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The Basics About Meditation and Guided Meditation - by Jennifer Dickenson

Jennifer Dickenson, a cancer survivor from brain cancer

Before Jennifer Dickenson was diagnosed with brain cancer 12 years ago, she was a busy and stressed-out lawyer. With two elementary school-aged children and a supportive husband, she vowed to do everything she could to improve her odds. Based on the tools she used for herself with miraculous results, she shares this information with others. Her book, “The Case for Hope”, teaches others how we can restore health.

What it is, how it helps us heal and how to use it

Meditation is a way to quiet the mind, allow healing, and inspire connection. One way to think about meditation is that it is a way to reclaim space in your mind with focused relaxation. Even though it’s conceptually pretty simple to do, it’s not always easy. Our minds are constantly hopping from one thought to another—some refer to it as monkey mind. Most of us don’t even realize how much we do it. Taking time to meditate allows you to slow down the banter and, sometimes temporarily, quiet it completely.

Even if it’s just for a while, the practice of meditation can create a sense of relief and then space, clarity, and relaxation. The body takes these cues to help improve our brain function, nervous system, immune system, and our ability to create oxygen in our bodies.

As with any new skill, the more you practice, the easier it is to do, and the better your results become. After meditation, many people feel calmer and more grounded. Occasionally, you may be surprised to receive wisdom or clarity concerning something in your life. When we meditate, we ask for nothing and give nothing. The practice is freeing to the mind, allowing us to simply exist.

How to start meditating

To begin to meditate, find a calming and quiet environment with the lights low. You might want to add a candle or some pleasant-smelling oils to enhance the space you are creating. Once there, sit down cross-legged, if possible. If that position is not comfortable, find a different sitting position that works for you.

Close your eyes to shut out the busyness of the world. Begin to breathe deeply and gently in and out in a rhythmic manner, while continuing your focus on the breath through the meditation. After a few moments, you will start to settle down. Try not to think about anything. This is normally where the monkey mind hops in. Don’t beat yourself up for wandering; just simply and gently redirect yourself to the quiet mind of the meditation. Over time, it will be easier to control the thoughts that seep in.

Some people begin the practice of meditation by doing it for five minutes in the morning and five minutes at night before bed. Over time, you might meditate for twenty to thirty minutes once or twice a day. But there are no steadfast rules except that going beyond thirty minutes might be too long for most people. Experiment with what works best for you.

Guided meditation

Guided Meditation is another form of meditation but, in my opinion, even easiest than standard meditation. In fact, it has been called the “lazy man’s meditation” because all we need to do is pop in the CD, close our eyes, listen to the words and the music in order to receive the benefits. We are introduced to calming sounds and a speaker who gently brings us along on a journey of vibrant images and positive thoughts. Imagine your mind being massaged by a crystal-clear ocean sending healing messages to your thoughts. It’s so easy, yet it can be very impactful.

As the listener, your only job is to create a private, quiet location in which you can lie down, try to keep your mind clear, and listen to the music and the healing words. It’s possible to doze off because you feel so calm, safe, and relaxed. (Don’t listen to these meditations while driving a car.) When you are done, you may have the sense that you have shifted some of your thoughts, feelings, and perspectives for the better. The continual use of guided meditation makes that feeling even stronger.

My favorite guided meditation CDs are from Belleruth Naparstek at Naparstek pioneered guided imagery. Several studies have reported healing effects for people who listen to her meditations. One of the studies showed that patients using Naparstek’s calming tapes did better during surgery and recovery than those who did not use the tapes. The results showed that those using the tapes lost less blood during surgery and, on average, left the hospital a full day earlier than the control group.

Subsequent studies have shown that guided imagery helps the immune system, improves blood pressure, and minimizes allergic reactions. It can also help reduce pain, depression, anxiety, and phobias. Generally, directed meditation can calm the nervous system and allow the body to return to homeostasis or balance. In turn, the body can release the fight/flight response and get back to the business of fighting illness and keeping the body healthy and well.

There are many choices for buying guided meditation CDs online, as well as through apps like the Calm app, or at your local holistic New Age store. It can be a great gift for someone in need, including yourself.


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