Meditation and Tai-Chi Exercises each morning on retreat
It is easy to get lost in the external world. Staying in contact with yourself is the key.
Checking in with yourself is a gift we encourage at Sura, and you will have the opportunity to do so each morning of the retreat.
In the practices we use on Sura Retreats, there is no reference to religion, and no specific belief system is needed to participate.
Just a consciousness to witness, and an interest in doing so.
The meditation portion of Daniel's morning sessions consist of nothing more than a gentle enquiry into one's current state of being. The feeling of our emotions; the sensation of our physical body; and the endless stream of thoughts in our heads. We are led to ask how it is to be these phenomena. And if there is a question, then it is whether we are being authentic to these streams of movement within us.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation is a practice that gives balance physically, emotionally and mentally. Today, people are using Meditation to treat anxiety, stress, and depression. The “deep rest” Meditation gives, dissolves stress and enables one to makes better choices through clear thinking. Those who meditate report higher levels of self-esteem. The practice has also been used to help people quit smoking, conquer drug and alcohol addictions, reduce blood pressure and reduce symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome and menopause. Meditation aids in lowering heart rate and blood pressure by slowing down breathing, which reduces the amount of oxygen needed. Along with the mind, muscles gently relax. “Some experts have compared it to a ‘reset button’ for your body.”
- Regulates blood pressure
- Pain control
- Boosted immune system
- Lowered cholesterol levels
- Assistance for asthma
- Younger biological age
- Increased vitality, creativity and intelligence
- Increased learning ability and emotional control
- Increased self-esteem and morale
- Increased alertness and concentration
- Reduced stress, anxiety and depression
- Reduced irritability and moodiness
- Improved relationships, reasoning and memory
Through experiments and tests using practiced meditators, Herbert Benson, M.D., a professor at Harvard Medical School, discovered that Meditation counteracts the effects of the sympathetic nervous system – the one that gives humans the desire to fight or flee in any conflict situation.
While primitive people needed this response in hunting situations, today it is the reason for many of our everyday stresses. During Meditation, blood flow is directed to the parasympathetic nervous system instead. This is the part of the brain that triggers relaxation, a slower pulse and energy conservation – the opposite of the sympathetic nervous system.
Many studies are still being conducted about the effects of Meditation. As more scientific knowledge is gathered, Meditation will become a more accurately and frequently prescribed treatment.
History of Meditation
Although there’s a paucity of recorded history on Meditation, its roots travel back to ancient times. Researcher now speculates that our post-forest ancestors may have used Meditation to regain higher states of consciousness in the face of our failing neural functionality. Over thousands of years Meditation evolved into a structured practice, and Indian scriptures called “tantras” mentioned Meditation techniques 5000 years ago, but the practice is likely to be much older.
Buddha, “one of history’s major proponents of Meditation,” and a major Meditation icon, first made his mark around 500 B.C. His teachings were spread far and wide across the Asian continent. Separate countries or cultures adopted different forms of the word “Meditation,” and they each found their own unique way of practicing it. Buddhist and Hindu-based Eastern-style Meditation practices are still the most popular today.
Meditation was spread to Western society thousands of years after it was adopted in the East. It finally started to gain popularity in the West in the mid-20th century. In the 1960s and 1970s, many professors and researchers began testing the effects of Meditation and learned about its multitude of benefits.