In yoga exercises, one stretches the muscles gently and without force. One maintains the stretch for some seconds without incurring strain or pain. In this way, the muscle fibers and tendons will slowly yield; their tonus is changed, and over time they become somewhat elongated. This kind of cautious stretching is easily combined with a calm and unrestrained breathing.
Mindfulness practices aim to reduce mind wandering, while Acem Meditation allows spontaneous thoughts, images and sensations to pass freely, in order to increase stress tolerance, robustness and energy. Øyvind Ellingsen, MD PhD, explores similarities and differences.
A young woman was in doubt about how to repeat the meditation sound. Would it be better to involve muscles and the tongue in the repetition of the sound, almost as if she were saying it aloud? Or would it be better merely to think the sound in her mind, without trying to make it distinct? Her uncertainty might reflect her relationship to herself and her life.
Seemingly trivial questions about meditation may reflect existential dilemmas of great significance. A young woman in doubt about how to repeat the meditation sound had not realised how her quandary reflected the fact that she was entering areas of her mind with greater subtlety and sensitivity, but also a higher degree of uncertainty than she was used to.
The leading exponent of mindfulness meditation, Jon Kabat-Zinn, urges us to be less concerned with "doing" and more concerned with "being". It's quite poetic, until you begin to ask what he is actually saying. For meditation isn't just about "being", but just as much about "doing", even if you do it with closed eyes. It is a practice, and its long-term psychological changes help you develop less rigid modes of behaviour.
On a recent visit to Oslo, Jon Kabat-Zinn spoke about mindfulness. Much of it was good and interesting. But doesn't his suggestive (and very digressive!) style sometimes resemble mood making more than mindfulness?
Does it matter which parts of the brain you use when you meditate? It seems so. A recent study suggests that forms of meditation based on an open mode of attention lead to different types of brain activity than meditation based on concentration. Thus, ongoing research on brain activation may not only tell us more about what kind of mental activity meditation is, but may also reveal the distinctive elements in different meditation techniques.