Meditation: Stress Management & Relaxation

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Stress Management and Relaxation
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Meditation & Visualization

        Over ninety percent of Americans believe in a divine energy, force or being. The world's religions have the same goal -- to know this divine presence within and around us. Many of us have set ideas and definitions for the words "religion" and "spirituality." These words can be emotionally laden, filled with unspoken positive and negative symbolism and meanings. Disagreements among religious factions center on the man-made containers we have built to contain the universal energy -- doctrine, dogma, words, prophets, teachers, and holy writs. Technology may have forced us to relocate this sacred energy from "behind the clouds" to somewhere else, but science has not shaken our faith that something greater than ourselves exists and influences our lives.

That's the thing about faith. If you don't have it,
you can't understand it.
And if you do, no explanation is necessary.

Kira Nerys

        Regardless of religious or spiritual affiliation, many people subscribe to the belief that each of us has a unique energy; its presence and absence defines us as living and dead. There are numerous words for this energy, including: soul, spirit, chi, ki, prana, and life force. Personally, I am most comfortable using the word "spirit", since American culture frequently uses "spirit" to represent the secular concepts of the human spirit and emotion, as well as the religious concept of a soul.

        Scientists may not be able to document the existence of a divine being or energy; however, there is a growing body of medical and scientific research that documents the health benefits of participating in an organized spiritual practice. Those of us who belong to a religious or spiritual community, and regularly attend the activities and services, have measurably better health and a higher quality of life than those who do not regularly participate. Find a group that encourages and supports your basic human values and beliefs. Many types of groups have a spiritual thread or focus. Choose a church, a synagogue or a temple. If that feels too structured or organized, explore some of the growing number of twelve step programs and spiritual fellowship groups. Many are based on specific spiritual or religious books, such as the Bible, Celestine Prophecy, and Seat of the Soul.

Tolerance is the positive and cordial effort
to understand another person's beliefs, practices and habits
without necessarily sharing or accepting them.

Joshua Liebman

        I believe that emotions are the language of the spirit. Find and follow your passion. It will lead you toward your highest and best. The presence of contentment, peace, and joy in our everyday lives, suggests we are "on course" with our spirit's journey. Although anger, pain, and sadness are sometimes part of our journey, their presence in our lives may also mean we have wandered "off course." Tapping into your inner wisdom can help you find your way back. remember, there is an endless number of roads that lead to joy, none of them better nor truer than another. Sometimes we take the direct route. Other times we take a more winding and scenic journey. After all, sometimes we may need to go a little out of our way to pick up a fellow spiritual traveler wanting or needing our assistance. Find your road. Trust that your spirit is creative, and will bring you the tools and circumstances to create more joy in your life.

People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness.
Just because they're not on your road doesn't mean they've gotten lost.

H. Jackson Browne

        Most of us first encountered the words "prayer" and "meditation" as part of our family's religious practice. It is difficult to separate prayer from meditation because these activities are frequently done together. All prominent religions -- Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Muslim (Islam), Shamanism, Taoism -- contain at least one prayerful practice that creates a state of meditation. If you are fulfilled by your cultural and religious context of prayer and meditation, embrace it. If not, consider redefining "prayer" to mean a simple statement of wants, and see if your life moves in a direction that brings you greater joy and clarity.

        I define "prayer" as silent asking or telling, and "meditation" as listening for clues and answers. I gladly leave the task of defining "to whom" or "to what" entirely in your hands. Any activity that keeps our attention pleasantly or neutrally fixed in the present moment can create a meditative state, and allow our spirit to get a word in edgewise. I find it interesting that "listen" is an anagram of the word "silent." Any of the activities in this book can be modified and used as a form of meditation.

        The next section is about a specific type of meditation called imagery or creative visualization.

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Copyright 1999-2006 by Joy Koenig
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Stress, stress management, relaxation, meditation, creative imagery