07 May 2011

Meditation, Consciousness, Health and a Changing World

Meditation. For many people it brings to mind the culture of the 1960s and 70s. I took up transcendental meditation back then, along with hatha yoga. And I had my first out of body experience (OBE) during a session when I was 16 years old. Over the years meditation and yoga have gone through phases in my life - sometimes taking up a huge segment and sometimes moving to a back burner. But I have discovered that once muscles learn the stretches and movements, they are always there. Even though I am not doing much yoga these days, I find I can drop back into the routines relatively quickly. And once you learn to meditate, it is a tool that you can use forever.

My meditation techniques have changed over the years, too. In the last 10 years I've been to a number of different classes and conferences on consciousness and mindful meditation. Everyone has to work out the best meditation program for themselves, but I have found it to be very helpful to me as I have gone through this journey with MDS, the bone marrow transplant and MDS again. There are all kinds of tools to help you so that you don't have to do it on your own. I find sound technology, particularly that used by The Monroe Institute, to be helpful to me.

"Human consciousness is evolving, awakening to the discovery of Self. All of us are participants in the evolution of consciousness, the next great leap for humanity. We perceive ourselves to be more than just our physical bodies. We are connected to the universe through nonphysical dimensions and a holographic matrix of timeless information. Life itself is not something physical and death something spiritual. For us, life's experiences have taken on a new significance. We marvel at the wonder of an emerging perception of reality that has been here waiting for us to realize all along."

The Monroe Institute is a non-profit education and research organization devoted to the exploration of human consciousness. They have been studying consciousness for more than 30 years. In more recent years mainstream science has taken to studying consciousness, people who meditate and how it affects them. Just recently Massachusetts General Hospital released a report, Benefits of Meditation in the Brain, where they found that people who meditate actually have structural changes in their brains in as few as 8 weeks and that, "changes in brain structure may underlie some of these [cognitive and psychological] improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing,". Pretty interesting stuff going on these days.

Once you learn to meditate and get in some practice, you can do so even amongst the madding crowd. A few years ago we were at DisneyWorld and it was a day that the Guy and I were off doing our thing and the girls were off doing their thing. Our plan was to meet up in the early evening for dinner. We were staying at the Polynesian and for some reason in the afternoon we stopped at the Ticket and Transportation Centre for the Guy to go over to our room and get something. I just waited at the TTC. And where I chose to wait was a bench at the entrance to the Epcot Monorail station. It had been a busy day, so I tuned out the cacophony to relax for a few minutes. I had been off in my own world when all of a sudden I heard giggling and voices saying, "That's Mother!" Some things, (e.g. your children's voices in the midst of thousands of others) can be heard through the deepest meditations. And I must say I enjoyed their reaction to unexpectedly finding their Mom in lotus position off communing with the universe amidst summer Disney crowds.

In Buddhism, there is a word, mettā, meaning “Loving Kindness”. Although I am not Buddhist, the cultivation of loving-kindness (mettā bhāvanā) is a popular form of meditation for those who practice it. In mettā meditation you are sending unconditional love to yourself and others - whether they are people with whom you are in accord or people who you feel are causing difficulty in your life. It's a way to create an environment for positive emotion. And with all the health issues I have very definitely needed positive emotion.

This is a mettā meditation I like:

May all beings be safe. May all beings be healthy.
May all beings be happy. May all beings find peace and ease.

And this week it seems especially appropriate. I am sending it out in particular for peace and ease to:
1. the families all over the world who lost loved ones through the actions of the world's #1 terrorist,
2. the US military and CIA members who undertook the task of getting rid of him,
3. and our President, who made the ultimate call.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. I truly wish all of you health, happiness and peace.

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