I recently met a 95-year-old woman who has been meditating to 40 years, 20 minutes in the morning and 30 at night. How can we learn to meditate if we haven’t done it before?
You don’t have to get into a pretzel position and say ‘om.’ Start spending five minutes a day in a quiet place, and concentrate on your breath. When you breathe, envision your breath going through your nostrils, through the passages into your lungs, and then consciously try to get that air out. The goal is to get your mind to kind of just be still. If you have to concentrate on the air flow, you won’t be able to think as much about things that bother you. It will relieve the excess ideas and thoughts that are raising your stress levels. You’re concentrating on something that’s within you.
We worked on meditation with police officers in downtown Detroit. They have stressful jobs in a stressful city. Within 5 to 10 minutes, their heart rates and blood pressure went down by 30 percent. They’re weren’t super enthusiastic to start, but they were amazed after the exercise. Within several weeks, their rates went down, even when they weren’t in the mobile meditation unit. The effects were dramatic. If we could package this idea in a pill, it would be the best pill ever made, hands down. It would outsell every drug ever made.
Meditation can produce all the feel good hormones that relaxing meds are supposed to produce. You’d live a more fulfilled life. You can meditate anywhere; you don’t have to do it on a mountain. When you do it for a little white, it becomes subconscious, like walking. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it becomes ingrained, and the effects are nothing less than profound.
If you can meditate for 30 minutes before you go to sleep, that would be ideal.
What if someone tries all your recommendations, and none of them work?
If they don’t work, you have to make sure you don’t have a sleep disorder. I cannot be stronger about that. See a sleep specialist. Don’t just live with a sleep disorder because it’s slowly deteriorating your health, from your mind to your immune system to your heart to your lungs. Every part of your body needs that rest.
If night sweats are keeping you up, you should seek a pharmacological way to treat it temporarily. You don’t have to avoid every drug there is, but should minimize your reliance on drugs. If you don’t do something about a lack of sleep, it will affect your body and your health.
What’s the key message of your new book?
It’s about advocating and making your health and well being your #1 priority. My five-step plan to achieve great health and wellness doesn’t involve complex solutions, potions and crazy ideas. Everyone can follow it.
Dr. Nandi’s new book Ask Dr. Nandi: 5 Steps to Becoming Your Own Health Hero for Longevity, Well-Being, and a Joyful Life will be available on September 12th, but you can pre-order it here.