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Desi Clark
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"Meditation brings wisdom; lack of meditation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom."

-- Buddha

Meditation is considered an essential practice for those who seek self-knowledge and self-mastery. Why? Basically, meditation brings awareness of how our minds work. Over time, we become watchers, able to detach from the thoughts and emotions that play out in our minds.

With this detachment, we gain the freedom to choose whether or not to act on our thoughts and emotions. We learn to distinguish between objective reality and our mental and emotional dramas.

"Only in quiet waters things mirror themselves undistorted. Only in a quiet mind is adequate perception of the world." -- Hans Margolius

....Let's meditate in Puncak or Bugils......!!....just kidding..ok no offense! Emoticon: Clown

Desi Clark

Effort and Courage are not enough without purpose and direction.

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Staring at a computerscreen sometimes feels like meditation too..
Emoticon: Wink Emoticon: Wink Emoticon: Wink

User icon of Albert
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Why meditate? Because it's good medicine

Though a variety of meditation techniques exist, there are basic elements that anyone can master. Doing as little as 20 minutes per day is enough to begin to see benefits.
1. Sit or lie in a comfortable position with your eyes closed.
2. Focus your attention on the repetition of a word, sound, phrase or prayer, doing this silently or whispering. An alternative is to focus on the sensation of each breath as it moves in and out of your body.
3. Every time you notice that your attention has wandered (which will occur naturally), gently redirect it back, without judging yourself.

-- When it comes to alternative therapy, there's one method that's leading the pack, at least in terms of popularity of use. According to research conducted by Dr. David Eisenberg and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School, mind/body medicine is the most widely used alternative. And it's no wonder, when you look at the medical evidence piling up to support its role in promoting health. At the heart of mind/body medicine lies the age-old practice of meditation, a quiet, simple technique that belies an extraordinary power to boost disease resistance and maintain overall health.

Meditation: More than just a "feel-good" state

Meditation -- focusing the mind continuously on one thought, phrase or prayer for a period of time -- naturally leads to the "relaxation response," changes in the body that are deeply restorative and which quicken healing. These changes include reductions in heart rate, blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen consumption, blood flow to skeletal muscles, perspiration and muscle tension, as well as an improvement in immunity. The relaxation response works much like pushing a "reset" button, enabling your body to return to a state of optimal balance. Many studies have been done that show the effectiveness of meditation in treating a number of health conditions.

Women's health

Some remarkable benefits are possible for women who meditate regularly. One study found that women with PMS (premenstrual syndrome) reduced their symptoms by 58 percent. Another study found that women going through menopause could significantly reduce the intensity of hot flashes.

Even those women struggling with infertility can benefit: In a study of a 10-week group program that included meditation (along with exercise and nutrition changes), the women had significantly less anxiety, depression and fatigue, and 34 percent became pregnant within six months.

Researchers have also found that new mothers who use meditation with images of milk flowing in their breasts can more than double their production of milk.

The healthy heart

The heart has been the focus of hundreds of studies of meditation worldwide. Regular practice of meditation has been found to significantly reduce blood pressure in people with hypertension. These reductions can endure over the long term: In one study, the reductions achieved during an eight-week program were still in place three years later.

Other studies have focused on meditation in relation to heart disease. For example, patients with coronary-artery disease who meditated daily for eight months had nearly a 15-percent increase in exercise tolerance. Patients with ischemic heart disease (in which the heart muscle receives an inadequate supply of blood) who practiced for four weeks had a significantly lower frequency of premature ventricular contractions (a type of irregular heartbeat).

Patients undergoing heart surgery can also reap the rewards of meditation. In one study, angioplasty patients who used meditation had significantly less anxiety, pain and need for medication during and after the procedure. In another, those having open-heart surgery were able to reduce their incidence of postoperative supraventricular tachycardia (abnormally high heart rate).

The immune response

There's also evidence that meditation has immune-enhancing effects. For example, medical students who meditated during final exams had a higher percentage of "T-helper cells," the immune cells that trigger the immune system into action. Nursing-home residents trained in meditation had increased activity of "natural-killer cells," which kill bacteria and cancer cells. They also had reductions in the activity of viruses and of emotional distress.

Cancer patients have also experienced the benefits of meditation. In one study, patients with metastatic (spreading) cancer who meditated with imagery regularly for a year had significant increases in natural-killer cell activity.

Wil je ook meester van je eigen leven zijn?

User icon of Albert
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Spirituality may help people live longer
-- Why do older people who regularly attend religious services appear to live longer and have better health? Is it something about the type of people they are? Or is it something related to their visits to churches or synagogues? Perhaps increased contact with other people?

A growing body of research is beginning to define the complex connections between religious and spiritual beliefs and practices and an individual's physical and psychological health. No one says it's as simple as going to services or "finding religion" later in life. It may be that people who are more involved in religious activities, or are personally more spiritual, are doing something that makes them feel better emotionally and helps them live longer and more healthily. The question, researchers say, is what exactly are they doing?

"There is an increasing interest in the subject among researchers and the public," says Susan H. McFadden, Ph.D., of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, who is co-chair of the Religion and Aging interest group of the Gerontological Society on Aging (GSA), a national group of researchers in aging.

Aging experts will discuss religion, spirituality and aging at the GSA annual conference, which starts Friday in San Francisco. Sessions will include a discussion of a new report -- from the National Institute on Aging and the Fetzer Institute, a Michigan foundation interested in mind/body issues -- that details research on the religious and spiritual dimensions of health.

Go to church, live longer

Among the most recent findings in this area: People who attend religious services at least once a week are less likely to die in a given period of time than people who attend services less often. These results -- published in the August 1999 issue of the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences -- came out of a study examining almost 4,000 North Carolina residents ages 64 to 101.

People who attended religious services at least once a week were 46 percent less likely to die during the six-year study, says lead author Harold G. Koenig, M.D., of Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. "When we controlled for such things as age, race, how sick they were and other health and social factors, there was still a 28 percent reduction in mortality," he says.

Koenig, a psychiatrist, says the regular churchgoers showed a reduction in their mortality rate comparable to that of people who don't smoke over those who do.

Spiritual, healthy habits

Other large studies have had similar results. Some smaller studies have also shown that spirituality may be beneficial: People who attend religious services, or who feel they are spiritual, experience lower levels of depression and anxiety; display signs of better health, such as lower blood pressure and fewer strokes; and say they generally feel healthier.

Researchers, including Koenig, say there are limitations to the conclusions anyone should draw from these studies. It could be that people who attend religious services benefit from the social network they form. "It might be that people in churches and synagogues watch out for others, especially the elderly," encouraging them, for example, to get help if they look sick, Koenig says.

Also, it's known that among today's older men and women, religious belief often leads to less risky behavior, such as less alcohol consumption and smoking. And religious beliefs -- or a strong feeling of spirituality outside of traditional religions -- may improve an individual's ability to cope with the stresses of everyday life and the tribulations of aging, experts say.

Or it could be, McFadden says, that certain personality types cope better with life -- and those are the types of people who also attend services more regularly.

Probing further

Future research might benefit from new survey questions that scientists developed recently. In October, the National Institute on Aging and the Fetzer Institute released a report on new measurement tests. With these tests, researchers may be able to probe more deeply into the connections between health and spirituality, says Ellen Idler, Ph.D., of Rutgers University in New Jersey, who helped write part of the report.

For example, the new tests ask questions about daily spiritual experiences, private religious practices, beliefs and values -- not just about regular church attendance, as some earlier studies did.

"There are private behaviors, attitudes, public behaviors and activities," Idler says of the aspects of an individual's spiritual life. "It is a tremendous, multidimensional model."

Support for the inner self

Even people who don't describe themselves as religious probably can benefit from some of the lessons uncovered by research into spirituality and aging, says Harry R. Moody, Ph.D., a gerontologist and author of "The Five Stages of the Soul."

"The message isn't 'Go back to church and you'll live a long time,' but 'Stay connected with people on your own wavelength,'" says Moody, until recently the director of the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College in New York City.

This could mean, for example, joining small prayer groups not associated with any church, trying personal meditation, writing your life story, searching inside for personal meaning in life as you age and face death, remaining optimistic about life even if age and illness take their toll, and forging social connections with family, friends and others.

"You have to discover what is your subjective way of coping with life and tap into it," Moody says.

John A. Cutter covered aging issues for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida for more than six years until late 1998, and during that time he won awards from the American Society on Aging, the Alzheimer's Association and the Southeastern Association of Area Agencies on Aging. He will begin writing a syndicated column on aging for Copley News Service in December. Cutter expects to finish his master's degree in gerontology in spring 2000 at the University of South Florida in Tampa, where he is studying media and aging.

Wil je ook meester van je eigen leven zijn?

User icon of Albert
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Meditation: Growing popularity for stress relief, spirituality

Features - May 02, 2004 JAKARTA POST

David Kennedy, Contributor, Jakarta d_kennRemoved to prevent your adress from being spammed. Click this to go to the user

In the last month, no less than three major spiritual leaders -- Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Amma and Dadi Janki -- have visited Jakarta and Singapore as part of their world tours. Known around the world for their powerful messages of peace and love, they attract hoards of followers and encourage hundreds to take up meditation and prayer regardless of religion.

Is it the latest craze to hit Jakarta's spiritual shoppers and seekers of esoteric powers? Or is there more to the increasing popularity of spiritual meditation than meets the eye?

You almost get the feeling that we are in the midst of some kind of spiritual revolution. If we are, then meditation is a major part of it.

Major worldwide spiritual and charitable organizations such as Ravi Shankar's Art of Living and Dadi Janki's Brahma Kumaris offer a secular approach to meditation that attract people of all faiths and even those who have none.

Media reports of medical research into meditation and pranayama breathing techniques used to treat insomnia, depression and other ailments have undoubtedly raised people's awareness or meditation and many are attracted for the novelty value. However, according to Jim (he uses one name only), a meditation teacher at Brahma Kumaris in West Jakarta, the majority of newcomers are united by one wish: They are looking for peace of mind.

"Some are also looking for powers," he said, "but we ask you at the beginning what you are looking for. If you want to fly, well, this is not the place. If you are looking for peace, happiness and love then we can teach you".

It may come as a bit of a surprise to the aspiring yogi searching for an empty mind, a spot of levitation or even some moments of bliss, but meditation centers today tend to teach more than breathing techniques, chanting and altered states of consciousness.

Meditation tends to be taught within a wider framework of self development and re-evaluation of people's working and private lives. The mind altering part is the easy bit.

More than 5,000 people have attended the five-day Art of Living (AOL) Basic Course over the last decade. Designed by Indian guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the course, which is taught in more than 140 countries, includes self-development workshops, "ego busting" sessions, yoga postures, chanting and the guru's renowned trademark breathing technique, the Sudershan Kriya. The Kria, as it's known by AOL followers, is believed to detoxify the body and prepare the mind for deep meditation.

"Some people come for stress relief, some for health reasons but more are totally blank and come because they are curious or heard about it from friends or family," said Sonia Lakhiani, a course instructor at the AOL Ashram in Sunter, North Jakarta.

"They have no spiritual knowledge of the ancient wisdom so when they hear it they receive it openly."

The content of the AOL basic course is a mix of basic yoga postures, breathing techniques combined and philosophy distilled into common sense guidelines for living, not unlike those found in all religious teachings or even in self-help books like The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by management guru Stephen R. Covey.

The icing on the cake is reputedly the Sudershan Kriya, a rhythmic breathing technique developed by the guru in 1982 after 10 days of meditating in total silence. For followers of his system, meditation is only possible through the breath.

"After the rhythmic breathing it's very easy to fall into meditation. You don't have to sit; you don't have to struggle or make an effort to clear your mind of thoughts. It becomes very natural and effortless after the Kriya because the mind becomes so calm and focused," explained Lakhiani.

"Once the mind is settled you don't even realize you are breathing, the breath is so subtle. But we use the breath to focus, to calm the mind."

Other systems of meditation offer similar self-development courses. Brahma Kumaris gives free short courses on "Positive Thinking" which introduces newcomers to meditation. However this system, developed by the organization's founder Prajapita Brahma in 1936, uses no physical techniques and sees chanting, breathing exercises and yoga postures as hindrances to what is essentially a spiritual practice.

"We teach Raja Yoga, yoga of the soul," says Jim. "What we do is spiritual so it has nothing to do with physical things."

"Do you know the real meaning of the word 'yoga'?" he asks, referring to the popular misconception that yoga is about only physical exercise and contortions rather than mental attitude, behavior and most of all spiritual meditation.

"It's about 'union'. We connect with the Supreme and meditation is one step before that. You get to it through silence. You start to relax your body and then you go inside."

There are almost no techniques in the Brahma Kumaris meditation system. Once the mind is focused the body and breath calms down automatically. Practitioners meditate with eyes open and with their regard fixed on a point on the wall focusing on one set of spiritual thoughts.

Jim advises newcomers to only meditate for five minutes a day and to gradually extend the time when they become more comfortable. He does not agree with using techniques to empty the mind.

"We don't empty the mind because with that you get nothing; maybe a bit of peace and serenity but then what? And anyway, it's not possible to empty the mind. You get 80 percent of your thoughts from your senses and 20 percent from your memory -- how can you control all that?"

Brahma Kumaris also teaches karma yoga -- meditating and connecting to God during our daily activities.

"That's more important," says Jim, "because as soon as you leave the house and face the traffic and pollution all that peace you collected in the morning is gone... the mind itself is like endless traffic that never stops. So we also have remembrance five times a day like Muslims do. We stop thinking about things that are not useful. And why not even do that for one minute each hour?"

In line with the rule of karma that what you give you also receive, Brahma Kumaris does not accept payment for courses. Other centers offering free tuition in traditional systems of meditation do not even advertise but have a regular flow of students via word of mouth.

The Sahaj Marg (Natural Path) system is taught in a private house in South Jakarta and does not publicize classes but rather waits for people to come looking. Adapted from the ancient Raja Yoga system used by Indian guru Shri Ram Chandra in the late 1800s, the system involves relatively no techniques and focuses entirely on spirituality.

"It is not necessary to control the breathing and do postures and chanting and so on. Our yoga deals with the spiritual needs of a human being. When you do this meditation the breathing, physical poise and everything follows automatically," said meditation teacher Ram Narayan.

Sahaj Marg is also concerned with self development and uses a meditative process of "cleaning" out deposits of old thoughts and desires which are said to enslave the mind. According to Ram Narayan, "when your mind is regulated through meditation your life also gets regulated; everything falls into place".

With so many varieties of meditation on offer it can be hard for newcomers to choose a system. Shopping around for the right one for you is probably the best bet, although knowing what you really want is a good starting point.

It may be the latest craze for some who enjoy the shopping and a path to spiritual enlightenment for others. In any case people's enthusiasm for meditation is likely to grow simply because it offers relaxation at least and a powerful tool for self development at best.

As one experienced yoga teacher recently replied when asked which technique is best, "it's only the result that counts; all this talk of mind, breath and chanting just leaves you confused. Whatever the technique the goal is still the same".

The only question that remains is what is the goal: Spiritual enlightenment, relaxation or special powers? Take your pick.


For more information see; and

Wil je ook meester van je eigen leven zijn?

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>You'd better listen to Albert,.... Desi!
>I'll put some extra stories about "meditasi"....later on..
>Right now I'll go to bed


User icon of Albert
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There are people in this world who do not believe in God.

And when they finally get the oppertunity to meet him, they think they are ill or ...........

So sometimes even proof is not enough.


Wil je ook meester van je eigen leven zijn?

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