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The Basics of Meditation by Nancy Mahon

The benefits of meditation are numerous. It can provide a greater sense of calm, lower stress, reduce stress hormone levels and improve sleep just to name a few. People who meditate tend to have greater focus and concentration abilities than those who do not. But how can the action of simply being still have such a profound effect on the brain? The answer is not complicated. Through meditation the mind becomes trained to focus like a laser point.

Stages of Meditation

As you begin a meditation practice, you learn how to focus. First, the mind focuses on a particular object or

mantra such as "OM" or "one" or the breath. At this point in meditation the mind focuses exclusively on this object and all focus flows to this object. This is known as dharana. Once we have this focus, or dharana, we begin to see the object not as an object but as something with which we are connecting.

When we go from just contact to connection we are entering the second stage of meditation, called dhyana. Once we begin to successfully connect with the object, we become so completely absorbed in it that we become one with the object. This final stage is called samadhi.

Types of Meditation

There are deeper levels of meditation that can be achieved with practice but the three types which tend to work best for those who are new to meditation are: seated meditation (described above), guided meditation and moving meditation. Guided meditation is done with a facilitator, often a yoga teacher or yoga therapist, and gently guides you audibly through the meditation. Moving meditation results from repetitive actions which occur in activities such as swimming or running.

The benefits of meditation can be immediate. You do not need to perceive yourself as very spiritual or even feel really stressed to appreciate the benefits. As time goes on, the practice becomes easier and easier as your focus, clarity, listening skills and concentration skills remain at a heightened level.

Nancy Mahon is the owner of Sanctuary Yoga Studios located at 132 Park Ave. in New City. The studio offers yoga classes for all ages and levels, meditation workshops and more. For more information, call 548- 1090 or visit SanctuaryYogaStudios. com.

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