“Meditation” in its modern sense refers to the yogic meditation that originated in India. In the late 19th century, theosophists adopted the word “meditation” to refer to various spiritual practices drawn from Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and Sikhism. Thus the English word meditation does not exclusively translate into any single term or concept.
Meditation has been integral in all deliberations in the Association for Trauma Outreach & Prevention (ATOP) at Meaningfulworld. Meditation is utilized at the beginning and end of all our monthly training and empowerment programs as well as at all of our humanitarian global outreach projects in more than 35 calamities to date. Although most religions incorporate some form of meditation, at ATOP Meaningfulworld we focus on the healing aspects of meditation and its mind-body-eco-spirit effect, and so it is not based on any religious foundation.
ATOP integrates meditation in the final stage of the seven-step healing framework, the Biopsychosocial and Eco-Spiritual Model. We use meditation to reduce stress in the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system. Our mind wanders and moves inward and outward like a pendulum: When you are able to relax the CNS, you are relaxing your mind. Of course relaxation is challenging for many individuals, since we live in a culture that over-identifies with production and volume of doing, rather than being mindful and conscious.
Meditation is an ancient practice that has been in existence for centuries, but only in the last two decades has scientific research supported its usefulness and effectiveness. A recent National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant proved meditation’s effectiveness in generating alpha brain waves, which are relaxing and conducive to the sleep state. When our mind is tranquil and serene, our body then follows the mind’s lead and relaxes, thereby releasing fears and creating a metabolic state that is tranquil and pure consciousness. This state is not only free of fear and pessimism, it’s also a more optimistic state that heightens problem-solving skills and promotes an expanded view of the world in which we live and our role in it. A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness while suspending logical thought, and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation; this mode is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism and decrease heart rate, respiration, blood pressure, and brain chemistry. Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress, and studies have shown that it does in fact consistently reduce stress.
In June 2007, the United States National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine published an independent peer-reviewed meta-analysis of the state of meditation research, conducted by researchers at the University of Alberta Evidence-based Practice Center. The report reviewed 813 studies in five broad categories of meditation: mantra meditation, mindfulness meditation, yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. The report concluded that further research is warranted.
Breath is the foundation and center of any meditation. Based on the fight-freeze-flight protection system, our past traumatic history may have inhibited complete expression of our breath. When we start breathing deeply, diaphragmatically, limbically (Dr. Ali), or through our belly, we are able to heal the remaining suffering of old trauma, we are empowered – we establish a healthy distance between the traumatic memory and its effect.
Through breath, meditation links our body with our heart and mind, providing emotional self-mastery and mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us practice self-love. Love is the center and the pendulum of duality swinging back and forth from positive/negative, masculine/feminine, light/darkness, yin/yang… Remember, throughout the course of existence, we have swung farther and farther into the realm of polarities.
All disciplined religions incorporate some form of meditation. Meditative quiescence is said to have a quality of healing and of enhancing creativity. The Prophet Muhammad spent sustained periods in contemplation and meditation. It was during one such period that he began to receive the revelations of the Qur’an.
Meditation also helps us ignite the fire within, activating our passion and love for humanity and Mother Earth. In order to create fire, we need two things: oxygen and fuel. Oxygen intake and distribution improves with meditation. Oxygen helps us expand our thoughts, concentrate on the important, and relax the joints, muscles, and all of our internal organs.
Beginning meditation classes will be held on April 18 and April 28, 2012. Kindly visit www.Meaningfulworld.com or e-mail Dr. Kalayjian at DrKalayjian@Meaningfulworld.com.