(2011 July) For those interested in meditation this article (follow the link) is really insightful.Â I would be so very grateful if you gave me someÂ feedback and let me know what you think.
The link http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/07/the-buddhas-meditation--dr-evan-finkelstein/ leads you to a deeply insightful and demystifying article on meditation and its role in Buddhism in particular. The journal that published it, Elephant, is dedicated to spiritual and contemplative topics.
2. A Consideration of Different Relaxation Techniques
Ayurveda4all's premier stress management programme is the Transcendental Meditationâ„¢. TM is the best '1 stop method' we have come across ever in our investigations over 40 years (see below comments on reseacrh conducted by Dr Diana Kras). This would be supplemented by oil/massage therapies and the use of herbal preparations and lifestlye recommendations.Â In order to understand why we consider TM the premium tool we compare other methods below and our fundamental philosophical approach.
Ayurveda4all recommends only stress/relaxation programmes that are:-
- Evidence based (proved beyond reasonable doubt) to have enriching effects in all areas of our health and happiness.
- Ayurveda4all will not recommend progammes which invove any religious belief system.
- It has to benefit a complete sceptic, involving noÂ dogma.Â
- The more holistic the effects the better.
- Results should be noticable reasonably quickly.Â
- It MUST be 100% natural and not involve any outside element.Â
- You must be able to take it and practice it anywhere, in a train or plane.
3. Physical Techniques
3.1. Deep Breathing
This is a simple but very effective method of relaxation. It is a core component of everything from the "take ten deep breaths" approach to calming someone down, right through to yoga relaxation and meditation. It works well in conjunction with other relaxation techniques such as Progressive Muscular Relaxation, relaxation imagery and meditation to reduce stress.
To use the technique, take a number of deep breaths and relax your body further with each breath. That's all there is to it!
This may be particularly useful if you need to think clearly and perform precisely when you are under pressure.
3.2. Systematic Progressive Muscular Relaxation
Progressive Muscular Relaxation can be useful to help relaxing the body when muscles are tense.
InÂ PMR you tense up a group of muscles so that they are as tightly contracted as possible, such as clenching your fist. Keep it in a state of extreme tension for a few seconds. Then, relax the muscles to their previous state. Finally, consciously relax the muscles even further so that you are as relaxed as possible.
By tensing your muscles first, you will probably find that you are able to relax your muscles more than would be the case if you tried to relax your muscles directly.
Some people have produced tapes to go along with this, which people report to me they find great at first and then the speakers voice or the sounds on the tape start to be an irritant in themselves.
4. Mental Techniques
4.1. The Pause
A simple method taking 30 seconds to perhaps 2mins where one sitting or even standing, with or without eyes closed one systematically focuses the attention in an inward direction as such -
"First let the mind be free of any concern or preoccupations..
Let the mind fall still and come to rest within, be aware of where you are now...
Feel the touch of the feet on the ground.. the weight of the body on the chair ... feel the touch of the cloths on the skin... and the play of the air on th face and hands....
If they are open, let the eyes receive colour and form without comment... taste...smell...be fully here... let sounds be received and let them rise and fall without comment or judgement of any kind...
With the body completely relaxed, let the hearing run right out to the furthest and gentlest sounds, embracing all.Â Simply rest in this great awareness for a few moments......"
This can be useful in a tutor led class, especially with disturbed clients or children, as it does not take much time and it would keep their attention for these few moments. It is also useful if used 10/12 times throughout the day as it will cultivate over time the ability to settle down to some degree at will, which could be especially useful some people.Â But, it really is limited in its applications for producing deep physiological changes, and hightened mental states of consciousness.
4.2. Guided Meditations and Visualization techniques
A 'focused attention' modual - (see below re differences in meditation methods)
4.3. Buddhist meditation
An 'open monitoring technque (see below re differencesÂ in meditation methods)
4.4. The â€œRelaxation Responseâ€
Some limited research has been conducted on this method. Effects included relaxation, slowed heartbeat and breathing, reduced oxygen consumption and increased skin resistance.
This is something that you can do for yourself by following these steps:
- Sit quietly and comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Start by relaxing the muscles of your feet and work up your body relaxing muscles.
- Focus your attention on your breathing.
- Breathe in deeply and then let your breath out. Count your breaths, and say the number of the breath as you let it out (this gives you something to do with your mind, helping you to avoid distraction).
Do this for ten or twenty minutes.
An slightly more potent alternative approach is to follow these steps, but to use relaxation imagery instead of counting breaths in the last step.
Ayurveda4all suggests that even with some practice this is essentially unnatural method with involves focusing the attention on the firstly muscle groups and then breathing (similarly to some forms of Bhuddhish meditations), counting the breaths etc, all of which involve the brain in some conscious activity and strainÂ - hence preventing it from truelly settling down to its 'least excited/active state' to allow it to be in a state where there is consciousness, conscious of itself. After some time one may get 'frustrated' with this method.
5. Transcendental Meditationâ„¢
An 'automatic self-transcending methods - see below.
Transcendental Meditation is a simple natural technique which is practised for 15-20 minutes twice each day sitting comfortably with the eyes closed.
It gives deep rest to mind and body, releases mental and physical stress, and allows you to use more of your potentialÂ (for more info click http://www.t-m.org.uk/whatistm.shtml
Unique â€“ no concentration, no mind-control, no belief system
Verified â€“Â by more than 600Â scientific studies in leading journals, the most extensively researched method of relaxtation/ meditation.
Wide â€“ ranging benefits, the no 1 provenÂ method for counteracting stress and tension as well as:- reduced anxiety, better sleep, happiness, creativity, more energy, relief from stress, improved relationships, reduced addictive behaviour, lowering of high blood pressure, and healthier ageing
6. Latest Research::20th July, 2010
Published recentlyÂ in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, discusses three categories of meditation, each characterised by different brain types ofÂ wave (EEG):
"Lumping them [different types of meditation] all together as 'essentailly the same' is simply a mistake," says co-author Jonathan Shear PhD. "When researching physiological patterns and clinical outcomes of meditation practices ... if they are averaged together, then the resulting phenomenological, physiological, and clinical profiles cannot be meaningfully interpreted," explains lead author Fred Travis PhD. Read more ...
Extensive scientific research has long established that the self-transcending process of Transcendental Meditation is associated with a wide range of beneficial physiological, psychological, and behavioural effects. Rather than being a cognitive activity or mental exercise, it is a natural process whereby the inner intelligence of mind and nervous system is allowed to flourish, leading effortlessly and effectively to elimination of stress, continuing growth and development, and balancing of physiological systems.
Note: Dr Diana Kras published an original research study in Scientific Research on the Transcendental Meditation program, Collected Papers, Vol 1. p173-81 (paper 18) entitledÂ The Transcendental Meditation Technique and EEG Alpha Acivity. 'The Transcendental Meditation technique was found to markedly increase the amount of alpha activity in the EEG, and participants in the TM program had greater amounts of alpha activity in all areas of the brain, even with eyes open, than the control subjects, indicating that Transcendental Meditation produces and sustains a state of restful alterness' Editors.Â ISBN 3- 88333 - 001 - 9
See also AskTheDoctors.com on the question "Will other forms of meditation give you the same results?".