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The Many Paths of MEDITATION

Though the word “meditation” may mean different things to different people, from contemplating to praying to daydreaming, meditation is actually none of these. Meditation is really any of several techniques that, according to the Mayo Clinic, uses “focused attention and an open attitude.” It also lists some of meditations many possible benefits, including “helping with concentration, relaxation, inner peace, stress reduction and fatigue.”

Meditation focuses the mind on breathing or movement, or on a sound, visualization or object, in order to concentrate one’s awareness on the present moment. The purpose of meditation is to promote relaxation, reduce stress or enhance personal and spiritual growth. Following are four methods often used to meditate.

1 Transcendental Meditation is what is typically associated with meditation, and is practiced widely, with more than 5 million practitioners globally. Transcendental meditation focuses on clearing the mind in order to transcend ordinary consciousness, and it often involves the repetitive use of a spoken sound, or mantra. The mantra represents an intent, often in the Hindustani language, or tantric names of Hindu deities.

2 Qigong, alternatively spelled ch’i kung, or ch’i gung, is of Chinese origin, meaning “life” or “vital energy cultivation”. The practice of qigong uses a repeating series of movements that provide the body and the mind gentle stimulation as a meditation for freeing the ch’i and for general health. Qigong involves focus and concentration, slow, smooth coordinated body movements and control of the breath. Formerly taught and practiced in private in the Buddhist, Taoist and Confucianist traditions, the qigong movement has gained popularity only relatively recently in the West. The qigong exercises performed as meditation may be done in a seated position or without movement.

3 Guided Meditation is facilitated by a practitioner or teacher, either in person or via a recording, usually with verbal instruction set to music, but may be read from written text. It is readily available in several forms on the internet, and elsewhere, in audio, video, CD and podcast.

4 Mindfulness Meditation focuses the mind on the present, often by observing breathing, but other repetitive tasks are often used, as well. Walking among green and growing things, for example, can produce a meditative state known as involuntary attention, in which an engaging activity aids in reflection.

Practicing any meditation method is likely to produce a quieting of the mind, and all the health benefi ts attributed to it, but it takes practice, commitment and a little time to become comfortable with meditating, and to learn to keep distracting thoughts and feelings at bay.

Dr. Cory Schultz is a doctor of traditional naturopathy, specializing in weight management, cleansing and detoxifi cation, nutrition and fitness, advanced clinical massage and general wellness. For more information, visit DrCorySchultz.com.

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