Meditation April 25, 2009

Work, school, relationships, and family obligations can all pull us in different directions. When something happens to upset us, we can feel out of balance and uncentered. How can we find our center?  There is so much pressure to accomplish and do things. How can we learn to be a human-being instead of a human-doing? How do we learn to just be? Mediation has been used for centuries to get beyond the day-to-day pressures and find a place of stillness. This centered place is healing and beneficial without needing to be figured out. We all have a place of inner knowing and peace inside us. We can get to that place just by letting go of our struggling and allowing it to come to the surface.

• On the Physical Level, meditation slows the heart rate, decreases blood pressure, lowers metabolic rate and oxygen consumption, encourages sleep, and lowers muscle tension.

• On the Mental Level, meditation decreases the severity and frequency of circular thought patterns, calms catastrophic thinking, lower negative self-talk and promotes self-compassion.

• On the Emotional Level, meditation decreases stress, depression and anxiety and is an effective tool in working with panic attacks.

• On the Spiritual Level, meditation opens the door to connect with our Higher Self, increases mindfulness and awareness of Spirit. It can be a path that leads toward a higher level of consciousness.

How to Meditate

Meditation can be as easy as taking ten breaths. We all breathe all day long, what makes these ten breaths special? It is meditation when we bring our attention and mindfulness to the process of something we take for granted.

1. Find a quite, peaceful spot where you won’t be interrupted. Sit in a comfortable chair with your feet flat on the floor. Release any expectations of how your session “should” go and accept what is. You don’t have to try hard to meditate, you have to release trying.

2. Bring your attention gently to your breath. Don’t try to control it, just notice it flow in and out of your body. When you are ready to begin, breathe in on a count of four. When your lungs are full, hold it for a beat, and then breathe out on a count of four. When your lungs are empty, hold it for a beat, and then repeat the cycle. One full breath is one cycle in and out; repeat this ten times.

3. If you prefer, you can meditate on a quality. Breathe in and say in your mind the word “Love” (or Peace, Acceptance, Joy) and say it again when you breath out. For panic attacks you can breathe in “I Am” and breathe out “Safe.” “I am safe” can be an affirmation and a mantra.

4. Focus on the physical sensations of breathing. How it feels flowing into your nostrils, filling your lungs. You can imagine the air as healing white Light, flowing into your body, bringing peace to everything it touches. If your mind wanders, just notice it without judgment and allow you attention to return to your breath.

5. When you are done, open your eyes and stretch your body. How is your breath now? Does your body feel different? Start with 5 – 10 minute sessions each day and work up to 30 minutes per day. Returning to meditation each day is more important than the length of the individual sessions.

Remember, you can not fail at meditation; don’t worry about doing it “right.” If you show up each day and open yourself to Love, healing, trust, and compassion, they will gradually become a part of you.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

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