Benefits of Meditation for Physical and Mental Health Part 3

About the benefits of meditation for physical and mental health, history of the exercise, definitions and explanations.

Recharging Yourself through Meditation

Another effect of meditation is to de-automatize the meditator. We all know that we become used to things. If we were perceiving the sky, a tree, a loved one's face for the 1st time, we would be full of wonder, but we are used to them, so our senses become jaded; we are automatized. The form of meditation that tunes out the senses helps us to de-automatize. While we meditate we are unaware of any sensory input. Then, meditation over, we reawaken to a world in which, hopefully, "all things are made new." The awareness-of-environment type of meditation helps us not to automatize at all, as with the Zen Buddhists who did not automatize to the clicks.

It is also possible that by tuning out all normal stimuli we may be better able to sense weaker "signals." (The stars are always in the sky, but in the presence of the "everyday" sun we cannot sense them.) These signals may be from God (mediation is, after all, recommended by all major religions), or from the environment in the form of ESP, or perhaps from other sources, but they must surely help us to be more aware of our universe, and so of ourselves.

Meditation techniques abound. Some may be helpful, others just a distraction. No one technique is essential, but here are a few that have been found useful. Some people achieve very satisfying meditative states without any of them.

The spine should be straight. The lotus and other cross-legged positions are good, but you can just as well sit in a straight-backed chair, feet on the ground, hands on knees. Concentrative or contemplative meditations are best for beginners. Either stare at or visualize an object, perhaps one of spiritual significance, perhaps one that is just beautiful. An uplifting or soothing phrase will do. Or observe your breathing. Whatever, focus your whole attention on it; there is nothing else in the universe. . . . Thoughts will come and go. Let them go; let them float by like fluffy clouds that cannot really ruffle the clear blue of the sky beyond. Let them go, and return to your focus. Relax, be comfortable. Be still. At 1st, try for no longer than 10 minutes, preferably twice a day, preferably in the same place, preferably not just after a meal. Later you can meditate longer--20 to 30 minutes is ideal. Unsupervised meditation for over an hour at a time can lead to problems and for most people is unnecessarily time consuming. Meditation is beautiful, but it is a means to a more fulfilling life; it should not be an end in itself. Peace.

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