..The Intuitive Times
Healing the Heart


Meditation Part 1

by Sandra Church, M.E.(Psychology)

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I’ve been wanting to write about meditation and it s benefits for a long time. Both my husband and myself meditate, each for our own individual reasons. It helps us relax and deal with day to day problems. It helps me deal with pain from my disabling conditions, and also clears the mind and allows us to be more creative in our thinking. In terms of our religious beliefs, it helps us quiet our minds for prayer and contemplation.

Meditation has some strange connotations. There are religions which center their practice on meditation. What most of us know about meditation comes from TV or movies. My favourite was, and still is, Kung Fu, which is a show about a martial art.

Let’s go to the dictionary to define meditation: “a practice of mental concentration.” Meditation has no specific religious attachment. When you quiet your mind to begin to meditate, it s like quieting your mind for prayer.

Why Meditate? There are any number of medical studies about how stress reduction techniques helps lower blood pressure, helps reduce pain, calms the nerves and helps one sleep better. The benefits of reduced stress can be immediate including peace of mind, relaxation and positive medical benefits. Some people use meditation to focus inwardly, to increase their creativity, and to handle difficult problems by looking for guidance from within their own minds. Using meditation (stress control techniques if you like) is a way to help yourself with physical and medical difficulties.

How do you meditate? Many books on meditation suggest that you should close your eyes and focus on nothing! That s very difficult as our minds are always busy presenting us with images and ideas. Meditation is not a way of ignoring the world or getting high. There are many types of meditation which can be confusing. It is a very individual experience. A person may try many techniques until they find a method that works for them.

There is no need for an individual to change their religious beliefs to benefit from meditation. It is something that can fit into any lifestyle and it doesn’t need to become a lifestyle even though some individuals choose to make it the center of their lives. It is an internal, personal experience. It is not a fetish, nor does it need any trappings such as music or incense to be of benefit though some people enjoy these additions. Some form of prayer, meditation or contemplation has been taught in many religions for centuries. We associate meditating with Eastern religions, but Christians have a long history of inner contemplation, being advised to be still and wait upon the Lord. In the next couple of columns, I will explore some well known Christian and well as Eastern meditation philosophies.

For this first column on meditation, I will describe a technique for you to use which will be helpful for stress, help you sleep if you have trouble sleeping, and certainly help with pain. This has to do with breathing. I suspect you all breath. One meditation technique is to sit comfortably where you can spend some time. Music is ok, if it is peaceful. There are many lovely relaxation CDs or tapes of such things as mountain streams or the sound of waves. Heavy duty rock and roll is not likely to work. Put your hands on your legs, or on the arms of the chair with your hands open and fingers extended. Why? So you don t have your fists all clenched up which is not relaxing. Close your eyes to stop you from looking at the things that need to be done. Breathe in a regular way for a few moments as you normally would. Then begin to pay attention to the breathing; how the air goes in and out. After a few moments, say inwardly, Breathe in relaxation, breathe out stress.

Eventually, you will find your body relaxes and you will have forgotten to say breathe in, breathe out . If your mind wanders off to other thoughts, or lists of things you HAVE to do, gently focus your thoughts back on your breathing. Do this for about 10 minutes, then gently stop. Slowly open your eyes. You may fall asleep doing this. That is fine if you do. You can do this in bed and get a great sleep. If you wake, just do it again. In the next column, I’ll discuss some other types of meditation and which use meditation for other purposes.


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