Meditation

“The true value of a human being is determined by the measure and the sense in which they have obtained liberation from the self.

Our task must be to free ourselves; by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”

 Albert Einstein, 1954

 

Meditation can move us closer to promoting compassion within ourselves and those that we touch.

Through meditation we become more responsible.  This responsibility lies in the balance we discover by unlocking the synergy of our mind….. our heart….. and our inner spirit. We propose that through a continued and ongoing dedication to a personal meditation practice, great strides are possible for ourselves, our relationships, our family, and our society.  It allows us to subdue the self.  It allows us to “just let go”.  In doing so, a remarkable thing happens.  We do not cease to be.  We do not lose control.  We do not lose self; instead we liberate it.  We find a beautiful place of peace, harmony, and balance.  We now frame the self within a much purer form of loving and nurturing energy.  We begin to see a clearer picture of the world and our place in it.  We learn the art of alchemy in converting passion into compassion.  Our decision making process then incorporates a powerful and far reaching wisdom.  We are in tune within a rhythm of life, our surroundings, and those we touch.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”

 Dalai Lama

A great soul once responded when asked the question, “What is the most important time?” 

The response went somewhat as follows, “The most important time is this present moment.  It is the only time that we will ever have control of.  It is what we do in this present moment that determines the direction of our lives.”

We can use this time wisely and responsibly or we can diminish its value.  Remember this; the value of this present moment is colored by our deepest feelings and subsequent thoughts and desires.  Any decision in life will have their imprint.

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon

 

Ask yourself these questions:

Who am I?

Where am I going?

How will I get there?

Who am I?  Where am I going?  How will I get there?

These very important questions take on a very different response when we open our heart to discover its secrets.  Through the act of quieting the mind, we allow the content resting deep within the heart to awaken.  When we contemplate our awareness and again ask these same questions after cultivating the heart, our responses are altered and given a much deeper meaning and significance.

 


 

 

 “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”

Lao Tzu

 A “loving kindness” meditation

After a long day, including some difficult personal encounters we tend to build stress within our bodies and our mind.  Our mind keeps going over the situations reviewing the negative pictures and the emotions attached.

Take the time to brew yourself a cup of tea, preferably green or herbal, sit down in a comfortable and quiet setting, alone by yourself.   

Sip your tea and inhale, filling the lungs while lowering the diaphragm with breath, enjoying the beverage.  Review the day, the good and the bad.  Continue enjoying the tea and the review.  After a few minutes…..close the eyelids…..

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “listen” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “observe” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “value” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the exhale…..say the word “embrace” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

Inhale, filling the lungs lowering the diaphragm…..on the inhale…..say the word “I”….. then say the word “love” quietly on the exhale letting it last as long as the exhale itself.

“I…….Listen”

“I…….Observe”

“I…….Value”

“I…….Embrace”

“I…….Love

Repeat the above, quietly feeling the impression of each word, surrendering to the emotional impact of each word and each breath.

After a few rounds, just say the word, “I” on the inhale and “love” on the exhale, surrendering to the ebb and flow of the breath.  Start to let the breath find its own rhythm without any personal effort.  Allow the breath to breathe you.  Surrender to its mastery of the moment itself.  Now is when the meditation begins.  Now is when we listen to the breath…..we listen to the awakened heart.  Do not be concerned when you find the mind begin to wander.  This is normal.  It’s what the mind does.  Gently bring the attention of the mind back to the breath, back to the mantra.  The mind is like a young excited child.  Be loving, kind, and gentle with it.  The words on the inhale and the exhale help to still and calm our mind.  The relationship between our awareness and our breath is our goal.  This relationship unlocks the secrets of our heart.  It is only when we subdue the mind can we discover what the heart has to say.  It is as if the mind is a like a pond that has stones cast into it relentlessly.  It is only when the stones are stopped that the surface of the pond finds its calm.  It is then that we can see the beauty hidden beneath its surface.  The breath will guide us.  The heart beckons us upon our journey.  We just need to listen, then observe, then value, and finally surrender and embrace what we find.  In this moment we are open to the very magic of the heart.  Rediscover, in the solitude of your being, the very private and special tenderness that goes before no other soul.  Let this place and this moment embrace you with its wonder.  Let the Love and Grace found within your being expand to every cell, every breath, and every moment.  Breathe Love – Be Love.   Let it last as long as you will.

Upon completion of this meditation, revisit the problems of the day with this affirmation:  “I let go….. I listen….. I love….. I forgive…..  My heart – My love, extends to all that I meet in loving kindness.” 

 What do we hear when opening our heart?

…..Listen to the silence.

What do we see when opening our heart?

…..Observe the stillness. 

What do we find when opening our heart?

…..Value the fullness of this moment.

What do we do when opening our heart?

…..Embrace this moment with the compassion of loving kindness.

Listen to the silence of a loving heart, observe the stillness of a loving heart, value the fullness of a loving heart, and then, embrace this special moment in time with compassionate courage, generosity, and humility born from loving kindness.

 I listen, I observe, I value, I embrace…….I am…….I love…….In thee, I am…….In thee, I love.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

The act of meditation has not the goal of gaining anything.  The purpose of meditation is to surrender, to release, to “let go”; to just listen and observe.  We then value and embrace what remains.

What do we find when we still our mind?

…..Love

 

“Our knowledge of God is perfected by gratitude: we are thankful and rejoice in the experience of the truth that He is love.”

Thomas Merton

When do you recall ever having taken the time to explore the depths of your own heart?

Will the discovery of the secrets lying dormant within your heart alter the direction of your life’s journey?  Have you ever wondered which fork in the road to take?  Have you done all the necessary preparation to make the choice valid?

May we extend this invitation to self examination.  

We are all given gifts at birth.  Discover them for yourself and their ultimate power for personal transformation.  Explore how their cultivation can add meaning to your life and the lives of those you touch.

“I always begin my prayer in silence, for it is in the silence of the heart that God speaks.  God is the friend of silence–we need to listen to God because it is not what we say but what He says to us and through us that matters.”

Mother Teresa


 

Meditation and Aging by Thiago Freire & wsimag.com/wellness

The Anti-Aging Impact of Meditation

What You Need to Know

19 JANUARY 2018, 
The Anti-Aging Impact of Meditation
The Anti-Aging Impact of Meditation

You don’t have to look very far to discover the number of anti-aging products that are available on the market. In addition, countless hours of research have gone into the topic to help people answer one of humankind’s greatest questions: How do we slow the aging process? One of the best anti-aging techniques really could be something as simple as meditation.

Here is the short answer to this question: Yes, meditation can slow the aging process. You don’t even need to meditate for long every day, and other techniques, such as practicing yoga and mindfulness, can also help.

In some respects, this is not surprising. After all, meditation practitioners in Eastern cultures have believed for centuries that meditation can help keep you younger.

One of the main reasons meditation slows the aging process is because it reduces stress. Again, most of us have probably seen this anecdotally in our own lives. You just have to think of someone you know who has gone through a significantly traumatic and stressful period of their lives. Have you noticed how this makes them look older?

There is more to meditation and anti-aging than our own anecdotal observations though. In fact, there is a growing body of scientific research to back up the thinking.

The Evolution of the Body’s Stress Response Mechanism

An important part of understanding what happens to our bodies when we are under stress is to understand how our bodies evolved. When stress coping mechanisms developed, the type of stress humans faced had nothing to do with pressing deadlines at work or how to pay the mortgage this month.

Instead, it was the stress of dealing with a rampaging mammoth or an attacking rival tribe. It was also the stress brought on by our bodies fighting disease at a time that was thousands of years before the invention of modern medicine.

To deal with this sort of stress, humans developed the well-known fight or flight mode. In other words, when faced with the mammoth, we instinctively run, but when faced with an attacking tribe, we might choose to fight.

The Fight or Flight Mode

What actually happens when our bodies trigger the fight or flight mode? In general, the fight or flight mode prepares us for taking on the stressful challenge we are about to face.

First, our brains recognize a situation of high stress. The brain must then jolt the body into action—to either fight or run. This impacts the body in several ways.

Your heart rate speeds up, for example, and your breathing gets faster and heavier. At the same time, your digestion slows so your body can allocate resources to different actions. This includes releasing glucose and fat into your bloodstream to give you energy for your chosen response to the stressful situation. The inflammatory response in your body is also activated.

How Stress Impacts Our Bodies

All the things listed above, when taken together, are internally damaging. If they help you escape from a rampaging mammoth or fight off an attacking tribe, the physical damage caused to your body is worth it. After all, what’s worse a slightly older biological age and physical appearance or a mauling by a mammoth?

Fast forward to today and our bodies still have these fight or flight response when faced with stressful situations.

The problem now is that we no longer face the rare occurrence of a mammoth attack. Instead, many of us face frequent stressful situations, from being late to pick up the children from school to missing an important target at work. Modern life often involves moving from one stressful situation to another.

Exacerbating this greater frequency of stressful situations is the fact that the old fight or flight response of our bodies does not help. For example, you can’t deal with heavy traffic causing you to be late for an important meeting by either getting into a fight or running away. Your body reacts in a fight or flight mode, but the reaction is practically useless.

Therefore, damage caused by stress is more frequent with little to no upside.

Introducing Telomeres and Their Relationship with Stress

Telomeres are protein caps on the end of each chromosome in your body. During cell division, the chromosome replicates, a process that shortens the telomeres.

When telomeres become too short, the cell can no longer divide and replicate. This increases aging in the body and is associated with age-related diseases.

This discovery led to lots of research with scientists looking at ways to slow or prevent the shortening of telomeres. If you can do that, you can slow the aging process—both inside and outside the body.

There are lots of things you can do to prevent accelerated shortening of the telomeres, including living a healthy lifestyle. One of the other things that researchers looked at in relation to telomeres, however, was the impact of stress.

One of the most well-known studies involved University of California scientists Elissa Epel and Elizabeth Blackburn. The latter won a Nobel prize for work on telomeres when she discovered the effect of telomeres on the aging process.

The study explored the effects of stress on mothers responsible for looking after chronically sick children. This is a highly stressful situation for any mother to be in, and the researchers wanted to know what effect this stress had on the telomeres of the mothers involved.

The results showed the stressed mothers had shorter telomeres than the control group. The control group included mothers who were as similar as possible to those in the main test group. The main difference was the mothers in the control group were not involved in caring for a seriously ill child. Their children were healthy.

The results of the study were significant: The stressed mothers had telomeres that were equivalent to being 10 years older than the women who were not as stressed.

Meditation as an Anti-Aging Solution

So now we know that stress ages our bodies. We also know that one of the main benefits of meditation is reducing stress. In fact, for many people, the main reason they practice meditation is to help them manage stress in their lives.

The concept is simple: Can meditation that reduces stress slow the aging process? There are multiple studies that show this is the case. In one, the length of telomeres increased after participants in the study took part in a meditation retreat. The authors of this study included the scientists mentioned earlier, Blackburn and Epel.

Here are some more examples:

• A study found increased production of telomerase following intensive meditation. Telomerase helps to rebuild and lengthen telomeres after cells divide.

• This study showed that just 15 minutes of daily meditation helps with telomerase production. In fact, in this study, anything that helped trigger the relaxation response, including repetitive prayer and yoga, helps with telomerase production.

• Another study found that Zen meditators with extensive meditation experience have telomeres that are 10 percent longer than people who were of a similar age and who lived a similar lifestyle but who had never meditated.

The researchers in the final study mentioned in the above list drilled into the effects of meditation further. They wanted to discover exactly what it was about meditation that led to slower aging.

One of the things they found relates to experiential avoidance. This is where we naturally and willingly suppress bad or painful memories because they are too difficult to face. This could be anything from an embarrassing moment to an experience of failure to the death of a loved one.

Zen meditators, however, focus on accepting unpleasant experiences in a way that doesn’t judge. In other words, they face them rather than suppressing them. The researchers in the above study found this was healthier in the long run and helped to slow the signs of aging.

Other Benefits of Meditation

One of the best things about using meditation to slow the aging process is that it brings other benefits as well. This includes the following:

• It’s free, which contrasts significantly with some anti-aging treatments that can be considerably expensive.
• There are no side effects to meditation. All you have to do is allocate a small amount of time to it every day. If we are all honest, we can all find at least 15 minutes.
• Your concentration levels will improve when you meditate, plus it reduces memory loss and improves your attention span.
• You will be happier. Many people believe that being happier also helps slow the aging process.
• Meditation reduces feelings of anxiety and improves your overall emotional health.
• You will become more self-aware, getting a better understanding of who you are.
• Your sleep will improve.
• Meditation can reduce blood pressure.
• You can do it anywhere.

You can’t stop stress as it is a part of modern living. It is possible to deal with stress better, though, and to help our brains and bodies react to it in different ways. One of the best ways of achieving this is through meditation.

Thiago  Freire
Dr. Thiago Freire, Associate Professor & Lecturer, University Of Moscow PFUR, Anti-Aging Medicine, Head of Product Development and EMK Research.
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