The Unadulterated True Story of … Meditation
Health Matters

The Unadulterated True Story of … Meditation

By Tracey Stover

Meditation is the fifth pillar of this series – the five pillars of health. The pillars of breath, hydration, nutrition, exercise, and meditation are equally important to maintaining health. I sincerely hope this series of articles have provided insightful ways to promote your well-being. If the body is healthy, happiness is a much easier endeavor. 

Volumes have been written on meditation; this is but a snapshot. Essentially, meditation is the key to walking in awareness because it can align body, speech, and mind. When we can choose between thoughts of stress or a thought that enlivens us by learning to focus, we have set ourselves free. 

Cultivating the ability to focus on what we choose, by not getting caught in the swirl of thinking, especially stressful thoughts, is a skill. In my practice, I have learned to incorporate the peaceful, focused awareness, meditation generates into the rest of my life. As the observer of my thoughts, I am less easily swept down the rabbit-hole of my latest drama – I am not enough, I don’t have enough, I am frustrated with … 

We all know what it feels like to jump on the runaway train of thinking … It is because we believe the story we are telling ourselves. However, by practicing observing thoughts, we learn to create space between ourself and thinking. It’s easier if I remind myself, “I don’t even know if this thought is true.” Most thoughts are not true. Before you know it, all of one’s stories have less power. I am more likely to investigate my premise. What I repeat has more power. 

Learning to focus and calm the mind stimulates the brain to release hormones that support peace and calm. Meditation is not the end of the journey, it is an essential step. Meditation helps to reduce stress, it increases peace and calm, which is an inner medicine that helps heal the body. It also transforms the body into an action-ready, fully functional body, able to respond to life swiftly and effectively. Mediation helps us attain self-realization. Think of it like hygiene for the mind.

In a world that keeps us distracted, most of us in the West are wound up like a top (the old-fashioned children’s toy). Once we pull the string, we spin in all directions. It is essential to learn to focus on what we choose – and not be distracted by the latest personal or societal drama. 

Here is something to consider: By meditating, we are a peaceful presence, a powerful reflection of equanimity for those we love, and really for all beings. In the 1980s, several meditation groups began researching its effects in cities with high crime rates. In 1976, a group practicing Transcendental Meditation found that when 1% of a community practiced, crime rates reduced by 16%. This was called the Maharishi Effect.

In 2007-2010, a group was formed to meditate during the economic downturn. The leading experts of the time claimed this was the first economic downturn since WWII where crime rates did not rise during the downturn. Since then, several meditation studies have been performed around the world; in all situations, including war-torn countries, they demonstrated similar results. A relatively small group of meditators with virtuous intentions in fact become powerful conditions for peace in the world.

Start with 1-5 minutes a day; before you know it, this will increase. Relaxation is the key. Allow your spine to be straight but not rigid, let the jaw relax, gaze soften, hands rest lightly on the knees. You can use a flower or candle to gaze upon. As you maintain focus, listen to sounds, feel the sensations beneath your fingers; this helps the mind focus and stay present. 

Even if life derails us, by cultivating the meditation muscle, we more easily get back on track. No one can take this from us, and only we can do it. It is our birthright. At the gym, we build our strength, and we don’t stop once it’s achieved. Not at all; we rejoice in our achievement and incorporate working out as part of our routine. You’ve got this! Have fun cultivating the inner muscle of meditation; enjoy the peace and happiness, internally and externally, on the path to greater awareness. 

Interested in improving breath capacity, contact Tracey for private sessions and group classes, 206-769-0040, on Vashon and in Seattle.

June 6, 2023

About Author

tracey Tracey Stover, MA maintains a breath practice in Seattle and on Vashon. She facilitates private sessions, group classes, and trains others. She has worked facilitating breath for over 20 years, and is Dharma Acharya Instructor of the Dzogchen Buddha Path, maintaining a local sangha and teaching online. Tracey is committed to helping all beings navigate the passage between breath and thinking, to ultimately realize their true nature. You can learn more about Tracey’s work at or contact her at