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Beat Stress With Meditation: Mindfulness
by Naomi Ozaniec
Mindfulness simply means paying full attention to the present moment. As a meditative form its simplicity is deceptive, yet mindful awareness produces changes in brain activity. Mindful meditation takes four subjects, the breath, the body, the content of mind and feelings. These personal subjects mean that mindfulness is an accessible and immediate form of meditation, the instruction is quite simple: pay attention, maintain focus and be aware. Harnessing attention in this non-judgemental way is a powerful tool for emotional, psychological and mental health. The conscious act of repeatedly capturing attention develops intent and motivation, using the mind as a tool of self-observation places awareness in the present moment and applying attention to specific subjects defuses potentially negative thinking patterns. Brain imaging technology shows how sustained attention is received in the brain. Research has shown that this simple act of sustained attention has been found effective in helping to treat chronic physical pain, emotional distress, depression, stress and anxiety, eating and personality disorders. The entirely personal encounter of mindful attention releases us from false labelling, social conditioning and negative patterning and thereby provides a deeply restorative healing balm. Mindfulness provides an antidote to negative self-belief and low self-esteem; it is a way of controlling persistent troubling thoughts, a means of rebuilding an optimistic self-view and a moment-by-moment guide to authentic emotion.
These are the psychological and spiritual tools which bring wellbeing and health, peace of mind and happiness; this is the power of mindfulness, the experience of life rooted in spontaneity, creativity and authenticity.
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Beat Stress With Meditation: Yoga
The word Yoga is derived from the Sanksrit, yuj, meaning ‘to unite, integrate or join.’ Yoga therefore connects and unifies moral, mental, physical and spiritual well-being, and the various branches of Yoga achieve this in differing ways. Western Yoga is mainly Hatha Yoga. Taking its name from the two Sanskrit words for sun and moon, Ha-tha Yoga unifies and harmonizes the whole person by working directly on the body using a series of postures called asanas. Hatha Yoga impacts deeply into the nerves, glands and vital organs; its purifying action improves mental skills, lifts awareness and awakens spiritual sensitivity.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Practice
Meditation is a practical personal activity; it cannot be learned by reading a book even though informed reading can be of great value. Meditation must be experienced through personal practice, the daily and repeated exercise of entering into a particular meditative awareness. Sustained practice alone brings the many benefits that meditation brings.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Buddhism
Buddhism was founded on the experience of Siddhartha Gautama. Born a prince, he was determined to leave the confines of the palace where he saw death, sickness and old age for the first time. After eventually leaving, he travelled for many years seeking spiritual truth. Finally after six years, he settled into meditation beneath the shade of a tree where he attained enlightenment, a profound state of directly seeing into the nature of reality and in doing so became the Buddha, ‘One who is Awake.’ Buddhism was founded.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Retreats
Contemporary life is stressful: timetables and deadlines, continuous pressures, noise and the demands of home and work inevitably take a toll on mind, body and spirit; the retreat could be the necessary antidote.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Vipassana
Vipassana means to see things as they really are. Vipassana meditation develops a knowing about the world based on direct perception, rather than the more usual reliance upon intellectual concepts of the world. In Tibetan, the term is translated to mean ‘superior seeing’, ‘great vision’ or ‘supreme wisdom’. In English the term is less effectively translated as ‘insight meditation’.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Guided meditation
Meditation is most often a silent, internal experience. However a guided meditation is led and directed by a second person, usually a class teacher who describes a particular inner landscape in considerable detail. This type of meditation is now widely packaged in CD or audio form for a western audience; the voice provides a narrated description, the listener creates matching visual images. Although visualized meditations have a long and respectable history in both eastern and western traditions, this does not mean that visualization of itself has meaning and transformative potential.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Meditation
Meditation may have developed when early humans stared for long periods of time into the flickering flames of their fires, in a dark cave, and fell into a state of relaxation. Although meditation often has spiritual or religious associations, this is not essential.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Massage
From a full body massage lasting an hour, to a quick back rub given by a friend or partner, a massage is a great way to relax. Massage can loosen your muscles and ease tension.
Beat Stress With Meditation: The benefits of meditation
Meditation is good for you – that’s official. The western approach is always that of empirical research, but now a considerable body of evidence proves that meditation really is good for mind, body, and spirit.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Classes
Meditation classes are widespread and popular. Classes are now spreading into the workplace and, in some instances, into schools. Details about local classes can be found through the library or through community information and the Internet will provide plenty of information about different courses. Joining a class offers many advantages: proper instruction, peer support and friendship, the chance to ask questions or raise difficulties and the opportunity for regular practice among like-minded people.
Beat Stress With Meditation: Positions
Meditation is undeniably associated with particular body positions, most especially the sitting cross-legged positions known as the full or half lotus. This idea is quite daunting to most westerners who will find such positions impossible.
© Hodder Education 2010
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