Peace is One Breath Away: Meditation and Its Benefits

Maya Salazar, Staff Writer

Meditation is a method of clearing the mind has been around for millennia, and it is still as relevant as ever. Meditation is also used in modern ways, such as providing relief for nicotine addicts or those who suffer from anxiety attacks, and is extremely beneficial in working through past traumas and even physical issues like high blood pressure or chronic pain.

First, what is meditation? According to Cleveland Clinic, “meditation is an ancient practice that dates back thousands of years”. Meditation is a spiritual practice that uses a combination of a repeated phrase or mantra as well as deep breathing to help calm the mind, nervous system and, in some cases, improve physical ailments like high blood pressure and insomnia.

Here at Seattle Prep, a few teachers have already begun exploring the health benefits of meditation, and the results are overwhelmingly positive. Not only does meditation target physical problems, but also those ailing the spirit by targeting hidden traumas and providing tools to deal with the emotions that arise as a result of those traumas. Theology teacher Mr. Paul Peterhans said “[Meditation] can focus on regulating heat rate, regulating blood pressure, and digestion…There’s also the spiritual component, which opens you up to the unconscious…We all carry some forms of trauma which often presents itself on a spectrum.”

Peterhans has been known by students to include meditation as a part of his teaching, beginning each class with a meditative prayer or reflection to help center students before focusing on the class. “I think it’s essential for learning,” says Peterhans, “We often talked about [meditation] as integral to help with intellectual learning.” Peterhans went on to describe the creation of his Senior Theology class, East/West Meditation, as a response to “suicidal ideation” in the culture at large from the years 2010-2013, showing meditation to be not only a form of physical improvement, but also a deep, emotionally grounding experience that can help with life-threatening ideas.
Meditation has immense health benefits proven by both science and avid practitioners, such as Assistant Principal for Academics Ms. Jenell Kheriaty, who states that “Meditation can reduce stress and anxiety, enhance self-awareness, lower blood-pressure, reduce pain, and improve sleep quality”.

Meditation may seem difficult to learn and master, but with modern technology, reliable guided meditations can be easily accessed with meditation apps and well-informed teachers. Kheriaty states that a favorite app of hers, Headspace, offers meditation series, some with particular “areas of focus.” “You can tailor these to your preferences including selecting your guide and identifying session lengths” says Kheriaty. The focuses offered for these guided sessions include, managing stress, beginning meditation, or finding happiness, each geared toward a particular issue meditation can help resolve.

With all of the new ways of breaking into meditation, including helpful apps like Headspace, along with all of the benefits it offers, it is clear to see why this practice has been popular all across the world for thousands of years. As Peterhans says, “The relaxation [that comes from meditation] helps us to access those [parts of ourselves] that were hidden. There are teachings that help you understand this dynamic psycho-spritual healing process. At the end of the day, we all want to be whole and healthy.”