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When we think of meditation, we imagine spiritual mystical masters on the path to enlightenment. But there is a practical side to meditating that anyone can enjoy, and is actually quite medicinal and easily accessed. We do it subconsciously and spontaneously every time we daydream. The only real difference is that meditation is done with deliberate focus, and, with concentration on intent. The intent could be something as simple as becoming more relaxed. When we employ a few tools and techniques already within our reach, we can experience the benefits of meditation regardless of how evolved we are.
Although meditation is a “mystical” process, we don’t have to be a guru in order to reap the rewards. We all have mystical abilities. The American Heritage Dictionary says mysticism is “A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience.” Meditation is founded in and explores this concept. Throughout history, we find meditation applied by the Kabbalists, Buddhists, Daoists, and countless spiritual leaders. The Twelve-Step program uses it. Each discipline uses meditation because the belief is that there is something fundamentally valuable in stimulating consciousness. In application, meditation instantly turns the participant’s focus from that which is external and redirects it to the internal. A shift in perception occurs. And, when perception shifts, the result is greater awareness. Very simply, meditation helps us remember that there is always more than one perspective.
Meditation also has a direct impact on physical health. One of the basic tools in meditation is deep breathing. Focusing on breath is a meditation in and of itself. When we are stressed, the body tends to tense and breath becomes shallow and rapid, decreasing the flow of oxygen. Therefore, breathing is a natural trigger for the body to begin to relax again. Deep inhalation increases oxygen. The restored flow of oxygen helps clear and calm us on every level. The mind and body together progressively relax, and the stress we contain is released. Combined with deep breathing, in meditation we use our senses, purposely and with imagination. Creating meaningful personal metaphors, such as imagining ourselves in our favorite setting, sets off a positive internal response that releases energy. That release of energy helps us heal. Repeated practice releases more and more healing energy. Since there is a stress component in all illness, meditation brings support to the body in reducing disease. Major hospitals now incorporate meditation and other holistic modalities as part of their treatment plan. Meditation is a bridge between mystical and medicinal realms. It increases access to our own energy to heal.
There are many forms of meditation. Inherent in all of them is the understanding of the connection of mind, body, heart, and soul. Who we are tends to get lost in the multi-tasking world we live in, and our spirits can atrophy. Acknowledging our spirit keeps us healthy. Through continuous use of some form of meditation, with sustained belief in its value, we can achieve new levels of peace of mind, more effective problem solving, greater creativity, and a fuller integration of a sense of self. Meditation, when part of a way of life, leads to overall stability in health and well being. The more we use it, the stronger we grow.
by Cindy Strom