tired of feeling stressed no matter how much positive thinking
you attempt? Sick of self-help books whose subtle message
is, "you should be ashamed of yourself if you're not
happy." What if you could cultivate a genuine focused
sense of well being no matter how you're feeling or what's
going on around you?
Mindfulness Meditation: Accepting What You Feel in
an exotic and exclusively spiritual practice, expert doctors
and scientists now credit meditation with alleviating a host
of physical and mental ailments such as anxiety, depression,
high blood pressure, and chronic fatigue.
comes to mind when you think of meditation? Is it monks wearing
enlightenment on their sleeves, drinking super caffeinated
green tea, levitating at will, and disappearing into tree-lined
monasteries for days, weeks, or years at a time? Is it gym
yoga classes complete with $22.95/pair purple pastel blocks
and trendy attractive people in the front row? The gazillion
ads for guided meditation CDs that pop-up whenever you put
"meditation" into a search engine?
the word meditation conjures up some interesting images, but
arguably the general idea behind mindfulness meditation is
inherent in all forms of meditation. 99.9% of the time, our
mental processes are dominated by a never-ending stream of
angry, anxious, and reactive thoughts that rob us of our inherent
ability to feel at peace and focused in any given moment.
during a meditation practice, you encourage yourself to feel
aligned with whatever is happening in the present moment,
instead of getting caught up in habitual perceptions of what
has happened in the past or may happen in the future. By meditating,
you gently turn off the never-ending and very popular "what
if THIS happens" channel in your mind and just exist
in the here and now. As Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned meditation
teacher, psychologist, and facilitator of the Stress Reduction
and Relaxation program at the University of Massachusetts
Medical Center says in Full Catastrophe Living:
Simply put, mindfulness is moment-to-moment awareness. It
is cultivated by purposefully paying attention to things we
ordinarily never give a moment's thought to. It is a systematic
approach to developing new kinds of control and wisdom in
our lives, based on our inner capacities for relaxation, paying
attention, awareness, and insight.
Jon. Full Catastrophe Living. Dell Publishing, New York, 1990,
we accept the premise that feeling centered in the present
moment can be beneficial to our physical and mental well being,
how do we learn how to meditate?
there are many ways of introducing yourself to meditation,
three simple methods come to mind:
a meditation or yoga class with a teacher and other students.
guided meditation tapes or CDs to create your own practice.
focused awareness through short "spot" meditations,
even if you can't commit to a full fledged meditation practice.
Taking a Class with Others
gym or YMCA probably sponsors yoga classes which can function
as a kind of meditation-in-motion practice, even if you don't
have a full-fledged yoga school in your area. Typing "online
meditation class" into a search engine also yields virtual
classes encompassing many different time zones and meditation
philosophies compatible with almost anyone's belief system
Using Guided Meditation CDs
guided tapes and CDs can be a great starter program for anyone
unsure about beginning a meditation practice on their own.
Meditation for Optimum Health: How to Use Mindfulness and
Breathing to Heal Your Body and Refresh Your Mind, by Drs.
Jon Kabat-Zinn and Andrew Weil, is an excellent meditation
starter program for anyone (especially those interested in
scientific validation that meditation works).
Self-Acceptance, by renowned meditation teacher, Buddhist
lay priestess, and psychologist, Dr. Tara Brach, combines
psychological awareness with Buddhist teachings about compassion
in exploring how mindfulness meditation can alleviate the
shame or "the trance of unworthiness," so common
and destructive in modern life.
Naparstek's guided imagery series frequently gets rave reviews
from individuals using guided meditation/visualization in
working with specific issues such as post traumatic stress
disorder, weight loss, or insomnia.
Cultivating a Smidgen of Meditative Awareness: Spot
designed to be done in 5 minutes or less may not bring instant
enlightenment, but they can still provide a taste of feeling
calm and focused in the present moment. Flip the Switch: 40
Anytime, Anywhere Meditations in 5 minutes or Less by Eric
Harrison, is an excellent resource for anyone who can take
a few deep mindful breaths while waiting for a red light to
change or a meeting to start. Meditation from Thought to Action
by Alexander and Annellen Simpkins, also contains many short
exercises designed to focus the mind in a few minutes.
who have tried meditation usually agree that simply having
the intention to meditate has a profound effect on anyone's
mental/physical health and personal development. So what not
order a book or CD about meditation right now, and make an
investment in your well being?
Looking for a Zen-like focus to improve your life, golf game,
etc? Janna Chan and others provide articles and fun resources
on a variety of personal development subjects including meditation,
goal-setting, and mindful gift giving at: http://www.a-few-seconds-calm.com