Tuesday, April 2, 2013

THE POWER OF MEDITATION

One of the misconceptions concerning this formerly exclusive Eastern Hemisphere spiritual practice is that it’s irrelevant to Western Hemisphere nations, especially the USA because of our strong materialistic desire to accumulate things.  However, it just so happens that the art of Meditation is good for consumers too.  Take a look at the following physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits.

PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF DAILY MEDITATION

•  It lowers oxygen consumption.
•  It decreases respiratory rate.
•  It increases blood flow and slows the heart rate.
•  It increases exercise tolerance.
•  Leads to a deeper level of physical relaxation.
•  Lowers high blood pressure.
•  Reduces anxiety attacks by lowering the level of blood lactate.
•  Decreases muscle tension.
•  Helps in chronic diseases like allergies, arthritis, etc.
•  Reduces PMS symptoms.
•  Helps in post-operative healing.
•  Enhances the immune system.
•  Reduces activity of viruses and emotional distress.
•  Enhance energy, strength and vigor.
•  Helps with weight loss.
•  Reduces free radicals, less tissue damage.
•  Higher skin resistance.
•  Drop in cholesterol levels, lowers risk of cardiovascular disease.
•  Improved flow of air to the lungs resulting in easier breathing.
•  Decreases the aging process.
•  Higher levels of DHEAS (Dehydroepiandrosterone).
•  Prevents, controls or slows pain of chronic diseases.
•  Makes you sweat less.
•  Cures headaches and migraines.
•  Greater orderliness of brain functioning.
•  Reduced need for medical care.
•  Less energy wasted.
•  More inclined to sports, activities.
•  Significant relief from asthma.
•  Improved performance in athletic events.
•  Normalizes your ideal weight.
•  Harmonizes the endocrine system.
•  Relaxes the nervous system.
•  Produces lasting beneficial changes in brain electrical activity.
•  Cures infertility (the stresses of infertility can interfere with the release of hormones that regulate ovulation.)

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF DAILY MEDITATION

•  Builds self-confidence.
•  Increases serotonin level, influences mood and behavior.
•  Resolves phobias and fears.
•  Helps control own thoughts.
•  Helps with focus and concentration.
•  Increases creativity.
•  Increases brain wave coherence.
•  Improves learning ability and memory.
•  Increases feelings of vitality and rejuvenation.
•  Increases emotional stability.
•  Improves all relationships.
•  Mind ages at slower rate.
•  Easier to remove bad habits.
•  Develops intuition.
•  Increases productivity.
•  Improves relations at home and at work.
•  Able to see the larger picture in a given situation.
•  Helps ignore petty issues.
•  Increases ability to solve complex problems.
•  Purifies character.
•  Develops willpower.
•  Greater communication between the two brain hemispheres.
•  React more quickly and effectively to a stressful event.
•  Increases one’s perceptual ability and motor performance.
•  Higher intelligence growth rate.
•  Increase job satisfaction.
•  Increases the capacity for intimate contact with loved ones.
•  Decrease in potential mental illness.
•  Better, more sociable behavior.
•  Less aggressiveness.
•  Helps in quitting smoking, alcohol addiction.
•  Reduces need and dependency on drugs, pills and pharmaceuticals.
•  Need less sleep to recover from sleep deprivation.
•  Requires less time to fall asleep, helps cure insomnia
•  Increases sense of responsibility.
•  Reduces “road rage.”
•  Decreases restless thinking.
•  Decreases tendency to worry.
•  Increases listening skills and empathy.
•  Helps make more accurate judgments.
•  Gives greater tolerance.
•  Gives composure to act in considered and constructive ways.
•  Grows a stable, more balanced personality.
•  Develops emotional maturity.

SPIRITUAL BENEFITS OF DAILY MEDITATION

•  Helps keep things in perspective.
•  Provides peace of mind, happiness.
•  Helps you discover your purpose.
•  Increases self-actualization.
•  Increases compassion.
•  Grows wisdom.
•  Deepens understanding of yourself and others.
•  Brings body, mind and spirit in harmony.
•  Deepens level of spiritual relaxation.
•  Increases acceptance of oneself.
•  Helps learn forgiveness.
•  Changes attitude toward life.
•  Creates a deeper relationship with your God or higher power.
•  Attain enlightenment.
•  Gives greater inner-directedness.
•  Helps you to live in the present moment.
•  Creates a widening, deepening capacity for love.
•  Enables discovery and consciousness beyond the ego.
•  Experience an inner sense of assurance or knowingness.
•  Experience a sense of “Oneness.”
•  Increases the synchronicity of your life.


 (From www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/05/100-benefits-of-meditation/)

HOW TO MEDITATE

If you’re like most people, you’ll find the easiest way into meditation is by listening to your heartbeat or better yet, focusing on your breathing in and breathing out as that takes little if any thought.  Keep doing this until you notice you’re thinking again; when you do, don’t get frustrated with yourself because this is going to happen a lot especially in the beginning.  Just focus on your breathing again.  As time goes by, you’ll find you can still your mind for longer and longer periods of time.  That’s it.  It’s really quite simple.  Here’s why it’s so important to meditate daily:

It’s the seconds or minutes between thoughts that add up and that have an overall accumulative affect, changing you from the inside out.  You don’t have to understand how it works—for it to work.  

WHEN AND WHERE TO MEDITATE

The best time to meditate is when you haven’t been thinking for a while such as at night when you’ve been sleeping, for you don’t think when you sleep.  It’s also easier to go deep in meditation when the Earth is the quietest which is around three in the morning.  The next best time to meditate is after you get up in the morning and use the bathroom.  Sit somewhere comfortable where you know you won’t be disturbed for at least 15 minutes. Use a timer to show your thinking apparatus that you only intend on stilling the mind for that long which it will put up with.

Before you begin your meditation, relax your body as it’s easier to still your mind when you do.  I used to start with my feet and work up from there; now, I am able to mentally relax my whole body all at once.  Your mind is used to thinking and is intricately connected to your body so it is going to cause your body to want to move around a little bit in order to get you to stop meditating; hence, the benefit of mentally relaxing your body before you begin.

After many years of meditating, today, I can meditate in an airport, if need be; however, in the beginning I had to have it quiet or play dreamy new age music, and sit in a dark closet or room.    Lately, I’ve been listening to a CD of the ocean that has the ability to trigger delta brain waves.  It’s going to be an evolving thing so please don’t get hung up on sound, ok?  I used to do nothing more than listen to the sounds of my home, the birdies or whatever’s going on outside my window I never noticed before I began doing this.  You’re basically crossing over a bridge (to use a metaphor) to get to the non-thinking “radio receiver” other half of “YOU,” which may take a little while to get really good at accomplishing quickly.

You’ll have good as well as not so good days and eventually you’ll have outstanding days where an hour goes by and you’ve gone very deep.  When that happens, congratulations!   You’re discovering who YOU really are behind the fa├žade of the thinker you had mistakenly thought was you.

YOUR GREAT BIG ETERNALLY WONDERFUL TRUE SELF

There is a SELF behind the thinker, that some call the SOUL and who you’ll never know unless you learn to meditate daily.  It is the eternal unit of evolution whereas the personality (thinker) that grows with the physical body is the finite unit of incarnation.

This is the One said to be made in the image of the Creator you’re going to want to get to know as it has a mission for you in this life you’re going to deeply and profoundly regret if you fail to achieve it while on Earth.  This is but one of over a hundred reasons why daily meditation is the most important thing you’ll ever do, and of all of them, it is number one.  YOUR LIFE IS FAR MORE PRECIOUS THAN YOU KNOW.    


If you think meditating is too hard to do, just remember you thought the same thing about learning to ride your first bike, dance, memorize a song, play an instrument, learn to cook, yada, yada, yada because anything worth having always asks something from you in return.  Love is like that—give and take.  Didn’t Jesus say that love is the greatest of virtues?


MY STORY IS AN OPEN BOOK


If you’re still not convinced this is the path for you, I’m pretty sure the following two anecdotes will change your mind.  I’m going to be honest with you.  When it comes to human nature, the desires of the flesh and emotions can exhibit a strong pull away from daily meditation when you’re in a tough spot as I had suddenly found myself in, back in the mid-nineties, while living in Virginia Beach, renting a room in this older man’s home, especially since I hadn’t been doing daily meditation that long.

One day, he shared the fact that the reason his son hated him so much or that his wife had divorced him or that this former military officer had received a dishonorable discharge from the Navy was because he had incested his daughter from the ages of 6-12.  Like I really needed to hear that considering there were some childhood experiences of my own that, when I found this out about him, affected my emotions so badly, I quit meditating every day.

After awhile of not practicing, my life was moving in a downward spiral on every level including financially because fear, anger, and my loathing this guy for what he had done to his child had attracted just the opposite of prosperity. Before I knew it, I was flat broke, ranting and raving about it on the phone with a west coast friend whose recently deceased husband had been a dear friend of mine, turning me on to meditation.  

She listened to my story and then asked if I was meditating.  I said “No.”  She replied, “For how long?”  I said “Several weeks.  I tried and tried, finally giving up.”  Lori told me I needed to start meditating again and that if I would, things would get better in my life.  I told her “Easy for you to say, you’re not living with this monster!  You just don’t understand.”  I try but something’s not right in this place, I can feel it, like it’s almost palpable, you know?”  That’s when she told me her own story of how she came to practice daily meditation, that I’ve been sharing with people ever since:

LORI’S STORY IS EVEN BETTER

“I grew up in New York City with my sister and Jewish parents who didn’t practice their religion.  They were socialites and my sister and I were basically treated as if we were invisible.  I grew up and became a real estate broker; later on, I decided I wanted to live in the San Francisco Bay area and moved to the expensive Marin County a few miles across the Golden Gate Bridge.

“As the weeks turned into months, one thing became crystal clear:  No matter what I did, I couldn’t make a sale.  I used up all my savings, living off credit cards until they were nearly maxed out, finally deciding to pray for the first time in my life.  I didn’t believe in God but what the hell, I was desperate, so in tears, I cried:  “God, if you’re up there, please help me before I lose the roof over my head!”
“Nothing happened until the following day when this rather alien thought swam up in my head:

MAKE A LIST OF THE TOP 20 REALTORS, CALL THEM UP ON THE PHONE, ASK THEM OUT FOR LUNCH IN EXCHANGE FOR SHARING THEIR SECRET TO SUCCESS.

“How could I possibly spend money I didn’t have on strangers, wanting assurances, getting none.  I struggled over this until I decided to go for it and let the chips fall where they may.  As it turned out, most of the realtors on that list were eager to impart their hard-won knowledge.  What’s so strange about the whole thing is that, even though each story I heard was different from the others, they all had one extremely unlikely trait in common: They meditated every day.”

Not long after Lori began meditating, her life took off in a new direction.  She met and married my old friend who also meditated every day.  They pooled their resources, bought a hundred-acre farm in Brownsville, California and had a richly productive, fulfilling, happy and peaceful life on the farm, making some of their oldest dreams come true!

“Mary, just meditate for as long as you can, even if it’s only five minutes a day, every day, for it has an accumulative effect as that’s the key—you gotta do it every day if you want all the benefits.   I promise you that within three months, amazing things will begin to happen in your life.  Don’t think about it, JUST DO IT!”  Which is exactly what I did.

Within weeks, new friends had taken me in free of charge so that I could get away from this man; in fact, people helped me out everywhere I turned.  I also found a room to rent in this British woman’s home at a price I could afford, that was a block from the beach, that had been a three-year old dream of mine.

After my mother’s death in 1997, I moved to Asheville, North Carolina where I began my Healing Touch energy therapy practice in a charming little French cottage on a half-acre of property surrounded by tall pine trees, nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I always meditated during the sessions, after using a relaxation technique on my clients and showing them how to meditate as they lay on my table, witnessing many a miracle.

My anger towards this man faded; in fact, my daily meditation seemingly had an energetically positive effect on him because his attitude of resentment toward his family for their treatment of him changed from that to profound shame, self-loathing, repentance, and surrender to his God.  While I was still living there, he had a very dark night of the soul, claiming he “fought with a demon until it left his body.”  No wonder I had had such a hard time sitting still in that space!

THE KINGDOM

Jesus Christ said a lot of mind-boggling, out of this world, ahead of his time to the present day…..things that quite frankly sounded like scientific formulas to me.  I didn’t believe in religion but I did want to try out these “formulas,” which became a life’s work.  My most favorite of his teachings has always been “The kingdom of heaven is within; seek ye first the kingdom, and all shall be added unto ye.”  I made it my business to find out what he meant by this statement.  But it wasn’t until I had been meditating long enough that I realized he had been talking about DAILY meditation.

One of the interesting things about Jesus is that he didn’t ask anyone to write a book about him let alone study, memorize and use it to start religions that ended up causing pain, death and suffering, the Spanish Inquisition, the Dark Ages, and war after war after war; in fact the first book of the New Testament wasn’t around until circa 70 A.D.

FINALE

So, regardless of why you meditate, whether you’re a healer and want to see greater results, or you need to lower your blood pressure, escape the ceaseless chattering inside your mind, or want to experience peace, love and joy, the important thing to remember is that the more you work it, the more it works for you.  AND that daily meditation is the best way to make sure you don’t get pulled away from meditating, and the only key I know of that unlocks the door to your very own kingdom of heaven “within.”  So don’t think about it.  Just do it every day. Do it for “LIFE.”


Love all ways,

Mary Kinlen   

                                                                    

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Anatomy of Happiness

By Douglas Nelson
Massage & Bodywork Magazine
January/February 2013


“I’m a little perplexed,” announced my client, Ms. A. “About what?” I asked. “About how massage works,” she replied. Slightly confused at her question, I asked her to elaborate.

“We have been over the science of the work you do many times. When my shoulder was in so much pain, I think your explanations of the muscular anatomy and functional relationships were perhaps as important as the hands-on work you did. They deepened my understanding of the process as a whole, which gave me a greater sense of control over my pain. I had confidence that I could influence the outcome because I understood the process that created it.”

“So what is perplexing?” I asked.

“Now that my shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore, one of the most striking benefits of my massage sessions is the effect on my mood and how efficient I am after a session. When I go back to work, I get tons of stuff done. I know this sounds hokey, but I just feel much happier and more positive.”

I could see a growing sparkle of mischief in her eye as she asked, “So, Mr. Science, explain the better-mood phenomenon.”

Laughingly accepting the challenge, I responded, “I’d be happy to try. For many decades, the prevailing wisdom was that emotions are experienced in the mind, and as a result, powerful emotions have physical consequences. For example, when someone offends us, we have the emotional experience of anger. Shortly thereafter, we experience the physical effects of anger, such as increased muscle tension, constricted breathing, increased heart rate, etc. Conversely, joy and happiness in the emotional centers of the brain have corresponding physical effects in the body, too. What our minds conceive, our body experiences.

“As it turns out, however, the new scientific understanding is that these mind-body experiences are at least bidirectional, if not the other way around.”

“I’m a little lost,” she said. “What do you mean by ‘the other way around’?”

“Emerging science is providing some really good evidence that the physical experience can lead to the emotion, instead of the emotion manifesting as a physical experience.”

“Wow,” she exclaimed. “Give me an example.”

“Sure. When your body experiences something, your mind tries to make sense of the experience. The brain needs a reason for what it experiences;we interpret meaning so we know how to respond appropriately. As an example, let’s imagine you have an increased respiration and pulse rate. Are you excited or are you fearful? When you think about it, the physical experiences of excitement and fear are almost identical. The mind must decide which emotion it is based on in the context of the experience.

“The same can be true for a bad mood. I am sure you can remember being really tense some morning, just feeling completely out of sorts. If someone asked you why, you couldn’t really point to any specifi c offense as the reason. Throughout the morning, however, little things that would normally go unnoticed now really bothered you. You looked for things that were wrong to confi rm what you were feeling. In essence, you created the emotional reason to explain your physical state.”

“I assume that the reverse is also true, correct?”

“Exactly. This might indeed explain what you experience after a massage. You leave my offi ce with a very different physiology than when you arrived. The normalization of muscle function after massage will be experienced as more effi cient and effortless movement. The muscle tension in your shoulders is drastically reduced. Your breathing is slower and there is a much greater sense of awareness of your body. To your point about mood, think about how your brain must then interpret this new stream of physical information. When do you normally feel such lack of tension, such lightness and freedom?”

“When I am extremely happy and contented; when the world seems like a wonderful place,” she responded.

“When you search through the archives of your experiences, the times you experienced such physical ease were also times of very pleasant emotional experiences. The experience of physical ease is then interpreted as emotional ease. Since attention is selective, your peaceful and positive emotional state predisposes you to notice lots of little blessings that you previously would have overlooked. This process becomes very self-reinforcing.”

“Cool,” she said. “Another fascinating anatomy lesson. I’ll call this one The Anatomy of Happiness.”

Douglas Nelson is the founder and principal instructor for Precision Neuromuscular Therapy Seminars and president of the 16-therapist clinic BodyWork associates in Champaign, illinois. His clinic, seminars, and research endeavors explore the science behind this work.

Massage & Bodywork is a bimonthly magazine published by
Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals Inc.