What is mind? No matter. What is matter? Nevermind...
If you had to choose one activity for everyone on the planet to do everyday, that would make the World a better place, what activity would you choose? Take a minute and think about your answer before reading on (This is a great question to think about! Take your time! You can even step away and contemplate this for as long as you'd like before continuing.)
Timmy seems to be a normal 6 year old kid by most standards. But he has one of the strangest psychological conditions that has has ever been documented. Timmy has multiple personality disorder. Some of his personalities are allergic to orange juice, while others are not. If Timmy switches to one of these personalities while orange juice is still in his system, he will break out in hives. If Timmy switches to another personality in the middle of one of these breakouts, the symptoms vanish. There have been similar documented incidents with other other people suffering from the same disorder, where symptoms, physical and mental, disappear all because a different mindset came into play. (http://www.nytimes.com/1988/06/28/science/probing-the-enigma-of-multiple-personality.html)
From cases such as Timmy's, to placebo effect studies, to thousands of other studies, it is very had to argue that there is not a strong mind body connection. Since there is so much evidence for this assertion, let's pretend that there is a definite mind-body connection. What we think, all our cells think. We are one consciousness, mind and body, and we are connected to everything and everyone one in one field of consciousness. How can we strengthen this connection and awareness? The activity that I think could do more good for the World than any other (Yoga and play are right there with it, and they have similarities) is meditation.
From lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, to better focus and emotional stability, you name it! Meditation will most likely help it! A google search of ‘health benefits of meditation’ yields over 1 million results. This link has 100 healthy benefits(http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/)
I began meditating close to 7 years ago. I started because I kept reading and hearing all these great things that meditation could do for us! I wanted to improve my soccer performances, I did a focusing exercise before games and I definitely noticed a big difference! And stress? Never HEARD OF IT after practicing meditation for some time.
How to meditate:
Basically, (from my readings and experience, there will be countless interpretations of the word) meditation is about putting your focus on one thing, and only that one thing. When we do this, the rest of our mind and body relaxes into a state of balance/serenity. That one thing can be a repetitive sound or chant, you can look at something(trace some object with your eyes, I used a soccer ball for my focus exercise), most meditation practices will talk about breathing, possibly putting your focus on your breathing, etc. You will want to be in an environment conducive for relaxation, out in nature or in a quiet comfortable place, though you can meditate in any environment! I've read from multiple sources that it is wise to meditate the same time each day. If what we do and think, all of the cells in our body do and think likewise, wouldn't we want everything to be in a state of serenity and flow?
One of the cooler benefits of meditation is that it increases the chance of synchronicity in our lives. Synchronicity, or serendipity, is when things just start to fall in line for you. You need a new sofa, and you happen to run into someone at the store who is getting rid of their new sofa, etc. Some people call this being in the 'flow'. If you think meditating will only help you and not those around you, think again...
'1993, Washington DC, the murder capital of the United States at the time. A study was to be conducted in which large groups of meditators would meditate for long periods of the day throughout that summer. It was predicted in advance that the violent crime rate would drop by 25% during this two month period. The chief of police said it would take a foot of snow for the crime rate to drop that much. By the end of the study, the Police Department became co-authors of the study because the crime rate did in fact drop by 24.6%. (http://istpp.org/crime_prevention)'
Your thoughts affect your physical self as well as those around you, from people to things. Knowing this, it would only make sense to put at least part of your day aside to meditate, or do something meditative. This would be good for any one of Timmy's personalities! There are often free meditation services in many cities in the United States.
I drew from Deepak Chopra's "Perfect Health, The Complete Mind Body Guide" for Timmy's story. Deepak explains the Ayurvedic medical system, in which meditation is integral. A fantastic book and the most interesting take on health I have ever come across.
"You can learn more about someone in an hour of play than in a year of conversation." -Plato