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." 
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.
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.
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 ) .
Now try this easy variation and effective procedure of breath counting.
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.
Lawrence LeShan  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.
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
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
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.
Type of Relaxation Skill Practiced___________
Freedom from Stress,
Honesdale, Pennsylvania: The Himalayan International Institute of Yoga
Science and Philosophy of the USA,1981,pp.199 - 213
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © 1998 [Robert Brehm]. All rights reserved.