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The Beauty of Meditation

Meditation is a simple technique which facilitates the return to a child-like state of presence, inner peace and stability.

In the Western world, where walking around stressed and anxious is completely normal and the resulting health problems are rampant, Meditation, the ancient and timeless practice of deep conscious relaxation, is gaining popularity like never before.

Meditation v Medication
While prescription medicines like anti-depressants can be of enormous relief to sufferers of stress-related disorders in the short term; they do not treat the source of the imbalances and are therefore impermanent. This is why many doctors say clinical depression is incurable, and sufferers are often told they will need to be medicated for life.

On the contrary, the simple practice of Meditation can have immediate short-term benefits; improving mental, emotional and physical balance. In the long term it can create lasting and permanent change.

Our minds are often stuck in fight-or-flight mode, when there is no immediate danger whatsoever. The worrying, fearful mind creates emotions, and tension in our muscles and nervous systems. This tension creates pain. In Meditation we are training ourselves to come out of pain and into peace.

Scientific studies have proven that Meditation deactivates the sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight arousal), and activates the parasympathetic nervous system (relax-and-recuperate), which allows the body to return to a balanced state of equilibrium (known as “homeostasis”). When active, the parasympathetic nervous system slows down heart rate, dilates blood vessels, activates digestion, and stores energy.

Calm and Grounded
Says Australian Vedic Meditation teacher Lee Te Hira: “Meditation works on a deep level, relieving the body of stresses that have been accumulated over the years. Even a new meditator will start to purify the body of stresses in the first weeks of practice. Long term Meditators report that they become much more adaptable to everyday stressful situations. To use an analogy, think of a piece of rope being twisted and pulled, eventually the rope will be all knotted and tangled up. Meditation, in this analogy, will release the tension in the rope and any new knots will be easily dealt with, keeping the rope nice and loose. When the backlog of stresses has been relieved through a daily Meditation practice, any potentially stressful life situation is easily dealt with from a calm, grounded place.”

The Art of Stillness
The aim of Meditation is to rise out of the mind into the higher consciousness, the self that is watching the thoughts, but doesn’t think. In order to do this the mind must be trained to focus in observation, for example observing the breath, a mantra, the body, or the voice of a Meditation guide.

There are many Meditation techniques, developed over many centuries across many cultures. Says Te Hira: “Vedic Meditation is a simple, natural, effortless technique from ancient India. It is practiced for twenty minutes in the morning and evening, sitting comfortably in a chair with the eyes closed. A personalized Mantra is selected for the Vedic student, which when correctly, allows their awareness to dive quickly in to a deep meditative state.”

“The meditative state may be described as a state of restful awareness” Te Hira explains. “In this state you are completely relaxed, even more so than when asleep, yet still completely conscious. Once you enter the meditative state the conditions are perfect for the body to start to self repair and normalize, thereby throwing off stresses. Many benefits flow from a daily Meditation practice, such as growth of creativity and intelligence, sharper perception and general improvement in health.”

A key benefit to rising out of the mind is a sharper intuitive sense and the ability to make decisions based on “gut feelings” or a sense of ease, rather than worry and fear.

The First Step
A simple Buddhist Meditation technique that you might want to start with is to sit with the eyes closed and watch the breath. Take a few deep breaths to start but then do not control it, simply watch it. It’s easiest to leave your focus on one point, like the nostrils.

Thoughts will come up and attempt to engage you in a “story” (past or future), a “list” (to do), or a rotating “tape” (I’m not good enough/my life is awful/he or she does this to me/I can’t do this/this is stupid, etc.).

The challenge of Meditation is to let these thoughts go, no matter how dramatic and vivid and immediately urgent they may seem, and return to watching the breath. This is not the time for problem solving. This is the time for self-nurturing. The fact that thoughts have floated across your consciousness means your subconscious has already released them, like ripples across a pond.

Emotions, too, will arise as you go deeper into the meditative state. Feel the emotions – they are not wrong – but do not think about them. Do not create new reasons to perpetuate them. Just as a child or a puppy dog would, allow yourself to feel the emotion and let it go. Return to that simple, warm, golden place of peace, which is your higher consciousness and your connection to the Universal flow of energy.

Practise Makes Perfect
Even after many years the meditative state can be elusive, so bear with yourself and remember – the instant that you notice your mind has wandered, you are present. You have succeeded in detaching from the mind. Just a few minutes in this state is deeply beneficial, and just twenty minutes of Meditation is equivalent to eight hours of sleep.


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