When people first think of meditating, they usually associate it with having to sit upright with your legs crossed over one another. That is then followed by us taking our middle finger and connecting it with our thumb, as our hands rest on our knees. We will then start chanting something along the lines of, hummmmmmmmmmm, for several minutes. That is what most of us perceive as the “proper” way to meditate.
That is exactly what I thought meditation was before I started my Shaolin Arts training. I have started to learn, over the past five and a half years, that there is much more to meditating than just sitting Indian style on the floor. Shi Gung Gregg Zilb, my head martial arts instructor, has taught me that there are a number of ways to truly meditate. Believe it or not, you can actually meditate by just lying flat on the ground, in your bed or on the floor. The position almost resembles a snow angel that you make outside when you’re younger . Nine out of ten times, I will meditate right before bed in the lying flat position. It is one of my favorite ways to center myself before catching up on some zzzz’s.
In Tai Chi/Qigong classes, we also do what My teacher refers to as moving meditations. The main premise is to work on building chi, or energy, throughout the body while we are moving forward. My Shi Gung has also shown me how to even meditate while I’m standing straight up. After a few times of doing it standing, I went through some natural healing books that I have and they all say the same thing ,as what my teacher always says, that standing meditations are one of the best ways to meditate. Not only are you training your mind and spirit but your body is getting quite a workout and I can totally attest to that. After just ten minutes of standing, I will start to feel my legs and shoulders shaking like I’m doing some awkward dance maneuver or something.
There are other ways to meditate and focus your minds without having to technically sit and “meditate”, so to speak. Sometimes when I’m writing, especially at the current moment, I get so focused on what I’m doing that I feel I can write for days on end without stopping even for a second. Nothing distracts me and I just keep going and going. I also started to see the connection musicians make with their instruments they’re playing. They become so connected, and in tune, with that they’re doing that nothing can deter them. A good example of that is when Jimi Hendrix was doing his set at Woodstock ’69, also one of the most memorable performances in rock n’ roll history, where it seemed like he was so preoccupied with what he was doing that nothing could take his concentration away from his guitar during his entire set.
So, all in all, there are a slew of ways to feel connected and relaxed without having to be a so-called, avid “meditator.” In the case that you’re looking for a quality top notch caliber school in the Long Island area, then check out, http://www.shaolinlohan.com. You will not be disappointed and it will hopefully become addictive like a drug but a good, healthy one of course. I guarantee you will want to keep coming back for more and more 🙂
I’ve been going hiking, whenever I can find an hour or two, for the past few years. Initially, I looked at hiking as an extra calorie burn to my already intensive, daily kung-fu training. After a couple times of going to the various spots around me, I started to realize that hiking was more than just another physical exercise. The first thing I noticed is how inviting and peaceful everyone is that I come across when I’m walking by. The sad thing is that I only see people smiling at one another, being somewhat civil , when I’m out doing some hiking.
Throughout my entire twenty-eight years of living, I think I’ve seen more hellos, smiles, and friendly gestures in the past couple years hiking than I have ever seen at any restaurant, store, shopping center, movie theater etc. That is why I love hiking so much because, for me and most of my friends that hike as well, it’s an escape for us in one way or another. An escape from the everyday struggles, hardships and things like monetary stress, relationship issues or anything else that your mind is seemingly consumed by. I can remember once walking through some trails, with two of my good friends, and telling them to stand still for a minute. I told them to just listen and hear what is happening around us. After about twenty seconds or so, my one friend said he couldn’t hear anything at all. I responded by saying you’re exactly right, that is the point. All you could hear is the leaves blowing around and birds chirping in the distance. The rest of what you could hear was absolute stillness, nature at its finest. That is why I say there is nothing quite like a hike….
Over the past few years, there has been an abundance of documentaries focusing on what humans are putting inside their bodies. Thanks to the help of the internet, I have come across a slew of these kinds of films. There was none more informative than, “Food Matters”, that was released back in 2008. What I think puts this film apart from the others, especially for me, is that it focuses on the need to stop relying on pills, shots and creams for every problem. It was good to hear that because the Western culture has become a tad bit pill happy as of late. There seems to be pills for just about everything imaginable, even for things like having fun and laughing too much. There is a definitely a time and place for those kinds of approaches but not for chronic, lifelong issues. Throughout the roughly hour and a half movie, you start to see that all the interviewees come to the same conclusions…proper nutrition and exercise is the key to a healthy life. It seems like a rather simplistic notion but how many people truly understand what that really means?
The other parts of the film went on to talk about how our food is being cultivated. How many people are aware that a good portion of the fruits and vegetables, in all the major supermarkets, are being sprayed with synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. I didn’t realize that until I saw this movie and I’m glad that I found out now and not later.
According to the Organic Valley website, a good number of pesticides are known to pose significant, acknowledged health risks to people—including birth defects, damage to the nervous system; disruption of hormones and endocrine systems; respiratory disorders; skin and eye irritations; and various types of cancers.
- Exposure to persistent organic pollutants through diet has been linked to breast and other types of cancer, immune system suppression, nervous system disorders, reproductive damage, and disruption of hormonal systems.1
- Male Reproductive Development: Hormone-disrupting chemicals in commercial pesticides have been linked to testicular cancer and low sperm counts in men, and to birth defects in baby boys.2
- Public health costs associated with pesticide-related acute poisonings and cancer alone, add up to an estimated $1.1 billion dollars per year.3
- Parkinson’s disease has been linked to pesticide exposure. 4
Organic Valley goes on to state that organic growers use biological and cultural practices to handle pests, including crop rotation, the selection of resistant varieties, nutrient and water management, the provision of habitat for the natural enemies of pests, and release of beneficial organisms to protect crops from damage. A few years back, when I first saw this amazing documentary, I started to shop at specific grocery stores and only looked for the organic labels. They might cost a little more but my thinking is that I would rather put something in my body that does more good than harm.
All in all, I highly recommend this film for anyone and everyone. Even making minor changes in your diet might be all you need to feel better in the long run. I leave you with this timeless quote,
“Isn’t it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do “practice”?”
― George Carlin
- “Nowhere to Hide: Persistent Toxic Chemicals in the U.S. Food Supply,” by Kristin Schafer, Pesticide Action Network North America, 2000 (www.panna.org).
- Sharpe, Richard. “Men under threat: The decline in male reproductive health and the potential role of exposure to chemicals during in-utero development.” Briefing by ChemTrust: http://www.chemtrust.org.uk/Press_and_Media.php
- “Promoting Sustainable Food Systems through Organic Agriculture: Past, Present and Future,” Christine McCullum-Gomez, C., and Riddle, J. HEN Post: Hunger and Environmental Nutrition Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association, Spring 2009. www.hendpg.org
- Costello, et al., “Parkinson’s Disease and Residential Exposure to Maneb and Paraquat From Agricultural Applications in the Central Valley of California,” AMerican Journal of Epidemiology, published January