Meditation or  guided meditation?  Which do you prefer?  When we think of meditation, we think of sitting and clearing our mind for a specific amount of time.  We do this by either reciting a mantra (usually a non language of origin word) or clearing the mind by counting backwards from 10-1.  Each time a thought arises going back to number 10, repeating the process.   There are of course many ways to meditate.  In my previous blog, Routes into Relaxation, I mentioned Breath Awareness as a relaxation technique.

According to an article that appeared in Yoga Journal June of 2010, “Your Brain on Meditation”, written by Kelly McGonigal, “Science has proven that meditating actually restructures your brain and can train it to concentrate, feel greater compassion, cope with stress, and more.”  How and when do we do it?  Or do we pick a time to be led into a state of relaxation that trains the mind like meditation?  Do we use a guided meditation to glean many of the benefits of meditation.

In a study published online April 21, 2011 in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, the researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms. Christopher Moore, an MIT neuroscientist and senior author of the paper states: “Our data indicate that meditation training makes you better at focusing, in part by allowing you to better regulate how things that arise will impact you.”  It is noted in the study that the group that meditated listened to a CD to be guided through the process.

In the first video lesson of the site, What Meditation Really Is, we are instructed to  “Simply relax your mind!”  What a simple statement; how do we do this?  Obviously since meditation is called a, ‘practice’ perfecting the technique is a practice!  She sites that one of the benefits is getting to know our mind.  I appreciate what this female figure goes on to say, that the real objective of mediation is to become familiar with the  “Unchanging pure awareness that underlies our whole experience of life”.

Yoga Nidra is a yoga based practice which states a similar objective.   According to yogawonders.com, “Yoga Nidra is a highly powerful ancient meditation technique originated from the Tantras. It is the scientific way to eliminate the root cause of all the negativities.” In his Yoga Nidra CD , Richard Miller, PhD guides us into our internal space sensing into our body, breath, energy, feelings etc.  He invites us at the beginning his CD is:  “To realize the timeless wisdom that lies hidden within you, that your underlying true nature is unchanging heartfelt equanimity or  presence that is always present during every circumstance of your life.”

I love the word “presence”  since we are each a presence.  We bring to each circumstance all that we are in the form of our presence.  I love that meditation wants us to define ourselves beyond our roles, our chronological age, even our experiences.  It whispers to us, points to something more about who we are in totality.  Our state of mind seems to be a marker of how close we are, how often we touch the greater part of ourselves.

I personally have used relaxation CD’s for years.  I am currently alternating between the Yoga Nidra CD and a few others.  Sounds True is a wonderful site that offers podcasts and products that relate to Spirituality, Meditation, Psychology and Healing.  They offer a free weekly newsletter that features authors and includes an interview by Tami Simon called “Insights from the Edge”.

By training our minds with meditation, by doing yoga, by walking in Nature, by bringing our awareness to everything we do, we can practice mindfulness.  We can develop an awareness of that part of ourselves that is witness consciousness.

Whispers of the Breath Diva:

In this moment I am fully aware, fully conscious and ALIVE!

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