Orchard at Brookhaven is Atlanta’s newest luxury senior living facility with a focus towards holistic well-being of the residents that live there and visitors from the surrounding community that come to enjoy classes, activities and community service projects. One of the many things that Orchard at Brookhaven will offer is a meditation classes.
What Is Meditation
Meditation is an approach to training the mind, similar to the way that fitness is an approach to training the body. Most people think of meditation as a special, relaxed state of mind- one that we maintain for an extended period of time and, with practice, stray for only occasionally. Meditation, however, is when we are aware of the wandering of our mind and bring it back, over and over to the movement of the breath, to the posture of the body, and to itself. We repeatedly return to body, mind, and breath. Meditation is just to be here. Not over there, in some other place called peace or freedom or enlightenment. Not longing for something else. Not trying to be, or acquire something new or different.
One way to begin meditating is by focusing on the breath — an example of one of the most common approaches to meditation: concentration.
Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.
In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than continuing to think about these random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they pop up and drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.
Through mindfulness meditation, , you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.
Other Meditation Techniques
In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness.
There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion.
There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation.
Studies on meditation and the practice of focusing on the mind, body and breath, have shown that meditation can have positive effects on the nervous system.
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower heart rate
- Less perspiration
- Slower respiratory rate
- Less anxiety
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- More feelings of well-being
- Less stress
- Deeper relaxation
Researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice can bring about long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. However, remember, that the purpose of meditation is to simply to be present.
In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control. When the mind is free or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly focuses on and moves toward desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.
Simple Meditation Technique
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
- Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, notice the thought without judgement and return your focus back to your breath.
Orchard at Brookhaven will provide Atlanta area meditation classes and access to yoga along with other opportunities to create well-being in your life.