Meditation Resources

Do it yourself: Meditation does not have to be like boot camp – The Nation

In our hi-tech, switched-on world, many people question the value of certain practices that have come down to us through the traditional religions. One of these is meditation, a practice of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and other ancient faiths.

Here in Thailand, some temples offer meditation retreats. People who attend them sometimes fail to get anything out of them. They complain that they have to get up at 4am, have to endure tasteless vegetarian food, can’t eat after noon, aren’t allowed to talk, have to be in bed by 8pm, and – the ultimate horror for plugged-in netizens of the 21st century – they have no Internet access and have to leave their iPads, iPods, smartphones, Blackberries and mobile phones at home.

Meditation retreats in Thailand make the mistake of trying to impose the lifestyle of arahats (saints) on people who are only arahat wannabes. Many lay people do not adapt readily to a regimen designed for monks. This is like trying to force every foot into the same shoe, or teaching calculus to people who haven’t yet learned basic arithmetic. It expects too much of them, is counterproductive, and will drive them away. A meditation retreat should not be a boot camp.

The good news is that you don’t have to attend a meditation retreat to meditate. Once you know the method, you can do it on your own, although it’s always helpful to have a qualified teacher to steer you right in case you start to go off the rails.

Meditation can be practiced by anyone, any place, any time. But it works best if you’re open to new ideas and curious about the ultimate metaphysical underpinnings of the universe. It’s not a social activity, and is best practiced alone. A quiet, secluded place is desirable. Only an advanced meditator trying to test his skills – or a masochist – would try to meditate in a discotheque with flashing strobe lights, a yelling, dancing mob, and a sound system blasting at top volume.

You have to be awake and reasonably conscious, so early-morning meditation isn’t right for everybody. A full meal makes you sleepy, so after-dinner meditating is a bad idea. Sleep as long as you like, then wake up, wash up, and meditate alone in a quiet place.

Both intensity and duration are important. You’re not going to get much benefit if you’re always daydreaming, or drifting off into memories and fantasies. That also applies to five quick minutes of meditation before rushing off to work in the morning. If you lead an active life or think a lot, it may take a full hour of meditation just to get your mind calmed down. After two hours, you should start to feel something, and certainly after three. Anybody who dismisses meditation as baloney without sticking with it for at least three hours isn’t giving it a chance.

There are many methods of meditation, usually advocated by specific schools or religions. You can get the details from books. Basically it involves turning your thoughts inward and paying attention to whatever you may regard as ultimate. The goal is to evoke that “ultimate” and experience it in whatever way it may manifest itself. Often visualisation, mental chanting and prayer are involved. That covers a lot of territory, so an example may help.

Here’s a method that may work for Buddhists. You turn your attention inward and visualise your heart as a lotus. Then you mentally project an image of the Buddha seated on the lotus, radiating light and compassion. Keep your attention fixed on the image. It may change shape or assume different forms. Never mind. Keep bringing your attention back to the image and continue to visualise it. A different image may arise that still represents the Buddha, but it may be clearer or more pleasing. If that happens, and especially if the new image persists, let go of the old one and pay attention to the new one. The idea is to be continually conscious of the presence of the Buddha within you.

To strengthen this consciousness, mentally chant a mantra. Many people like the standard Theravada invocation, “Namo tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa.” (“Homage to Him, the Exalted, the Worthy, the Fully Enlightened One.”) If that seems a little long. you might prefer a shorter one: “Namo Buddhaya.” (“Homage to the Buddha.”) Ajahn Chah used to teach his disciples to chant simply “Buddho, Buddho” with every inbreath and outbreath.

Some people like to use a rosary to keep track of the number of repetitions. That can become a distraction. The emphasis should be on the chanting. Don’t worry about the number of repetitions. Buddhadasa Bhikkhu once tried using a rosary, but he gave up because it reminded him of a Chinese shopkeeper totting up sales on his abacus. If a rosary works for you, use it. If it doesn’t, don’t. Meditation is not a marathon; nobody is going to give you a gold medal for the number of times you chant. Even so, duration does tell, so the longer you can meditate and the more repetitions you can chant, the better.

Practitioners of other religions can follow the same method – visualisation of an ideal combined with mental chanting of a mantra. But obviously they would focus on their own ideal of what is ultimate and chant a mantra drawn from their own tradition. Hindus can meditate on Rama, Krishna, Shiva or any of the Hindu deities. Christians can meditate on Jesus. Taoists can meditate on the yin-yang symbol. Jews might meditate on the Tetragrammaton, the four-letter Name of God in the Hebrew alphabet. Muslims might meditate on the Arabic phrase, “There is no God but Allah.”

People may wonder what the benefits of meditation are. To some, it may sound like self-hypnotism. A cynic might define it as reinforcement of deeply held delusions. It can be considered a system of self-conditioning, and it does look like self-hypnotism in the beginning. But eventually it takes on a life of its own, continues effortlessly, and seems to draw on hidden wellsprings in the mind to generate new ideas and insights. Above all, it generates a sense of the presence of something pervasive and indefinable that gives great comfort. This has to be experienced to be understood, and even those who experience it rarely understand it fully. Everybody interprets it in terms of his own tradition. Apart from that, meditation relaxes the mind and conveys a feeling of wellbeing.

So you don’t have to get up at 4am, eat tasteless vegetarian food, starve after noon, or go to bed at 8pm. But you do have to put away your techno-toys and do it alone in a quiet place. You also have to give it at least three hours to produce some effect before dismissing it as baloney.

If you ever have three hours to spare, give it a shot.

Paramananda Pahari is a writer and student of religions.

Do it yourself: Meditation does not have to be like boot camp – The Nation.

 

NewsDaily: Apps use brainwaves to guide, improve meditation

TORONTO, Mar. 5, 2013 (Reuters) — A new smartphone app aims to ease stress and guide users through meditation by monitoring brain waves that change as people become more relaxed.

Transcend, made by the Canadian company Personal Neuro Devices, links the smartphone to a separately sold headset that records electrical activity along the forehead.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re meditating as part of a secular practice, or spiritual practice. It all creates the same change in the brain,” said Chad Veinotte, a director of the company, which launched the app last month.

The user picks the duration of time for the meditation and can also opt to listen to a guided audio meditation. A candle graphic in the app grows brighter as the quality of the practice increases, which is determined by brainwaves that indicate relaxation and concentration.

A graph in the app also shows the quality of meditation in real time throughout the session.

“You get to literally look at what’s happening in the mind while you’re doing the practice,” Veinotte said.

Transcend is one of several apps available for the MindWave headsets made by San Jose, California, company NeuroSky, and which connect to smartphones wirelessly. San Francisco-based company Emotiv Systems also creates headsets that run apps.

NeuroSky’s CEO, Stanley Yang, said other uses for the headsets include concentration and focus games.

Veinotte said the headsets, which are also known as brain computer interfaces, will become popular just as sensor-based fitness apps that track distance and speed have.

“We’ll see headsets shrink and get more compact and easier to use, and become something you can wear all day every day,” he said.

Headset manufacturers are working on making them more practical for everyday use by integrating them into musical headsets, and by making them more stylish.

“We’re going to see an explosion in the types of applications available and the way in which people start paying attention to their minds,” Veinotte said.

The app is available for Android. An iPhone version is expected to be released soon.

(Editing by Patricia Reaney; and Peter Galloway)

via NewsDaily: Apps use brainwaves to guide, improve meditation.

 

The hows and whys of meditation for beginners

SALT LAKE CITY — Meditation is not just for yoga instructors anymore.

A Ph.D. In Seattle includes meditation as a treatment protocol for a personality disorder, a midwife in Maine teaches its practice in preparing women for childbirth, a Minneapolis business guru advocates it as a way to increase productivity, clinicians across the nation suggest it as a pain management regimen.

The practice of meditation and the principles of what is being called “mindfulness” are being brought into life’s mainstream as the many benefits are being recognized and embraced.

But for many, mediation is still a bit mystical and a strange practice they do not understand.

“There are just so many misconceptions about meditation,” said Kate Mitcheom, director of midwifery at Fair Haven Community Health. “It’s not mind control, and it’s not denying what’s going on in your life. It’s learning how to focus your mind and to pay attention to the present moment.”

Benefits of meditation

Living in the present moment is a powerful concept but can be elusive. As Jennifer Drawbridge, midwife and writer, observed, “Focusing on the present — not allowing my mind to race forward to stress over an imaginary and catastrophic future or circle back to review hideously stressful past experiences — is not one of my strong suits.”

Meditation can seem like a waste of time in our busy lives, but there are real benefits to it, and you can do it without sitting in a conspicuous lotus position in the park. So what are the benefits of meditation?

Mitcheom extols another benefit of meditation: “Through meditation, we become aware of patterns in our mind and gain insight into how our minds work.”

Research literature also indicates that awareness and the insights it provides can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, decrease symptoms of depression and help in dealing with chronic pain.

Mindfulness depends on meditation to create awareness of what is going on inside the mind and heart but also requires “acceptance” to produce its greatest benefits — primarily, acceptance of those things that are beyond one’s ability to control. Alcoholics Anonymous’ Serenity Prayer provides the guide, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change.”

Awareness obstacles

Resistance is the “anti” of acceptance. The factors of life outside of one’s control, those things one perceives as unacceptable, are awareness killers. They are the engine driving the stress and drama machine that seem to come as original equipment on most Americans.

“Whatever you fight, you strengthen, and what you resist, persists,” said pre-emminent awareness guru Eckhart Tolle.

Some resist their past. They can get lost in their perceived shortcomings, reliving, remembering, reproducing all the shame, guilt and depression that comes with it. Some resist the future with worry, the mother of anxiety and apprehension. Each approach can create emotional storms that obscure awareness.

“Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”

–Eckhart Tolle

These storms of emotion disrupt connection with self. People are easily lost in them. They lose touch with the present moment. Like Mother Nature’s violent thunderstorms or tornadoes, these emotional storms can make one emotionally desolate, unable to nurture the awareness connection.

The past, it turns out, is history; it cannot be changed. The future does not exist yet; it is not real. With the exceptions of prudent planning and preparation, any worry effort placed in the future will be outside of reality and, therefore, pointless. As Tolle would say, “Worry pretends to be necessary but serves no useful purpose.”

The other great deterrent to awareness is the racing mind. The out-of-control coming and going of thought creates “mental noise” that obscures awareness of the present moment. Quieting the mind with acceptance and practicing meditation reveals this particular moment’s opportunities. Once it is in place, awareness and experiencing the present moment become possible.

Simple meditations

Practicing meditation need not be elaborate. For chaotic times, Mitcheom advises, “When you wake each day, take a few deep breaths and set an intention — a thought for yourself and for others — and repeat it throughout the day. Something as simple as, “May I have happiness, may those around me be happy.”

Another simple form of meditation involves using the second hand on a watch or clock. Draw in breath for five seconds and release the breath for five seconds, and repeat for several minutes. Empty the mind of thoughts and don’t follow any new ones that want on your mind’s stage. Send them away and do not follow them. Just bring your attention to your body and its breathing: In, two, three, four, five, Out, two, three, four, five.

There! I think I feel better already.

via The hows and whys of meditation for beginners | ksl.com.

Huff Post: What Happens To An Irritable Person On A Meditation Retreat?

What Happens To An Irritable Person On A Meditation Retreat?

Until this year, the words “meditation” and “retreat” did not go together in my world, in any capacity. Truthfully, the word “retreat” never entered my vocabulary much at all, unless it somehow involved a spa treatment. But suddenly, in 2012, it seemed as if people were retreating. People were becoming retreat-ers. It was time for me to join the fray.

Especially because the retreat I’d decided to sign up for was being led by Thom Knoles, the man who’d taught me meditation nearly a decade ago. The form of meditation he teaches, Vedic meditation, is a derivative of the Transcendental Meditation technique taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and I’ve been practicing it for roughly 20 minutes every morning and 20 minutes every afternoon most days since I learned.

Still, meditation, for me, has always been a solitary act: Something I do, in a cool, quiet room–preferably my bedroom–with the windows closed. During Thom’s visits to Los Angeles over the years, I’ve occasionally joined in the group meditations he’s led, where I’ve encountered hordes of people who have told me how much they love meditating in a group setting. I’ve nodded and then contemplated murder as I tried meditating next to them but found myself horribly distracted by their coughing or rustling around or loud breathing.

There were benefits of meditation that these coughers and breathers spoke of that I felt I wasn’t necessarily getting. They talked about things like “feeling at one with the world” and “entering new states of consciousness” and “developing a magnanimous feeling” toward their fellow man. I got the feeling that if I breathed too heavily next to them while meditating–and for all I knew, I did–they found it not irritating but actually somehow beautiful.

It was time to take my practice deeper. It was time to acknowledge, first, that what I had was a practice. I realized that the role I’d given meditation in my life was that of “efficiency generator”: I always felt energized after one of my 20-minute sessions, especially after the afternoon one, because it usually provided me with enough energy to write for another few hours. But I wanted more.

via Anna David: What Happens To An Irritable Person On A Meditation Retreat?.

 

Metro – Use meditation to sleep better in 2013

Talking in your sleep? There’s an app for that

The city that never sleeps

MARY ANN GEORGANTOPOULOS

NEW YORK

What are some reasons people don’t sleep well?

One of the things that people complain about is thinking too much when they are in bed. Thinking of all the things that can go wrong tomorrow does not help.

Another common complaint is waking up at 3 in the morning. It’s worse if you get irritated and start obsessing about not being able to go back to sleep. The best policy is don’t try. Just get up and do something that is on your to-do list. In about an hour you can go back to bed and find that now you can sleep

How can meditation help you sleep better?

Mindfulness meditation brings the mind and the body together. Your body may be in a comfortable bed, in a quiet, dark room. But where is your mind? Whatever the mind is doing, the body follows. So, quieting the mind by getting it to focus on our breathing is helpful.

Are there different types of meditation?

Yes, meditation means different things in different traditions. The type of meditation that I is called mindfulness meditation. It is the practice of bringing the wandering mind back to the body so that body and mind can be united instead of in different places. “Be here now” is a kind of mantra you can use, as well as “Breathing in, breathing out.”

How can we incorporate meditation during the day – for example, at work?

The more mindfulness becomes a part of your life, the easier it is to use it — to sleep better, to decrease your stress level, or even to lose weight by eating mindfully. You need to remember to take time out–or rather, time in–during the day.

Tip:

Download a mindfulness bell to ring at intervals you choose. When the bell goes off, stop for about 20 seconds, take a deep breath and tune in to yourself. You can use the occasion to get in touch with your breath and see if you are holding tension anywhere in your body.

Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant

via Metro – Use meditation to sleep better in 2013.

 

Clear minds, open hearts: Participants find mindfulness and understanding through meditation | INFORUM | Fargo, ND

FARGO – Meditation means different things to different people.

It helps Sarah Gebeke of Fargo relax and gain mental clarity.

James Walsh of Fargo uses it to help him communicate more effectively.

Meditation changes Minnesota State University Moorhead student Romit Devkota’s outlook on life.

And for certified meditation instructor Terry Lausch, meditation helped him overcome a heroin addiction.

“Meditation helps unlock your own relative truth,” said Lausch, who is the meditation coordinator for the Spirit Room in downtown Fargo, leads daylong meditation retreats, and teaches weekly meditation classes at Five Element Yoga in Fargo.

During the decade between his 20s and 30s, Lausch struggled heavily with his addiction, he said.

“Meditation didn’t resolve the fact that I had an addiction problem, but meditation took the scales from my eyes and brought me face to face with the reality of my life and gave me the courage to deal with the situation,” he said. “It opened my heart in the sense that I began to actually have my feet on the earth and I began to very openly communicate with people about what I was going through.”

Clear minds, open hearts: Participants find mindfulness and understanding through meditation | INFORUM | Fargo, ND.

 

Study Shows How Prayer, Meditation Affect Brain Activity (VIDEO)

Go to video: Study Shows How Prayer, Meditation Affect Brain Activity (VIDEO).

How do prayer and meditation affect brain activity? Dr. Andrew Newberg, MD, is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomson Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, and he has studied the neuroscientific effect of religious and spiritual experiences for decades.

In a video that recently aired on “Through the Wormhole” narrated by Morgan Freeman on the TV channel Science, Dr. Newberg explains that to study the effect of meditation and prayer on the brain, he injects his subjects with a harmless radioactive dye while they are deep in prayer / meditation. The dye migrates to the parts of the brain where the blood flow is the strongest, i.e,. to the most active part of the brain.

The image below compares brain activity at rest and while the subject (a Presbyterian minister is shown in the video) is in deep prayer.

prayer meditation brain

The red part indicates greater activity, and in this case, increased activity is observed in the frontal lobes and the language area of the brain. This is the part of the brain that activates during conversation, and Dr. Newberg believes that for the brain, praying to God in the Judeo-Christian tradition is similar to talking to people. “When we study Buddhist meditation where they are visualizing something, we might expect to see a change or increased activity in the visual part of the brain,” Dr. Newberg said.

While observing atheists meditating or “contemplating God,” Dr. Newberg did not observe any of the brain activity in the frontal lobe that he observed in religious people. The image below compares brain activity at rest and while the subject is in deep meditation.

prayer meditation brain

Dr. Newberg concludes that all religions create neurological experiences, and while God is unimaginable for atheists, for religious people, God is as real as the physical world. “So it helps us to understand that at least when they [religious people] are describing it to us, they are really having this kind of experience… This experience is at least neurologically real.”

via Study Shows How Prayer, Meditation Affect Brain Activity (VIDEO).

 

Mindfulness Meditation: Dr. Joe Parisi’s Introductory Exercise For Stress Relief (VIDEO)

In the video below, Dr. Joe Parisi leads a six-minute mindfulness meditation that will help you de-stress and unwind. In the meditation you will be prompted to use your breath to become more present. Follow along, then let us know in the comments how you feel once you’ve finished this soothing exercise.

Mindfulness Meditation: Dr. Joe Parisi’s Introductory Exercise For Stress Relief (VIDEO).

Free Guided Meditation Videos | Care2 Healthy Living

Have you been wanting to give meditation a try but feel like you don’t have the time? Check out these four videos – ranging from five to 20 minutes in length – to help you fit a little meditation into even the busiest day!

I feel like those days when we don’t have time to care for ourselves are the very days that we need self care the most, and even squeezing five minutes of meditation can help refresh and refocus your mind, so you can better tackle the day’s challenges.

Meditation is something that takes practice, just like yoga, and I’ve found that a guided meditation can help you focus your mind if you’re not used to clearing your head on your own. The meditations we’ve collected here are a good starting point, and once you feel like you have the hang of it, you can set aside time to meditate without the aid of a guide. You can practice in total silence or with some quiet, ambient music instead.

Do you have 5, 10, 15, 0r 20 minutes to spare? Check out the meditation videos on the next few pages tailored to your schedule:

5 Minute Meditation

10 Minute Meditation

15 Minute Meditation

20 Minute Meditation

via Guided Meditation | Care2 Healthy Living.

Simple meditation techniques provide powerful benefits – Life and Arts – The Buffalo News

Centuries-old practice finds new popularity as a refuge from the stress of the everyday

BY: |

Peek into a room of meditating people, and you will be struck by their stillness. They sit, eyelids lowered, with their backs straight and hands at rest, breathing slowly and evenly.

Inside their brains, they are still and quiet, too, concentrating on their breaths, a phrase or an image.

Oddly, this quiet activity, done consistently, has a powerful positive effect on people, physically, mentally and emotionally. In addition to relieving anxiety and stress, meditation has been found to reduce pain, lower heart rates, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack.

As the pace of life quickens, more people are seeking relief in the centuries-old practice of meditation. Once an esoteric, religion-based practice, secular meditation is offered in many settings. It is often included in corporate wellness programs, and is being explored by the U.S. Marine Corps as a way to keep Marines healthy and improve their resiliency.

Plenty of people in this area are catching on to the benefits of meditation. Meditator Marguerite Battaglia says that Western New York boasts “a remarkable number” of meditation groups. (See sidebar.)

The benefits, which have been documented in scientific studies, are linked to physical changes in the brain, says Stephan Bodian, a psychotherapist and author of “Meditation for Dummies” (Wiley, $24.99). “From the research on meditation that I cite in the book, the indication is that meditation actually changes the brain, literally growing and shrinking gray matter,” says Bodian in a phone conversation from his Tucson home. “Meditation enhances parts of the brain that are related to concentration, memory and positive feelings of well-being, and tends to de-emphasize and shrink the parts of the brain related to fear, anxiety and negative emotions.”

The impact is gradual, Bodian says, but begins soon after people start to meditate regularly. “People who meditate may not even notice the changes at first,” he says. “But the people around them notice it. They say, ‘You are not as reactive as you used to be, you are so much mellower!’”

The physical improvements appear to be caused by a decrease in stress and anxiety, which have been proven to have damaging effects on the body.

Without meditation, “Your thinking mind goes running wild,” says Battaglia, of Buffalo, who has meditated for eight years with the Peaceful Heart Mindfulness Community, among other groups. “They call it a monkey mind; you are thinking too much and making up stories that include worries about the future or regrets about the past.”

Marine Corps officials are testing an eight-week course in “Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training,” which may help Marines regain their equilibrium after stressful events. The program was developed by former U.S. Army Capt. Elizabeth Stanley, a professor at Georgetown University, who found that meditation and yoga relieved her Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

What is meditation?

It looks so simple, and yet the practice of meditation is complex enough to keep people mentally occupied for years, even decades. Bodian has meditated since the mid-1970s; Dennis Hohman of Orchard Park, who belongs to the Awakening Community, a group of mostly experienced meditators, has meditated for some 30 years.

Anyone can meditate, nearly anywhere. Many experts suggest that beginners start by just sitting comfortably, closing their eyes and concentrating on their breathing.

“It sounds so simple, but it is so hard,” says Battaglia. “Set a timer for five minutes, and count one on your in breath and two on your out breath, until you get to 10, and then go back to one again, and I almost guarantee that by the time you get to six, you will forget that you’re on six, and you’ll have to go back, or you’re on 11 or 12 and you’ll have to go back to 10.”

Beginners are astonished to find how difficult it is to calm their minds and focus on their breath for just 10 breaths at a time.

As people concentrate on their breaths, they become present in their bodies, clearing their minds of fear, regret and anxiety.

With clarity comes the ability to shed burdens. “If you meditate, it becomes clear what you need and don’t need in your life,” says Battaglia. “You’ll realize you don’t need certain kinds of people, certain kinds of things. Through meditation you become less attached to things, and attachment and desire are what get us all tangled up.”

Hohman says those who meditate regularly “won’t notice the effects on a daily basis, but it’s a cumulative effect. Things that used to upset you or rattle you – social situations, employers, difficulties in life – don’t seem to throw you the way they once did, and you can handle the daily vicissitudes of relationships with aplomb, much more calmly and better relaxed.”

Hohman says he can look back and see how he has changed. “There’s been an enormous reduction of generalized fear and anxiety in my life,” he says.

Setting the mind on idle

In his foreword to Bodian’s book, Dr. Dean Ornish writes that while “learning to meditate was one of the smartest decisions I ever made,” he is aware of the objections people who don’t meditate have about the practice. People who don’t meditate fear that it might be boring, esoteric or difficult, while Ornish counters that meditation is interesting, familiar, natural and powerful.

But how is doing nothing and thinking of nothing not boring?

“When you are sitting there, you are so busy – you can’t believe how busy you are,” says Battaglia.

People are used to being stimulated and preoccupied; the purpose of meditation is to hit the “pause” button, Bodian says: “Minds tend to find that boring initially … but after a while you start experiencing the pleasures of meditation, the pleasures of the moment for what it is right now.”

The challenge of meditation – of keeping your mind clear of intrusive thoughts – “becomes interesting,” Bodian says. “How attentive can I be? How present can I be? … You are learning a new skill, and that’s always interesting. Then eventually you start enjoying it.”

Power of the group

Western New York has quite a few meditation groups, which Hohman has seen burgeon from just one or two groups when he started meditating in the 1980s.

“What seemed to be a real catalyst was the visit of the Dalai Lama to the University at Buffalo in 2006,” Hohman says. “A number of people in meditation groups got together and worked with UB as part of community outreach. We found all kinds of people who had been in small groups or just meditating by themselves, and after that it just seemed as though the groups all grew in size.”

While many meditation groups are rooted in a spiritual tradition or even held in a place of worship, most commonly Buddhist, Bodian writes that every major faith has a tradition of meditation, including Christian prayer and Jewish contemplation.

“What meditation is about simply is being present in the moment,” Bodian says. “It cuts across all religious or spiritual traditions. Suppose you want to be more like Christ, which is one of the goals of the Christian tradition. Being present in the moment can make you more compassionate to the people around you so you can be more responsive and give more.”

Nondenominational meditation is offered in many different venues. “Nowadays it’s very common to be able to learn meditation through mindfulness groups, or in community education classes at colleges,” says Bodian. Some day spas and yoga studios, where a few minutes of mindfulness practice are often offered at the end of each yoga class, also offer meditation opportunities. “There are now corporations that include meditation in their corporate wellness programs,” says Bodian.

The key to reaping the benefits of meditation is not to do it perfectly but to do it often, says Bodian. “If you wanted to run a marathon, and you ran a mile and then didn’t run for three or four days, and then ran a mile again, you’d never get anywhere,” he says. “You run gradually and frequently and work your way up, just like meditation. If you do this on a regular basis, you are gradually able to remain aware for longer and longer periods of time. Practice is the key, like any skill.”

Simple meditation techniques provide powerful benefits – Life & Arts – The Buffalo News.