The word meditation is derived from the Latin meditatio, which comes from the verb meditari which means “to ponder, to think, to contemplate”. The act of planning and preparing for something also fall under the umbrella of meditation. Most activities that require deep and persistent thought could be considered meditative acts.
As a young boy or girl, when you would sit and read your favorite book and become so engrossed in the story that you failed to hear your mother pounding on your door, that moment of total absorption is a moment of deep meditation.
The practice of meditation has been around since ancient times as an important component of many religions. To explain exactly what meditation is, can be quite difficult, since the activity is common to so many cultures and religions and its practice so varied.
What seems to be accepted by many people is the realization that meditation is an important tool used to train the mind, foster deep relaxation, develop and channel ones internal energy or life force and cultivate virtues such as love, compassion, understanding and patience.
Within the Fusion One natural health and holistic system, the practice of meditation involves a number of techniques. They are used to accomplish the system’s goal of helping to ensure the ascension of its practitioners. These techniques are not used simply to facilitate, in a superficial way, some secondary outcome such as a reduction in ones level of stress. Their primary goal is to bring about a fundamental change of the human condition.
When used, these meditation techniques are intended to facilitate change on five levels or realms. The most commonly used realm is the internal realm. The techniques applied use the contents of the body’s internal environment to accomplish their objectives. Meditating (focusing the attention) on ones breath would be a technique used on this realm. Techniques used on the subjective realm uses the subject (person) as the instrument or object for meditation. An aim of the techniques used on this realm could be to have the subject be mindful of emotional and other changes and sensations that are being experience at the moment. On the environmental realm, objects and other things of one’s immediate environment are used for meditation. Candle gazing and the use of music or other sounds are common techniques used. The natural realm uses the things of nature (water, air, trees, sky, animals, etc.) for meditation. Listening to the sounds of nature or gazing at the night sky are just a few of the techniques used on this realm. The final realm for meditation is the spiritual realm. Here, religious readings, recitals (mantras), prayer and a focus on the four guiding principles (love, understanding, compassion and service) are made use of.
In the West, the use of meditation as a practical tool is a, relatively new phenomenon. It is quickly gaining the acceptance and popularity it deserves. For instance, more doctors are now directing their patients toward meditation. This is a growing trend that is due, mainly, to the acceptance of meditation as a practice that offers help to patients with stress, depression, high blood pressure, some cardio vascular problems, insomnia and respiratory diseases such as asthma.
Those of us who are “long standing” practitioners of meditation do not need to be convinced by science of meditation’s many benefits. We know, from experience, that it offers a number of important ones. The good news is many of these benefits are also confirmed by the scientific community. Here are just a few:
Meditation improves concentration and attention
Many people begin the practice of meditation because of a need to control their “wandering” or “undisciplined” minds. At the very start of the practice they are presented with exercises that are designed to improve concentration and attention. These benefits are realized over time and are, therefore, natural results of the practice of meditation.
Meditation helps to strengthen the immune system
I often, take for granted the fact that I am hardly ever sick. I have been a practitioner of meditation for over 40 years. Studies show that the practice of meditation reduces stress. In addition, meditation helps to lower blood pressure. These are just two benefits of meditation that will keep us safe from many of today’s deadly diseases.
Meditation slows the deterioration of the brain
As we age, the brain’s grey matter tends to decrease. This decrease in grey matter leads to a decline of our cognitive functioning. Studies show that the long-term practice of meditation slows the removal of grey matter and help to preserve our mental functioning. Such things as good memory and good focus or concentration will remain with us for longer periods of time.
Meditation helps control pain, stress, anxiety and depression
It is estimated that 50 percent or more of illnesses are directly or indirectly caused by stress. Stress is also a principal cause of the accumulation of belly fat. With stress (a silent killer) at the core of so many of our maladies, help of any kind is welcome. Studies now show meditation to offers much in the way of pain, stress and anxiety reduction. Furthermore, mindfulness meditation, a specific meditation technique, has shown itself to be an important tool for managing the symptoms of depression.
Additional benefits of meditation include:
1. It facilitates memory improvement
2. It increases ones capacity to express love, empathy and compassion
3. It improves creativity
4. It improves mental health
5. It builds self-confidence and self awareness
6. It helps one to sleep better
7. It fosters inner calm and peace
My 40-plus years as a student, practitioner and teacher of meditation has allowed me to establish a conviction that meditation is one of the most important tools one can use to ensure a strong and healthy mind.
For additional information, call the Cultural Center of Charlotte County’s Fitness Center, 2280 Aaron St., Port Charlotte at 941-625-4175 ext. 263.