Monday, May 27, 2013

knowing myself or healing and calming

I have mentioned in other posts in this blog that various experiences, ideas and books got me interested since 1985 in relaxation and meditation.  Watching the TED talk by Dr. Alan Watson changed and expanded my interest.  When I first heard of transcendental meditation, I heard of a mantra, a word, phrase or sound that one repeats silently or aloud as a focus for 10 to 20 minutes, all the while relaxing all tension everywhere in the body.  I preferred to use a visual method, finding some small point in my visual field and silently keeping my eyes on it.  I found that I could notice when my gaze had shifted off the target while avoiding going into a trance.  I wanted to try to stay in a state of relaxed readiness, as though I needed to be able to see the first sign of movement or change in my focus point, not be in a dream state of suspension.

The word "mindful" can mean many different things and as research piles up in diverse areas and disciplines, we hear it more and more often.  I am interested in the sort of mindfulness or awareness that gives me a chance to notice what it is that I am thinking about, in order to reject or modify the subject or direction or tone of my thinking.  This visual concentration on something accompanied by calmly and gently shifting my eyes and thoughts back to the spot when I notice I am wandering has improved my reflex to notice what I was thinking.  When I notice, I can quickly sense whether that is a good direction for me at the moment.

However, going from attention training to related areas such as deliberate and effective calming my whole body when I want it and healing any part of mind or body that needs to be healed, has gotten me into other sources and practices.  The book "The Healing Power of Breath" seems a likely source since it is written by two Harvard MD's.  Watkins showed that regular breaths of the same depth and duration quickly returned the body to a state of calm, according to the measures of calm used, such as heart rate and the breathing rate when allowed to go back on automatic. "Healing Power" speaks of slower breathing.  Some sources speak about coherent breathing but I am not clear about what is coherent with slower, regular breath.  I do see that emotional state, heart rate and respiration are related in the body.

On a different tangent, Herbert Benson, MD, one of the first sources I read on meditation and author of "The Relaxation Response" and several other books, uses "Timeless Healing" to discuss meditation and the placebo effect, which he wants to name "remembered wellness." Benson is a mature and insightful researcher and I credit him with good sense and good observational powers.  Benson tracks evidence related to body healing and religious belief.  Another author/physician, Andrew Weil, has a small audio book on breathing, which I haven't gotten to yet.  I guess various Russian thinkers and scientists have been interested in manipulations of the breath for health and calming.  The power of meditation, anchored by breathing or focused on a visual target, is mentioned in this Harvard Medical School newsletter article as possibly affecting the expression of genes in the body.  What all these tangents have in common is the connection between mind and body.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby