Meditation – more than a mental exercise.
Why do we meditate? For almost everyone the automatic response is to say that we do it to calm the mind. There is of course nothing wrong with this, and it is certainly very good for calming the mind, and even I would go as far as to say it is a necessary thing too. That said, if all you use it for is to calm the mind then you have hardly scratched the surface of what you are able to achieve with meditation.
Usually we use meditation as a mental exercise, a time to sit and either reflect or as a time to NOT think for a bit and let the mind quiet. Besides this as an application we should also realise that yoga, for example, is a kind of PHYSICAL meditation that allows us to gently and slowly re-integrate our bodies into a place of quietude and, through specific postures, stimulate our bodies to promote health. Physically of course there is another aspect, and the Japanese are especially noted for pointing out the importance of breathing. We can do this too by using a simple trick using sonic meditation. In the ancient times in Europe the runes were the medium of doing this, and in Stav, for example, the runes are used to create postures, much like yoga, but while doing that the rune SOUNDS are also used to stimulate the lungs and change how the air flows in and out of us, as well as using the sounds to vibrate the chest in different ways. Most of us are not experts in the runes of course, and a simple way to try this out is to use what we have already available. You may note that the vowel sounds in the alphabet change the shape of the mouth and the way we breath as we say them, some of them short and some of them long dependant on how they are used. Well it can also be used deliberately while doing either passive or active meditation to force yourself to breath in different ways. Basically the aim is to repeatedly sound out each vowel in its long form, its short form, its hard form and its soft form. So take the letter ‘a’. a as in cat, a as in father, both of them said twice, once explosively, once gently and breathily. Then
move on to e, then I, and so on. You will find that the exercise starts to leave you quite breathless, showing you that we do not exercise our breathing enough! Once you are more confident in the use of the sounds, you could take a simple yoga routine or a karate KATA and do the exercise while sounding out the vowels. What this achieves is a harmony of the body, a quietude of the body, that, when combined with the mental aspect, gives you two of the parts of the person working in harmony. Of course the best is to get all three aspects, body, mind and soul, all working together, and this can be done by doing your meditation in a sacred place or to the sounds of sacred music and so on, aligning all the parts of you. This is even more effective again if you can do it barefoot on the earth, so that at the same time you are grounding yourself. In this way meditation will become an exercise that will allow you to re-center your whole self and thus remove stress and reenergise yourself with ease.