So why meditate?

For the same reason your mother told you to eat your veggies: it’s good for you. However, since that by itself hasn’t made us a nation of vegetable-eaters, I assume you’ll need something more compelling.

Uh, yeah, I’m afraid so.

It’s the most efficient way to keep yourself healthy. Whenever you meditate, you generate all the pharmacology you might ever need. Serotonin, interleukins and anti-inflammatory chemical levels remain high for up to twelve hours after meditation, which makes for a very convincing argument for meditating twice a day, 12 hours apart.

I bet the people who eat their vegetables do that.

And everyone else who needs to reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol levels, headaches, pain associated with muscle tension, or enhance the immune system. Plus, it improves your concentration and attention span.

Uh… Sorry, what were you saying?

If you’re not yet willing to sit and be with yourself, the practice of yoga is also a form of meditation -- the intricacies of the poses quieten the incessant chatter of the mind through your awareness of your body. By the time your finish your yoga practice and are ready for the deep relaxation, shavasana, your mind may already be in meditation.

But dude, it just seems like such a waste of time.

It depends on how you measure efficiency. If it’s how much you run around like a mouse inside one of those spin-in-place wheels, then meditation would be a waste of time. If you measure efficiency by how much you change and how your consciousness has an effect on others and the people they’re in contact with, then meditation is extremely efficient, and running the rat race is a total waste of your time.

Can you give me more incentives for this meditation thing?

Besides stress reduction, decreased high blood pressure, better digestion, better vision, and pain reduction?

Uh… Yes.

How about feelings of deep peace that you can’t really get any other way?

Okay… I’ll buy that. But how does that work?.

Our usual thoughts are just the diluted energy of consciousness traveling through the furrows laid down by the ego: memory, regrets, desire, yearnings, etc. The experience of this energy remaining unscattered (remaining, in other words, as pure awareness), brings with it those feelings of deep peace and sets in motion a number of biochemical reactions with great benefit for the body.

Says you.

No, not just me. Scientifically rigorous studies abound that confirm this. For instance, Herbert Benson, M.D. Harvard Medical School, author of The Relaxation Response, concludes that “Meditation decreases oxygen consumption, heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure, and increases the intensity of alpha, theta, and delta brain waves — the opposite of the physiological changes that occur during [stress].”)

And now you’re going to tell me something about heart patients…

Again, the studies are there for both heart and cancer patients. But a thousand studies aren’t going to do the trick of just being still, and experiencing a sense of alive emptiness, as you move away from doing (in the practice of physical yoga, or hatha yoga) to non-doing (in the stillness of just watching, just perceiving, just being conscious).

Thank you, O Wise One.

That’s “Mr. Wise One” to you!