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Friday, August 31, 2012


* ATTENTION MEDITATION: Sit on a cushion or chair with your back straight and your hands in your lap. Then concentrate your mind on a focal point, such as your breath, an internal image, or a burning candle. If your mind starts to wander, gently bring your attention back to the focus of meditation. Over time, this practice will train the mind to watch out for distractions, “let go” of them once they arise, and refocus when necessary.

* MINDFULNESS MEDITATION: The aim in this form of meditation, which has origins in Buddhism, is to monitor various experiences of your mind—thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and sensations—and simply observe them as they arise and pass rather than trying to interact with them or change them. The idea is to maintain a detached awareness, without judgment, to become more aware and in touch with your body, your life, and your surroundings.

* PASSAGE MEDITATION: Passage meditation involves reciting a short passage (prayer, mantra, or short poem) silently to yourself over and over and over again. The meaning of the words is not the most important element—most importantly, the words are a focal point for attention. “Passage meditation is great for beginners since it's hard to maintain distracting thoughts when you have a verbal anchor,” says Dr. MacLean

. * BENEVOLENT MEDITATION: Benevolent meditation generates beneficial states of mind for yourself and others. A common approach is to repeat: “May I be happy. May I be free of suffering. May I be healthy. May I live with ease.” Then repeat the same passage focusing your attention on someone you love, then on a stranger, then on an enemy, and then on all creatures. “People with chronic illnesses often experience a lot of self-loathing and self-blame,” says David Vago, Ph.D., of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital. “If you can transform those negative emotions toward yourself into compassion and love, it not only benefits you, it also benefits everyone around you.”

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