Put on comfortable clothing. Sit quietly. Clear your mind of
extraneous thoughts. Take a deep breath. Relax.
Good news! Hard science has finally
caught up: a comprehensive
scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic
level has just been published. What researchers at Harvard Medical School
discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as
yoga and meditation, far more ”disease-fighting genes” were active, compared
to those who practiced no form of relaxation.
particular, they found that certain genes that protect from disorders such as pain,
infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis, were switched
on. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call ”the
relaxation effect”, a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical
drug but without the side effects.
that said, there are many ways to meditate or consciously relax. Often, the part where we are asked to “clear our
minds” is the most challenging. It seems we are ALWAYS thinking. Even when we try not to think, we are thinking of not thinking.
years, I have found some tried and true methods of meditating WITH some
thinking allowed. One of
my favorites is meditating on the Four Directions: East, South, West and North.
You can choose one direction for each meditation, which helps to change things
up a bit and evoke the energies associated with that particular direction.
look at the Four Directions and their corresponding elements and symbolism:
to the element AIR. It’s energetic signature is the mind, spring, pale airy colors, white and violet, a new day dawning, high- flying birds
such as eagle and hawk. To meditate on this direction, face east, breathe deep
and focus on the air as it flows in and out of your lungs. Take in the life
force of the Universe as oxygen nourishes the cells of the brain; your mind.
corresponds to the element FIRE. It’s energetic signature is spirit, summer, noontime, fiery reds and
oranges (think dramatic sunsets), a stout oak staff, or a magically-shaped
piece of driftwood. To meditate on this direction, face south, breathe deep and
focus on each nerve as pulses jump from synapse to synapse. Be aware of the energy
within each cell, as food burns to release their power.
corresponds to the element WATER. It’s energetic signature is emotion, autumn, twilight, blues, grays,
sea greens, dolphins, fish and sea serpents. To meditate on this direction,
face west, breathe deep and focus on the blood flowing through the rivers of
your veins; the liquid tides within each cell of your body. Feel the ebb &
flow—the tides of power within you.
corresponds to EARTH. It’s energetic signature is the body, winter, midnight, brown, black, and the green
of vegetation. This direction is considered the most powerful because the sun
never reaches north (the sun moves from east to west). In addition, the North
Star is the center, around which the skies revolve. To meditate on this
direction, face north, breathe deep and focus on your bones, your skeleton, and
the solidity of your body. Be aware of your flesh—of all that can be touched
and felt. Feel the pull of gravity of your own weight to the Earth. Merge with
all that comes from Gaia (Mother Earth): grass, trees, mountains, flowers,
wildlife and beasts, precious stones and metals.
Steady inhalation/exhalation. Breathe. Steady inhalation/exhalation.
underestimate the power of mind-full-ness…
you, Four Directions…