Friday, February 15, 2008

Meditations on the Holy Name: Biology (1 of 3)

My Biology professor stated in class the other day that the American Heart Association has declared - after a massive study of thousands of people - that drinking two alcoholic drinks a day reduces the risk of heart attack and the AHA has recommended to the general populace to drink like the French do.

Why? she asked. Well, alcohol is a depressant, and when you're relaxed, your blood vessels expand and go "Aaaaaaahhhhh... that feels good. Now blood can travel through me with ease," So voila, lowered blood pressure. Scientists have found almost zero cases of hypertension in the Mediterranean area, where the people drink wine like water.

I laughed to think that she was speaking about this to fifty college students. And I also felt quite disturbed by her suggestion. My Lord, did she actually think that I would ever get drunk on a daily basis just to lower my blood pressure?

And then she added, "Oh, yes, and you can also get the same relaxation effects by meditation,"

Now I really wanted to laugh. Hm, big decision: intoxication or meditation?

And then she continued, "Yeah, just breathe in and breathe out. Take those damned iPod thingys OUT of your ears - neurons are still firing in your brain if you're listening to music. Clear your mind of all the million things going on and try this: listen to your heart beat. Just listen. And breathe."

I sat there, dumbfounded. I claim to meditate for over two hours every day, and yet it has never occurred to me to just listen to the heartbeat of the holy name as I chant. Just breathe. And yet I resist. I keep thinking that I have to THINK of something, to push and push. But something that Giri Govardhan taught us on the Winter Bus Tour japa retreat echoes in my thoughts: quiet determination. When the mind wanders away, gently bring it back. Back to my heartbeat.

Even the American Heart Association swears by it; my Biology professor, too. I do believe I agree with her on this one.

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