Thursday, August 21, 2008

What is Meditation & What are the Benefits?

Meditation is Great for Releasing Stress

I have a friend who has been meditating for 50 years, and he now calls meditation -> "Stress Release Exercise". So you see, the practice of meditation reduces and relieves stress, rather than builds it up. Meditation is basically the practice of resting your thinking, You can try it for free, and make your own decision if it helps or not. The best is you do it each day, twice a day, for around 30 minutes each time and do it for at least 3 weeks straight to be able to see a result. Then if you decide you get a benefit, then you can make it part of your daily life, just like you brush your teeth every day. It's much like that, a preventative mental, physical and emotional health routine which you do every day.

How to Do Meditation

To do it, find a quiet place free of distractions, then get comfortable and close your eyes, the most important is your body is relaxed, not so much that you try to keep a certain body posture like many recommend. Then just put your attention on FEELING your breath move in and out of your body, which can be anywhere along the path of the breath. Re, you can notice the feeling of air coming in and out of your nose or into your lungs, or into your diaphragm. The important thing is you just are feeling the breathing happen, you don't have to breath in any certain way. Breathing happens all by itself, you don't have to 'do breathing' or think about breathing, you have nothing to do here except FEEL your breath move in and out. As you practice this, you will notice that you lose contact with the attention you had on feeling your breathing, what has happened is the thinking has started up. Don't worry about the thoughts or what the content of them are, just make a mental note - I was thinking - then refocus on feeling the breathing. If you try to examine your thoughts, then it will trigger more thinking and before you know it you will be only thinking. So for meditation time, it's good to have a reminder: this is not the time that I need to think. I can think later if I need too... This interruption of thinking happening and losing contact with simple feeling of breath will repeat over and over, this is totally normal. As you proceed in meditation practice it will become easier to feel the breath, and become more aware of when thinking has become predominant.

Why does Meditation reduce Stress?

The reason this practice reduces stress is because stress is caused by thinking. It's like you think all these things - re: all you have to do, and you don't have time to do it, then there's a conflict, the muscles hold tension and you have stress. Thinking goes a lot faster then what you can physically do, so the more you think things should be different than what they are, which is most of the time with thoughts, then the more stress you build up. As you learn to become more aware of thinking and breathing from continued daily practice of meditation, as you get better at tuning into what happening inside you, you will start to learn more about your basic make-up, personality, awareness and body and how all of you works. This is known as 'self-knowledge', which will allow you to take steps in your awareness levels. Eventually you get better at accepting what is happening 'right now' and learning to respond to it as needed, versus spending so much time thinking you can do more than is truly possible. So you see, if you continue you will stop building up stress in the first place, you will be able to catch that over active thinking pattern when it happens and be able to 'set it aside' and simply breath - even during the day - thus you become more in control of everything that you experience.

It's a very important life skill to learn how to control the reactions of thinking and emotions and physical actions. All that a human can do, the first thing that always happens is thought, this precedes all else, so becoming aware of thinking is paramount to have true will power and focus and control of yourself. When one's thinking is overactive, usually certain thoughts are repeating or a certain nature, which create an emotional energy in the body according to the underlying nature or tone of the thoughts. Thinking is part of the nervous system and is what allows us to act, so just prior to a movement in body, energy is built up in the appropriate muscles as an electric charge to allow us that movement. So think, emotion, then act. When one is thinking, one is building emotional energy in the muscles, if one doesn't act upon that which is set up, then this is 'stress'. Basically charges are in the muscles, but it is not released through action. By learning to only think when needed - when one needs to take an action, then one becomes more energy efficient, not building up unnecessary energy in the body when it's not needed.


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