Everybody wants a long life full of vitality. But beyond the basics of good diet and exercise, what can you do? For more than 2,000 years, Chinese medicine has refined the use of meditation to build the body's life force. And the scientists agree. The well-documented effects of regular meditation include lowered blood pressure, less heart disease, decreased chronic pain, and increased mental clarity. Meditation is an indispensable tool for living a longer, richer life and avoiding the burnout that comes from constant stress.
Many people find the idea of meditation to be daunting. They think they do not have the time, saying, "Someday I will devote the time to study meditation." Meditation is simple. You don't need training and you don't need to be alone in the mountains. You can learn it right now! All you need is a quiet place to sit and the curiosity to try for ten minutes.
Practice meditation in a quiet environment. Begin with 10 to 15 minutes. The morning is the best time, but anytime you can find an uninterrupted and quiet chunk of time will work. One warning: never meditate after eating. Silence your phone and close the door to any other possible interruptions.
Sit comfortably in a chair with your spine erect and both legs and thighs forming a ninety-degree angle with the ground, keeping your feet at shoulder width apart. You can also sit on the floor cross-legged-"lotus" position. And you can lie down for meditation if that is the only way that is comfortable.
Start by breathing as naturally as possible. After a few times, try breathing with your abdomen only. Slowly, your breath will deepen as you practice. You notice that babies breathe with their abdomen, but as we grow older, we become affected by our stress, our lifestyle, and environment and start breathing way up in the chest area. For meditation, breathe deep and low from the abdomen.
Begin to quiet your mind. Of course, the thoughts will come-and they will always be there. Don't struggle against them. Let the thoughts come, but don't dwell on them. Keep relaxing, and bring your consciousness back to your breath. If you have trouble concentrating, focus on one thing, a word or a mantra that can invoke a calming effect within you.
3 Simple Meditation Techniques:
These meditation-based practices fuel your life with the vital energy.
1. Stress Release Meditation
Stress, often called "the silent killer", is the root of many illnesses: from high blood pressure and heart disease to cancer and depression. You can learn how to release the stress and tension build up through this simple stress release meditation.
Sit comfortably or lie down on your back. Slow your respiration to deep, abdominal breathing. Utter the word "calm" in your mind with every exhalation. You will be visualizing the relaxation of a body part and releasing tension with every exhalation. Trace the following 3 pathways outlined below.
Start on top of your head. Inhale and then exhale while visualizing your scalp muscles relaxing. Say "calm" in your mind. Repeat this with each body part as you move down through your face, throat, chest, stomach, abdomen, thighs, knees, legs, ankles, and feet. When you've relaxed your feet, visualize all the tension in your body leaving through your toes as dark smoke.
Start from the temples of your head. This path focuses on the sides and upper extremities. Inhale and then exhale while visualizing your temple muscles relaxing. Say the word "calm" in your mind. Repeat this with each body part as you move down through your jaws, the sides of your neck, shoulders, upper arms, elbows, forearms, wrists, and hands. Once you've relaxed your hands, visualize all the tension leaving your body via your fingertips as dark smoke.
The final pathway begins on the back of your head. This path relaxes the back side of your body. Repeat the breathing-visualization-word routine as you go from the back of your neck to your upper back, middle back, lower back, back of thighs, calves, and heels.
Repeat this sequence until you feel free from tension. Practice this for 15 minutes every day. If you feel that you would be more successful with a guide, try my Meditation for Stress Release audio cd.
2. Pain Tamer Visualization
Visualization meditation is one of the most powerful pain management tools, used with great effectiveness by pain specialists, psychologists, and biofeedback therapists. Learn to erase your pain with this meditation:
Sit or lie quietly, and breathe slowly. With each exhale, feel your tension subside until you are completely relaxed. Visualize fine vertical lines running through your body from head to toe. Keep breathing deeply as you tune in to these lines. Now bring your focus to the painful area of your body and visualize crisscross lines at the spot that hurts. Using your imagination, erase the crisscross lines that intersect and disrupt the smooth vertical ones. Slowly, one line at a time, erase the cross-hatching with your mind until only the verticals are left. You've created a mental picture of your body's energy meridians and restored their smooth flow. You may also try my Pain Management Visualization Meditation audio CD to help guide you.
3. Five Clouds Meditation for Energizing
This is a simple meditation practice that can help you energize your internal organs. In traditional Chinese medicine, there are five organ systems in the body and five elements. Five Clouds meditation involves visualizing the elemental colors associated with each of the five organ systems. The five colors corresponding to the five organ systems are green for the liver, red for the heart, yellow for the spleen, white for the lungs, and blue for the kidneys. Start by imagining a gathering cloud of the corresponding color enveloping the organ, in the order given. Take two to five minutes for each organ system. When you have completed all five-color clouds, expand them so that the five colors intermix, ultimately becoming a rainbow.
To find out more about meditations that will also increase your years, click here: Meditations to Live to Be 100.
Don't worry or be critical of whether you are meditating correctly. Just know that if you feel quiet and relaxed and you are paying attention to your breathing, you are on the right path. With continued practiced, your body will know how to relax more quickly and the healing and wisdom of deep practice will come to you.
I hope you find peace and health from your daily meditation! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.
May you live long, live strong, and live happy!
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To learn more about Dr. Mao and other natural health tips, go to askdrmao.com.
To purchase Dr. Mao's book, "Second Spring," click here.