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Everything You Need to Know About Meditation

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Seven-Point Meditation Posture

I come from a Tibetan Buddhist background, so the framework I typically employ is the seven points of Vairocana. The Buddha Vairocana is often represented sitting in this posture at the center of a mandala of the five principle Buddhas. He is the lord of the buddha family, all white representing the wisdom of all-encompassing space, as well as it’s exact opposite, the very ignorance that is the driving force behind our cycle of suffering. He represents, in part, the idea that our ignorance can be transformed into vast spaciousness, which can accommodate everything. Not a bad role model, right?

First Point of Posture: Sitting Down

For those of us who are accustomed to sitting in a chair, you might be a bit intimidated by the notion of sitting on the ground in a cross-legged fashion. This is a good time to give it a try. If you find that it is difficult, you can assume one of the simpler cross-legged postures I mention below.

There are a few variations on sitting cross-legged on the ground, but all of them are best supported by having a formal meditation cushion. I’m partial to those sold at Samadhi Cushions as their seats are well-made and firm. It is worth the investment to purchase a cushion if you’re going to launch a consistent meditation practice. And if you are going to use pillows from your couch or bed that’s okay, but it takes a lot of adjustment to get you sitting high enough so that it’s not painful. That said, if you want to grab some sturdy cushions and sit on those to get going, go for it.

More from our partner: What to Do with Your Mind During Meditation

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BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

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Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. But many meditation techniques exist — so how do you learn how to meditate?

“In Buddhist tradition, the word ‘meditation’ is equivalent to a word like ‘sports’ in the U.S. It’s a family of activities, not a single thing,” University of Wisconsin neuroscience lab director Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., told The New York Times. And different meditation practices require different mental skills.

It’s extremely difficult for a beginner to sit for hours and think of nothing or have an “empty mind.” We have some tools such as a beginner mediation DVD or a brain sensing headband to help you through this process when you are starting out. In general, the easiest way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.

CONCENTRATION MEDITATION

Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.

In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.

MINDFULNESS MEDITATION

Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.

Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.

In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.

OTHER MEDITATION TECHNIQUES

There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation.

BENEFITS OF MEDITATION

If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”

Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improved blood circulation
  • Lower heart rate
  • Less perspiration
  • Slower respiratory rate
  • Less anxiety
  • Lower blood cortisol levels
  • More feelings of well-being
  • Less stress
  • Deeper relaxation

Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.

In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.

HOW TO MEDITATE: SIMPLE MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS

This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You may even want to invest in a meditation chair or cushion.
  2. Close your eyes. We recommend using one of our Cooling Eye Masks or Restorative Eye Pillows if lying down.
  3. Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
  4. Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods.

Maintain this meditation practice for two to three minutes to start, and then try it for longer periods. If you’d like to follow along with a Meditation for Beginners DVD, we can help with that.

  • Three 20-minute practices
  • Includes a yoga practice
  • Lead by certified instructor Maritza
  • One low price! Shipped right to your door.

What is Naturopathic Medicine?

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Naturopathic medicine is a distinct system of family medicine that skillfully combines ancient therapeutic traditions with modern science to restore health. Naturopathic Doctors (NDs) use a variety of therapies to restore and maintain the health of their patients including clinical nutrition, botanical medicine, homeopathic medicine, physical medicine, and lifestyle recommendations. We work to support the body’s innate ability to heal with natural therapeutics by following the guiding principles of naturopathic medicine:

Principles of Naturopathic Medicine:

Our work is guided by our strong adherence to our elegant and enduring philosophy which includes:

  • Supporting the healing power of nature; we believe in the body’s innate ability to heal.
  • Identify and treat the causes. We work to go beyond treating the symptoms of an illness to find the cause of illness whenever possible.
  • Like all physicians, we aim for the classic tenet: First, do no harm. We use low risk and natural methods to treat patients using approaches that have few to no side effects.
  • Educate patients. We believe that knowledge is power, so we work to educate our patients about healthy eating habits, other healthy lifestyle changes as well as on how to decrease and manage stress. Whenever we can, we try to involve our patients and the parents of our patients in the prevention and treatment at home or in the approaches they can learn to use themselves.
  • We believe that our health is determined by physical, mental, emotional, genetic, environmental, social and spiritual elements and so aim to treat the whole person.
  • We strongly believe in the axiom “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so we work with our patients to create specific healthy lifestyle plans that take into account personal risk factors, heredity and vulnerability to future disease.

Education of Naturopathic Doctors:

As licensed naturopathic doctors (ND) we attend four-year, post-graduate, in-residence accredited naturopathic medical schools. The institutions in the United States are recognized by the Federal Department of Education. In addition to a standard medical curriculum, the naturopathic doctor is required to complete four years of training in clinical nutrition, homeopathic medicine, botanical medicine, naturopathic philosophy, psychology, and counseling. Upon graduating, NDs must sit for and pass a national level board examination called NPLEX for licensure. NPLEX follows the same standards as the National Board of Medical Examiners, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners.

The Best Healing Method For Each Chakra

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There are literally thousands of ways you can “heal” and “balance” your chakras. Meditationand visualization are both very popular choices, sound is another good method, sight is yet another (using yantras or mandalas), and smell works really well too – it’s called aromatherapy. Yoga is another very popular way to work on your chakras, and I could go on as the list is too long to recite.

But do each of these modalities work equally well? The answer is yes, and no. Or the proverbial, “it depends.”

First of all, I think it’s important to realize that each healing modality is actually more closely associated with each one of the chakras. This means that one method may work better for a particular chakra than another.
 Let me explain.

The 6th and 7th chakras balance well with visualization and meditation and pure energy work, because they are in the higher frequency realm. The seventh chakra isn’t even truly “physical” – it’s our spiritual connection to everything. It resides off the body, above the crown of our head. The sixth chakra is at the third eye – in the middle of the forehead – and it is the least “physical” of the sixth bodily-related chakras.

A Quick Intro to Your Chakras

Think of your six bodily chakras stacked up like a sort of pyramid – with the lowest one, your first chakra creating the wide and heavy base of the pyramid, and the highest one in your body, your sixth chakra, representing the highest tip of the pyramid. It’s light and airy and easily mutable, while the first chakra is dense and heavy and more difficult to change (in fact, the first chakra represents and strengthens stability, so it’s very nature is the opposite of change).

Each chakra also relates to a sense and an element, like this:

  • First chakra = smell/earth
  • Second chakra = taste/water
  • Third chakra = sight/fire
  • Fourth chakra = touch/air
  • Fifth chakra = hearing/sound
  • Sixth chakra = “sixth sense”/light
  • Seventh chakra is off the body and unrelated to the sensory world, so it has no associations, except to pure consciousness.

To learn much more about your chakras, see this in-depth article I wrote and this fabulous chart I created.

Best Healing Method for Your First Chakra

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WEIGHT LOSS BREAKFAST

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Every single person is in search for a perfect combination of food,  to kick start the day and at the same time eat something that has various health benefits for the organism. It is not strange that breakfast is the meal that will determine your nutritional habits during the rest of the day. It is very important to go for protein rich breakfast to lower the need for food during the day. Balanced breakfast that is rich in vitamins and minerals along with fiber will also be of great help, especially if you want to fully charge and keep the energy on the higher level during the day. Knowing that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, don’t skip it and make sure you always eat the right things in order to be healthy and fit. This breakfast recipe will help you to prepare healthy breakfast that will be a perfect solution for you if you struggle with weight problems, or have health issues such as increased blood sugar or cholesterol levels.

HEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS BREAKFAST-RECIPE

To prepare this healthy and tasty breakfast you will need the following

Ingredients:

1 cup of oats
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
2 tablespoons of honey
2 teaspoons of vanilla powder
1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder

Pinch of salt
2 cups of water

Procedure

Heat up the pot with water, vanilla and cinnamon until it starts to boil. Reduce the heat and add the oats. Let it boil for about 5 minutes and then remove the pot from heat. Cover the pot and leave it to cool down slowly for 5-10 minutes. Add the salt and honey. Mix it all well. Sprinkle with chia seeds until it is still well hot.

HOW THIS WORKS

Oats are rich in solvable fiber that has the ability to control the level of sugar in the blood, lowers the cholesterol level and that way prevents various heart problems. Oatmeal is also rich in protein, vitamins and minerals that are essential for our health. Oats have benefits on the metabolism and immune system.

Chia seeds are one of the best sources of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids as well as calcium. They are beneficial in lowering cholesterol levels in the blood, and prevention in various kinds of heart diseases. They will help reduce the LDL cholesterol levels in the blood and remove excess stored fat, especially from the stomach area. They have amazing anti-inflammatory effects and are also good source of antioxidants.

The mixture of cinnamon and honey is one of the most effective natural remedies to help weight loss and treat a large list of other health conditions.

There is a belief that vanilla is used in aromatherapy to promote and speed up the weight loss process.

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