Hypochondriasis (or hypochondria, sometimes referred to as health phobia) refers to an excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. Often, hypochondria persists even after a physician has evaluated a person and reassured him/her that his/her concerns about symptoms do not have an underlying medical basis or, if there is a medical illness, the concerns are far in excess of what is appropriate for the level of disease. Many people suffering from this disorder focus on a particular symptom as the catalyst of their worrying, such as gastro-intestinal problems, palpitations, or muscle fatigue.

Hypochondria is often characterized by fears that minor bodily symptoms may indicate a serious illness, constant self-examination and self-diagnosis, and a preoccupation with one's body. Many individuals with hypochondriasis express doubt and disbelief in the doctors' diagnosis, and report that doctors’ reassurance about an absence of a serious medical condition is unconvincing, or un-lasting. Many hypochondriacs require constant reassurance, either from doctors, family, or friends, and the disorder can become a disabling torment for the individual with hypochondriasis, as well as his or her family and friends. Some hypochondriacal individuals are completely avoidant of any reminder of illness, whereas others are frequent visitors of doctors’ offices. Other hypochondriacs will never speak about their terror, convinced that their fear of having a serious illness will not be taken seriously by those in whom they confide.

Introducing Meditation

Meditation is the practice of turning our focus inwards, connecting with our source and true self to a deep state of relaxation and awareness, which goes beyond that of the 'conditioned' mind.

Meditation brings about many psychological and physiological benefits. It helps us to be present and live in the current moment, thus unlocking our great creative potential.

Dhyana (meditation) is one of the eight limbs of yoga which leads to a state of Samadhi (joy, bliss or peace). Meditation enables us to achieve our goals and naturally shifts our energy towards personal and spiritual growth.

Psychological Benefits Neuroscientific studies have shown that meditation decreases the negative effects of stress, mild depression and anxiety. Overall we become calmer and happier. Meditation improves concentration which is essential to fulfilling our true potential. Focused concentration generates great power and when our powers of concentration are improved we are able to use this not only for the purpose of meditating but in our other activities too.

Part of achieving our goals and desires is having the ability to control our thoughts.

By calming the mind and focusing our concentration, we are able to experience this self mastery and we can begin to change and replace our negative or unwanted thoughts with positive ones. This shift in our thought process aligns our energy with that of universal energy vibrations and we will begin to notice positive changes and improvements throughout all areas of our lives. As meditation practice evolves we experience improved learning ability and memory, heightened feelings of vitality and rejuvenation, increased happiness and emotional stability.

Meditation brings us to our source and significantly raises our self awareness. With continued practice of meditation our potential will know no bounds.

Physical Benefits Meditation reduces stress related ailments such as palpitations, headaches, disturbed sleep and hypochondria.

As stress and anxieties are reduced we are actually decreasing the probability of experiencing any heart related illnesses. Studies have shown that meditation can relieve chronic pain, drop cholesterol levels and improve blood pressure. With an improved flow of air to the lungs we will experience an overall greater sense of wellbeing.

Meditation Techniques There are whole varieties of meditation techniques and over thousands of years different meditation practices have evolved. The true essence of meditation however is just to sit and be. Quite simply you are going beyond the 'conditioned' mind and elevating your mind to a state of pure self awareness.

Whilst you can focus on an object or on your breath to help you to reach this state, ultimately it is a natural process which evolves over time and the essence should always be in connecting yourself with your source. You are looking inward without actually attempting to do anything but to just sit and be. It is also effective to meditate on particular struggles or problems we are experiencing in our lives. For instance if we want to come to a decision on a particular aspect of our life; a career direction for example, meditating on this can help us to arrive at the answer. At times the answers we are seeking can come into our minds almost immediately. As mentioned before, the power of focusing concentration and directing that focus towards a particular question or subject can produce amazing results.

How to Meditate It is a good idea to have a meditation space. This can be a room, or part of your home where you feel most comfortable. You might have soft lighting, candles, incense, cushions, flowers, and other objects which invoke feelings of calm and relaxation.

Aim to meditate twice a day. Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day for meditation because our minds are more receptive at these times. Sunrise is the dawn of a new day and everywhere is quiet, calm and peaceful. The day has not yet begun and following a restful sleep, our minds tend to be calmer. At sunset the day is ending and meditation at this time enables us quiet reflection on the day we have just passed.

Our minds are winding down at this time before sleeping and the stillness and calm which meditation brings will be with us as we drift off to sleep, helping us to feel refreshed and energised when we awaken the following morning. On average we have around 60,000 thoughts a day. Attempting to meditate and clear our minds of thoughts can therefore be compared to trying to hold a bar of wet soap! Let go of any outcome and allow your thoughts to come and go. Place a cushion on the floor and seat yourself so that your bottom is half on and half off the cushion. This will elevate your hips and naturally lift your spine and you will feel more comfortable than if you were just sitting on the floor. Take yourself into a cross legged position. Traditionally the lotus or half lotus pose is used when meditating but if you are not able to comfortably sit in these poses, sit as is right for you. Let your spine be upright and tilt your head so that your eyes, when open, are fixed three feet in front of you. Place your hands wherever they feel comfortable; one on top of the other in your lap, in a mudra with the tip of the thumb touching the tip of the first or middle finger to form a circle or simply place them on your thighs. Whatever is comfortable and feels right for you. Close your eyes and begin to focus your attention on your breath. Focus on each inhale and exhale. Silently saying the words 'SO' on the inhale and 'HUM' on the exhale also helps focus. Allow your thoughts to come and go but always return your focus to your breath. Over time meditation becomes easier and you will find as your self mastery grows you are easily able to sit for 20-30 minutes.

To begin with just work on achieving 5 minutes twice a day and then increase to 10 and so on. Meditation can be effective at any time. If you are not able to meditate regularly find some quiet time when you can to allow yourself to simply sit and be. Focus on your breath and visualise yourself sitting on a beach in front of a beautiful calm blue sea or somewhere you feel comfortable can also help bring about a relaxed and calm state of mind. Be patient and gentle with yourself. As your ability to meditate increases, your level of self awareness grows. You will begin to notice improvements with each day's meditation practice.

Autor: Shelley Costello

Shelley Costello is a Wellness Coach, incorporating Yoga, Life Coaching, Indian Head Massage, Relaxation, Meditation and Ayurveda.

The essence is of helping others to help themselves become healthier, happier and live a more fulfilled life.

Shelley is a qualified Yoga Teacher, Life Coach, Meditation Teacher and Indian Head massuese. In addition, over the past two years she has studied Buddhism, anatomy and physiology, nutrition, quantum physics related to the natural laws of the universe and conscious creation techniques. She has 15 years business management experience, extensive internet marketing experience. Shelley loves learning, yoga, photography and nature.

Visit Shelley Costello http://www.shelleycostello.net

Added: January 16, 2009
Source: http://ezinearticles.com/