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Article: Meditation: Stress Reliever and Brain Booster Related Resources

Meditation: Stress Reliever and Brain Booster
by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

Many studies have shown meditation relieves numerous symptoms of stress and helps you achieve focus and control in your thinking processes.

Because it is a practice of bringing the mind to focus on a single point of attention, it helps you cut through the chaos of what has been so accurately described as the "monkey mind."  Being able to quiet the mind in meditation is not only relaxing and stress-reducing; it is also a good method for bringing your attention back to your work when you are tense or anxious and finding it difficult to focus.  Five minutes or so of meditation can help strip away the clutter of your distracting thoughts and get you back on track.  Regular practice will make it easier and more effective.

Of the many possible ways to meditate including Zen-style, chanting, mantra-repetition, awareness-training and contemplation,  I usually recommend Zen-style.  It's simple and easy to learn.  You can do it anywhere.  And, you don't have to master the method to get the benefits you need for stress management or for mind-calming; you just have to practice every day.  You can start with just 10 minutes a day and work up to an optimal practice level. (For most people, a 30-40 minute daily practice seems to work well.)

Here's how: find a quiet, comfortable place to sit.  You don't have to sit on the floor or in lotus position -- a chair will do well.  Either close your eyes or allow your gaze to fall unfocused on the floor about three feet in front of you.  Breathe normally and count your breaths (mentally, not aloud.)  Breathe in, do nothing, breathe out, count "1," repeat until you reach "4," then start over again from "1."  Do nothing but breathe and count.  Don't think, don't talk, don't look, don't listen.  Just breathe and count.

In addition to, or instead of, the "just sitting and breathing" type of meditation, I also like to recommend the "meditation on an object" style.  For millennia, people have found meditative qualities in gazing at mandalas, yantras, icons, paintings of nature and even the natural sunrise or sunset.  Today, we can add fractals to the list of meditative objects.  Research has established that looking at photos and paintings of nature are measurably relaxing and stress-reducing and has shown that you can get the same effects from fractals as from photos and paintings.

For more information, try Laurence LeShan's classic book, How to Meditate.  And see


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