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Cool, calm, and collected

Meditators find peace of mind at Eagle's Trace

Created date

December 21st, 2009

No matter how busy life gets, Barbara Hanes always takes 15 minutes every day to do absolutely nothing. [caption id="attachment_7129" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Kell Barbara Hanes, Janelle Armstrong, Dorothy Elkins, Anne Carder, Corinne Wheeler, and Ole Galsgaard attend a mindfulness meditation group at Eagle s Trace. (Photo by Mary Kate)"][/caption] Hanes is among a growing number of Americans who are turning to meditation to find balance in today s high-speed world. According to a 2007 government survey, 1 out of 11 Americans that s more than 20 million meditates. It s so valuable and healing. Meditating even for just 15 minutes a day makes a huge difference in my life, says Hanes. In addition to individual practice, she participates in a weekly mindfulness meditation class at Eagle s Trace, where she lives. It s helped make life a little lighter. I feel a sense of peace and things seem to flow better.

Don t worry, be happy

Meditation is becoming more mainstream thanks to a mounting body of scientific research that shows meditation helps relieve conditions such as anxiety, depression, pain, stress, and insomnia. And new studies are being conducted to examine how meditation, combined with conventional medicine, can help improve cardiovascular health, rheumatologic conditions, and digestive problems. Meditation relaxes the body and the mind, says Mary Kate Kell, pastoral ministries manager atEagle s Trace, who leads the mindfulness meditation group there. Research indicates that meditation quiets those parts of the brain that control the emotions fear and anger. The more regularly and the longer one meditates, the more these benefits are experienced. Currently,Eagle s Tracehas two meditation groups that meet and practice regularly: mindfulness meditation and Christian meditation. The Christian meditation group sits in a silent room and uses a mantra or holy word to focus attention and quiet the mind, says Kell. The mindfulness meditation group focuses on the breath to quiet the mind and be in the present moment. During the meditation, the individual tries to maintain focus on the breath while noticing sensations or thoughts and then letting them go. This group uses meditation music as background.

Learning to let go

Janelle Armstrong has participated in the mindfulness meditation group for a little over a year. I love it! says Armstrong. You can actually feel the energy that emanates when you re in a group. I m the type of person who tends to be uptight sometimes, and meditating has really helped me relax. Kell says anyone can practice meditation; all it takes is a willingness to practice and an open mind. The first step is to drop all your expectations for success or failure, says Kell. Meditation is a process, not a destination. She offers the following method: Find a quiet place to sit. Begin to breathe in and out naturally. Once your natural rhythm settles, count each breath, or label the breaths in and out. Focus your attention on the counting. Try to do this for five minutes twice a day. As you become more comfortable, lengthen the time period. Eventually, you may want to join a group or find a teacher. It s not complicated, but it takes perseverance.