Friday, September 20, 2013

Meditation Mastery

Meditation mastery
There are over 2,400 clinical research studies proving meditation’s benefits for mental and physical health. However, one style does not necessarily suit all. What technique is best for you?

Transcendental meditation

What it is: Dr Tim Carr (MBBS) says transcendental meditation (TM) is a simple, natural mental technique which allows the mind to effortlessly settle to “a very pleasant, thought-free state, in which the mind is completely still, yet fully awake.”
What it's good for: TM is effective in relieving stress and anxiety and enhancing mental clarity, creativity, happiness and self-assuredness. “Studies indicate people recover more quickly from, and become more resilient to, life’s stresses through this type of meditation,” says Carr. He adds there is solid evidence that TM reduces hypertension (high blood pressure) and prevents heart attacks, strokes and deaths from cardiovascular disease. For more information, go to

Mindfulness meditation

What it is: Dr Craig Hassed, senior lecturer in the medical faculty at Monash University and inaugural President of the Australian Teachers of Meditation Association (ATMA), says mindfulness meditation trains the attention generally, using the senses as a focal point to help the mind be in the present moment. It also develops an attitude of acceptance and openness to moment-by-moment experiences.
What it's good for: Hassed says there a few key areas backed up by research:
* Mental health - stress, anxiety, depression, poor sleep, eating disorders, addictions
* Neuroscience – it changes the brain’s structure and function, enhances executive functioning, memory, and information processing, and stimulates neuronal growth
* Performance – it enhances ability in sport, academia, leadership and learning
* Clinical – pain and weight management, lifestyle change, coping with serious illness, such as cancer, improved immune function, enhanced DNA repair, coping with serious illness, like cancer; a mindfulness meditation course has been specifically designed for cancer patients in response to increasing evidence about its benefits.
* Spiritual – it can also be viewed as a spiritual discipline

Transformative meditation

What it is: This is based on the Western Wisdom school tradition, as opposed to meditative styles based on Eastern traditions, like Buddhism. Louise Gilmore OAM, lecturer at Awareness Institute in Sydney (, explains, “It’s based on the understanding that people are looking for change. They often come to meditation in response to something being not right in their lives.”
What it's good for: Gilmore says transformative meditation is good for calming the mind, dealing with pressures of everyday life, and allowing people to gain insights into their lives and expand their awareness. “It ultimately offers people an opportunity to develop their own spirituality,” she explains.

Stillness meditation

What it is: This is a medically-based model developed by eminent Australian psychiatrist Dr Ainslie Meares in the 1950s, to enable his patients to relieve anxiety and pain. Pauline McKinnon, founding director of the Stillness Meditation Therapy Centre in Melbourne ( and author of In Stillness Conquer Fear and Living Calm in a Busy World, says its objective is “an effortless experience where the mind is rested and the brain returns to mental homeostasis - this involves attaining a deep state of stillness by not introducing any cognitive processes.”
What it's good for: McKinnon says stillness meditation decreases anxiety. “The symptoms of anxiety – depression, stress, insomnia, and high blood pressure – are distressing. People get into trouble as they try to correct them by adjusting their behaviour, which can lead to phobias or obsessive-compulsive reactions. Practising stillness meditation helps because, at a basic level, people can’t be deeply relaxed and stressed at the same time.”

Breath meditation

What it is: David McRae, meditation teacher and author of The Essential Meditation Guide, says breath meditation is found in yoga, Buddhism, and other traditions. It essentially involves paying close attention to your breathing. “For some people, this may be listening to their breathing, for others it will mean feeling the sensations of each breath, or ‘watching’ their breathing,” he explains. “The idea is to let the breath be completely natural and observe it as it is from moment to moment.
What it’s good for: “Meditation on natural breathing opens up spaces in the crowded mind-landscape of worries and plans, and we taste an inner spaciousness,” explains McRae. “From a physical health perspective, it is good for stress and pain relief. Spiritually, it can be a window into our more unconditioned real self.”
To find a meditation teacher near you, visit

Troubleshooting tips

“Reprogram your subconscious mind,” advises Gilmore. “This teaches both body and mind that it’s the time and place to meditate, making it easier to slip into practice.”
1. Meditate at the same time each day.
2. Always sit in the same place, in an upright chair or on the floor.
3. Develop a comfortable balanced pose and always sitting in that position.

Source : Nature and Health



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