Monday, July 25, 2011

Meditation

De-stressing with Meditation
One excellent and proven way to de-stress is through meditation.  You don’t have to hold any higher power belief to use this method either.  Many associate meditation only with prayer, but anyone can meditate and reap the benefits regardless of personal and religious beliefs. It’s a state of mind that changes your body internally along with your mind, mood and awareness.


If you're looking for ways to manage stress, the meditation tips below will benefit you.
There are many reasons why people decide to meditate.  You first need to ask yourself "why am I seeking the benefits of meditation?"  Do you want simple stress relief techniques? Do you want personal insight? Do you want physical, mental or emotional health? Do you want to look trendy? Are you hoping to learn how to float around? Some combination of the above?  After you decide your goal you can choose the right meditation techniques that are the most suitable for you.

One great tip (although may sound contradictory to the first question) is to "forget all your goals, desires and especially your expectations, about meditation benefits, including any you just made above!"  The reason for this is because attachments, desires and expectations are in and of themselves blocks to attaining results with body mind exercises. 100% of your focus needs to be on the meditation exercise at hand, so distracting thoughts, such as "am I doing this right?", "when is *insert cool/trippy experience* going to happen?" or "when am I going to feel *insert blissful new age adjective*?", are going to be major distractions even if they're simply expectations you set up in advance.

Although it is counter intuitive to a materialistic type of mindset, meditation made simple is actually the most advanced type of practice.
Most people misunderstand what exactly meditation is in the first place. Meditation is often thought to be someone sitting in a cross legged posture with their eyes shut like the picture above. However, what actually matters is what is going on inside the persons mind (or rather what's not going on) while they're in meditation. Tips and reasons on what’s  meant by this are as follows:

~The Chinese term for meditation literally translates as "sit still and do nothing" (Ching-jing wu-wei).

~The highest pinnacle of Zen, Hindu, Chan Buddhism and Tibetan meditation techniques is to have "no technique" (ie. sit still and do nothing!)

~By sitting still and doing nothing, you are allowing your mental and emotional dispositions to literally unravel over time without pressure or expectation to a specific outcome. This prevents the suppression of thoughts, emotions and belief patterns and instead allows them to resolve. The mind will then begin to quiet down. This is what is specifically taught in meditation classes.

~If you've ever tried to force your mind or thoughts to stop, you'll know that this is a counterproductive task. By using a technique such as a "chakra meditation" you are actually making the mind more active and not closer to being still (however, any type of meditation will help calm you down to a certain degree if you've just had an intense period of mental activity).

~The longer you are able to sit and simply observe your mind without interfering or getting caught up in it, the less active it will become. Eventually you might find that it slows down so much that you start having gaps of complete silence. The longer you are able to sit in that gap of pure being and let it extend to longer periods of silence; you will begin to experience meditation benefits like improved health, longevity and peace of mind.

~Another one of these important meditation tips is to be able to carry this ability of maintaining a quiet mind through everyday life. As with any practice whether it is mind exercises or physical exercises, the reason you do them is so that the rest of the time when you're working, with family or whatever else, you carry within you the benefits of meditation or the other exercises that you do.

There are plenty of meditation tips and techniques available on the internet, in books and from teachers of various systems.

What is mentioned above about the best of all meditation techniques is to have no technique is still true, however, specific abilities and exercises can be done which have their own unique health benefits. These practices which are commonly called "meditation" are really just different types of mind exercises. Here is an example list of a few various types of mind exercises which are widely practiced and have their own unique benefits to introspection and longevity in humans:

~Qi-gong
~Pranayama (this is the deep breathing exercise I do nightly for 15-60 mins with the aid of my ipad app)
~Chakra "meditation" (chakra colors shown in the picture to the left)
~Vipassana
~Transcendental Meditation
~Esoteric work (Qabalah meditation, astral projection, self-induced trance)
~Mantra repetition
~Concentration on a single object or concept
~Prayer


Again, of all the various meditation tips and techniques, the best method to develop ways to manage stress (which is the root of all suffering whether it be physical mental, emotional or spiritual) is to have no method. This is meditation made simple, yet it is the most difficult to do. It is the root of all the above mentioned practices and if you ever choose to explore any of the meditation techniques listed above or found elsewhere, it is my opinion that you should first get a strong foundation in the real and most basic formless form.
Meditation benefit's a great number of human ticks, ills and discomforts. Some people even say that "meditation is the best medication"!

faith (such as laying on of the hands). However, what the science and medical community is skeptical of is whether or not these practices are a result of the placebo effect. 
Whether or not certain meditation techniques truly do "harness universal energies" doesn't matter because you still have to practice and work yourself to attain the results mentioned.

Hypothetically, if all meditation benefits were a result of the placebo effect and made up by people's strong conviction and faith in a power greater then themselves, it still wouldn't matter since you can still do the work and get results by "buying into" a concept which results in a specific beneficial outcome for your health! That being said, we should definitely acknowledge scientific truth when it raises an eyebrow and glares at us with that "get with the program" attitude :p  Much like sugar pills and the placebo effect they have in helping people; it’s a change of state of mind that give true measurable results!

The debate about whether or not meditation benefits exist is ridiculous since clearly a great number of people have practiced and attained results over many thousands upon thousands of years. Again, the idea that these effects might be a placebo isn't an issue either because even if all meditation was without a doubt proven to be "all in the mind", one can always decide to practice it specifically to take advantage of that placebo effect! Following the meditation tips doesn't depend on whether or not God, mystical Chi power or even Beelzebub really exist, or that you believe they do.

Scientific research on meditation should be willingly embraced by the spiritual community. It helps knock down barriers and belief structures which could be holding certain groups back from experiencing more benefits of meditation made simpler by eliminating the fluff. This will help them refine their mind exercises within their system to expose the real nuggets of truth.

At the same time the scientific community could try actually sitting down and experiencing meditation themselves alongside just poking and prodding those who practice it. Many benefits of meditation are fairly subtle and may not be detectable by instruments science currently possesses. Abilities such as the development of positive personality traits don't exactly show up on a heart rate monitor... yet meditation benefits such as this are often overlooked by predominantly left brained thinkers.

Meditation tips the scales of health back into balance and could very well be the missing link in helping you create changes in life expectancy for yourself.
Following these and many other meditation tips will result in the same benefits listed under the mind exercises article. Understanding the effect on the nervous system from learning ways to manage stress through meditation is the core reason why these practices can create significant improvements in your life-span development. The longer you can train yourself to remain in that space of "no thought" as well as to be un-reactive to thoughts and emotions that do arise, the more you train your body to remain in the parasympathetic, "rest and digest", anabolic nervous system response in everyday life. The abilities you train while in meditation can then spill over into your day to day interactions.

When I took a Buddhism class in college, one of the lessons I took away from it was the notion to “acknowledge a feeling, feel the emotion, and let it go”.  In the last decade of my life I have retained this lesson and it’s helped me tremendously to deal with stressful events and traumatic times that previously would have spun me out of control with worry or despair.  It’s helped me to let go of angers, sad feelings, annoyances and distress.  I take a deep breath, acknowledge the feeling, and only let it consume me for seconds before I consciously tell myself to let it go.  It wasn’t easy at first!  But like repetitive meditation it’s a benefit that carries along with you into your daily life.

Lower cortisol levels (a catabolic, tissue destroying, stress hormone) is a major beneficial side effect found in people who meditate with regularity, even if they are surrounded by a high stress environment like living in a city or working at a typical desk job. Because of our nature as holistic beings, a problem that arises in one area of the body can cause problems in other seemingly unrelated areas. That means emotions affect our mental abilities, physical health or both. It works in reverse too; physical issues can cause emotional and/or mental imbalances.
 Learning ways to manage stress results in improved health over the long term.

The same people that say that the mind doesn't affect your physical health are often the same ones who are first to point at folk remedies and say that they're the placebo effect... but acknowledging the existence of the placebo effect is in and of itself admitting that the mind has power over bodily functions! Thomas Hurley explained in his book "Placebo Effects: Unmapped Territory of Mind/Body Interactions" that double blind studies that he recorded showed that the placebo effect was more powerful than morphine at relieving pain by 56% percent! Are the benefits of meditation perhaps becoming clear to you?

Take a look at any research into the placebo effect and you will see everything from people reversing heart disease, to being able to naturally lower blood pressure and even having cancerous tumors "melted like snowballs on a hot stove" (from the famous cancer case of a Mr. Wright as reported by the psychologist Bruno Klopfor in an article titled "Psychological Variables in Human Caner" in the Journal of Prospective Techniques from 1957).

Here are some basic meditation tips to help you get started on a journey through meditation.

~Meditation benefits are maximized when you can pick a time to meditate and do it at the same time every day. (Early morning works best for most people.)
~Do whatever preparations you need to beforehand. (Cold showers, light stretching or drinking a lightly stimulating type of tea can help you stay alert through your practice. Use a chime, gong or Tibetan bowl to signal the beginning and end of your practices if you wish.)

~The benefits of meditation are greater when you are in a quiet setting (preferably outdoors near running water) where you won't be disturbed by things like barking dogs and ringing telephones.

~Pick a posture that lends itself to keeping a straight spine that you can use every time you sit. (Full lotus posture is not necessary and can even be damaging to the outer knee ligaments without knowledge of proper stretching. You can just sit on a small stool.)

~The spine should be very straight and head lifted as if a string is attached to the center of the crown and lifting you head upwards. Your lower back should also be flattened. (Think of a rod going from the ground up through your perineum which is located between the genitals and anus, and going up through your body and out through the center of the crown. This is a mental guide to show you how straight your body should be. Once you've become used to this posture, this is the least tiring way to sit since your muscles won't have to do any work to hold your body up...it will take practice if you are new to it).

~Let go of all attachments to any outcome or specific experience within your meditation practice whether negative or positive.

~Meditation for beginners should include the technique of breath awareness as a way to return your focus back to being "the watcher". (This is still using specific meditation techniques; however it is advisable to have the guidance of an experienced teacher to go deeper than this.)

~Don't underestimate the benefits of meditation in a group setting. This is what they do at the meditation classes as the Mindbody Training Institute . Those classes are a non-traditional approach to meditation grounded in scientific understanding.

~When your awareness can take the role of the "detached observer (a.k.a. the watcher)", you will truly understand how meditation made simple is actually the most difficult form. (This builds the foundation for any body/mind exercises you choose to do in your daily practice.)

~When meditating you want to simply observe. When thoughts arise you don't try to push them away but at the same time you avoid getting involved with them. The mind chatter will slow down the more you can just sit and observe it in a detached way. Use your breath as an anchor to "reel in the wild horse mind".

~The longer you spend sitting, the more meditation benefits you will begin to notice in yourself. A beginner should start with 10 minutes daily, but the further advanced student should do a minimum of 30-60 minutes a day.

~When coming out of a period of long sitting, most disciplines will have meditation tips that involve a series of movements, stretches or postures to do at that point. (Do what feels right; just remember to do it slowly to help bring back circulation, especially to the face, shoulders and spine.)

  


2 comments:

  1. Really i impressed. What a wonderful presentation.Now i am happy.... Great ideas...Thank You
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  2. To clear your mind you should listen to soft music during meditation. You can buy some great meditation songs from any catholic Church Supply Store. I suggest that you should use headphones to listen all the beats of the music for better impact on the brain.

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