Dr. Dean Ornish
Dr. Dean Ornish Founder and President, Preventive Medicine Research Institute
What [meditation does], once you get away from the different rituals that tend to divide people -- this is my religion, and that's your religion, and we're going to fight about that -- what they really do is you come down to what Aldous Huxley called the perennial philosophy. You quiet down your mind and body. These techniques -- for example, meditation doesn't bring you inner peace. It helps you simply stop disturbing what's there already. You say, "Oh, if it's there already, that means I'm disturbing it." Not to blame myself, but to empower myself, I can do something about that. So I can be in the world more fully without being so affected by it.
I can enjoy what I'm doing more fully if I don't have the anxiety that goes along with it. The paradox is that I can generally accomplish even more if I'm more innerally defined because, again, people only have power over you if they have something that you think you need, and so if you accept that you're more innerally defined and you don't need all those things, then you hold onto your power, you can accomplish even more without these painful choices.
Meditating can help you relax and quiet the racing of your mind. It can calm you and make you less reactive to situations of stress. Research has shown that during meditation, blood pressure levels drop and metabolism rates decrease. Both of these can help you experience less anxiety. It is recommended that you meditate several times a week, in addition to right before a situation that is likely to cause you to feel anxious, such as an exam. Transcendental meditation, which is used in Ayurvedic (Hindu) medicine, can be particularly helpful in treating anxiety.
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