June 1, 2008

Strike a Pose: Meditation Comes in Many Forms

It relieves chronic pain and anxiety, improves health and memory while purifying the soul.

Sounds like the claim of a miracle drug.

But it's not medication.

It's meditation.

And for thousands of years, people have been using it to receive those benefits and many more.

"Meditation is a powerful tool that everyone can use to enhance their lives, restore harmony and heal their body," said Keeley Mancuso. "Different meditation techniques can produce different benefits, so learning the different techniques allows you to know which technique to use for the desired result."

Meditation is the act of focusing all your attention upon a single point, while the experience of meditation is the result of having focused that attention upon a single activity to the point of mental absorption, said Mancuso, owner of Healing Therapies and Wellness, Inc.

The benefits of meditation include improved health, will power, ability to learn, inner peace, memory and decision making, she said. It also can increase creativity, patience, tolerance and self-esteem as well as relieve insomnia, anxiety and chronic


Meditation also induces mystical experiences, intuitive ideas, purification of the soul and spiritual evolution.

In addition to teaching classes on using meditation for health and wellness, Mancuso is a study group leader for the Path to Higher Consciousness, which offers people tools for living and assists them in their search and discovery of greater spiritual realization through non-denominational study groups.

"We teach seven different techniques, which are the basis of what most meditations are an outgrowth of," she said. "We teach them as they relate to self-healing."

The seven techniques work with various aspects of the mind, whether you're going to the conscious, subconscious or super-conscious.

For instance, the chakra balancing technique improves health and gives clarity.

Think of the different techniques as tools, Mancuso said.

"For example, if I wanted to break a habit I'd use a reflective technique to see how the habit started. Then I'd use creative visualization to see how to change that habit. Just identifying the habit won't change it. Visualizing myself and replacing that habit with a more desired behavior will," she said.

Mancuso incorporates several techniques daily.

"In my daily practice I do a centering to focus, a chakra balance to work on the back and then work into a contemplative meditation where I'm talking with God," she said. "I may change the techniques based on what's going on with me. I may use a technique to relieve stress if I run into a stressful situation."

The combining of techniques is part of the mastery of meditation.

"In my opinion, the mastery in meditation is knowing what techniques to use and how to combine them to help the self. If you do just one technique, you're not accessing the whole range of ways you can use meditation. The artistry is using more than one technique to fit your needs."

The School of Metaphysics teaches four major steps for meditation: expectant listening, expectant observation, accessing higher energies and entering through the portals of the mind into the inner levels of consciousness and infinite being, according to its Web site.

At the school, the first secret to meditation is inner listening, meaning learning how to be quiet and listen to the inner self.

There are concentration exercises to help develop this ability.

"We found people need to know how to concentrate in order to meditate, and most people need to learn that ability," said Jonathan Duerbeck, teacher at the school's Tulsa location.

Usually, the first experience one has with meditation is a feeling of peace of body and mind.

"From there it depends on how much effort and devotion is given. How you live the rest of your life affects how long until you experience a more deeper experience," Duerbeck said. "For example, when a person practices giving their full attention all day long, it's a natural thing to go into meditation. If your mind is really busy, it's much more difficult to meditate."

As the courses at the school continue, people learn about energy and how to use that energy productively. Later forms of meditation include expectant observation and the ability to work up chakras.

"There's a lot more to human beings than the outer part. To experience the sub and super-conscious, also known as soul and spirit, you need to experience the inner part," Duerbeck said.

So someone who doesn't listen and talks all the time is not able to get past their thoughts and ego and into the inner part of their self.

"People have a part of themselves inside that is bright and beautiful but like that street light, there's so much crud covering it on the outside. Meditation is like clearing the dust and letting the light shine out," Duerbeck said.

Connecting to those inner parts can lead to strength, clarity, love and a more compassionate perspective.

After meditating, the goal is to keep that peace and state of mind as long as possible and carry it into the rest of the day, said Bryon Parrino, director of the school.

"The greatest benefit I see is it connects people with who they really are. It gives people a sense of clarity. They're happier and can identify their purpose in life and are more willing to help other people," he said.

For more information on the classes offered at Healing Therapies and Wellness, go online to www.tulsaworld.com/healingtherapies.

For more information on the classes offered by the School of Metaphysics, go to www.tulsaworld.com/som.

Tips for meditation

-- Find a special spot that's peaceful and quiet.

-- Use the same spot and respect it and keep it clean.

-- Relax the body and use rhythmic breaths.

-- Choose a topic, question or prayer to reflect upon in the form or an image or words.

-- During meditation, sit with your spine straight and head level. Brace your hands, close your eyes and bring attention inwards.

-- Keeping the spine straight is important because it allows the flow of Kundalini, a subtle movement of energy that rises through the spine when a person connects with the inner self.

Techniques for meditation and the benefits

Centering: This is using the conscious aspect of the mind to achieve a state of nonthought and an experience of mere being. This is good for stress reduction, deep peace, increased clarity and mental acuity, as well as improved objectivity.

Buddhic Gaze: This stimulates the subconscious to allow random memories for observation. It's helpful for memory recall and increased knowledge of self, beliefs and behaviors and useful for deep relaxation.

Reflective Meditation: This is a purposeful and targeted stimulation of the subconscious as a question or a search and finding activity. Potential benefits are increased self-awareness, improved memory, review of destructive beliefs and habits to begin the changing process and grief recovery.

Creative Visualization: This uses the mind to consciously stimulate images, memories or intuitive awareness about a topic of interest. This can be used for receiving or projecting images, feelings and thoughts. It can result in an increased power of concentration and clarity, idea generation, health improvement, stress reduction and problem-solving.

Chakra Meditation: This is an aligning and balancing of the body's energy system by focusing and stimulating energy centers with concentrated mind energy. This is good for increasing energy levels and healing as well as the ability to concentrate and control desires at will.

Mantra Meditation, or Transcendental Mediation: This involves the use of a mantra--sound vibrations like "OM" --to stimulate the super-conscious to gain knowledge of spiritual truth, experience a state of extreme bliss and as an initiation of "Nirvana."

Contemplative Meditation: This is stimulation of the super conscious to contemplate and gain knowledge of an aspect of God or about a spiritual question or increased spiritual understanding.