Why Is Holistic Meditation Best?

Meditation research and practice is going mainstream. Almost daily I discover new studies citing the wide-ranging benefits of this ancient practice. Meditation has become associated with the alternative medicine and holistic lifestyle movement. So, the title of this article may seem confusing. After all, isn't all meditation holistic?

If by "holistic" you mean "a natural process that leads to greater health and well-being," then, yes, all meditation is holistic. Meditation activates your body's natural relaxation response, which enables you to release tension and stress. This puts your body into its recovery and repair mode which is beneficial for your immune system, your digestive system, and pretty much every physiological process in your body.

While all meditations may be holistic in a very general sense, there is a diverse range of meditation styles. In fact, as meditation becomes more widespread it becomes even more difficult to weed through the different methods to find the one that will work best for you. After over 25 years of study, teaching, and practice I have come to recognize four dimensions activated by various meditation techniques-body, heart, mind, and spirit.

Many meditation styles emphasize only one or two of these dimensions. In my quest to discover the most comprehensive approach I look for practices that address all four of these dimensions. The methods that emphasize all four dimensions I call "holistic."

Let's explore how meditation works within each one of these dimensions:

1. Body

Most meditation methods begin with cues to relax your body and align your posture. This is essential. Your body is the vehicle for your life journey and the record of your life experiences. Tensions and traumas are stored in your cells until you resolve or release them. Meditation is one way to do this.

In meditation you combine cues for active relaxation, with upright posture, and deep breathing to release the layers of tension stored in your body. Having an upright posture also stimulates the reticular formation in your brain stem which prompts alert consciousness and mindful attention. Some meditations also use "inner body" awareness to relax the body and focus attention. This is a powerful technique that leads into the second dimension.

2. Heart

By "heart" I mean your emotions and your physical heart, which is an important emotional processing center. Some meditation systems encourage you to simply recognize and let go of feelings as they arise. While this is essential in your meditation practice, it is also important to actively engage in a positive emotional attitude. You can actually practice feeling positive emotion through "inner smiling," which is used extensively in qigong or Core Energy Meditation™. You also may be familiar with activating positive feelings in your heart from the HeartMath™ system.

Feeling appreciation, gratitude, love, and trust in your heart has a powerful positive effect on your body and brain chemistry. These feelings also activate the limbic system or emotional brain, calming your feelings and patterning positive emotion into your neural networks.

3. Mind

Most meditation systems emphasize the mind. By mentally focusing on one thing, such as your breathing, or by contemplating one thought, such as "impermanence," you develop your powers of concentration while quieting and clearing your mind. Visualization is another particularly powerful way to focus your attention and develop your mental powers. Focusing your attention in these ways activates your pre-frontal cortex, your mental command center.

In meditation you also discover that you are not the thoughts you are thinking. You have thoughts, but you are not the thoughts you are having. This frees you from obsessing on your thoughts. Instead you adopt the perspective of an observer who witnesses thoughts as they float by.

4. Spirit

Spirit can be an amorphous concept. To keep things simple and universal, let's define "spirit" as that part of you which is an expression of the Universal Life Force. A spiritual practice then enhances your experience of the Universal Life Force and your feelings of union with Life Itself.

As your body relaxes and comes into alignment, your emotions settle and shift to the positive, and your mind quiets and clears, you connect with who you are on an essential level. Some would say that you connect with the Source of your being. From a spiritual perspective, you might look at this as the ultimate purpose of meditation-to experience yourself as part of the One Life that we all share.

Meditation practices that include all four of these dimensions, I call "holistic meditation." In my experience, holistic meditation is the most powerful personal development and spiritual growth method available.

To learn more about holistic meditation, follow the link in the Resource Box below.

Enjoy your practice!

Are you ready to quiet your mind, relax deeply, and manifest what you truly desire? Discover how to take your practice to the next level. For the best meditation techniques, information, and tips, be sure to visit us here:

Kevin Schoeninger graduated from Villanova University in 1986 with a Master's Degree in Philosophy. He is certified as a Reiki Master Teacher, Qigong Meditation Instructor, and Personal Fitness Trainer.

Kevin has worked with clients in the field of holistic fitness, meditation instruction, and spiritual growth for the past 30 years. His lifework is personal development and spiritual growth through daily practice.

He is the mentor for SpiritualGrowthMonthly and the author of the "Learn Qigong Meditation Home Study Program," "The Power of Practice Program," "Raise Your Vibration: A Guide To Core Energy Meditation," "The Life You Are Meant To Live Program," and "Holistic Fitness Training."

All of Kevin's programs are available through The Mind-Body Training Company.

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