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Mar 01 2012

To Meditate Is To Dive Into One’s Inner Self

by Francine Nascivet

Meditation, which has been practiced for more than 4000 years, is neither exotic nor esoteric, nor is it reserved for visionary hippies, mystical devotees or experts in Asian studies. It is available to all those seeking serenity. Meditating for just a few minutes per day is sufficient to cast off one’s moorings.

meditation Inner Self

To each his or her own path…

There exist numerous approaches to meditation but they all operate with the same principles: a proper posture, a deep and flowing breath, as well as consciously being in the present moment. Choose a set time, preferably in the morning. Meditation is not about performance so it is unnecessary at the beginning to clear one’s mind for an hour. Start with five minutes daily. Some need a teacher; others prefer learning by reading a few books. The only important criterion is: “to feel good”.

Below you will find an overview of certain traditional types of meditation used throughout the world to recharge one’s batteries: Taoism from the Sages of China, Zazen from Japan and Buddhism from India. Reconnect with these traditions that throughout time have brought man to be at one with himself, to quell an over-exaggerated sense of ego and to open himself to the path of freedom.

The Sages of China: the path of Tao

Along with Confucianism and Buddhism, Taoism is part of the “Three Teachings of China” and is manifested through a deep vision of human nature. To follow the path of Tao is to disengage from logical associations, to break away from conventional thoughts, and to respect human freedom.

meditation Inner SelfThe internal energy (the qi) circulates more freely when comfortably seated, legs crossed, eyes closed with a straight back, while concentrating on the movement of each breath, the body relaxed, and the mind free of all thoughts. Derived from the Taoist philosophy, Tai Chi is composed of slow movements that are fluid and continuous, often described as meditation in movement. It fortifies the body and produces a calm and serene mind.

Japanese Zazen meditation

Zazen literally means meditating in a sitting position (za: sitting; zen: meditation). It is practiced in Zen Buddhism. The mind’s attitude consists of being conscious of one’s posture and breathing.

Sitting on a zafu (thick meditation pillow), legs crossed, a straight back, eyes open or half-closed, facing the wall, palms towards the sky, thumb tips touching and tongue against the pallet, we concentrate on a long exhalation, deep and silent, without restricting or maintaining any thoughts.

As a complimentary practice to martial arts such as aikido, Zazen meditation disciplines the mind and develops concentration. This technique is considered to be the most difficult for beginners.

Buddhist meditation in India

The Buddhist method is composed of different approaches such as samatha (calm and concentration) and vipassana (inwardness). They are designed to cultivate love and compassion, to free oneself of illusions and unsatisfied desires, and are derived from the teachings of Siddhârta Gautama, known as Buddha.

Seated comfortably, eyes closed, back relaxed, hands placed on the knees, attentive to breathing, a mantra (“that which protects the mind”) is recited out loud or inwardly as naturally as an ordinary thought: a phrase excerpted from a sacred text which is sometimes associated to a mythical or historical character or to the teachings of Buddha. The mantra may also be a sound with no particular meaning such as OM, AM, HUM. The mantra, chosen as a means of concentration, helps clear the mental chatter.

Free yourself from clinging thoughts:
”Do not remain in the past, do not dream about the future, concentrate your mind
on the present moment.”

– Bouddha

Known benefits

Since 1958, there have been countless scientific, medical, and psychological studies conducted on the effects of meditation. One of the most important studies was led in the 1970’s by Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiologist at Harvard University. The study detected not only a drop in anxiety and blood pressure but also a decrease in cholesterol levels and chronic pain in people who practiced meditation.

Meditating offers multiple benefits. For the past few years, numerous doctors have been effusive in their praise for meditation. They list as benefits: reduced neurosis, aggression, and anxiety; sharper memory and development of creativity; deeper sleep, improvement of personal relationships and professional performances.

Freed from intellectual and physical fatigue, the meditator feels light and relaxed with the ability to think clearly. Far from cutting us off from the world, meditation grounds us in reality.

Sources :

Gérard Edde, Le silence du dragon : santé, énergie et méditation selon le tao, Éditions Chariot d’or, 2006.

8 Minute Meditation: Quiet Your Mind. Change Your Life. by Victor N. Davich

Breath by Breath: The Liberating Practice of Insight Meditation by Larry Rosenberg

About the author

Gentle face and sparkling eyes. Instinctive, intuitive, curious, Francine Nascivet likes to explore. With a dance, art and movement background, Francine is a Massage Therapist providing Ku Nye Traditional Tibetan and Ayurvedic treatments. She has always been passionated about the great traditions of medicine in Asia, from India to China, Tibet, Japan. Author, filmmaker, traveler in the heart, she explores the world through the old medicine, the rituals of wellness, nutrition and spirituality.

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