As I mentioned in our last episode, I’m devoting a series of blogs addressing a common question I get from people: “What things can I do to help make my acupuncture treatments more effective?” Today I’d like to talk about an often misunderstood but essential ingredient to a healthy lifestyle:
With the chaotic hustle-and-bustle that is so rampant in our culture, most people desperately need a way to mentally check out and take a breather, and meditation is one best ways to do that. The benefits of meditation are no less than staggering: cellular regeneration and stem cell production are enhanced, immune function is increased, hormones and neurotransmitters are balanced, and so much more. In fact, some research that was conducted showed that people that practiced a type of meditation consistently had cut their need for medical interventions by over 40%!
There is a lot of confusion on what comprises meditation, and the many types of meditation that are out there doesn’t help matters any. Meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting in the Lotus position for hours on end while chanting “Om”, which is probably the first image that springs to mind for many people. While that is certainly a valid method (called mantra meditation), there are many other forms – both formal and informal – you might consider:
- Mindfulness meditation is a type of formal practice of mindfulness. Essentially, one focuses their attention on a thought, sensation, or even just the breath and observes without judgement. This is an excellent place to start for those who have jumpy, chattering minds that are easily distracted.
- Vipassana, which means “clear seeing” or “insight”, is similar to the mindfulness meditation in its practice. By focusing on the breath, one seeks to develop “clear insight” on bodily sensations and mental activity, passively observing them and not clinging to any. Ultimately, the meditation progresses to abandoning attachment and recognizing impermanence
- Transcendental meditation is another popular form of meditation practiced throughout the world. You choose a statement, mantra, or affirmation that has meaning for you, sit in a quiet place and repeat the affirmation to yourself for 15-20 minutes, preferably morning and evening.
- Bu Chan is essentially “no mind” meditation, and is one that likely everyone has experienced at some point. If you have ever found yourself staring out a window lost in “no thought”, you have done Bu Chan meditation. It is simple to perform: just let your gaze wander and your mind relax, not paying specific attention to anything but noticing everything.
In the end, anything can be a meditation, and when one acquires a degree of skill with any type of meditation practice, everything should become a meditation! Everyday tasks such as yard work, cleaning, folding clothes, cooking – all can become meditation. I’ve been known to throw a frozen pizza in the oven, pull up my Zafu meditation pillow, and simply observe the entire baking process. One does not need to live in a mountain monastery in Tibet, or even to go on a long retreat to learn to meditate. Just try some of the simple concepts presented here, give them some time to work, and I promise you will see amazing results in your health and mental well-being.