Sunday, October 28, 2012

It may sound a little weird and people may suddenly look askance at you leaving you thinking that they are thinking you have gotten in touch with your inner "flower child", when you tell them you are taking up Bead meditation, but disregard their strange looks as the benefits of this simple practice are tenfold.
I was introduced to this last week after my weekly yoga class, and already can feel many benefits of a small 5 minute practice, once a day. But seriously, this can be done anyway and or anytime, as long as you can do it uninterrupted.
Just 5 minutes of simple Bead meditation can be done whilst waiting in the car for someone, waiting for a bus/train, last thing before bed, even in the loo, or as I do, first thing in the morning, when I know that I should get up soon, but don't want to, just yet.  (Warning: probably not a good idea to do it, driving in your car, whilst stopped at traffic lights)

Benefits I have enjoyed from Bead Meditation

Overall calming feeling
Less anxiety
More control in crisis or stressful situation
Lower Blood pressure
More sustained attention span and improvement in effortless single focus concentration
Relaxed start to the day
Distractions from run-away thoughts or self-destructive negative thinking
Increased sense of compassion and empathy
Increased energy levels
Improved sense of well-being & self-esteem
The secret seems to be in keeping the mind busy on a single activity, and in doing so, worry and stress can not seep into your consciousness.  The mind will try to wander and intrusive thoughts will tug at you, and  if this happens, gently bring it back to the task at hand (sorry no pun intended there) Do this as often as you need.
"The mind is harder to control than the wind", it was said. So now, not only can the mind be quieted by having something to do, the movement of your fingers on the beads, gives the body something to do and allows the body to be more content and relaxed.
Prayer beads have a similar purpose, however this is more to do with religious devotion and counting prayers, which is not within my realm to recommend or discuss here. Rather than focusing on spiritual growth, secular meditation techniques such as this, emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation and self-improvement.
Wiki tells us, "Most of the ancient religions of the world have a tradition of using some type of prayer beads as tools in devotional meditation.[125][126][127] Most prayer beads and Christian rosaries consist of pearls or beads linked together by a thread.[125][126] The Roman Catholic rosary is a string of beads containing five sets with ten small beads. Each set of ten is separated by another bead. The Hindu japa mala has 108 beads, as well as those used in Jainism and Buddhist prayer beads.[128] Each bead is counted once as a person recites a mantra until the person has gone all the way around the mala, which is counted as 100, with an extra 8 there to compensate for missed beads.[128] The Muslim mishbaha has 99 beads. Specific meditations of each religion may be different."


Start with the head bead ( the one that is large and different) and start chanting a mantra of choice ( samples shown below), and with each repetition, move your fingers along to the next bead, and repeat, until you are completely round the circle. If you have time, reverse and do the same back to the head bead again. This depends on how quickly or how slowly you chant the mantra. Choose a mantra that speaks to you.
You only have to say the mantra loud enough for you to hear. It is not necessary to sing it, or say it loudly. Don't worry so much about your breathing technique; it is not so important in this form of meditation.
The following passage is reproduced from Wiki and illuminates the scientific basis for claiming health benefits of meditation.

Scientific studies

Meditation has been linked to a variety of health benefits. A study of college students by Oman et al. (2008) found that meditation may produce physiological benefits by changing neurological processes. This finding was supported by an expert panel at the National Institutes of Health. The practice of meditation has also been linked with various favourable outcomes that include: “effective functioning, including academic performance, concentration, perceptual sensitivity, reaction time, memory, self-control, empathy, and self-esteem.”(Oman et al., 2008, pg. 570) In their evaluation of the effects of two meditation-based programs they were able to conclude that meditating had stress reducing effects and cogitation, and also increased forgiveness. (Oman et al., 2008)
In a cross-sectional survey research design study lead by Li Chuan Chu (2009), Chu demonstrated that benefits to the psychological state of the participants in the study arose from practicing meditation. Meditation enhances overall psychological health and preserves a positive attitude towards stress. (Chu, 2009)
Mindfulness Meditation has now entered the health care domain because of evidence suggesting a positive correlation between the practice and emotional and physical health. Examples of such benefits include: reduction in stress, anxiety, depression, headaches, pain, elevated blood pressure, etc. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts found that those who meditated approximately half an hour per day during an eight week period reported that at the end of the period, they were better able to act in a state of awareness and observation. Respondents also said they felt non-judgmental. (Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, 2011)
"Meditation as Medicine" (American Academy of Neurology) [150] cites scientific evidence from various studies which claim that meditation can increase attention span, sharpen focus, improve memory, and dull the perception of pain. The article lists as common types of meditation: Attention Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation, Passage Meditation and Benevolent Meditation.
A review of scientific studies identified relaxation, concentration, an altered state of awareness, a suspension of logical thought and the maintenance of a self-observing attitude as the behavioral components of meditation;[67] it is accompanied by a host of biochemical and physical changes in the body that alter metabolism, heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and brain activation.[46][152] Meditation has been used in clinical settings as a method of stress and pain reduction. Meditation has also been studied specifically for its effects on stress.


The eternal wisdom contained in the yoga texts explains htat a mantra is a spiritual sound vibration that purifies one's consciousness and brings about ever increasing spiritual insight and happiness.
Om Hari Om
Chaitanya Nityananda Gaurhari
Gopala Govinda Rama Madana Mohana
Haribol Nitagaur Nitaigaur Haribol
Madana Mohana Murari
Haribol Haribol Haribol
Some people feel this is an alien concept and take it like medicine, and other embrace it wholeheartedly. I shall ponder on what you will make of it.
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