MEDITATION AND BREATHING
Meditation is much easier than you think.
You do not need special clothes, a quiet peaceful place, a
special prayer or saying or even 20 minutes to meditate –
all of this can be done in a very practical manner that allows
you to accomplish calming your mind. Now that being said it
is great to have all of the conditions that we mentioned but
in this busy world most of us do not have the time or luxury
to set 20 minutes aside in the morning and evening to meditate.
Let’s take some time to try some techniques that will introduce
you to the world of meditation in a very practical manner.
First of all why learn to meditate at all?
Here are some of the benefits for the body:
- Decrease your heart rate
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduced cholesterol levels
- Relaxation of muscles
- Reduction of pain
- Increased ability to achieve the relaxation response
- Quicker recovery time from stressful situations
- Increased oxygen to the body with slower deeper breathing
Benefits for the mind:
- Enhanced creativity
- Increased empathy
- Reduction in acute and chronic anxiety
- Heightened perceptual clarity and sensitivity
- Complement to psychotherapy and helps break addictive
behaviors (smoking etc)
Benefits for the spirit:
- Enjoying the present moment
- Connecting with others, enhancing communication
- Opens your heart to yourself and to others
- Becoming in touch with your higher self
- Feeling more centered, grounded and balanced in your daily
- Allows you to experience the sacred reality that exists
There are many forms of meditation, we will cover five:
- Body Scan and Relaxation
- Mantra Meditation
- Devotional Meditation
Take a deep breath in through your nose, now breath in more
air. Feel your lungs fill, your stomach moves out with the
additional air; now slowly release the air through your nose
until you feel empty. Repeat two more times.
How do you feel?
Dr Andrew Weil’s Breathing:
This is always done in a sequence of three.
How do you feel?
- Inhale deeply for a count of four
- Hold for a count of seven
- Release through the mouth for a count of eight.
- Repeat two more times
Remember taking a few seconds to take three good
deep breaths can help you to refocus and let go of the stress
and tension that has been building in your body
Start at the top of your head and slowly scan down the body.
When you reach and area of tension (most people hold tension
in their shoulders) focus on that area and gently allow it
to soften. Move on to the next part of the body and repeat
when the area of tension is identified.
At the end of this exercise, Imagine taking a warm shower,
the water washes over your body taking with it all the stress
and tension that may be left. Gently add more cold water allowing
the body to become invigorated.
How do you feel?
Each day rain or shine, take 20 minutes to walk outside.
Allow the earth energies to blend with yours, allow the power
of Vitamin D to enter your body bringing strong bones and
a healthy immune system. Take 3 deep breaths and repeat to
yourself as you place your Right foot, “to Help” as you place
your Left foot say “to Heal”. As you walk for the 20 minutes
allow yourself to focus on placing your steps and repeating
the words. If you begin to have outside thoughts coming in,
allow them to present themselves like waves on a beach then
gently let the thought roll out into the surf and disappear.
Return your focus to your walking meditation.
This can also be done for 10 minutes in the AM and 10 minutes
in the PM.
Mantra Meditation and Devotional Meditation:
A mantra meditation is often associated with a form of meditation
known as transcendental meditation. Many in the Western part
of the world were introduced to meditation through this form
in the 70’s. The mantra given to those who practiced this
form was a word such as OM that basically had no meaning to
the western ear. Repeating this word over and over for 10
-20 minutes allowed the mind to clear and the body to relax,
When Dr Herbert Benson was doing his research he discovered
that basically any word could be used to achieve the same
effects but it was best to choose a very simple word such
as egg, that would not trigger any other thoughts to interrupt
the flow. However when I teach my students meditation, I encourage
them to draw upon their particular religious belief system
and repeat the name of the Divine. I am Christian so I often
invoke the name of Jesus using the phrase “Jesus I trust in
you”. Jesus is said breathing in and “I trust in you” while
letting the breath go. The advantage of this is when things
really get crazy in life, repeating this phase and breathing
helps me to calm down and realize that I have to let go and
Prayer is often a form of meditation, repeating the same
prayers such as the catholic rosary or using any type of prayer
beads (a mala is one form) often helps us to focus since we
are using the body – fingering the beads, mind – repeating
the phrase and spirit – allowing ourselves to open up to the
Divine. Many people do not realize that the simple act of
saying a prayer can also be a meditation if it is said focusing
on the intention of the prayer.
Here is an article written on Centering and Grounding Meditation
written by Dr. Betty:
Centering & Grounding Meditation©
Centering is the process of finding the stillness within,
of calming ourselves to a point of quiet. Those who are familiar
with meditation will find this easier to attain. Individuals
that have difficulty stilling their active or random thoughts
will find the use of visualization techniques helpful. You
will be guided through this process to familiarize yourself
with this technique in order to help you reach this point
of stillness within.
Centering requires practice. It may be awkward or difficult
for some to learn how to center, but the more one practices,
the more one will begin to feel comfortable with the process
To begin, sit comfortably with both feet flat on the floor.
Take a few deeps breaths to completely relax, concentrating
on releasing those areas of the body that hold stress.
Now imagine yourself as a great big beautiful tree, any type
of tree you choose. Your trunk is strong and your branches
are full and healthy. Stretching out from your feet are luminous
roots, reaching deep into the rich soil of the Earth Mother,
anchoring you to the Mother. You feel grounded and secure.
Sitting with your back straight, imagine a line coming down
from your spine, with a weight on the end of it. This line
enters into the soil, the same as the roots, and extends deep
into the earth, steadily working its way down through all
the different layers of soil and rock. The line continues
deeper and deeper toward the molten lava that is the core
of the Earth Mother. When the line connects you with the core,
feel the energy from the Earth Mother move up through the
line, gently up, up, up through the layers of rock and soil,
and up your spine.
At the same time, feel this energy radiating up through the
luminous roots to your feet - moving like a gentle wave up
your legs, enveloping your ankles, calves, knees, thighs and
hips. The energy from the Earth Mother continues up your torso
through your lower abdomen, stomach and chest cavity, until
it settles in your heart center.
Once the energy settles in your heart chakra, focus on the
top of your head, or crown chakra. Feel your crown opening
up to Father Sky. Allow this energy to enter through your
crown to fill your head, encompassing your brain, forehead,
eyes, nose, checks, ears, lips, mouth and chin. Feel the energy
move down into your neck and shoulders. The energy from the
crown moves down to meet with the earth energy at your heart
If you choose, allow the blended energy to flow down your
arms to your hands. This energy can then be used to work with
a patient, pick up a child, or prepare a meal. The healing
energy passes through your hands in this manner, to be directed
to whoever or whatever you choose.
Betty deMaye-Caruth RN, PhD, CHTP, RM/T