SEEKING SERENITY HAS PROVEN BENEFITS
I started meditating in the 1970’s when eastern practices for well-being and stress reduction began appearing in popular culture. When I started meditating I had no idea it would have the benefits of increasing emotional, physical and brain health that are now scientifically proven. I have witnessed the benefits of meditation in many areas of my life including improved stamina, productivity and a positive outlook on life. In addition, simply from meditating 15 – 20 minutes once a day I am able to remain focused, creative and retain an incredible memory while working. I could go on and on about how it rejuvenates me, keeps me calm and helps me own my emotional stuff, etc. but what I really want to share is that there is no one “right” way to meditate. The object of meditation is to take some time to tune into yourself by focusing inward, gently detaching from external distractions and freeing the mind of chaotic thinking. There are many ways to achieve this state. If you are ready to start meditating then here are three easy techniques you might want to try.
CALMING BREATH MEDITATION
Sit comfortably. Listen for a soft sound in the room. An air conditioner, heater, or a gently buzzing light. Close your eyes and begin a calming breath in to the slow count of 5. Release your breath to the slow count of 7. Be sure you breath all the way into your abdomen filling up your body to full capacity. As you breath out allow your belly to relax and let go.
Feel your body becoming less rigid. Let go of any thinking. Focus on the soft sound in the room, and repeat this breathing for several minutes. At the end of 6 or 7 seven minutes of meditating like this, go back to a natural rhythm of breathing for a couple of minutes. Remember, don’t force your mind to quiet, just allow your thoughts to come and go, come and go. Then, repeat the calming breath for another 6 or 7 minutes. To finish the meditation put your hands over your heart, and focus on how relaxed and calm your body feels. Open your eyes.
In this form of meditation you concentrate on the words of a passage of inspirational text. Start by choosing an inspirational passage, reading it several times to memorize it.
Here is a suggested passage from Buddhist scriptures, called the Sutta Nipata, that is quite beautiful.
May all beings be filled with joy and peace.
May all beings everywhere,
The strong and the weak,
The great and the small,
The mean and the powerful,
The short and the long,
The subtle and the gross:
May all beings everywhere,
Seen and unseen,
Dwelling far off or nearby,
Being or waiting to become:
May all be filled with lasting joy.
Let no one deceive another,
Let no one anywhere despise another,
Let no one out of anger or resentment
Wish suffering on anyone at all.
Just as a mother with her own life
Protects her child, her only child, from harm,
So within yourself let grow
A boundless love for all creatures.
Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then, as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.
Sit upright and close your eyes. Go through the words of your passage slowly and silently in your mind. Repeat the passage several times, for about 15-20 minutes (you can use a timer), concentrating on the words of the passage. If you notice that your mind had become distracted simply start at the beginning of the passage again. Passage meditation is a very powerful meditation practice By doing this meditation every morning for month and your concentration will improve, you will experience feeling centered and your stress levels will decrease.
Begin walking slowly and as you step forward notice how your feet move across the ground – from the heel to toe movement of one foot to the rising up and placing of the other foot. Soften your gaze as you sync into the rhythm of following the motion of your steps for a few hundred feet and then stop, take several deep breaths and begin again. Notice how your arms sway, your shoulders turn and your hands relax as you step forward. Go back to awareness of the motion of your feet and feel the connection you have to the earth. What sensations arise? Become aware of how simple and relaxing it is to focus on your walking.