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Sunday, January 15, 2012

My Journey with Mediatation

    My initial understanding of meditation came through a relationship with one of my former students several years ago. He was raised in a Buddhist household and is still a good Buddhist on his way to a PhD.  Christian parents raised me but I am not a religious person now. This does not reduce my commitment to meditation.  I mention this because the process of meditation has been connected with religious organizations for centuries. 
         Most of my adult life I have not been a religious person. But for the last five or six years I have made it a point to study and frequently practice meditation. Examples of its importance to me are briefly discussed below[i]
         There are two factors that become more transparent through the practice of meditation; breathing and mental processes. From our births effective breathing and healthy hearts are the primary forces that keep us alive.
         Being a psychologist I was and still am very interested in mental processes displayed by meditation. More recently, as I age , I have also come to understand more about the foundation of deep breathing and its relationship to living a healthy life. 
         On one hand the importance of breathing is so obvious to non- medical persons that we seldom “think” about slow relaxed deep breathing.  It does come up in social relationships when someone tells us to “take a deep breath” and slow down.
         On the other hand deep slow breathing is a key factor in meditation.  It helps us become aware of our “attachements” which are thought processes such as our names, what we do for a living and strong feelings such as fear, anger, and pride. 
         I have different types of word patterns to help me lessen my attachments and return attention to my breathing.  For instance when I am walking I count my steps. As I breath in I count 1 2 3 4 steps. With a couple of seconds in between I then breath out I counting 5 6 7 8 steps. When I am driving my car I silently chant a Buddhist chant “Nom Me-a-ho Renge Kyo. “ Using these two tools I become more aware when “attachements” arise like worries or memories and attempt to take over the “here and now.”
         Another way that I “use” meditation is when I wake up during the night and am having a difficult time getting back to sleep. I begin to use the “Nom--- “ chant and soon fall asleep. 
          I would like to mention that I have Tinnitus, a ringing in my ears. There are two sound patterns. One is a steady whistle and the other reflects my heartbeat. Particularly when I am returning to sleep I like to listen to my heartbeat and am now listening to it as I close this short essay.
         I think that I may have made practicing meditation sound too easy. It takes time and dedicated effort. During my journey I have read several very useful books.  Two of them are listed below[ii]

[i] Goddard, Phil H. Maharishi International University (1992) Transcendental            meditation in the aging of neurocognitive function: Reduced age-related             declines of P300 latencies in elderly practitioners. Order number 9228949
[ii]  Tolle, Eckhart, (1999).  The Power of Now: A Guide to spiritual enlightenment,             Namaste Publishing and New World Library, Navato, California

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