Silence befalls an ancient temple as rows of robed monks settle themselves, body and mind. Eyes closed, legs pulled up into Lotus position, the eye of the mind turns inward. For hours they remain, their minds disciplined to ponder like this for long periods of time. This is not a feat for the average person.
Perhaps this is what you imagine when the word meditation is uttered. Indeed, meditation has been a part of spiritual and religious practice for as long as mankind has been recording history. Although it can take years of steady practice to hold such a state of mind for hours at a time, meditation and its numerous benefits are not only easily accessible to anyone, but you may already be doing it without realizing it.
“Meditation” simply means to think, contemplate or ponder. Throughout the world, it bears many different names, but the idea is the same: to enter a state of mind where it is easy to focus upon one thing. If you have ever found yourself daydreaming for any length of time, you are meditating. If you have found yourself captivated by a repetitive motion, the wheels and sound of a passing train for example, you were lulled into a meditative state. The same is true when you are reading a book and lose track of the time.
The benefits of meditation
It is perfectly natural for your mind to slip into a trance and let the present moment go. When one intentionally practices meditation, they engage in a discipline of training their mind and body to do this on command. This practice can be applied to many different goals: relaxation
, building energy, enlightenment or self-contemplation just to name a few.
There are also many physical health benefits of meditation. For instance, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin can bog down the immune system. making it harder to fend off illness. In addition, elevated stress levels have other negative effects throughout the body. Practicing a regular relaxation meditation may reduce or reverse these negative effects.
No matter how you choose to do it, meditation can benefit all areas of your life. You can create a peaceful sanctuary within your own being. Perhaps you want to improve your performance at work or in sports. In the depths of your mind you may find your own inner truth and life’s purpose. No matter how you approach it, or why you choose to meditate, there is no doubt that a regular practice can have overarching benefits throughout every aspect of your life.
Here’s a simple meditation that anyone can do:
- Wherever you are, take a moment to look around. Notice everything that surrounds you. Pay attention to the colors, textures, shapes and lines.
- Tune in and listen to all the sounds and pay close attention to every subtle nuance.
- Notice the smells, the air temperature and any other sensory information you are receiving.
- Now, focus on your breathing. Notice the feeling of your feet touching the ground and bear witness to all that surrounds you.
- Finally, allow yourself simply to become a part of the moment. Do not judge what you are experiencing, and do not attempt to make any sense of it.
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AM/PM Meditation DVD with Rodney Yee and Maritza