Meditation: Developing the Mental Muscle

The ancient practice of meditation has been used to achieve calmness and to connect to our spiritual Selves.  Today, neuroimaging technologies, medically validated studies, and research validate its healing properties.  Books such as “The Secret” and “The Biology of BeDonna in meditation 2007lief” talk about the idea that we can actually create our world and the events in our world by the attitudes, self-talk, and emotions that we bring to any given situation.  Dr. Joseph Dispenza says that the current scientific model speaks of the internal world we live in to be as important as the external world, saying “What’s happening within us will create what is happening outside of us”

There is evidence the human brain can restructure itself through the influence of meditation. Long term mediators’ change their EEG’s and brain structure. They cultivate a more calm, steady state that allow for greater productivity throughout the day.  They learn to cultvate emotional stability that helps them to stay unattached to outcomes and events by being non-reactive.  They live their lives in such a way as to see the larger picture in life, thereby living healthier lives with less stress and anxiety.

Mediation is about giving ourselves time to think and get to know ourselves and our purpose in life.  Meditation gives us the opportunity to lessen the effects of aging, by building our “Mental Muscle”.   As we age the cortex thins and our memory function.  The brain is composed of an estimated 100 billion neurons…enough to go to the moon and back six times!

There are many types of meditation, all for helping us to cultivate the power of harnessing our attention.  Any time we concentrate, this is a form of meditation.  Some of these include

BREATH and body sensation- feeling state; observation and breath control exercises

VISUALIZATION- imaging; seeing what you intend to manifest

MANTRA- chanting; focusing on a word or phrase you wish to cultivate

OPEN field awareness- clearing the mind; often times meditation is a cleansing technique to improve overall state of mind.

Yoga: Using physical postures to create mindfulness (Paying attention in a particular way on purpose), attention (alerting, re-orienting, executive control-top down)

Quick process model of mindfulness meditation-

First: Find a comfortable position, sitting or lying down, free from distraction.  Donna O’Bryan, M. Ed. Of Yoga I.S.® teacher training calls it “feathering your nest”

Second:  Set the intention, you want to increase well-being. This gives you a focus and allows your attention to stay on task.

Third: Follow the breath. You are developing concentration calm flow. But inevitably the mind becomes distracted, often within seconds, begin to ruminate, spin, worry, mindless wandering, fantasizing, dosing, lethargic. This is called “soap opera mode”, and normal.

Fourth: Reorient the attention if needed.  Bring the mind back gently and kindly, knowing that even concentration takes practice.  In time, what was an effortful practice becomes automatic.