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Barbara O'Brien

Breath by Breath

By April 12, 2008

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April is Stress Awareness month, and Buddhism has a lot to teach about stress, anger and fear management. Meditation in particular has attracted much attention as a stress-reduction technique.

Josh Sims writes about meditation and stress in today's Scotsman. Sims discusses meditation's proven stress-reduction abilities and suggests a regular practice of "counting the breath," a foundational meditation technique. Just five minutes a day of breath counting can, in time, enhance your coping abilities and re-set your "boiling" point.

Meditation is a discipline, however, not a form of relaxation. Ancient meditation forms such as Vipassana and Zazen are practiced to cut through conventional thinking and enable the realization of enlightenment. The meditation itself, practiced for longer periods of time, is sometimes relaxing and sometimes anything but relaxing. As Josh Sims writes, "being calmed is really just a side-effect." It's a real side-effect, however.

April 13, 2008 at 2:15 pm
(1) Daniel says:

..and those side effects are really great :-)

April 17, 2008 at 7:46 pm
(2) Jenny says:

I have to agree! Meditation has helped me manage stress, anger, anxiety and fears. I never imagined how beneficial it would be.

April 27, 2008 at 8:18 pm
(3) Gregg Painter says:

Meditation is an overused word, of course, and, over the years, has often been used as a synonym for thinking.

The varieties of meditation as it has been taught, especially within the Buddhist and Hindu traditions (but also every other religion, including Christian, Islamic, animistic/shamanistic, Sikh, Judaic, etc.) involves an incredible array of practices, from simply watching the breath to engaging in complex deity visualizations.

In any case, the key word is “practice,” and practicing any form of meditation for two minutes or two hours a day should be seen as basic mental health maintenance, like flossing or exercising.

World peace is even possible!

And it is at the least a step toward personal happiness.

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