186600.jpg (7681 bytes)What is meditation?

If you are like many people, meditation conjures up the image of a statuesque  pundit sitting in a yoga position silently repeating  words or practicing a religious rite in some isolated monastery.

 It is well known that meditation has been associated with primitive people practicing a technique for inducing altered states of consciousness, as these practices have been recorded in ancient books of the Hindus, Buddhist, Suffis, Jews and in Christians, meditation is useful to the executive, the plumber, the house wife, and  the student. Paradoxically, the  major exporter of meditation  to the Western World, however,  must be credited to the genius of  Maharishi Mehesh Yogi.

Meditation is not a religion or even a practice of a religion. Meditation is an effortless concentration on a single point over an extended period of time. Although the word "meditation", like   "stress" means different things to different people, simply stated, it is a wide range of approaches which can be identified with two given set of procedures:

1. "an approach that involves focusing attention on a single word or phrase," or,

2."an approach that encourages an openness and expansion of an individual's field of  attention." [2]

Most traditional meditation techniques use a combination of exercises with one or more of the following: regulation of breathing, focused attention, perceptual deprivation and mental visualization of scenes or symbols.[3]

One of the simple meditations which can be done without the skill of a teacher is breathing. Don't let the simplexes confuse you! If you learn no other meditation, this one can have profound effects. Practice this  for several weeks twice a day, and this technique will likely yield tremendous results. Be sure you are not tired when you do the practice. Do not do this practice within several hours of bedtime or just after eating a meal.

   The Practice

1. Lie down on the floor in a supine position.

2. Bring your attention to your breathing.

3. Place one hand on the upper thoracic region and the other hand on the lower diaphragm.. Notice as you inhale and exhale which hand moves up and down.

4. Practice this for 10 minutes and notice that it is important to keep the lower diaphragm rising and falling as you inhale and exhale. This diaphragm breathing tends to relax the mind and body.

A slight variation is to count to ten as you breathe. Count one on the exhale and two on the inhale. Continue this for 10-20 minutes. Zen practitioners have been known to focus on anapansati ( counting breaths from one to ten ) [4].

Now try this easy variation and effective procedure of breath counting.

Directions

1. Count "one" on each exhale and" and" on the inhale, "two" on second exhale etc. up to four. Doing one thing at a time is the basis of the breath counting technique.
2. Count "one" on each exhale and "and" on the inhale. Do this for 20 minutes.
3. No matter if the mind wanders continue the counting as soon as you realize that you have strayed from the task.
4. Set a timer or look at your watch until you are able to do the technique for 20 minutes automatically

Lawrence LeShan [5] indicates states  this is an  Outer Meditation Technique ( Breath Counting Technique ) of Meditation  which   is in an effect a "suspension of thought". He noted that you  can expect to obtain three things psychologically  from meditation:

1. Training of the mind like an athlete trains the body.

2. Increased focusing ability and efficiency in everyday life.

3. An altered or different way of perceiving reality.

LeShan indicates that you will experience these physiological effects of Meditation :

1. State of deep relaxation.

2. Lowered metabolic rate.

3.Decrease in heart and respiration.

4. Hyper metabolic state as opposed to the "fight or flight".

5. Lactate concentration of the blood decreases sharply

6. Decrease in moisture on skin.

7. Brain waves are different from hypnosis and sleep.

 

Keep track of your Meditations. Use your Biodots to monitor your progress. See the format below. You can earn one point for each meditation ( twice per day ) . Keep notes in your Relaxation Journal. You may wish to answer these questions Was it easy? Did you feel relaxed? Were you able to handle your daily tasks easier? Did you feel more rested after your Meditations? Did you notice any stress symptoms disappear?

For extra credit search the Internet for Meditation Websites. Send the Website  domain with a brief summary of its content and what you learned to your instructor. If it is used as a resource for a hyperlink for this lesson, you can receive 5 points for each hyperlink selected,  accumulative up to a maximum of  50 points.

Some students provided the hyperlinks below and earned extra credit.

www.dentmeditation.co.uk  is a site that describes meditation as a simple technique that allows mental and physical activity to settle down so that a profound state of rest is achieved.  It states that just twenty minutes of meditation per day will be helpful in achieving a healthier body that is less prone to illness, more energy, and a greater sense of calm and inner security.  K .Morrow, Winter 2001

 www.meditationsociety.com is a site that teaches beginners or more advanced people techniques of meditation.  I went to the beginner's site and it suggested that meditation will help a person become a lovable person that will enjoy every second of life.  It stated that meditation is a three step process that leads to a state of consciousness that brings serenity, clarity,
and bliss.  K. Morrow, Winter 2001

www.meditationcenter.com

This website is very complete for all the beginning student of meditation. It includes quite a variety of different meditations with different effects. Healing meditations, relaxation and stress management meditations, connecting with your inner spirit, and enlightenment are some of the 'rooms' you can visit at the online center. Heather Cozad, Fall 2001

Keep a daily log of your relaxation practice.

Relaxation Journal

Date______
Time of Day________
Biodot color at:
Beginning of Session______
End of Session______

Comments

 

Type of Relaxation Skill Practiced___________

 

 1.Phil  Nuerberger, Freedom from Stress, Honesdale, Pennsylvania: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga Science and Philosophy of the USA,1981,pp.199 - 213 
 2. Stephen Auerbach, and Sandra Gramling,
Stress Management, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc. Simon& Schuster/A Viacom Company,1998, p.133
 3. The Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychology, Cambridge, Mass., The MIT Press,1983, p.176
 4. Jerrold Greenberg, 
Comprehensive Stress Management, Boston:  McGraw-Hill,1999, p142    5.Lawrence LeShan, How to Meditate, Bantam Books, Boston, Mass,1974

Email: rbrehm@msn.com  Copyright 1998  [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.