How can the essential act of sitting quietly and trying to keep a mind focused on the present be beneficial to all of your mental and physical health? The reply might be unknown, but it is true that for at least 5,000 years, individuals have practiced Meditation for spiritual, mind, and body well-being.
The spiritual practice of Meditation is closely associated with Buddhism, which has its roots in the countries of Asia. The ability eventually found its way to the United States and was popularized in the 1960’s with the practice of Zen, which happens to be seated Meditation, to create inner peace and mindfulness.
“Meditation changed my life completely,” Fischer says. “I turned into a Buddhist priest, lived in a monastery and temple, and my life turned into a life infused with Meditation. My experience is atypical, and never something recommended for everybody, but it means I’m able to talk to other individuals who wish to establish a meditation practice in their lives.”
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is sitting quietly and taking note of the experiences of being alive in the present moment. “There is so much of strength in the body, breath, and consciousness, and little by little, you find that.”
“We pay attention to three things in meditation: the human body, breathing, and consciousness,” Fischer says. “Those three life is always active and in-service throughout our lives. In Meditation, you stop to sit, breathe, and pay attention to the body. There’s such strength in the human body, breath, and consciousness, and steadily, you find that.”
The advantages of Meditation
The world of conventional medicine increasingly acknowledges the physical and psychological benefits of Meditation, including reducing stress and anxiety, “which slows the heartbeat,” Fischer says. “You settle down anxious and distracted and thus able to establish a range of motion, for instance, regular exercise. Meditation might be the cornerstone of establishing an ideal and disciplined lifestyle.” “And through meditation, there’s deeper self-knowledge, more acceptance, and ability to obtain empathy with other people,” he adds. “That helps you reach out and be interested in other people, which suggests you’re far less more likely to have depression, or maybe you need feelings of isolation.”
Particular Benefits for Seniors
Fischer notes that for older people, Meditation is particularly powerful and relevant. “When you’re younger, the tasks in everyday life are outward activities — establishing a family, your livelihood, your place in the world,” he says. “When you’re older, those tasks have already been completed, and in fact, now your task is discovering what kind of person you are as well as what your life has been, as you prepare for older age and death. I see a large number of older people who are quite motivated to find a sense of inner peace at this point in everyday life.” Tim Burkett, author and guiding teacher at the Minnesota Zen Meditation Center in Minneapolis, has experienced the impact of Meditation on his life. “First of all, physically, meditation has improved my motion and balance,” Burkett says. “I don’t dwell just as much on things, and I spend less time worrying about the future and being upset about the past. I’m capable of being present in whatever activity I’m doing, wherever I’m, and also to unravel calmness that’s with the center of all being.”
Restoring the Brain’s Neuroplasticity
In his book, Zen in the Age of Anxiety: Wisdom for our Modern Lives, Burkett cites research showing the benefits of Meditation as a way to restore the brain’s neuroplasticity. “When we’re born, our minds have an incredible amount of plasticity — the opportunity to adapt,” Burkett says. “As we age and acquire into formal methods for doing things, our brains harden, kind of like Play-Doh becoming hard. And that they no longer have got that freshness or perspective. “With Meditation, our brain can capture the original resilience we had when we were young. We don’t need to lose our openness, joy, and freedom from being in ruts of habits and thinking.”
The best way to Meditate
Burkett teaches Meditation to people of all ages and stages of life. He describes the simplicity of the practice, starting with sitting quietly with an erect spine on any cushion or chair, taking some deep breaths, and then centering yourself.
“The simplest type of meditation would be just to follow your breathing,” he states. “Every time the mind wanders off — and it’s within the nature of the mind to wander — go back to your breathing.”
This is focused on Meditation, having a focus on breathing. Fischer says other techniques include absorbing the brain in something calm and pleasant — for example, a beautiful place you’ve been to — by imagining you might be there.
“That’s one kind of meditation that removes you from the facts you’ve ever had,” Fischer says. “There’s also mindfulness meditation, which instead of removing yourself from your life, you might be present and open to life’s difficulties and challenges.”
“I call that unfocused meditation or bare awareness,” Burkett says. “At our center, we’ll start with focused meditation, and do that well, before we can be open to bare awareness.”
How to Establish a Meditation Routine
Today you will find meditation centers throughout the U.S. as well as books, online talks, websites, and phone apps that teach or guide you through the practice of Meditation. “It’s pretty easy to get the guidance, however it may also be overwhelming with the number of resources,” Fischer says. “I persuade folks to go to the meditation center to learn the practice with others and also have some accountability. You’ll ramp up your chances of meditating versus being on your own. A lot of people result in doing a combination — by yourself and at a center. For example, coming once a day, once a week or once a month.” The most important thing with Meditation, Fischer says, is to do it. “People know of which meditation is supposed to feel like and after that give up,” he states. “Meditation is whatever happens when you’re sitting there. In case you sit down, and your thoughts are still racing, that’s okay.” He suggests setting a timer — fifteen to twenty minutes is realistic — and committing your self to try to meditate to do that amount of time.
“If you do this for a week, it’s almost guaranteed that when you’re not able to possess a tranquil mind, the mind will be a lot quieter than it was,” Fischer says. He also recommends meditating in the morning, when the thoughts are fresh. “But some people like to meditate at the end of the day, which could help with sleeping, and it also could be a good thing to do if you wake up during the nocturnal hours with insomnia,” he says.
While Meditation may help us as individuals, Fischer thinks it can also help society overall. “In today’s society, with countless social and environmental issues, not being so quick to react can be helpful,” he says. “The a greater number of people who meditate, the greater off we would be. Meditation helps calm the world.”
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