation is effortless. These tanks work, and one can achieve a quick relaxing state much faster than classic meditation.
Meditation has been studied, and documented to be very beneficial. The objective measures are seen in vital sign reduction of respiratory rate, pulse rate and blood pressure. Cancer victims have benefited, and panic attacks and anxiety have been diminished through meditation. One cannot argue with the objective findings that continue to be produced from meditative techniques.
Is there a higher consciousness that one can achieve? Absolutely. There is so much of our brain that is not being used, not being tapped into, that meditation allows that to occur. Like any exercise, or technique one must practice, practice, and practice. Meditation will not show immediate results, especially if one is new to their own technique.Meditation combined with breathing exercises can be very effective. When one implements both, they are targeting the psychological aspects as well as the physiological aspects of reducing stress.
One must approach meditation with an open mind. if there is doubt, speculation and hesitancy one is setting themselves up for failure. Trust the process, not analyze the process to death. Meditation is an underused technique, and is falling to the wayside in this fast paced society. We need to take time for ourselves,if we are ever going to achieve decreased stress and some inner peace. Meditation is a harmless, effective technique that can be a great addition to your path of peace or exploring your own deep self.