Friday, October 23, 2009

Exploring Meditation

These are stressful times. Meditation can help you regroup, refocus, relax.

There is still space available in the workshop "Exploring Meditation." Below is the verbal presentation. Sign up for the experience, held two Wednesdays at the Chagrin Falls Middle School from 6:30 to 8:30 beginning Oct 28. Call 440-247-5375 to register and for more information.

If you miss this class there will be an ongoing Saturday morning meditation at (the soon to open) Your Holistic Health Team, a resource center for healthy living, Brecksville.

Exploring Meditation (verbal presentation)

Meditation seems to be everywhere in the news for wellness, recovery, stress relief, and improved quality of life. But where does one find the time?

Everywhere.

All the time that is spent doing stressful things like growling at a stop light, cursing when something is spilled, and feeling annoyance at menial tasks can be spent in meditative practices.

Personality Psychology (Larsen and Buss 2008) describes many ways that people are different, how they behave, and how that is expressed in body function. A most interesting discussion in the chapter on physiological approaches to personality tells of a study done with workers in high-stress jobs in the biotechnology industry. After eight weeks of practicing mindfulness techniques, their brains measured less chronic stress. From the participants themselves came reports of “feeling more energized, more engaged in their work, and less anxiety.” Researchers were surprised to find the meditation training also seemed to increase workers’ immune systems.

How does one meditate everywhere? The word “mindfulness” is the clue. Here are a few ways:

1. A stop light is an opportunity for getting in touch with the extremities of your body by tensing/relaxing different body parts.

2. Being on the phone “on hold” is an opportunity to take a tour with your eyes, of all the shapes that are within your visual field. Depth of field is unimportant. Separating the different objects is unimportant. Do a flow-meditation with your eyes as if you were traveling a maze. Feel your body relax. Try to keep the relaxed feeling even after the “help desk” (finally) breaks into your state of peace.

3. When a box of paper clips spills and scatters all over the carpet, the angry actions of cursing plus slamming each paper clip back into the box to vent your rage at them for making such a mess blasts a large dose of adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol into your bloodstream. A high level of cortisol in the resting state is an indicator of chronic stress and a predictor for the appearance of stress-related illnesses. What to do instead of venting at the paper clips? Be present. Sometimes being present and aware can help one to see that the box of paper clips was too close to the edge of the table. That avoids the spill all together. Accidents happen all the time, however. Dealing with them can increase the initial stress or be an opportunity for reflection and meditation. With practice in being present, being in the moment, the spilled paper clips evoke a mild “oops” and the physical/emotional act of just letting go … Letting go of whatever you were doing to deal with this new situation, and total immersion in the process of collecting them to return them to their state of tidiness. The letting go and immersion is … meditation. An awareness of “letting go” of the events around us that happen of their own accord (being “cut off” on the freeway) brings a sense of peace all on its own.

A daily meditation practice of at least ten minutes will begin to train your body and mind to this new way of being in the world. This is time set aside for you. It has no intent other than being for you, your time, because you appreciate yourself and have love of life. Doing meditation with "intent" separates you from the process of meditation. Let go and let it happen. Immerse. Know that the benefits will come of their own accord. There is great fun in discovering them.

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