Learning to Use Meditation in TCM

In TCM meditation is used to help with a variety of health issues. When done properly it helps bring the body and the mind into harmony to help you confront and deal with stressors in your life, which can exacerbate and/or cause new health issues.  When done properly meditation can:

  • Improve your cardiovascular system.
  • Relieve chronic pain, including arthritis pain.
  • Lower your blood pressure.
  • Relieve stress.
  • Clear your mind to help you think better.
  • Help you with depression.
  • Strengthen your resolve in abstinence from drug and alcohol abuse.

 Set Some Rules Before Meditating:

  1. Find a suitable place to meditate.  Meditation works best when you meditate in the same place.
  2. The place you choose should be as noise free as possible to help you stay focused.
  3. Try to preferably meditate at least twice a day at the same times every day for 30 minutes.  Some people find it best to meditate in the morning when you wake up before your mind gets cluttered with the day’s activities, and when you lie down to go to sleep.
  4. Don’ set the expectation that you will be able to meditate for 30 minutes from day 1, and don’t dwell on it if you lose and can’t regain focus after a few minutes.  It takes time to realize you have lost focus and learn how to regain it.
  5. You might also want to meditate for short periods when your stress level gets too high during the day.

In order to help you realize these benefits you must first learn how to meditate properly. To be successful in meditating you have to learn to be conscious of the present, and free your mind from thoughts about the past and the future. This is sometimes referred to as mindfulness. This can be accomplished by focusing on a single thing. For beginners it can be easiest to focus on your breathing, or focus on a mantra, repeating the same word(s) over and over again. 

You must find a position to be in that you are comfortable with in order to be successful. Some people find it most comfortable to assume the cross legged yoga position.  Others find it more comfortable to sit in a chair. Whichever position you choose you should stretch a little before you start the meditation to help make you as comfortable as possible.

Learn to Focus on Breathing

Focusing and following your breath is one of the easiest ways to learn how to stay focused.  When you focus on your breathing you can do it with your eyes open or close.  If you choose to do it with your eyes open look at the same spot, but don’t focus on it because that will interfere with your focus on the breath.  You can start by just focusing on the breath as it travels out of your nostrils, as it flows into and expands your lungs, as it expands your stomach, or as you breathe out and your lungs and/or stomach deflate.  It is important that if you lose focus that you not get disappointed, and just try to regain the focus to complete the meditation.  The fact that you are conscious that you lost focus is a good sign that you are moving in the right direction.

Most people feel that focusing on the belly as you breathe is the most calming and effective way to relax and stay focused.  The belly is farthest from your mind in the breathing process, which moves your focus away from the turmoil in your mind.
Some people find it best to return to breathing the way they used to breathe when they were a baby.

This is called diaphragmatic breathing and involves relaxing the belly while you breathe to allow the diaphragm to compress the stomach more thereby allowing more expansion of the lungs.  Breathing in this manager changes your breathing from fast and shallow to slower and deeper.  How many times in your life have you paused to take a few deep breaths to help calm yourself in stressful situations or when you are angry about something?  This not only calms you deep breathing exercises can help lower your blood pressure. 

Once we have mastered being mindful of our breathing, it helps us calm the body and the mind.  It allows us to see things more clearly and with a better, larger perspective.  When we have become calm and mindful and learned to live in the now, we make more rational decisions and are less susceptible to anger, and knee-jerk reactions to stressful situations.

The very simplicity of mindfulness of breathing gives us the power to disentangle us from the habitual hold of our minds many preoccupations.  Being mindful of breathing is the universal foundation for meditation.  Yogis have known this for centuries.

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