Chicago Anti-Aging Meditation
Basic Meditation For Anyone
Meditation Made Easy
I would like to set forth some simple ideas for those persons with any life change who may be interested in trying simple meditation. This may not be for everyone; but, meditation need not be as intimidating as it is often perceived, riddled with gurus, Zen masters, chakras, spiritual guides, and new age practices.
Meditating can be as simple as closing your eyes, breathing deeply, and floating away with a beautiful piece of music or a tape of nature sounds. Guided meditations are commercially available to lead the novice into a relaxed and peaceful state. For Christmas last year, a dear friend with a particularly soothing voice made a tape for me, using images and music that he knows are special to me, guiding me on my own journey to relaxation or sleep. He made it even more special by singing a small lullaby at the end of each meditation. It's one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. I use it often.
If you find music or sounds too distracting, try closing your eyes and picturing a pond or lake, turbulent and churning. Slowly, slowly, watch the water grow calm. You will grow calm with the water...
The following are simple meditation exercises. If you are interested in more complex processes and visualizations, many books and audio tapes are available.
Focusing on the breath is one of the most common and fundamental techniques for accessing the meditative state. Breathing is a deep rhythm of the body that connects us intimately with the world around us.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and regularly, and observe your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Give your full attention to the breath as it comes in, and full attention to the breath as it goes out. Whenever you find your attention wandering away from your breath, gently pull it back to the rising and falling of the breath.
Inhale through your nose slowly and deeply, feeling the lower chest and abdomen inflate like a balloon. Hold for five seconds. Exhale deeply, deflating the lower chest and abdomen like a balloon. Hold for five seconds. Do this three or four times, then allow your breathing to return to a normal rhythm.
You will begin to feel a change come over your entire body. Gradually you will become less aware of your breathing, but not captured in your stream of thoughts. You will become more centered inward. You will just "be there."
Sound entrains us in the busy world, but it also whispers of breeze and birds and children playing.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and regularly, and separate from the chatter of the stream of thoughts which flow through your mind. As your mind quiets and you relax, become aware of the variety of sounds which surround you. There is no need to do anything but listen. Listen with your ears - listen with your heart.
Let your focus gently float among the sounds of the world. Gradually you will flow inward, toward your center. Eventually you will not hear anything.
This exercise involves going into the very center of your being.
Close your eyes, breathe deeply and regularly, and imagine that you are going deep, deep into a well within your center. Visualize that this beautiful, deep well goes infinitely down and down. Breathe in as you descend, and absorb all the cool, soothing, healing energy that is buried deep in this bountiful well. Breathe out as you descend, and expel all the negative thoughts and energy which you have accumulated during your day.
Your deep inner world has its own essence, its own reality, its own light. Feel the silence, peace, and calm; no noise can reach you here, no words, no sound. Breathe deeply and slowly, experiencing your deepest, most serene essence in the silence of your deep well. Practice centering in the centering page of this section.
This exercise provides balance and connection upward and downward.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply and regularly. Visualize clean white light pouring from above down into the top of your head, down through your body, and out your feet into the center of the earth. As the light flows through you, allow it to illuminate and cleanse every cell of your body. Imagine every cell bright and alive with light.
Visualize bright clear emerald light coming up from the earth, into your feet, up your legs, up your back, out the top of your head. Allow it to swirl through every cell, healing and nourishing and connecting you intimately to the very core of the earth of which you are a part.
Now allow both lights to flow through you, white from above and green from below, and combine them in a bright blend throughout your being.
Feel the connection to the earth and the heavens, feel the calm nourishment of the energy, feel that the universe is truly your home.
Your Natural Home
Home is where the heart is, and you will find this home in your heart.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply and regularly. Imagine yourself in a beautiful natural place-¾ amongst the mountain pines, on a deserted beach, in a spring meadow---anywhere you feel surrounded by the glory of nature.
Sit or recline comfortably, feeling absolutely safe and peaceful, and feel the gentle loving strength of the earth beneath your body. Notice the fragrances and the sounds, feel the gentle breeze on your face. Let your eyes wander about, taking in the beauty of the trees, the birds, and the clouds.
Let your attention roam gently, appreciating the wonder of the environment around you. Settle into a deep appreciation that you are a part of all the glory of nature.
This place is your sanctuary, available to you anytime, through meditation or just a thought.
Whether spoken or not, words and sounds have vibrations which can be conducive to meditation.
Close your eyes and breathe deeply and regularly. Focus on a word or phrase which has meaning to you. It could be a mantra, a name, or a concept which has special power or significance.
Repeat the word in your mind with each exhalation. When your mind wanders, gently return it to the word as it repeats with your breath.
People who meditate have long known that this practice has positive health benefits that include improved energy and calmness of mind. Research now shows that meditation also increases levels of melatonin, an important hormone that supports the immune system, promotes deep and restful sleep, slows cell damage and aging, improves energy and may even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland of the brain. The philosopher Rene Descartes called this tiny gland "the seat of the soul". In the Hindu spiritual tradition, meditation techniques are used to direct energy flow through seven energy centers in the body, or chakras, and selectively activate or suppress their associated glands. The pineal gland corresponds to a chakra located at the top of the head and is believed to influence happiness.
The scientific connection between melatonin and meditation was first explored in 1995 by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center's Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program. Since melatonin is produced mainly at night, overnight urine samples were collected and tested for 6-sulphatoxymelatonin, a melatonin breakdown product considered to be an accurate reflection of blood melatonin levels. Researchers found that women who meditated had significantly higher levels compared with women who did not.
A recent study published in the journal Biological Psychology confirmed this finding. The researchers found that meditation before bedtime increased melatonin levels for that night. No increases in blood melatonin levels were noted on nights where participants did not meditate. This suggests that regular practice of meditation is necessary.
How to Meditate
Here are two meditation techniques that are based on those used in the research studies. For maximal benefit, try to meditate for twenty minutes to half an hour before you go to sleep using the technique that feels more comfortable for you.
Method 1: Mindfulness
Find a quite and comfortable place. Sit in a chair or on the floor with your head, neck and back straight but not stiff. Try to put aside all thoughts of the past and the future and stay in the present.
Become aware of your breathing, focusing on the sensation of air moving in and out of your body as you breathe. Feel your belly rise and fall, the air enter your nostrils and leave your mouth. Pay attention to the way each breath changes and is different.
Watch every thought come and go, whether it be a worry, fear, anxiety or hope. When thoughts come up in your mind, don't ignore or suppress them but simply note them, remain calm and use your breathing as an anchor.
If you find yourself getting carried away in your thoughts, observe where your mind went off to, without judging, and simply return to your breathing. Remember not to be hard on yourself if this happens.
As the time comes to a close, sit for a minute or two, becoming aware of where you are. Get up gradually.
Method 2: Relaxation Response
Find a quiet place and sit in a comfortable position. Try to relax your muscles.
Choose a word or phrase that has special meaning to you and makes you feel peaceful. Or you can try the words "Ham Sah", a Sanskrit mantra meaning "I am that".
As you breathe in, slowly produce the sound "hammm" as if you are sinking into a hot bath. As you exhale, slowly produce to sound "saah", which should feel like a sigh.
Breathe slowly and naturally. Inhale through your nose and pause for a few seconds. Exhale through your mouth, again pausing for a few seconds.
Don't worry about how well you are doing and don't feel bad if thoughts or feelings intrude. Simply say to yourself "Oh well" and return to your repetition.
As the time comes to a close, continue to be aware of your breathing but sit quietly. Becoming aware of where you are, slowly open your eyes and get up gradually.