Meditation for Emotional Well-Being
By Beatrice Keseru, M.A., L.A.C.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is a technique that allows the mind to settle down and experience awareness at its deepest level. It is non-religious and therefore it can be practiced by individuals of any faith or background including those who have no religious or spiritual beliefs whatsoever. Meditation is a widely researched practice and millions of people all over the world use meditation as a tool for self-development.
Meditation draws the attention quietly within, allowing thoughts to be witnessed rather than identified with. Meditation can be likened to exercise. Just as the body needs exercise to be optimally healthy, the mind needs meditation to be at its optimal functioning. Similar to exercise, any amount of meditation is useful, however, in order to see real changes, one needs to maintain a consistent practice. Even if practiced for only a few minutes a day, the more consistency one brings to meditation, the more quickly one will see positive results.
The Benefits of Meditation
Some effects of meditation are documented to include, but are not limited to: higher attention span, improved memory, a reduction of stress hormones in the body, more positive mood, greater creativity, increased patience in tolerating distress or frustration, improvements in communications in relationships, and an increase in academic performance.
The Integrative Therapy Institute offers instruction in Mindfulness and Meditation for well-being, taught by one of our associates, Ms. Beatrice Keseru, in our Metuchen location. The instruction is offered in 1 hour blocks, and the technique can be learned in 1-2 sessions, however at least 4 sessions are recommended for full understanding. Mindfulness and Meditation instruction is open to both patients and non-patients of the institute. Group classes are not offered at this time. Sessions are offered for individuals, couples, or families (up to 3 people) at different rates. More than 3 people are not able to be accommodated due to space. The fees are reasonable, and scheduling can be flexible. Please contact Ms. Keseru directly at 862-220-2644 if interested, or email her to get more information at: BKeseru@ITI-NJ.com.
The Aims of Meditation
• Learning to let go of thoughts — to not resist
them and to not purposefully follow them.
• Surrendering the need to understand, analyze,
• Increasing the level of conscious awareness.
How we handle thoughts in meditation and outside of meditation is different. Outside of meditation the meaning of our thoughts is important, but during meditation, all thoughts are equal. There are no right thoughts or wrong thoughts. There are no positive thoughts or negative thoughts. There is only either a presence or absence of a thought.
Different Types of Meditation Styles
Generally speaking, any meditation can be called Mindfulness Meditation because the term “mindfulness” broadly defined refers to a mindset of presence and observation without judgment. In other words, a mindful state is a foundation for all types of meditation practices, of which there are dozens.
There are also multiple ways of characterizing meditation styles, however all generally fall into two main categories: 1) Fluid, observation based, usually described as Mindfulness Meditation, and 2) Specific, narrow focused, usually described as Concentration Meditation. Meditations of a combined type also exist, when adding movement for example, like in Yoga or Tai-Chi. Please click here for a detailed illustration.
Meditation in 5 steps
Begin my choosing a quiet place to sit comfortably. Cross-legged or in a chair works just as well.
Your back should be straight, but not rigid. Rest your hands in your lap on your knees.
Face ahead, chin slightly tucked in. It is helpful to close your eyes.
Start with bringing your attention to the present moment and your surroundings.
Hear the sounds in the room where you are sitting.
Next, scan your body and tell yourself to relax all your muscles,
beginning at your feet and progressing up to your face.
Notice the movement of your breath.
Breathe easily and naturally through your nose.
Pay attention to sensation of the incoming and outgoing breath, without trying to control anything. When you notice your mind wandering, gently return your attention to your breath.
Do this for about 20 minutes.
When you finish, sit quietly for several minutes,
at first with your eyes closed and later with your eyes opened.
Wait several minutes before standing up.
• Do not set an alarm, just sit where you can see the time by briefly opening your eyes.
• Release worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation.
• Maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.
• When distracting thoughts occur, try to not engage them and return to focusing on the sensation of your breath.
• Practice the technique once or twice daily, but not within two hours after any meal, since the digestive
processes can interfere with the body’s ability to fully relax.
Q & A
Q: How often should meditation be done?
A: Any amount is useful, but ideally, twice per day for 20 minutes at each sitting.
Q: What time of day should meditation be practiced?
A: Anytime is fine, however it is recommended in the morning upon waking, after washing one’s face, using the bathroom, but before eating breakfast. In the evening it is recommended at least 2 hours after dinner.
Challenges during Meditation:
Challenge 1: “The slightest thing disturbs me”
The obstacle to staying in a relaxed state is TRYING too hard to stay in a relaxed state. It is okay to feel restless and have fluttering eyelids. One can still be stay relaxed while the body makes small movements. The key to remaining relaxed is non-resistance. Let it be okay if you feel restless or your body twitches. Go ahead and scratch an itch. Although some meditation styles may require that you stay perfectly still, it is not necessary to do so. Naturalness is the key. Learning to let go of resistance to what is happening is the essence of the practice. Take it as it comes, and when you find you are resisting that, let it go. Even the resistance when it comes up, is part of the process. In your approach to meditation, you cannot make a mistake. Everything is part of the process of meditation!
Challenge 2: “I experience negative emotions during meditation”
Outside of meditation, what normally happens before a negative emotion is that there is a negative thought that we believe and get invested in. In meditation, we are seeking to simply observe, but not believe or validate any thoughts. In other words, do NOT believe anything you think! Let thoughts just be meaningless activity in the mind. Assigning meaning to things keeps the mind engaged. We are trying to shift the mind into neutral.
Challenge 3: “I think I must be doing it wrong”
There is no right or wrong way to do it. It is more about self-discovery than anything else! It’s about exploring the awareness. It is like “a happening” or an “allowing”, not an act of will. However it happens for you, it is just right.
Challenge 4: “I’m falling asleep during meditation”
In the deep relaxation of meditation, the body takes what it needs. If you are habitually not getting enough sleep, your body will naturally fall asleep. You are not doing anything wrong. Allow yourself to sleep and then practice your meditation when waking.
For those seeking meditation classes, the Integrative Therapy Institute of New Jersey has two offices, one in Metuchen in Middlesex County, and the other in Montclair in Essex County. Our Metuchen office is convenient to the Middlesex County towns of Edison, Woodbridge, South Plainfield, Piscataway, Highland Park, New Brunswick, East Brunswick, Sayreville, Dunellen, and Middlesex. For residents of Union County, the Metuchen office is near to the towns of Scotch Plains, Clark, Westfield, Plainfield, Garwood, and Fanwood. For residents of Somerset County we are near to the towns of North Plainfield, Green Brook, Bound Brook, South Bound Brook, Bridgewater, and Franklin, New Jersey.
Our Montclair office is convenient to the Essex County towns of Glen Ridge, Cedar Grove, Verona, Essex Fells, Bloomfield, Nutley, Caldwell, North Caldwell, and West Caldwell. Slightly farther away are Fairfield, Roseland, Livingston, Milburn, Orange, East Orange, and South Orange. For residents of Passaic County, we are near to the towns of Clifton, Little Falls, Woodland Park, and Totowa, New Jersey.
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