By James Bishop, Jr.
(January 24, 2019)
Where there is peace and mediation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt
— St Francis (1180)
Seeking a more peaceful and happier existence? Does that mean that one has to change their diet, religion, and beliefs or rush to Walgreens for new pills? On the contrary, one can simply take up what those in ancient India and Egypt did thousands of years ago, and what early Sedonans did in the sixties— and still do. “It changed my life”, shared one local resident tied to the film industry. “When I stopped, my kids insisted that I start again. I did and we are getting along better again. I’m calmer.”
What is he talking about?
Some 74 years ago in Sedona, a handful of people joined a leader, a disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda. He insisted that the group stop reading so much and that they suffered from mental indigestion and focus only on meditation. Another strong personality joined the group stating that they all should read more. They agreed and friction dissolved the group so they took up dancing instead! Whatever, the end of meditation back then was temporary and overall the practice has thrived in Sedona over the decades. These days in studios, institutes, churches, houses, and even out under the stars, practicing meditation is widespread and is on the increase.
For some, meditation has become the escape from technological takeover. “It alters one’s relationship with the digital world,” says publisher Tom. “It’s a software upgrade for my brain”, shares Mike Michaels, a free-lance writer. Adds Susan, local medical technician, “it helps my immune system”. Others have said meditation helps lower their heart rate, cure headaches, make room for creative ideas to flow, make peace with a rocky past, calm a busy mind and even talk and listen to God.
Depending on one’s preference, there, as many methods of meditation as there are choices of red rocks to hike. However, this age old practice involves climbing to new heights of spiritual awareness through concentrating on one’s breathing–Kundalini Yoga– or the repetition of a mantra—Transcendental Meditation.
For those who want to send loving thoughts and energy to others, Metta Meditation is for them. For tension and pain, there are many styles of Body Relaxation Meditation to help discomfort the body through the power of the mind. And for those who feel pressured by future events or stuck in thoughts about the past, Mindfulness Meditation focuses on being mindful in the present moment. The list goes on and there is a great diversity of methodologies with countless followers of each.
So if someone is just starting out, what do they do? Where do they start? Here is a simple guided Body Relaxation Meditation that can be done right here, right now. “Focus on your breath, breathing deeply in through your nose and out through your mouth, releasing all the stress from your body and calming your mind. Find a rhythm of breathing that is deep and relaxed, in through the nose and out through the mouth. Scan your body for any areas of discomfort, breath in a soft blue into that area, and breathe out bright red from that area. Do this several times and then move on to another area of the body. Keep breathing in a soft blue to any painful or tense area, breathing out bright red from that area. After your body feels clear of all discomfort, take one last deep inhale and exhale and bring your focus back to the present moment, with your body feeling relaxed and calm like a still mountain lake”
And best of all, it does not cost a dime and is not a religion.
By Bishop and Karen Walker