Q&A: Meditation expert Elizabeth Harper
Elizabeth Harper (www.sealedwithlove.com) is a nurse, yoga instructor and author of Wishing: How to Fulfill Your Heart’s Desires. She is a faculty member of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, where she teaches meditation classes and offers workshops in personal, intuitive and spiritual development. She believes truckers can benefit from simple meditation techniques that reduce stress and increase a sense of well-being. She talks about the benefits of meditation and offers easy instructions to get started.
TN: How can meditation help a long haul trucker?
EH: Meditation promotes a deep sense of inner peace and relaxation. When you are relaxed, your breathing and heart rate slows, blood pressure normalizes, and all the symptoms of stress such as rage and depression dissipate. Research shows that meditation can reduce stress hormones in the blood.
TN: What are easy ways to get started?
EH: It only takes about five minutes to meditate. Here are easy step-by-step ways to get started.
Step One: Meditate in the morning, sitting upright in a comfortable position.
Step Two: Close your eyes. This will help you journey inward.
Step Three: Breathe deeply. Deep breathing can help you relax and go deeper into meditation.
Step Four: Focus on a sound or on your breath or on nothing at all.
You will eventually find that your breath normalizes as you begin to feel a sense of peace.
TN: How can you fit this into the busy schedule of a truck driver?
EH: One complete breath is a meditation, provided your focus stays centered on your breath. Start by emptying your lungs, close your eyes and take a deep breath through your nose and into your belly. Hold this breath for a few seconds and then breathe out through the mouth. This technique works toward relaxing the body, a major component of meditation.
TN: Do you need special training to do this?
EH: Not at all! We all meditate, we just don’t realize we are doing it. You probably meditate while you are driving. If you are in the present moment, relaxed and focused on the road, that’s meditating! Training will just introduce you to more options and give you the space to practice regularly.
TN: Are there any health benefits to meditation?
EH: Yes, there are plenty of health benefits to regular meditation practice, and even the medical profession is taking notice of the research showing positive results.
Some of the benefits include lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, increased concentration, reduced pain, improved sleep, relief for depression, anti-aging and enhanced immunity to infection.
TN: How can meditation help with road rage issues?
EH: Practicing meditation can change the way you react in stressful situations. Rage stimulates adrenaline in the body fueling the “fight or flight” response. Meditation and meditative breathing calms the emotions, negates fear and reduces the internal chatter that surfaces during a stressful event.
TN: Truckers are often isolated and lonely. Can meditation help them become more content with their life?
EH: Meditation can help you access a natural state of being that inhances inner peace and happiness. It brings you into the present moment and links you with that part of yourself that is all knowing or, as some mystics call it, Nirvana. This state of consciousness seeps into your everyday life and gives you a greater sense of meaning and purpose. When you have achieved this, you will no longer feel isolated and lonely.
TN: Is meditation compatible with traditional religion?
EH: Meditation is compatible with all religions, it will not affect your beliefs, and it does not require faith. Some people think it is solely a religious practice as some cultures and religions use it as a means to attain higher consciousness.
TN: You talk about forgiveness. How can forgiving grievances help increase happiness?
EH: When you forgive you let go of the stress and conflict that can contribute to disharmony and unhappiness. Imagine holding your breath. This is what you do when you hold onto your grievances. As soon as you let that breath go your body can relax and go back to its natural state.