Kane County Chronicle

Yo Joan! Column: Counting to ten works well in Zen

Why is it important to meditate?

There are so many great reasons why meditation can be helpful. Here’s one for starters: It calms the busy mind so things can be seen more accurately. When this happens, wise decisions become easier to make.

And who couldn’t use some help every once in a while with that? Some decisions are significant and life-changing such as “Should I enlist in the army?” Others are not so big but decisions nonetheless such as “What color shirt should I wear today? Of course, a color therapist might consider that last question quite significant. Chromotherapy involves the use of color to support life on multiple levels – physical, emotional and mental.

But that’s my mind going into overdrive. It’s not unusual to have a mind in overdrive, but it’s also vital for the mind to have opportunities to rest. That busy ol’ mind after all is even busy in sleep creating dreams.

And speaking of dreams, that’s something that meditation can help with, too.

We all dream whether we remember them or not. Meditation can help in remembering dreams! You may be thinking at this point, dream on, Joan.

But you don’t have to take my word for any of this. There’s plenty of scientific literature and research supporting the incredible positive side effects a regular meditation practice can bring.

Here are just some of the reported proven benefits:

• Lowers cholesterol levels

• Reverses arteriosclerosis (hardened arteries)

• Lowers blood pressure levels

• Reduces angina (chest pain)

• Lowers levels of stress hormones in the blood

• Lessens fatigue

• Alters brain wave patterns reflective of a calmer state

• Lessens anxiety and depression

• Reduces insomnia

• Improves muscle and joint pain

• Strengthens the immune system

• Lessens craving type behaviors such as smoking

• Increases overall confidence, awareness and general health


Considering all these many positive side effects, it’s a wonder why we’re not meditating right now. So let’s!

Here’s a simple meditation I call Zen Ten:

Sit in a comfortable seated position.

Bring your attention to your breath.

Each time you inhale count down one number starting with 10.

For example, inhale 10, next inhale 9, next inhale 8, etc.

When you get to one, the next number will start over again with 10.

If you lose focus on your breath or get distracted, gently bring your attention back to 10 and start again.

Continue this meditative practice as long as comfortable.

In the morning, in the evening, anytime you have a few moments in the day, consider taking a Zen Ten. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

And as your calmness within develops and radiates outward, the people in your life will be thanking you, too.

• Joan Budilovsky can be reached at editorial@kcchronicle.com or through her website Yoyoga.com. She’s the expert author of the best-selling book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation” available on Audible.com.