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Meditation quiets the mind and calms the body. But doing it takes patience and practice. page 4
Meditation quiets the mind and calms the body. But doing it takes patience and practice.

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Date published: 1/23/2005

By JANET MARSHALL

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Some meditative traditions promote the repetition of a word--silently--with every inhalation and exhalation.

The idea is to train the mind to have a singular focus, on just one thought.

Christians might think "Jesus" as they inhale, and "Christ" as they exhale, Austin said. Jewish meditators might repeat the word "Shalom." Others might think "peace."

Fields instructs beginners to count instead, saying "and" with every inhaled breath, and a number with every exhalation.

"You have to find what works best for you," Ham said.

Some meditative styles emphasize paying attention to the rising and falling of every breath. Austin thinks that's a tough method to start with.

"That's something I would definitely advise people to study with a teacher," Austin said.

Ham, Austin and Fields all say beginners shouldn't put too much pressure on themselves, whichever meditative path they follow.

Getting distracted is part of the process, not a sign of failure. The key is to bring the wandering mind back to a still place.

Start off small, Austin advises. Just five minutes of practice each day.

"Five is going to seem like 30 minutes when you're a beginner," Austin said.

A little instruction can go a long way, Fields said.

"After this," Fields said at the start of a meditation session last week, "you'll be able to meditate for the rest of your life."

For more information:

Sawan Kirpal Meditation Center in Bowling Green: 804/633-9987 or on the Web, http://beale3.bealenet.com/~jmcfall/sawan.htm

Healing Arts Yoga & Massage Center: 540/371-4555 or on the Web, healingartsyoga.com

To reach JANET MARSHALL: 540/374-5527 jmarshall@freelancestar.com


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