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Beat Stress With Meditation: Meditation
by Naomi Ozaniec
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.
To establish your own practice, start with a short daily period of between five and ten minutes and build up to longer periods of between 15 and 20 minutes. In the beginning don’t set unrealistic goals. In the early stages, practice tends to throw up many resistances. Mental obstacles such as boredom and distracting thoughts are quite normal; the only solution is to keep going. As practice becomes assimilated, the many traditional meditative techniques begin to show their depth and value. Since it is never possible to fully master or exhaust any particular technique, practice is always experiential and fresh; meditation is a lifelong journey.
Meditation takes many forms; those belonging quite specifically to particular traditions are part of a student-teacher relationship. However, since mindfulness practice is accessible and beneficial, it makes an excellent starting place for anyone. Moreover when mindfulness is applied to all aspects of daily living, practice spills over from the formal session into an informal few moments of mental collection during the day. The bedrock of meditation is daily practice but in time every moment and experience of the day becomes the fuel for practice so that life and meditation merge into one seamless garment.
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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: 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: Mindfulness
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.
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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