Meditation aids mental health

By Trevor Wallace
April 27, 2010

While gazing at a fixed point in a stream, water, branches and leaves may float by.  The key is to let those items pass without focusing on them before they reach you or once they are past you.  This is how meditation works.

According to a study done by the Medical College of Wisconsin and Maharishi University in Iowa, research has shown that meditation can reduce strokes, heart attacks and death by 47 percent.

The Shambhala Meditation Center in Philadelphia offers classes and events for not only those who practice meditation, but as well as individuals who aren’t Buddhist that would like to be introduced to meditation.

Alexander deVaron, one of the center directors at Shambhala, has been meditating for the past 30 years.

“One of the main effects that it has had on my life is that it has enhanced my hopefulness about the human race.  Specifically what individuals like myself can do, and what we are capable of,” deVaron said.

For beginners, the process of meditation has individuals focus on the breathing in order to help the mind clear itself of any other thoughts.

Sitting in a comfortable position and eyes open, the meditation experience can begin.

“We meditate with our eyes open, because it’s more normal.  We aren’t trying to hold a particular state of mind, but rather stay awake and be at one with our surroundings and ourselves,” deVaron said.

Of course, beginners won’t reach what Siddhartha Gautama did, but like with anything, practice makes perfect.

“If a thought distracts you, whether it’s a sound outside or a pain in your body, simply let that sensation go and return to focusing on your breathing.  That’s how we meditate,” deVaron said.

The Shambhala Meditation Center in Philadelphia is one of many centers around the world that are associated with Shambhala International.  Their headquarters is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia and is a non-profit organization.

Dr. Seth Frechie, chair of the English department here at Cabrini College, was introduced to Shambhala and has been meditating for about 5 years.

“By no means am I enlightened, but I’ve seen meditation as a wonderful tool to cope with stress and ordinary everyday problems,” Frechie said.

“Meditation has helped me establish a connection with myself that is important to me.  Within my meditation group I’ve been able to create in my own small way a sangha with others,” Frechie said, on creating a sangha, or sense of community with others who are meditating.

Meditation can be a helpful way for individuals to channel emotions or feelings into a healthy exercise.

“When one is mindful, one doesn’t want to alter reality and a person is comfortable with what is.  There’s nothing you need to escape or run away from or change. When things in the world happen, you can say it’s here.  Now you have to deal with it, and deal with it in a clear headed way with a real sense of purpose,” Frechie said.

Trevor Wallace

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