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Meditation is an age-old method of turning our attention inside & making the spirit aware. You might think, "That's for other people, I couldn't do that," but actually you can. It's a completely natural process, as natural as falling asleep.

One of the benefits of meditation is that we get a healthy distance from the constant fluctuations & demands of daily life. Problems don't disappear, but our perspective may change so that solutions & insights reveal themselves.

Meditating puts us in touch with a part of ourselves that is calm, wise & content. If we practice it regularly, we can gradually trust our connection w/that deeper part of ourselves & rely on it.



If you're like most people, just the thought of meditation probably stresses you out. When can you sit & think about nothing?

The shopping has to get done, the kids need to be picked up & the work deadline has to be met. It's not only impossible - it's an indulgence you can't afford, right?

Consider this: A study at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta found that participants who meditate for 20 minutes twice a day experienced the same drop in blood pressure as those taking hypertension medication. But the even better news is that just 10 minutes a day can have even the healthiest of us breathing easier.

"In addition to our careers, we have families & a number of outside interests. It's no wonder we become overwhelmed," says Kate Marchesiello, director of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, who's been hired by top corporations to bring calm to the executive mind.

"But you'll find that if you begin to practice meditation even 5 to 10 minutes a day, a lot of that hecticness begins to settle. The body uses oxygen more efficiency, the blood pressure drops & at the end of the day, you have a more calm & still mind," says Marchesiello.

She explains that people who practice meditation are more likely to take a step back during the day. "Practicing formally, maybe just a few minutes in the morning, sets us up for a more successful day. When you start feeling overwhelmed & tense, just centering yourself with a deep breath is a form of meditation."

So in other words, if you can breathe, you can meditate. Here are a few pointers:

Know that mediation is work. As a beginner, your mind is going to wander. "The first 30 seconds or so, you're doing well but then you start going thru your to-do list.

When that happens, gently bring your mind back to the breath - your anchor," says Marchesiello, who admits that even her mind strays.

Do it anywhere. You can meditate on a train, on a plane, on a bus. You don't have to don a leotard & assume the classic lotus position. Just sit in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed (if possible) & notice the sensation of the air as it comes in thru your nose & goes out again.

Make up a mantra. As you breathe in, mentally repeat the word "relax" & as you exhale, hear the words "let go." Marchesiello explains that doing so immediately sends a message throughout the body.

"You'll notice a release of tension in the belly, the jaw & the forehead."

Start slowly. Marchesiello recommends that even the most eager beginner only set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for the first few weeks. "That way you can build on your success. If you say that you're going meditate for 20 to 30 minutes, that's usually too much.

Once you do it for a few minutes & enjoy it, you'll notice that you're calmer & you're more apt to increase the time."

Hit snooze on yourself. In the morning don’t leap out of bed. Take a few moments to feel the mattress beneath you, stretch & with your eyes closed, practice feeling your breath.

Take a hike - literally. Go for a walk & notice the grass & the trees; take in the air; feel the rhythm of your stride & breath. Come back to the beauty of nature.

— Cristin Marandino

slowly absorb the information....

Taking Off Stress

Benefits: Helps separate you from whatever is stressful to you right now & feel centered.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Setup: Standing with your feet parallel & hip width apart, raise your arms up overhead. Interlace your fingers, palms facing up, & rest them on the top of your head.

Step 1: Give yourself permission to be quiet & turn inside. Feel your breath, flowing in & out naturally & gradually let it become softer & longer.

Now acknowledge to yourself what is stressful in your life right now.

It may be a task, or a relationship, or fear about the future. See if you can identify it.

Observe how that stress feels in your body & your mind.

Picture the stress as a heavy coat that you can choose to take off. You may put it back on later, but you do have the choice to wear it or not right now.

The outer situation may not change, but your way of looking at it & reacting to it can change. Be aware of your own goodness & wholeness apart from the stress.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few breaths, noticing how you feel & then gently open your eyes.

slowly absorb the information....

Inner Vacation

Benefits: Helps find the place inside you that is calm & contented.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Setup: Sit comfortably with your spine long & your body relaxed & be mindful. Close your eyes.

Step 1: Choose a place in nature that you love. It could be near the ocean, or on a mountaintop, or in a flower garden. Picture all the details about this place -

  • what you see
  • how the light is
  • the colors
  • the smells
  • the sounds

Notice how you feel in this place, how your body & your mind can let go & enjoy it. Breathe deeply, allowing yourself to feel safe & content. Take that feeling of safety & tranquility & install it in your body, so that it will always be there for you to return to.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few breaths, noticing how you feel & then gently open your eyes.


Wide Leg Forward Stretch

Benefits: Stretches legs, hips, spine & shoulders & relieves strain of sitting for long periods of time.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Setup: Stand behind your chair & place your feet parallel, as wide as you can (4'-5').

Step 1: Inhale as you firm & stretch your leg muscles, lift your chest & bend forward from your hips. Lean on the backrest of the chair with your hands or elbows.

Step 2: Take a minute to feel the position, then stretch more by imagining your legs & arms pulling away from each other & releasing your spine down toward the floor. Breathe deeply 5 to 10 times, then come up.


Thoughts as Clouds

Benefits: Invites the mind to step back from the stresses of daily life & experience a deeper awareness.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Setup: Sit comfortably with your spine long & your body relaxed & mindful. Close your eyes.

Step 1: Notice the perceptions that come from your senses - the sounds you hear or the feeling of the floor or chair under you.

Notice the sensations of your body - your hips, your spine, your arms & legs, your neck & head, the skin on your face. Then begin to feel the regular rhythm of your breathing.

Feel how your body naturally draws in the breath & lets it out again. Take a few longer, slower breaths.

Notice the thoughts that are going thru your mind, whatever they are. Don't make any judgments, but watch the thoughts, as if from a distance.

Notice if your body responds to certain thoughts in a certain way. The flow of your thoughts is like the flow of clouds in the sky, always moving.

Don't attach particular importance to any thought; just watch the flow. The part of your consciousness that is watching the thoughts go by is like the sun in the sky, often hidden but always there.

Begin to sense that current of steady awareness behind your thoughts. This is the source, this is who you really are. This is the source of true wisdom & tranquility.

Sit quietly with your eyes closed for a few breaths, noticing how you feel & then softly open your eyes.



If you're like most people, just the thought of meditation probably stresses you out. When can you sit & think about nothing? The shopping has to get done, the kids need to be picked up & the work deadline has to be met. It's not only impossible - it's an indulgence you can't afford, right?

Consider this: A study at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta found that participants who meditate for 20 minutes twice a day experienced the same drop in blood pressure as those taking hypertension medication. But the even better news is that just 10 minutes a day can have even the healthiest of us breathing easier.

"In addition to our careers, we have families & a number of outside interests. It's no wonder we become overwhelmed," says Kate Marchesiello, director of Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, Massachusetts, who's been hired by top corporations to bring calm to the executive mind.


"But you'll find that if you begin to practice meditation even 5 to 10 minutes a day, a lot of that hecticness begins to settle. The body uses oxygen more efficiency, the blood pressure drops & at the end of the day, you have a more calm & still mind," says Marchesiello.

She explains that people who practice meditation are more likely to take a step back during the day. "Practicing formally, maybe just a few minutes in the morning, sets us up for a more successful day. When you start feeling overwhelmed & tense, just centering yourself with a deep breath is a form of meditation."

So in other words, if you can breathe, you can meditate. Here are a few pointers:

Know that meditation is work. As a beginner, your mind is going to wander. "The first 30 seconds or so, you're doing well but then you start going thru your to-do list. When that happens, gently bring your mind back to the breath - your anchor," says Marchesiello, who admits that even her mind strays.

Do it anywhere. You can meditate on a train, on a plane, on a bus. You don't have to don a leotard & assume the classic lotus position. Just sit in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed (if possible) & notice the sensation of the air as it comes in thru your nose & goes out again.

Make up a mantra. As you breathe in, mentally repeat the word "relax" & as you exhale, hear the words "let go." Marchesiello explains that doing so immediately sends a message throughout the body. "You'll notice a release of tension in the belly, the jaw & the forehead."

Start slowly. Marchesiello recommends that even the most eager beginner only set aside 5 to 10 minutes a day for the first few weeks. "That way you can build on your success. If you say that you're going meditate for 20 to 30 minutes, that's usually too much. Once you do it for a few minutes & enjoy it, you'll notice that you're calmer & you're more apt to increase the time."

Hit snooze on yourself. In the morning don’t leap out of bed. Take a few moments to feel the mattress beneath you, stretch & with your eyes closed, practice feeling your breath.

slowly absorb the information....

Present moment, wonderful moment: a meditation  Thich Nhat Hahn

Breathing in, I calm my body.                 calm

Breathing out, I smile.                             Smile

Breathing in, I dwell in the

present moment.                                     present moment

Breathing out, I know it's a                    Wonderful moment
wonderful moment.

Many people begin to practice sitting meditation with the help of this exercise. Even those who have meditated for many years continue to practice it, because the exercise is so effective.
Breathing in, give complete attention to the in-breath. Wherever in the body the breath may be, feel the calm it brings. Just like drinking cool water on a hot day, feel how the breath cools the inner organs of the body.
When practicing meditation, if the body is calm then the mind is calm. Conscious breathing makes the body & mind one.
In breathing out, smile to relax all the facial muscles...The nervous system will also be relaxed. The half smile can be seen as a sign of the calm brought by the in-breath, but it is itself also a means of attaining comfort & a clearer awareness of peace & joy.
The conscious breathing & smile should be practiced during 5, 10, or even 15 in/out breaths before moving on to the second stage of the exercise.
Stage two of the exercise brings us back to the present moment. By dwelling in the present moment, we put an end to attachments to the past & anxieties about the future. Life is only available in the present. We need to return to this moment to be in touch with life as it really is.
To know that we are alive, that we can be in contact with all the wonders within us & around us, this is truly a miracle... This exercise can be practiced anywhere at any time:... whether we are walking or standing still, lying down, or sitting; even when we are working.
The Blooming of a Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh, Beacon Press Books, Boston, MA,1993, pp. 15-16.

slowly absorb the information....

The Medical Benefits of Meditation & a Healing Meditation  David Hiller, M.Ed

Research has shown that some medical conditions were beneficially affected by the relaxation response, also known as meditation.

These included:

  • hypertension
  • cardiac arrhythmia
  • chronic pain
  • side effects of cancer therapy
  • side effects of AIDS therapy
  • premenstrual syndrome 
  • infertility

It also helped people while preparing for surgery & x-ray procedures. 

I’ve been teaching meditation for almost 25 years & I’m a firm believer in its benefits.

Meditation brings you into a peaceful, tranquil state in your heart. It helps you look at life through peaceful eyes, which is very important. It helps to alleviate fear & reduce anxiety.

It can also very much help us to gain a higher perspective, a higher understanding of what’s happening in our lives. It helps us shift out of a survival view into a more open & expanded view.  It can help us focus & be clearer in our thinking. This is a rush-rush world.

We need to slow down sometimes & take a good look at how we’re doing in our lives.  Meditation also aids the healing process, by helping to slow down the beating of the heart & stabilize the metabolism.

Meditation brings us closer to the divine, to God, to nature, to love, to whatever word works for you. When we feel that closeness during meditation, we move out of feelings of isolation or separation. The closer that we feel to love, to the divine, the more energy flows. The more our energy flows, the healthier we are.

I share the following meditation with you. (*Note: To experience the full impact of this meditation, you might want to read the following onto a tape and play it back to yourself.)

  1. I invite you to sit comfortably & close your eyes.  As you do, bring your awareness to your breath now. Take note, as you breathe, that this is a holy breath that you’re breathing.  And a holy breathe is very, very different from the breathe of fear.  So take in a deep, deep breathe now, a holy breath.  And really fill your entire being with this energy of love. 
  2. As we call forth that divine energy now into our heart of hearts, I call forth the incoming of the divine light of love. I call forth a perfect circle of light & love to surround us. I call forth the holy healing breathe of the divine to breathe within us now.  And I call forth the power of the divine spirit to move thru us now.  Move gently into our heart of hearts to bathe our hearts in the power of love & to pour forth from our hearts like a river of healing light, touching each & every cell. That sweet, sweet spirit.  Renewing, restoring & regenerating as it flows thru us & around us. A halo of healing light.
  3. Enter now the beautiful sanctuary within your heart. See yourself surrounded by all the beauty of nature - plants & trees & multi-colored flowers. Everywhere you look are magnificent angels all around you. They're there to support you on your journey. Feel that this is a very sacred moment of holiness in your heart. Take it all in, into your heart, into your cells, feel that holiness running thru you. Go strong in the garden of your heart. You can smell the freshness of the flowers. It’s a warm sunny day. 
  4. As you walk thru the garden you notice a beautiful light that is approaching on the path. As the light comes closer & closer, you realize that this is the light of that holy one, the special one that has come just for you, to be with you today in your heart.  This holy being looks into your eyes & you feel a warm blessed acceptance of who you are & this comforts you. The holy one reaches out, holds your hands & touches your heart, igniting your heart, igniting you with the power that love gives the healer. Feel that sweet, sweet energy moving thru every cell in you. 
  5. Accept this blessing.  Relax, in the peace of the garden in your heart. In the garden, the holy being embraces you & holds you dearly, heart to heart. This being tells you that you're precious & loved & that you're supported every step of the way while you’re here on Earth. 
  6. The holy one tells you to know that you're never alone & that the holy one walks the path with you always. That comforts you.  The holy one takes your hand & walks the path with you. You find yourself so peaceful, so relaxed on the journey. When you sigh, your whole vision of yourself is relaxed, peaceful, steady.  You see yourself walking on the path, in peace in your heart, experiencing perfect love & divine energy.  It feels good to you. It feels comforting. 
  7. As you begin to walk back into this room now, in this holy vision of self & heart, create another vision of what love can work in your life, right here in your healing energy, in your holy vision.  Create a healing vision as you walk hand in hand with the holy one.
  8. Give yourself a chance now to hold this thought & know that your visions are very, very powerful. Remind yourself of it every day. Each & every day, remind yourself also that you aren't lone. Now find yourself walking back into this room, breathing your sacred way back, very, very gently, in peace, in the presence of holiness all around you. There’s balance in your heart. Walk back into this room now, slowly begin to open your eyes & as you do, take note of your breath, take note of your thoughts & take note of how you're feeling right now. 
  9. Open your eyes now. Continue to breathe the sacred breath.  And if you so choose, practice every day, anywhere from 5 minutes to 20 minutes, moving into your heart, into your sanctuary & calling forth the energy of love & peace to relax you, to calm you, to guide you on your journey in life.  

David Hiller, M.Ed. is an ordained interfaith minister, author, spiritual counselor & personal empowerment coach and has a Masters degree in counseling. He has traveled extensively in the U.S. conducting healing, meditation & fear release seminars.

For more information about David & Margaret Hiller & how to obtain any of their inspirational cassettes, booklets, or art work visit their Web sit at www.sb.net/miracles or e-mail them at miracles@sb.net. You can also contact the Hillers at (541) 552-0303 or (541) 601-2688.

This was adapted from a talk given by Margaret & David Hiller at Providence Hospital in Medford, Oregon. For the first part of David’s talk, go here

slowly absorb the information....

Five Pointed Star Meditation - By Jane Ma`ati Smith

Meditation works to enable your ability to alter your consciousness, enabling you to interact with your inner most world, and utilizing your will to transform from the inside out. By getting into an altered state, usually an alpha brainwave state, you can begin using your own unconscious thoughts, emotions, dreams, hopes, and even fears to transform your life on evey level. You will connect with your inner guidance, awakening your psychic abilities and connecting with your own ability to heal. As a hypnotist who produces meditative and self hypnosis audio programs for public and private clients, I can certainly tell you that attaining an alpha state works wonders!

The following is a very simple and easy to do meditation, good for releasing stress and tension. Find a quiet place and time, where you can have at least fifteen minutes of peace and quiet. Lie down, with your arms and legs gently spread apart- comfortably, and not too wide. Make sure your hands are facing palms up.

Feel yourself sinking into the floor, just melting and glowing, feeling very heavy. Locate the chakras in your hands and feet- your hand chakras are in the center of your palms, and your feet chakras are in the center of the arch of your feet. Open these chakras up, and feel energy flowing through them, and up your arms and legs. Let the energy flow up to your heart chakra- combine the energy from your arms and legs in your heart center. From the heart center, let the energy flow freely upwards, through the center of your head, and out the crown charkra. Let this energy fountain out through your crown, flowing out into your aura. Feel your aura glowing big and bright, like a star.

Keep glowing until you feel your energy field is whole and complete. Gently relax the flow of energy, until you feel solid, and back to the 'real world'. Your mind should now be free of clutter, and your body should feel energized!

slowly absorb the information....

Learn to Control Your Brainwaves Thru Meditation - By Sharon B. Gilbert, Ph.D.

Control your brainwaves and you control your state of mind. By raising or slowing our brainwaves, we can altar how we think, feel and act. Meditation is the process of slowing our waking beta brainwaves to the slower states of alpha and theta. By learning to control these states, we can improve our health and well-being.

Brainwaves are the electrical movements in the brain. The frequency of these brainwaves can be measured using an electroencephalograph (EEG). Electrodes placed on the scalp measure the frequency of these brainwaves. From highest to lowest frequency, these brainwaves are called beta, alpha, theta and delta.

Beta is the waking, thinking state. During beta, brainwaves range from 14 to 40 cycles per second. In beta, an individual thinks and listens, can solve analytical problems, make decisions, and intake and process information. This is our normal state of mind when working, going to school and shopping. During beta our minds are the most alert.

Alpha is a slower state more indicative of relaxing and reflecting. During alpha, brainwaves range from 9 to 14 cycles per second. In the alpha state, an individual is fully aware of his/her surroundings but in a much more relaxed state of mind than beta. Meditation is often practiced in the alpha state.

Theta is an even slower state perfect for daydreaming and intuitive thinking. During theta, brainwaves range from 5 to 8 cycles per second. It is the state between wakefulness and sleep. In this state of mind, memories, thoughts and facts that eluded a person in a wakeful state can be recalled. It is often in this state that answers to problems seem to appear. Deep meditation and prayer are practiced in the theta state.

Delta is the slowest of the four states where sleep occurs. During delta, brainwaves range from 1.5 to 4 cycles per second. At the slowest delta level, sleep is deep and dreamless.

During our waking and sleeping hours, the brain moves through all four of these stages. At any given level, there is a range in brainwaves that effect how deeply we have entered that state. By knowing how these states function, we can knowingly enter a particular state and control how our thoughts are processed.

Jose Silva wrote in his book The Silva Mind Control Method, “When you are wide awake, doing and achieving in the workaday world, you are in Beta or ‘outer consciousness’. When you are daydreaming, or just going to sleep but not quite there yet, or just awakening but not yet awake, you are in Alpha. When you are asleep you are in Alpha, Theta, or Delta, not just Delta alone, as many believe. With Mind Control training you can enter the Alpha level at will and still remain fully alert”.

Meditation allows our minds to move through these states leading us to a healthy lifestyle. When we control our brainwaves, we control how we think, feel, reason and react. Relaxation, creativity and self-awareness flow naturally. As we mediate, our physical health improves as we move closer and closer to a healthy lifestyle. Consciously controlling our brainwaves is a step towards healthy living.

slowly absorb the information....

The Essence of Meditation - By Hieu Doan

Meditation is the practice of realization.

In the beginning it seems that we are developing concentration, objectivity, visualization and certain perceptions - whatever the focus of our meditation is. With practice we come to understand that these states have always been there. There has always been a concentrated mind, an objective mind, a mind capable of perceiving the spiritual dimensions. What we are actually doing is removing the illusions of the mind that prevent us from seeing. It is a transformation of belief that exists in body and mind.

This is why it is called realization. We see what is, with “real-eyes.”

What is actually being developed in meditation is awareness and focus. This is all.

Enlightened states, divinity, bliss, emptiness, no-mind, surrender, God force, universal force, chakra energies - these are inter-dimensional states. They already exist. Awareness and concentration allow us to find the places where they exist and to move our consciousness into them.

The most basic tools of meditation are focus and observation, but since the focused mind and the fully aware mind already exist what are we really developing?

We are developing the ability to move through illusions.

Through practice we can experience a supremely focused mind regardless of the fact that another part of our mind seems weary and unfocused. We can experience an infinitely aware mind even though another part of our mind seems overwhelmed and lacks clarity.

This is the beginning of experiencing an infinite mind. It is a mind which can be very normal, very human and down to earth, while at the same time able to move into universal awareness, great strength and courage, and a deep sense of power. It is a mind that can move through illusion which can move between these states.

The most effective way to understand this for ourselves is to experience it. Work with this exercise:

Observe the feeling of your body.

Be aware of the breath.

Be aware of sound.

Be aware of sensation and thought.

Simply observe all that passes through your senses like watching a movie.

If there is agitation - let it be. If there is thought let it be. If there is sound and emotion - let it be.

Place your hand over your navel area.

Feel for a consciousness which is pure focus and deep, calm strength.

Listen for a consciousness which has mastered inner power - that is unshakable.

Feel it and know it.

It exists here and now - allow yourself to find it.

See and feel it blossoming in you with full strength like a sun.

Feel, see and hear your body infusing with this energy.

Feel it nourishing and energizing you.

As with all meditation practices - do not be concerned with whether or not it is or is not working. Simply keep your mind in this area. Allow your consciousness room to play as it discovers the energy here. In play we learn to discover and explore. In exploration and discovery we understand what works for us and what does not.

The energy at your navel area is called by many names one of which is chakra or “energy wheel” but the name is not as important as the meaning - and the meaning is found by self-observation. Whatever we may know intellectually about chakras is nothing compared to what the chakra will communicate to us itself.

In the beginning the chakra may seem weak or non-existent. This is not the case - it is simply that our minds have only learnt to tune in to the most subtle frequencies of the chakra. With practice it seems like the energy of chakra is increasing - like we are developing it. What is actually happening is that they body and the mind are learning to perceive more of it. It already exists in it’s full power - when we allow our minds to perceive then we experience this. For all intents and purposes perception is like stretching - regular practice brings results. There is no such thing as a quick fix to realization - there are layers upon layers upon layers. As the mind learns to move through each layer the skills and understanding developed here help it to learn how to move through the next layer and so on. We can stand at the bottom of the mountain and peruse the best way to get to the top, but until our hands and feet touch footholds and feel what works we will not truly know how the mountain works.

Meditation is about realization. Whether we choose to use this to connect to universal consciousness, to energize the body, focus the mind, bring love into our hearts and knowledge into our souls is up to us as individuals. The principles underlying all these goals however are the same.

It’s about realization.

Beneath the clay exists the masterpiece - the sculptor merely removes the filter so that the naked eye can perceive it.

Hieu Doan

slowly absorb the information....

Four Reasons Why You Should Learn To Meditate - By Chris Le Roy

I know, I can hear you saying it now, "Why would Meditation Help Me?

Is not Meditation for the Great Eastern Gurus?"

The categorical answer is NO! Every single person on this planet should learn to meditate to help you in your day-to-day growth, to help you cope with the world & to help you deal with your anxiety.

Let me explain …

The whole role of meditation is to help find your inner peace that is the art of putting all that chaos in your mind & you life into some sort of order.

The first step of meditation is bringing you to a point of calm, a point of peace upon which you can build & manage control. Once you've achieved that you can further explore your own mind.

Our mind today often swirls with information, facts, stress, worries & much more simply because of the way in which we live & the bombardment of information from commercial entities.

The role of meditation is to help you find a way of managing that information & to reflect on your surroundings.

Meditation will help you to find that point at which you can cope and manage all the bombardments without feeling over whelmed but that is not the only reason we meditate. Let me outline four reasons why you should consider learning the art of meditation.

Reason 1 - Meditation Will Assist You In Calming

One of the core reasons why an individual might learn meditation is to help with their ability to cope with stress and to become calm. One of the roles of meditation is to help release the alpha waves in both our left and right side of our brains. These alpha waves will help bring about a sense of calm, similar to when you would whistle a happy tune or simply day dream.

Learning to meditate and bring you to a state of calm will help you cope with the daily stress of life. From personal experience I have found that if I do not meditate for 20 minutes a day minimum, I find that my ability to cope with the daily stress of work is far harder then when I have completed my meditation.

Reason 2 - Meditation Can Help You Lower Your Blood Pressure

I personally have experienced the effect meditation can have on your blood pressure. Many a time I have gone without meditating for a number of days and my blood pressure has slowly crept up. I have done many experiments with my blood pressure and meditation and this is one I encourage you to try. I simply bought an electronic blood pressure machine which you can buy from a pharmacist or chemist for about $200 Australian. I first checked my blood pressure to find out what it currently is. I then dd 20 minutes of meditation and checked it again. I found that both my blood pressure and my heart rate had dropped by up to 30%. I have also tried doing the same exercise but instead of meditating, I just sit for 20 minutes and relaxing but I have found I do not get anywhere near the same improvement. Generally I would only see about 5 to 10% improvements.

I have seen many research documentaries that have illustrated in a practical way how simply using basic meditation techniques can decrease your blood pressure and your heart rate. Visit your local library and check out the books and research they have on meditation. You will be surprised how many doctors now encourage their patients to learn meditation. My GP (General Practitioner) and his wife actually run guided courses on meditation.

Reason 3 - Meditation Can Help With Creativity

There is a lot of who do about meditation and a lot of people call themselves meditation experts. Honestly, I do not buy into that for one simple reason. Meditation is about you. When you are meditating there will be no one else in your head except for you, so in the end you are the expert of your own meditation techniques. However, I will say that there are many people who can help you in learning meditation but ultimately, if you are listening to them while you are meditating you are not focusing on your inner self but on your outer self.

I have been told that I am one of the most prolific writers out there. It is normal for me to sit down in the morning and by the afternoon I will have belted out 5 to 10 articles of 1,000 to 2,000 words and my editors would not print my material if it was not of excellent quality. One of the reasons I believe I am able to achieve this, is because of my meditation regime. When I have completed my meditation, my mind is free of stress which really opens my creativity. I just like many writers suffer, what we like to call, "Writers block". Often this is caused simply because of the chaos of the information in our head.

If I have a situation where writers block is really setting in, I simply stop, head to my meditation area for 20 minutes and once I am finished, I will always have a swirl of great ideas to complete my material. One thing to note though, I have found that Baroque Music at 60 beats a minute, works best for getting that creativity flowing. I prefer this style of meditation music, over tranquil water flowing or the sounds of the open bush simply because the 60 beats a minute, helps release far more alpha waves in my brain.

To give you an idea of how powerful Baroque Meditation music at 60 beat a minute can be, the Coca Cola Retail Research Council found that relaxed customers would in fact purchase 38% more than those who were not relaxed.

Reason 4 - Meditation Can Help With Learning

If meditation can help with creativity then it also stands to reason that mediation music can help with learning. In particular Baroque Meditation music makes the perfect background for all training and learning environments from pre-school to government "think tanks." In fact it is used in schools all over Australia. A quote from the teacher of a remedial class here in Australia: "It seems to slow them down so they can think."

Corporate trainers can improve the effectiveness of training sessions dramatically. A colleague uses the baroque meditation music as background for his memory. In fact I have been using Baroque Meditation Music in some of our computer sessions and I have seen dramatic improvements in the way people cope with our technical training.

Look, the days of meditation being only for the hippies or eastern religions like Buddhism are over. Anyone who has ever tried meditation will tell you that you certainly will feel a sense of calm and as you become more proficient you will find your ability to copy, be creative and learn more will be improved. The challenge that most people fear with meditation is that they will look foolish or their peers might think less of you but in all honesty, you maybe surprised to find out that the people you think will look on you as foolish are in fact the ones using meditation daily.

All I want to do is to encourage you to give meditation a try. What have you got to loose but just 20 minutes of your time and imagine what you might gain? To finish off I want to take a moment to simply reiterate the four reasons why you should consider learning to meditate:

Reason 1 - Meditation Will Assist You In Calming
Reason 2 - Meditation Can Help You Lower Your Blood Pressure
Reason 3 - Meditation Can Help With Creativity
Reason 4 - Meditation Can Help With Learning

slowly absorb the information....

Why Meditate - By Vishal P. Rao

The side effects of meditation are positive and countless. Studies have demonstrated that those who meditate on a regular basis have reduced illness, stress, and need for rest.

But one of the most compelling reasons to meditate is that the process of meditation itself is sublime. Meditation is not dependent upon the result, but the act of meditation itself is a blissful one, transporting one to a state of contentment and tranquil awareness during the training of meditation itself, not just at the end of training. Actually, because the means equals the end, the training has no beginning and never ends.

All of us in modern times experience a constant onslaught of stress. We are bombarded by uninvited energies in the form of such things as television, noise pollution, arguments, and angry or envious people. In order to counteract this enormously overwhelming force of negativity and distress, we need a superior power, gathered within ourselves; and meditation connects us to this internal reservoir of cleansing, enlightening energy.

In former times, nature surrounded people in their daily routines and rituals of existence. There were no artificial sound vibrations from telephones or machinery; there were no stresses and diseases resulting from urban industrial complexities. There was the sound of water, the hum of the wind, the beauty of the stars in the sky, and the scent of the earth. There were natural tempos in every aspect of life, as people planted seeds, nurtured them into foodstuffs, and as they observed the cycles of nature they felt a connection to them. Nowadays we can live our entire lifespan without ever contacting nature in a direct way. We live in artificially controlled climates, we gather food from fast food restaurants or from stores where it is packaged in a factory; we invite a total divorce of ourselves from our natural origins and our organic, original pace of life.

Meditation allows us an easy, convenient, portable method to enter into those lost natural rhythms and aesthetics, by closing out the world around us, letting go of our bodies, and clearing the mind of all the artificial stress it gathers knowingly or unknowingly during the course of lives.

Meditation costs nothing, it has no harmful side affects, and it won’t add calories or cholesterol to your body. Nor is it addictive in the sense of drugs and alcohol. But it does provide practitioners with an elevated sense of well-being, often compared to a natural “high” more powerful than those induced by drugs, and this component of meditation is one that can be fully embraced for positive, healthy benefits.

The human body is a complex creation, and in the brain the body naturally produces drugs that are hundreds of times more powerful than pharmaceutical narcotics. As one meditates, the body secretes mysterious hormones and chemicals that actually provide an incredible rush of energy and happiness, and this is only one of the amazing side effects of meditation practice.

Meditation is different things to different people. Some use it in place of, or in addition to, psychotherapy. Others find it most valuable as a tool to enhance sports or work performance, and to increase the memory and other mental functions. Some people rely upon it to help them deal with grief or the aftermath of trauma or tragedy, and to regain a contentment and appreciation for life’s beauties. And there are those who use meditation as a creative tool to inspire them in the arts. Meditation gives us stronger and more sustainable vigor, sexual energy, and calm, as it provides a restfulness that is comparable to deep, exceptionally restful sleep.

There are countless reasons to meditate, and one way to make the world a better and more peaceful and harmonious place, is for all of us to dedicate some time out of our stressful lives to pause and drink from the mental oasis of meditation practice.

slowly absorb the information....

Meditation to Relieve Stress: The Connection between Mind & Body - By Anna Dorbyk

The ancient practice of meditation has long been known as a way to heal the mind and body. In times of mental or physical stress, human beings have turned to the powers of meditation to quiet the mind and repair the body. There is a strong connection between the mind and the body, and when one is in pain, the other suffers also. Meditation can help establish a balance. Research has shown that meditation can have a beneficial impact on the health of an individual, and these positive effects are not limited to the body. When practiced regularly, it can greatly contribute to the health and well-being of not only the body but also the mind.

In today's fast-paced world, the use of meditation to relieve stress is common. In fact, as the practice of meditation gains in popularity, an increasing number of people from the jet-setting executive to the weary housewife are incorporating the exercise into their lives. In addition to using meditation to relieve stress, people practice it to combat the many concerns affecting the mind, and there is solid physiological evidence to support its success in doing so. With the regular exercise of meditation, you may experience some of the following positive effects: a decrease in anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness, an increase in happiness and emotional stability, feelings of rejuvenation and vitality, and greater creativity. Many people have also reported a significant improvement in their ability to learn new things and retain information. You may find that with continued practice, meditation greatly improves your mental state and contributes to a profound sense of spirituality. The spiritual person often sees the world in a uniquely positive way and is well-equipped to handle life's challenges.

Though meditation is commonly known for its positive relation to a person's mind and spirituality, the practice can also have beneficial physical effects. Most likely, the first effect you will notice after repeated practice of meditation is an improvement in your flexibility which keeps your body responsive and functioning. There are other equally significant changes to your physical self that you might notice such as the following: improved air flow to the lungs making it easier to breath, a decreased level in blood pressure, lowered levels of cortisol and lactate (two chemicals associated with stress), a lower heart rate, reduction of free radicals which can cause tissue damage, and a drop in cholesterol. The regular practice of meditation can also slow down the aging process - especially noticeable in the elderly who often report major changes in their vitality.

Stress relief is not the only benefit you will experience with consistent practice of meditation. Meditation also has a profound effect on the mind and body by creating a balance that better prepares you to handle challenging situations. Meditation is easily exercised and requires little preparation or knowledge. To benefit your overall physical and mental health, take some time out for meditation and feel the power of a strong mind/body connection.

slowly absorb the information....

Benefits Of Meditation For Our Wellness - By Greg Culver

There's no question that the modern western lifestyle is becoming increasingly responsible for many life threatening diseases including stroke & heart attack. Longer working hours combined with fast food, lack of exercise & dysfunctional households are all common characteristics of our western lifestyle.

Mental & physical health costs are going thru the roof & it seems that we're powerless to do anything about these damning statistics. Or are we? What role can meditation play in this scenario?

What is it & can meditation be the saviour of Corporate America? Meditation, an exercise recommended for everyone, but especially those of us with hectic, stressful lifestyles, is defined as an engagement in contemplation, especially of a spiritual or devotional nature.

Meditation has been shown to relieve stress & promote overall good health, by simply reflecting upon our day & finding happiness within ourselves. This & other mind exercises help us to keep our mind fit & functioning at top performance levels.

But up until the last 20 years, meditation was something the western world new little about.

Is it necessary for our health? Or have we just come up with a new fad, to fill up the empty hours of our day?

Our mind has varying levels of operation, known as brainwaves. As we pass thru the different stages of our day, we enter various stages of brain wave activity. The brain uses this tool as one way to allow us time to rest our busy mind & cope with all the pieces of information we’ve received, a way to kind of “mind file” for the day.

Modern alternative medicine & holistic healers believe in the power of the energy that flows thru our bodies; this energy radiates from our mind as well. It's believed to be the chief form of transportation for our body’s nervous system to carry out communication.

Breathing techniques, music, aromas & candle therapy are all ways we utilize the opportunities to reflect on our day, allow our mind to rest & replenish itself for further use. But are these methods keeping us mentally fit?

Yes, it does help to keep us mentally fit. The great benefit in meditation, however, is the mind’s ability to transform itself into a vehicle for higher awareness.

Meditation is a way for us to become aware of the fact that there is more to our being than just our physical activity. We have so much more potential locked away in our mind, resources that we never tap into until we have the chance to quiet the mind, quiet our surroundings & open the door to the possibilities we don’t examine on a day to day basis.

In our meditative state, thoughts that never have the opportunity to be heard during the bustle of the day are afforded the opportunity to come forward & be heard. Every step that we take is a step in some direction for our life.

The opportunity to set our own destiny, develop our manifestation of what we believe our life should be, is the opportunity meditation provides. Every action we’ve ever taken started as a thought. The thought was then brought into reality by our action on that thought.

So are we able to produce new thoughts & new possibilities, in this time of quiet reflection?

Meditation doesn't have to be formal in the true sense of the word. We don’t need to sit in the lotus position & chant! It can be anything that enables us to have time to reflect on our inner thoughts.

For example, it may mean a walk in a park for some, or a yoga class for another. It can be finding a quiet place in the garden for an hour or laying on your bed & relaxing in total silence. If it promotes reflection of your inner most thoughts & results in de-stressing your body, then it can be termed “meditation”.

ivillage.com's meditations....
simply click the links below to listen to some great meditations...
I am grateful for the opportunity to mother my child.
My body provides the best nutrition for my baby.
When I take time to meet my own needs, I am modeling healthy self-care to my child.
I recognize that mothering is the most important job in the world. I do it well.
I express my anger & frustration in ways that are healthy & healing.
I live in the moment with my baby.
I let my mothering instincts guide me in meeting my child's needs.
I accept the awesome responsibility of parenting & I acknowledge that I cannot control everything. I trust in the goodness of my child & of life.
My baby is patient with me & trusts me.
I sleep when my baby sleeps. I adapt to my baby's rhythms.
I find the support I need to be the best parent to my child.
I find the support I need to be the best parent to my child.
When I make mistakes in mothering, I apologize & find ways to improve my skills.
I strive to live in the moment & acknowledge the fleeting nature of childhood.
I forgive myself for my mistakes. I let go of guilt & accept my human condition.
My baby & I are learning to work together.
I am a good mother. I am loving, emotionally available & authentic.
I am relaxed, confident & capable of mothering well.
I listen to my intuition & teach my child to do the same.
I accept change with grace & humor.
I have an optimistic outlook & teach my child to expect goodness.
I accept the intensity of the early years of parenting. I set priorities & make compromises.
This time goes by fast. I embrace my child & each day.
This time goes by fast. I embrace my child & each day.
I accept love & help from those around me.
I see my child as whole, healthy & a perfect expression of herself.
My child is unfolding like a flower. I rejoice in the process of growth.
I treasure these precious moments of infinite love, trust & connection.
I nurture my child & myself with beauty, nature, laughter & music.
I nurture my child & myself with beauty, nature, laughter & music.
I make special time to be & do whatever my child wishes. I happily give him this priceless gift.
I surround myself with love & light & ask for the patience & power to parent my child.
I am open to the lessons my child is teaching me, lessons of patience, living in the moment, joy & wonder.
I show my child healthy behavior by being patient & loving.

Beyond Body & Self Images: Reflections & a Meditation  ZM Suzanna Nadler, M.Ed, LPC
From a very young age we begin to know ourselves thru our relationship to our bodies, how we feel, our sensations. These experiences of ourselves create body images. Body images are the images contained within our bodies of how we experience ourselves. Although they don't necessarily match reality because they are based on experiences from our past, we believe in the cells of our body that this experience of ourselves is true. An example of a body image is experiencing oneself as being fat. This might be felt on a bodily level as a sensation of being bloated in the belly, an experience of being bigger than even our body boundaries

Closely associated with body images are self images. Self images are made up of the roles we play, our beliefs about life, our feelings & our thoughts.

For example, think of how you would describe yourself to someone without giving your name. I might describe myself as a counselor & teacher (roles) who has studied a lot of dance which helps me to use my awareness of the body to work with people (role).

I am strong (body) & fiercely independent (thoughts). I tend to be enthusiastic (feeling) with lots of energy (body). Most of us relate to each other & to ourselves thru roles, our bodies, our feelings or our thoughts.

Surrendering unreal identities. When we identify ourselves according to the way that has become familiar, we aren't aware that this identity isn't real. Self & body images become what we think of as our identity & actually hold us to what's familiar, to a specific identity that isn't currently based in reality.

For instance, I'm the mother of a 14 year old. If I hold onto the identity of being the mother of a child, this causes problems for me & my son as he grows up. Yet to surrender the identity of being a mother of a child is a loss; there's some pain in letting go of the experience of being needed & the closeness of the mother-child bond.

Each time our identity shifts there is a loss, but holding onto that identity creates suffering.  

The one thing we can be assured of in life is change & change, whether it be an accident, illness, or aging threatens how we have come to "know" ourselves, who we believe we are.
Accepting our vulnerability.

Illness is threatening, not only because we all have a natural instinct for survival but also because illness is a mini death in & of itself. The foundation of who we believe we are is our body image & illness threatens & changes this image.

For many years I have believed myself to be strong person based on the physical strength I experience in my body. This physical strength was actually developed as a compensation for feeling very weak & helpless to change what happened to me as a child.

Since I am more comfortable with experiencing myself as strong, I cover up my weakness. Being ill upsets my identity of being a strong person & brings me back face to face with what is underneath that compensating strength - weakness. How I relate to my weakness will affect my ability to accept my illness.

Illness makes us readjust & reexperience more of who we are. When sickness opens me up to my weakness, this doesn't take away from my strength but actually allows me to also experience my vulnerability as a human being. I've found that my real strength lies within my ability to allow myself to be weak. In order to adjust to change, to be flexible with what life brings, the key is to allow ourselves to be where we are. This is the true strength of the moment with ourselves, with each other. 

This capacity to allow ourselves to be just where we are sounds so simple & yet it's quite complex. We have so many defenses & judgments that protect us from really relaxing into what's the present reality. Relaxing & letting go of our identities is a kind of death which is experienced by the ego, by our personality as a threat to our survival.

Hence our ego protects us from really relaxing & surrendering to the reality of the moment. 

A Meditation To Bring Awareness of Where We Are 
Meditation really helps to loosen our rigid identities & allows us to open up to more possibilities; we literally are making space in our lives. Here is a simple meditation exercise that incorporates the benefits of meditation & the process of allowing ourselves to be exactly where we are.
In this meditation you focus on your breathing, noticing the inhale, the exhale. Not trying to change your breathing, not trying to change anything, just noticing.(The Power of Noticing at the bottom of the "power page!") You can add the words, IN on the inhale & OUT on the exhale, gently bringing your awareness back to your breath as your mind strays.

Do this for several minutes. Now take an inventory of your body. What is the energy like in your body? Are there any sensations in your body (pain, tension, aliveness)?

Pick an area in your body that you want to focus on & breathe in with the awareness of this part. Such as "Aware of my shoulders, the tension in my shoulders, I breathe in".

Then on the exhale, put a slight smile on your lips & add the word "Smiling". This is done silently to yourself for about 5 breaths. Then you can proceed to another part of your body. 

This simple exercise brings a nonjudgmental awareness to ourselves of where we are in the moment, freeing us from having to be a certain way or seeing ourselves in a limited way.

Meditation brings us to the awareness of ourselves as beyond our bodies, our roles, our feelings, our thoughts to a place where we simply are. This is the part of ourselves that isn't defined & is unchanged by sickness, accident or age.  

ZM Suzanna Nadler, M.Ed., LPC at the Self & Soul Center, Talent, Oregon, specializes in the body/mind continuum through the use of movement therapy & body awareness. For more information, contact her at zahira@cdsnet.net, 541-535-3338 or visit www.selfsoulcenter.org.

Meditation as a Lifestyle - By Vishal P. Rao

Meditation begins as postures and breath control and mantras. But it expands, just as the mind expands when we empty it of clutter and stretch it with hope and awareness. The more aware we become, the larger the capacity of the mind becomes, and the more we are able to meditate. The more we meditate, the larger our consciousness expands, so that the dynamic process is never-ending and ever-increasing.

Meditation can begin to follow us to work, in the form of a mood we carry away from our meditations. Or it can follow us when we play, allowing laughter to increase because we have less stress, thanks to meditation. Meditation is a state of mind, and a process of focus. So we can learn to expand meditation into everything we do, because we are always in some state of mind or another, and we are always focusing upon something. Meditation just gives us the chance to turn that automatic, constant focus into a tool for shaping our state of mind, our mood, and our outlook.

A good way to begin to grow meditation beyond the sitting session is to write. Just as we grow a seed in a small container and then move it outside when it is stronger, we can treat our meditation in the same way and move it from our still meditation room, where our eyes are closed and the mind is empty, to our writing desk, where the eyes are open and the mind is racing a mile a minute, looking for words to express ourselves.

Write about how it feels to meditate, and then write about any times outside of your meditation session where you might have tasted that feeling again, even for a moment. Keep a journal, and write down each time something happens to remind you of the peaceful and blissful moments during your meditation sessions. The more you observe these instances, the more you will connect your meditation to your routine life, and this is a gentle way to begin a lifestyle of meditation.

When you garden, cook, or eat, meditate on the whole process. Someone planted the seed and waited for the sunshine and rain. Someone harvested the plant or fruit and someone cooked it while thinking about how it might taste. There is a continuity of life, and it begins inside the earth, and then we incorporate ourselves into that chain of life by eating and converting food into energy. We use that energy in the world, and if we use it well, we help to honor the earth from where it was first born.

Everything is a cycle of energy, and meditation is a living part of the cycle. Take the energy you gather during meditation, and put it into the other aspects of your life. If you begin to feel exhausted or stressed, it is a hunger telling you that it is time to nourish your inner core by going back to sit down and meditate again. Then you will feel satisfied, and can go back to your meditation lifestyle, with renewed energy to share with the world.

Transcendental Meditation Lessens Brain's Pain Response: Long-term practitioners had lowered activity in neurological pain centers, study found

Why Even Bother? The Importance of Motivation in Meditating Jon Kabat-Zinn, Excerpt from the book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness (Hyperion, New York)
"The journey toward health & sanity is nothing less than an invitation to wake up to the fullness of our lives as if they actually mattered..." Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the Introduction

If, from the meditative perspective, everything you're seeking is already here, even if it's difficult to wrap your thinking mind around that concept, if there really is no need to acquire anything or attain anything or improve yourself, if you're already whole & complete & by that same virtue so is the world, then why on earth bother meditating?

Why would we want to cultivate mindfulness in the first place? And why use particular methods & techniques, if they're all in the service of not getting anywhere anyway & when, moreover, I've just finished saying that methods & techniques aren't the whole of it anyway?

The answer is that as long as the meaning of "everything you're seeking is already here" is only a concept, it's only a concept, just another nice thought. Being merely a thought, it's extremely limited in its capacity for transforming you, for manifesting the truth the statement is pointing to & ultimately changing the way you carry yourself & act in the world.

More than anything else, I've come to see meditation as an act of love, an inward gesture of benevolence & kindness toward ourselves & toward others, a gesture of the heart that recognizes our perfection even in our obvious imperfection, with all our shortcomings, our wounds, our attachments, our vexations & our persistent habits of unawareness.

It's a very brave gesture: to take one's seat for a time & drop in on the present moment without adornment.

In stopping, looking & listening, in giving ourselves over to all our senses, including mind, in any moment, we're in that moment embodying what we hold most sacred in life. Making the gesture, which might include assuming a specific posture for formal meditation, but could also involve simply becoming more mindful or more forgiving of ourselves, immediately re-minds us & re-bodies us.

In a sense, you could say that it refreshes us, makes this moment fresh, timeless, freed up, wide open. In such moments, we transcend who we think we are. We go beyond our stories & all our incessant thinking, however deep & important it sometimes is & reside in the seeing of what's here to be seen & the direct, non-conceptual knowing of what's here to be known, which we don't have to seek because it is already & always here.

We rest in awareness, in the knowing itself which includes, of course, not knowing as well. We become the knowing & the not knowing, as we shall see over & over again. And since we're completely embedded in the warp & woof of the universe, there's really no boundary this benevolent gesture of awareness, no separation from other beings, no limit to either heart or mind, no limit to our being or our awareness, or to our openhearted presence.

In words, it may sound like an idealization. Experienced, it's merely what it is, life expressing itself, sentience quivering within infinity, with things just as they are.

Resting in awareness in any moment involves giving ourselves over to all our senses, in touch with inner & outer landscapes as one seamless whole & thus in touch with all of life unfolding in its fullness in any moment & in every place we might possibly find ourselves, inwardly or outwardly.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen master, mindfulness teacher, poet & peace activist, aptly points out that one reason we might want to practice mindfulness is that most of the time we are unwittingly practicing its opposite.

Every time we get angry we get better at being angry & reinforce the anger habit. When it's really bad, we say we see red, which means we don't see accurately what is happening at all & so, in that moment, you could say we have "lost" our mind.

Every time we become self-absorbed, we get better at becoming self-absorbed and going unconscious. Every time we get anxious, we get better at being anxious. Practice does make perfect. Without awareness of anger or of self-absorption, or ennui, or any other mind state that can take us over when it arises, we reinforce those synaptic networks within the nervous system that underlie our conditioned behaviors and mindless habits, and from which it becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle ourselves, if we are even aware of what is happening at all.

Every moment in which we're caught, by desire, by an emotion, by an unexamined impulse, idea, or opinion, in a very real way we're instantly imprisoned by the contraction within the habitual way we react, whether it's a habit of withdrawal & distancing ourselves, as in depression & sadness, or erupting & getting emotionally "hijacked" by our feelings when we fall headlong into anxiety or anger. Such moments are always accompanied by a contraction in both the mind & the body.

But & this is a huge "but," there's simultaneously a potential opening available here as well, a chance not to fall into the contraction - or to recover more quickly from it - if we can bring awareness to it.

For we're locked up in the automaticity of our reaction and caught in its downstream consequences (i.e., what happens in the very next moment, in the world & in ourselves) only by our blindness in that moment. Dispel the blindness & we see that the cage we thought we were caught in is already open.

Every time we are able to know a desire as desire, anger as anger, a habit as habit, an opinion as an opinion, a thought as a thought, a mind-spasm as a mind-spasm, or an intense sensation in the body as an intense sensation, we are correspondingly liberated. Nothing else has to happen. We don't even have to give up the desire or whatever it is. To see it and know it as desire, as whatever it is, is enough. In any given moment, we are either practicing mindfulness or, de facto, we are practicing mindlessness. When framed this way, we might want to take more responsibility for how we meet the world, inwardly and outwardly in any and every moment -- especially given that there just aren't any "in-between moments" in our lives.

So meditation is both nothing at all -- because there is no place to go and nothing to do -- and simultaneously the hardest work in the world -- because our mindlessness habit is so strongly developed and resistant to being seen and dismantled through our awareness. And it does require method and technique and effort to develop and refine our capacity for awareness so that it can tame the unruly qualities of the mind that make it at times so opaque and insensate.

These features of meditation, both as nothing at all and as the hardest work in the world, necessitate a high degree of motivation to practice being utterly present without attachment or identification.

But who wants to do the hardest work in the world when you're already overwhelmed with more things to do than you can possibly get done - important things, necessary things, things you may be very attached to so you can build whatever it is that you may be trying to build, or get wherever it is that you're trying to get to, or even sometimes, just so you can get things over with & check them off your to-do list?

And why meditate when it doesn't involve doing anyway &d when the result of all the non-doing is never to get anywhere but to be where you already are? What would I have to show for all my non-efforts, which nevertheless take so much time & energy & attention?

All I can say in response is that everybody I have ever met who has gotten into the practice of mindfulness and has found some way or other to sustain it in their lives for a period of time has expressed the feeling to me at one point or another, usually when things are at their absolute worst, that they couldn't imagine what they would have done without the practice. It is that simple really. And that deep. Once you practice, you know what they mean. If you don't practice, there is no way to know.

And of course, probably most people are first drawn to the practice of mindfulness because of stress or pain of one kind or another and their dissatisfaction with elements of their lives that they somehow sense might be set right through the gentle ministrations of direct observation, and self-compassion. Stress and pain thus become potentially valuable portals and motivators through which to enter the practice.

And one more thing. When I say that meditation is the hardest work in the world, that is not quite accurate, unless you understand that I don't just mean "work" in the usual sense, but also as play. Meditation is playful too. It is hilarious to watch the workings of our own mind, for one thing. And it is much too serious to take too seriously. Humor and playfulness, and undermining any hint of a pious attitude, are critical to right mindfulness. And besides, maybe parenting is the hardest work in the world. But, if you are a parent, are they two different things?

I recently got a call from a physician colleague in his late forties who had undergone hip replacement surgery, surprising for his age, for which he needed an MRI before the operation took place. He recounted how useful the breath wound up being when he was swallowed by the machine. He said he couldn't even imagine what it would be like for a patient who didn't know about mindfulness and using the breath to stay grounded in such a difficult situation, although it happens every single day.

He also said that he was astonished by the degree of mindlessness that characterized many aspects of his hospital stay. He felt successively stripped of his status as a physician, and a rather prominent one at that, and then of his personhood and identity. He had been a recipient of "medical care," but on the whole, that care had hardly been caring. Caring requires empathy and mindfulness, and openhearted presence, often surprisingly lacking where one would think it would be most in evidence. After all, we do call it health care. It is staggering, shocking, and saddening that such stories are even now all too common, and that they come even from doctors themselves when they become patients and need care themselves.

Beyond the ubiquity of stress and pain operating in my own life, my motivation to practice mindfulness is fairly simple: Each moment missed is a moment unlived. Each moment missed makes it more likely I will miss the next moment & live thru it cloaked in mindless habits of automaticity of thinking, feeling & doing rather than living in, out of, and through awareness. I see it happen over and over again. Thinking in the service of awareness is heaven. Thinking in the absence of awareness can be hell. For mindlessness is not simply innocent or insensitive, quaint or clueless. Much of the time it is actively harmful, wittingly or unwittingly, both to oneself and to the others with whom we come in contact or share our lives. Besides, life is overwhelmingly interesting, revealing, and awe-provoking when we show up for it wholeheartedly and pay attention to the particulars.

If we sum up all the missed moments, inattention can actually consume our whole life & color virtually everything we do & every choice we make or fail to make. Is this what we're living for, to miss & therefore misconstrue our very lives? I prefer going into the adventure every day with my eyes open, paying attention to what is most important, even if I keep getting confronted, at times, with the feebleness of my efforts (when I think they're "mine") & the tenacity of my most deeply ingrained & robotic habits (when I think they're "mine").

I find it useful to meet each moment freshly, as a new beginning, to keep returning to an awareness of now over & over again & let a gentle but firm perseverance stemming from the discipline of the practice keep me at least somewhat open to whatever is arising & behold it, apprehend it, look deeply into it, & learn whatever it might be possible to learn as the nature of the situation is revealed in the attending.

When you come right down to it, what else is there to do? If we aren't grounded in our being, if we aren't grounded in wakefulness, are we not actually missing out on the gift of our very lives & the opportunity to be of any real benefit to others?

It does help if I remind myself to ask my heart from time to time what's most important right now, in this moment & listen very carefully for the response.

As Thoreau put it at the end of Walden,

"Only that day dawns to which we are awake."

Copyright 2005 Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Hyperion, New York.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., is the founding director of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, as well as Professor of Medicine emeritus. He leads workshops on stress reduction and mindfulness for doctors and other health professionals and for lay audiences worldwide. He is the bestselling author of Wherever You Go, There You Are and Full Catastrophe Living, and, with his wife, Myla Kabat-Zinn, of a book on mindful parenting, Everyday Blessings. He was featured in the PBS series Healing and the Mind with Bill Moyers, as well as on Oprah. He lives in Massachusetts. For more information, please visit www.writtenvoices.com.

Learning to Meditate - By Jamie Lynn

In today’s hectic world, learning to meditate can bring a sense of calm and inner satisfaction. The practice of meditation is a gateway into your inner consciousness, resulting in an enhanced awareness of your own existence and your overall relationship to the cosmos.

Whether you are looking to answer the age-old question, “Who am I and why am I here?” or simply to implement simple relaxation techniques meditation may just be the answer for you.

Although there are hundreds of established techniques how to meditate is really up to the individual. You can pick and choose amongst different schools of thought and find a technique that best suits your personality. However, although meditation has many different cultural contexts, there are certain general facets which transcend the bounds of any one specific culture.

According to Eastern philosophy, to meditate means to think on the eternal, or rather to expand your consciousness until you are at one with the cosmos as a whole. Transcendental emotions like grief, euphoria or even love can fade away, but the universe is forever. Eventually, with practice, learning to meditate can bring you in closer attunement with the very root and purpose of existence itself.

Even if you are not interested in the metaphysical implications of meditation, meditating has undeniable health benefits. Learning to meditate can have positive effects on stress induced illness such as heart disease and high blood pressure. In conjunction with traditional Western approaches to medicine, meditation can target the root causes behind stress-based conditions by calming and clearing the mind.

There are many relaxation techniques meditation incorporates. You can meditate sitting, standing or lying down, in a chair or on the floor. Learning how to meditate is not difficult. There are numerous programs online that can teach you the basics and help to get you started. These programs can guide you each step of the meditation process, provide tips on appropriate posture and teach you how to create the ideal setting for your meditation session.

Classic sitting meditation is one approach. All you need to do is sit on the floor in a comfortable position in a bright but quiet room. The purpose of meditation is not to fall asleep, but to relax and let go of everyday stress. As you become more skilled, you will begin to experience a greater sense of clarity and self observation. Next, breathe deeply and find a focal point or image to hold in your mind. This action will clear the mind and any lingering anxiety or worry.

Sitting meditation is but one of the more popular techniques how to meditate. You can break your session into periods of sitting and standing, incorporate chanting or mantras into your meditation or even dance (Cathartic Dance Meditation.)

With commitment and dedication, the calm and peacefulness that you experience upon learning to meditate will carry over to your everyday actions. More quickly than you can imagine, you will come to crave the sense of cleansing and tranquility that meditation can impart. Once you begin the practice, meditation will quickly become an intrinsic part of your daily routine.


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