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Meditation - Embracing Meditation For Mental Clarity And Serenity


A great deal has been written about meditation; there are many styles or methods to choose. Being able to meditate requires no particular religious or spiritual dogmas or beliefs. It requires the ability and desire to gently guide our attention first to our breath, then our willingness to let go of harsh self judgment when our attention goes somewhere else. It requires a willingness to start over and begin again, much as we do with challenges in our lives.

When meditation is practiced regularly, it helps us to become aware of our physical body as well as develop an ability to simply observe ourselves along with our thoughts. Meditation helps us cultivate our "observer self" that is non-judgmental. This observer self can learn to see all that is observed as neither good nor bad, right or wrong, but just what is. I believe this skill is useful for all of us, and in particular, helpful for people in the midst of challenges and changes that at first glance seem to cause all sorts of anguish and suffering.

Although meditation itself is a solitary activity, it can serve to help us notice the powerful stillness that resides within us and may even lead us to have the experience that this is the same stillness that is present inside each one of us, in all creatures, in all forms of life. In quieting ourselves, we don't lose our ability to hear whatever is going on in the environment we are in and it is seldom, if not rare, to have "no thought" or a blank mind. The regular practice of meditation improves our ability to gently direct our awareness to ourselves without having to replay events of the past when they pop into our awareness, or engage with thoughts about future events. Prior to beginning meditation, we planned or intended not to engage with distracting ideas, sounds or sensations. We pre-planned that our response to these distractions would be to simply return to our breath without becoming frustrated or thinking we were not meditating correctly. When we are distracted – and we will be distracted – we planned to respond by simply not engaging, as if the errant ideas or sensations were simply drops of rain that were noticed. Then, without frustration or judgment, we return our awareness to the breath.

The foundation for all types of meditation is the breath and the quieting of the body so that the initial focus of our attention is on the breath. The ability to notice something that is normally taken for granted but always presents suggests that meditation is about developing and guiding our attention in ways that enhance our knowledge of what we already have, what our spirits already know. Meditation seems to help those who practice live in a place of optimism and confidence. Meditation helps us stay in the present moment and not engage in increasing our anxiety or angst about events in the past or in the future. Meditation is a time to actually practice letting distractions of any sort go by, to gently disregard them. These distractions can always be attended to later, if you choose to do so. With regular practice, we can lower our heightened frenzy when we feel stressed and pulled in many directions in our lives outside of the meditation session. Meditation practice helps us to let go of any emotion that doesn't serve our highest good and supports our well-being.

Meditation has health benefits that last after the meditation session ends. It can lead to better stress management. It can make it easier for us to get a new perspective, a more life-affirming stance in relation to long-standing problems. The practice of meditation helps with the acceptance of what is and tends to reduce emotional negativity. Meditation is a wonderful compliment to any medical intervention.

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