Consider the Alternative
Exploring the avenues of non-traditional therapies
(page 2 of 7)
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life
Can you restructure your brain cells through meditation?
Recent studies say yes. Various types of meditation may change your brain and even affect your genes—reprogramming a calmer response to the stresses of life. According to meditation instructor and author Dean Sluyter, the practice may even “drastically slow the aging process.”
Why is this ancient practice the latest remedy to de-stress modern American life? To Sluyter, author of The Zen Commandments and a meditation teacher in New Jersey, meditation is a way to live your life more fully every moment. Practice can remedy depression and insomnia while even increasing sense of humor and mental flexibility. (Ever notice how often the Dalai Lama is laughing?)
“When people practice meditation, they settle into a state that can be called ‘restful alertness,’ where the mind is wide awake, experiencing, yet not caught up in the boundaries of any particular experience,” Sluyter explained. “There’s about 40 years of research now to corroborate the physiological reality of that state, as well as its long-term results. Stress tends to dissolve, and all sorts of results of stress dissolve along with it, from asthma to hypertension.”
In the Wood River Valley, Valerie Skonie agrees. “Meditation is a practice that leads to healing, rejuvenation and inner peace,” she said. Skonie is the founder of A Winter Feast for the Soul, an event that encourages meditation through a web-based collective. Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet, inspired Skonie to create her winter meditation event with this poem:
What nine months does for the embryo,
forty early mornings will do
for your growing awareness.
Not that you really have to get up early, but regimentation does help. Winter Feast participants sign up at www.winterfeastforthesoul.com and commit to 20 to 40 minutes of meditation (either solitary or in a group) each day for 40 days. Participants have written to Skonie about transformations in their lives. One woman’s teenage son told her, “Mom, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it. It’s affecting the whole family.”
Skonie thinks that what distances us from our own health and happiness is “an undisciplined mind, the fear of failure and the inner critic—all separating us from our own inner guidance. Meditation is a disciplining, retraining of the mind. For 40 minutes a day, you’re letting go of all judgments. Meditation is about starting over. As soon as you stop judging yourself, you will ultimately stop judging the people around you, and you and they will be at peace.”
Skonie’s program has spread to teens at Wood River High school, a local first-grade class and even prisons. The website links to instructional sites and a variety of guided meditations recorded by prominent teachers from a variety of backgrounds, including Sufi, Buddhist and non-denominational.
Skonie’s ultimate goal is a big one—“to support people around the world in a daily practice which creates inner peace and which translates into world peace.”
For Further Reading on Meditation click here