It’s been a couple of months, I’ve gotten married, moved country, found a new job and am starting to find a new routine in a cold, wet country. It has been stressful and I’ve been in that “fight or flight” state for awhile now. Adrenaline and stress hormones have poured through my body and have kept me going as I experience this new life. This primeval state is only meant to last for a short time as we run away from the sabre-toothed tiger or some other olden day survival requirement. Things need to slow down. How do we do this when we find ourselves stressed continuously? Work, mortgage, loan payments, the stress of finding a new job, dealing with traffic, kids, emotional and physical demands being forced on yourself. In the old days you killed the sabre-toothed monster and your body used up the stress hormones and returned to a state of calm. Our physiological, emotional, mental and spiritual states all returning to a balance.
Not so in our modern world of continual stress. Do we ever have the chance to turn off the underlying sense of worry? I really do need to get the car serviced, fix the leaking gutter, clean the oven, pay that telephone bill or search for that cheap flight – so that I might enjoy my annual ten days leave. Do we ever have the chance to turn off the underlying sense of fear? How much more money can I make out of this job? Am I going to be retrenched? Fear that my investments are not going to be worth the paper they are printed on. Stress follows us around like a dark rain cloud, ready to dampen us at every opportunity.
It soon dawned on me that I had been missing my weekly meditation group. The hour every Wednesday evening had actually been playing a huge part in my life. A weekly de-stressor if you will, allowing me to work more efficiently with a smile on my face and a calmer mind for the rest of the week.
There has been a huge amount of scientific research into the benefits of meditation and it has been proven that advanced meditators use their whole brain in comparison to non-meditators. Some of the most brilliant minds, throughout history, have used their whole brain – Einstein, Picasso, Lewis Caroll to name a few and I suppose Buddha used his whole brain as well (I’d be surprised if he didn’t!)
The Dalai Lama has been reported as granting permission to the University of Wisconsin to study his Buddhist monks, who are all master meditators. In the universities high-tech brain lab the scientists discovered that, during meditation, the monks electroencephalogram patters increased and remained higher than the initial baseline taken from a non-meditative state. It’s all due to the Corpus Callosum the membrane that separates the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Now, I’m no scientist, but from what I can gather meditation creates a balancing that is due to the over 200 million nerves fibres in the Corpus Callosum which allows integration of information between the two hemispheres of the brain. Or something like that.
Funnily enough, American doctors have, over the past few years, increasingly started prescribing mediation to patients instead of the usual box of happy pills. New research has shown that people who meditate regularly are calmer and laugh more. Funny that. The Dalai Lama did whoever cautioned that meditation is not a silver bullet cure-all for every problem and that meditation takes patience, so don’t expect immediate results.
I was without my regular meditation practise session so I signed up to do the Max MeditationTM teacher training. I’m now qualified to lead classes and am finding that I’m settling in, stress levels are down and I am more detached from stressful situation so therefore there is less drama in my life. Definitely a positive.
Max MeditationTM is a wonderful simple system that combines many elements that are well suited to our busy Western minds. It was developed by Dr Gudni Gudnason who spent many years travelling around the world learning ancient methods from prominent teachers in India and Tibet. By combining these with his understanding of Psychology and NLP he developed Max Meditation. The hour is made up of five parts a Relaxation (of the whole body), Passive Meditation (an emptying of the mind), Active Meditation (allowing energy to come in) a Guided Visualization (a journey) and a Soothing Down (which brings you back to reality).
It is amazingly simple, the benefits are felt almost immediately and this natural and normal experience has been around since the beginning of human existence. Somebody great (it might have been Buddha) once said “Meditation brings Wisdom” – I like that. People have reported many benefits of Max Meditation and I’ve listed some of them below.
Obviously there is the reduction of stress and tension, the main reason you hear about people doing regular meditation, but there can also be a release of physical and emotional pain. With meditation you gain more control over your thoughts and become detached from situations thereby leading a life with less drama. Then there is increased concentration, happiness and peace of mind which can lead to spontaneity and creativity, allowing you to discover your purpose in life. Regular practice builds self confidence, enhances your energy, strength and vigour and can help increase clarity. Then there is my favourite – the increase of serotonin – the feel good neurotransmitter that helps with moods. Low levels of serotonin are associated with depression, headaches and insomnia. So meditation is good.
If you are in London contact Oliver by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out class times and locations.
Smiles from the lily pad.
Everywhere you turn these days you hear about the importance of meditation. How it stills the mind, creates calmness, how your body comes into balance, and how you can get more done in a day just by meditating. Just like I’m able to write this blog post during my hectic day; visiting the multitude of building sites that I operate from and typing this with my two thumbs on my BlackBerry, while driving. Well actually it’s almost midnight and I finished my day job seven hours ago, and my BlackBerry battery is almost flat.
I have been meditating on and off for a while now. More now than ever before. I’m not quiet up to the 4 hour mark yet, but getting closer. Sorry, did I say four hours, I meant 4 minutes.
My first experience of meditation was being invited to an introductory Buddhist meditation. I had just returned from a week long rock climbing trip and arrived just as the class was starting. I found a small spot on a section of cushion that a mate of mine had saved for me. A quick glance around, as I tried to make myself comfortable, and I noted that I was one of the approximately 15 men in this group of almost a 100. I settled in, closed my eyes and started listening to the melodious deep voice of the monk up front in the orange robe. “Still your mind”, – yeah right. “Feel the calmness washing over your body and mind……” Hey no problem except I’m damn uncomfortable on this little square of flat cushion, my knees hurt, but more interestingly my nose has detected the sensuous smell of a perfume. This was the first time, in seven days, that I had been near the opposite sex, never mind being surrounded by beautiful women of all ages. “Now stay focused and still your mind…” My nose is doing the thinking now – a sultry, sexy fragrance, the perfect whiff of sandalwood, vanilla and musk, obviously designed to bring out the passion in any red blooded man. It’s surrounding me now, seeping into my pores, it’s engulfed me. Where was my calm mind supposed to be floating? Who cares. Who is the owner of this intoxicating scent? My nose had, well and truly, taken over my whole body. A bit later I open my eyes, looking dazed, confused and slightly spaced out. Not because I had spent the last hour with a calm mind floating on a lily pad in a pool of tranquil water. No, because I had spent the last hour fantasising on what I would do when I found the owner of that perfume!
It has since then got easier to calm my mind and yes, I do get more done in a day when I meditate. I realised that I am not a monk (or a guru living alone in a secret cave) and probably will never ever get to the perfectly still mind stage. Over the years I have tried various mediation techniques some with greater success than others. The most success I have had is with my recent discovery of the MAX Meditation system.
MAX Meditation was developed by Gudni Gudnason who has traveled the globe for more than 35 years exploring the phenomena of the mind and realising that not all minds are the same. Mine in particular. During his travels, he acquired knowledge of ancient meditation methods from teachers in India and Tibet. The Max Meditation System is a fusion (I like that word) of the ancient techniques with the modern science of psychology and Neuro-Linguistic Programming. This fusion of old and new (or east and west) creates a meditation that is easy for my western mind to grasp and not get bored with, while still giving me the benefits of living in a lonely cave, breathing stale air.
If you would like to quieten your mind or regulate your blood pressure or increase serotonin levels (which boosts your good moods) then do a google search for MAX Meditation. There are classes happening all over the world. It has definitely made my life better, even if just for the hour long nap I seem to take. If you happen to be in Cape Town contact Craig or Vanessa at the Flame of Life Centre. They run weekly classes and your first one is free. www.flameoflifecentre.com
I never did find the owner of the perfume.
Until next time.
Smiles from a lily pad.