Nat and World News
“When will there be time to relax with so much homework to do?” This and many other questions are floating within the minds of Millersville students as the winter semester approaches. Amidst all the last minute term papers and homework assignments, it is both mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy to take time to pause and breath for a moment.
One method of breathing which can help you relax is the use of meditation. Meditation takes many forms. It can be as simple as taking ten minutes to listen to your favorite song, or even just sitting in your car and taking a few deep breaths. Another common practice is the repetition of a mantra, or phrase in which vowel sounds such as “Ohm” are voiced aloud.
One country which is known for various meditative spiritual paths is India. In India, religions such as Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism have developed, creating individual techniques for the creation of peace within the mind. As practiced by the Z Meditation Center, located in the Himalayas, there are four categories of yoga which are used in Indian meditation. These four styles of yoga can allow an individual’s peace of mind to grow, and are often intertwined.
Jnana yoga encompasses yoga for individuals seeking proof in knowledge, and wishing to understand information before accepting it. Meditation focuses on the analysis of thoughts in this practice. In Bhakti yoga, meditation focuses on love and faith as a basis for which to surrender to the higher powers that be. The longing for a higher god is a prevalent focus in this practice. Raja yoga is suited towards individuals who are more free of desires. Moral notions lead to understanding the truths of peace. Karma yoga ideally focuses upon stabilizing the mind and giving joy to the individual meditating. This path often leads to the notion of helping those in need as the highest degree of self-reward, thus gaining joy themselves.
Comparatively, Japanese meditation involves similar yoga positions, yet focuses on different aspects of an individual. As stated by journalist Claire Faregreen, Meditation entered Japan during 552 AD. With the transfer of Buddhism came the addition of meditation, springing forth during the opening of the Silk trade from India to Japan. In Japan, the style of meditation used is called Zazen, focusing on deep thought while in the posture for which their beloved Buddha sat. Military members favored this style for its ritualism and daily repetition, often involving candles, flowers, and incense. By sitting as Buddha did, the individual was able to feel closer to their higher power and focus on the space around them, rather then their daily stresses.
No matter the location, meditation proves to be beneficial for the improvement of health. This is seen in the combination of balances which occur within the energy centers of the body, aligned within the vertical core of an individual. These areas are known as the chakras, meaning wheels in Sanskrit, according to yogajournal.com. Each chakra represents a region of the human body and mental aspects of an individual’s life. These chakras begin from the pubic region of the body, aligning upwards to the crown of the head. Each chakra is associated often with lymphatic glands within the body. If these chakras are imbalanced by a lack of attention or over attention to certain areas, they are considered to be too open or closed.
These chakras align from base to crown and include a corresponding color per region. They are as follows: the reproductive region (red), the belly chakra (orange), the solar plexus chakra (yellow), the heart chakra (green or rose), the throat chakra (light blue), the third eye chakra (indigo), and the crown chakra (purple).
The red base chakra allows for grounding the spiritual aspects of an individual to the earth, and allows you to work more lovingly on a physical level. The orange chakra allows the better use of creativity within life and the devotion of one to self respect. The yellow chakra involves the positive use of power to create and succeed in goals. The green or rose chakra is used in the release of traumatic experiences suppressed within the heart, and the expression of love through acts towards others. The blue chakra represents verbalization and the expression of truth to others. The indigo chakra represents an individual’s ability to channel intuition and see perfection in all things. The final chakra is violet, and is used to identify with the infinite universe surrounding us, and to gain wisdom and peace in oneness with a higher power.
Each region has associated glands and organs, which can create both harmony or discord within the individual. This is based upon their thoughts and personal interactions between others and themselves. For example, the crown chakra is associated with the pineal and pituitary glands. This study of metaphysics is often used to locate and decipher the cause for physical ailments.
“The relaxation response from meditation helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves,” says Herbert Benson, MD. Benson is the founder of the Mind and Body institute of Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Not only can the relaxation response created decrease tension, but MRI brain scans have found shown long-term effects upon areas involving attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception.
The use of a mantra increasingly creates a relaxation response, but the practice of meditation must be practiced and honed to find the best most effective style best suited per individual. A study in Psychosomatic Medicine showed that in blood tests, there were higher levels of antibodies against the flu virus in individuals who meditated for eight weeks, compared the the non-meditative control group.
Overall, it is common for students to be so wrapped up in coursework that they do not take time to pause and relax. By taking five to ten minutes a day and clearing the mind of stressful thoughts, it is possible to allow a little more harmony to enter your mind. This can bring you closer to other worldly cultures, balance your chakras, decrease your blood pressure, and increase your immunity to toxins. With practice, peace of mind and the increasing ability to handle end-of-term pressures are possible.