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How To Achieve Enduring Health and Vitality
John W. Travis, M.D. & Regina Sara Ryan
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P>Meditation, from the Sanskrit medha, literally means doing the wisdom." It is a process of locating your center, your temple of inner wisdom, your truest self.

There are many different methods of "doing" meditation, ranging from drumming to chanting to breathing to simply sitting. Should you decide to explore some of them, there are general guidelines that apply to any type of meditation practice. They are presented here to help you on your way:

  • Be clear about what you want from a meditation practice. If you are using meditation as a means to relax and center yourself - essentially, as stress reduction - any one of a number of approaches will do. You can learn from books, from tapes, from friends, or from formal classes. If you want to practice meditation as a spiritual or religious discipline, it may be invaluable to have a teacher or a tradition with which to associate yourself. Meditation can take you deeply into yourself, and often you will appreciate the guidance of one who has walked this path before you.
  • Make this your express intention. Set aside the time (perhaps ten or twenty minutes each morning and each evening) and prepare a quiet, private place for yourself. Although quiet or soli-
  • tude isn't a prerequisite - you will eventually learn to meditate no matter what circumstances you are in - it does help in the initial stages to eliminate most of your usual distractions.
  • Eliminate side trips. Meditation is an exercise of the right brain, the intuitive, spiritual, spontaneous side of you. As you meditate, the logical left brain will be busy trying to distract you. ("Remember to call Harry tonight." "This is a waste of time." "I wonder what the kids are doing now.") You will need to learn to set these distractions aside.
  • Select a centering device. Most forms of meditation practice make use of some centering device to keep you on course. The most common is the focus on the breath. It can be a sound that is repeated, a word or song, or an object, like a candle or picture. It can be a repeated bodily movement. Once you choose a centering device to use, stick with it. Constantly dropping one approach to experiment with another form confuses the body-mind, so it never has a chance to learn to "rest" deeply.
  • Ask for help. In many cities and on campuses around the country there are groups and organizations devoted to the teaching of meditation techniques. While it is not essential, joining such a group can be very helpful. Moreover, there is an intensified energy that develops when people meditate together.
The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you, the better you will hear what is sounding outside. —Dag Hammerskjold

Finding a center, a home, a place of balance, makes anything possible. The universe, from this perspective, is viewed as friendly, and our place in it is experienced as blessed. Life energy emanates from the center, and all that shares this energy is found there as well. Being there means being in harmony with ourselves, with our brothers and sisters, with our environment, our planet, our universe.

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