Meditation and Relaxation
Slows breathing, reduces blood pressure, helps muscles relax, gives the body time to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products, reduces anxiety, eliminates stressful thoughts, helps with clear thinking, helps with focus and concentration, reduces irritability, and reduces stress headaches.
The essence of meditation is to quiet your thoughts by focusing completely on just one thing. Unlike hypnosis, which tends to be more of a passive experience, meditation is an active process which seeks to exclude outside thoughts by concentrating all mental faculties on the subject of meditation. In all cases it helps if your body is relaxed. It should be in a position that you can comfortably sustain for a period of time (20 – 30 minutes is ideal). Sitting in a comfortable chair, lying on a bed, or the lotus position may be equally effective. A number of different focuses of concentration may be used. Which one you choose is a matter of personal taste. Some of these are detailed below:
A useful method may be to focus your attention on your breathing. Concentrate on breaths in and out. You can accompany this by counting your breaths using the numbers 0 to 9. You can visualizing images of the numbers changing with each breath. Alternatively you could visualize health and relaxation flowing into your body when you inhale, and stress or pain flowing out when you exhale.
Focusing on an object:
Here you completely focus attention on examination of an object. Look at it in immense detail for the entire meditation. Examine the shape, color differences, texture, temperature and movement of the object. Objects often used are flowers, candle flames or flowing designs. However, you can use other objects equally effectively (e.g. alarm clocks, desk lamps, or even coffee mugs!)
Focus on a sound:
Some people like to focus on sounds. The classic example is the Sanskrit word ‘Om’, meaning ‘perfection’. Whether or not this is practical depends on your lifestyle.
This can be a very refreshing and pleasant way of meditating. Here you create a mental image of a pleasant and relaxing place in your mind. Involve all your senses in the imagery: see the place, hear the sounds, smell the aromas, feel the temperature and the movement of the wind. Enjoy the location in your mind.
In all cases it is important to keep your attention focused. If external thoughts or distractions wander in, let them drift out. If necessary, visualize attaching the thoughts to objects and then move the objects out of your attention. You may find that your attention keeps breaking as you worry that time is running out. In this case it may be easiest to set an alarm to go off when you should stop meditating. You will find that as you practice meditation your attention will improve.
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