In 1975, Dr. Herbert Benson published his landmark book, The Relaxation Response. He documented the many beneficial effects of meditation — lower stress levels, a reduction in blood pressure and resting heart rate, and an overall increase in a sense of well-being. Since then, there has been a virtual explosion of research on the therapeutic benefits of mind, body, spirit practices, including meditation, yoga and qigong:
- Natural help for anxiety, depression, stress, and fatigue
- An ability to “sit with” physical or emotional discomfort and stay present
- A health benefit for all body systems, including respiratory, circulatory, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, and lymphatic
- A developed connection with the highest Self and the physical body
- A positive transformation of the brain’s function and structure through experience, also known as neuroplasticity
Many residents at Mountainside report that our Mind, Body Spirit programs significantly change their life. But what to do “post Mountainside?”
Here are some ways to start incorporating more MBS practices in your daily life:
In Sanskrit, there is a word “Aparigraha” which means non-hoarding or non-holding. This is a good place to start. Let go of what is no longer serving you to make room for what you would like more of. Identify a spot in your home to create a serene space. Begin by getting rid of the clutter – anything that is distracting, unnecessary or stimulating (think piles of mail, laundry, electronics, etc.).
Props might include a mat, blanket or blocks for yoga, a meditation cushion, bench or folded blanket or some reading material. This is now your sacred space.
Read something that will inspire you. Ideas can include:
Suggested cards are:
- Tao Oracle Cards, Ma Deva Padma — a perennial favorite at Mountainside
- Sacred Path Cards, Jamie Sams — Native teachings
- The Healing Runes, Ralph Blum, Susan Loughan
Recommended books include:
- Illuminata by Marianne Williamson
- Meditations from the Mat byRolf Gates, Katrina Kenison
- Yoga and the Quest for the True Self by Stephen Cope
- Life Is a Trip by Judith Fein
Recommended artists are:
- Deuter — Try Garden of the Gods or Koyasan
- Brian Eno — The Pearl, Music for Airports
- Anugama — Spiritual Environment: Shamanic Dream
- Cybertribe — Poseidon’s Gate from Eons of Dignity
- Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors — Chen Rezi, Vajra Guru
- Heather & Benji Wertheimer — Baba Hanuman
- Snatam Kaur — Anything by her is beautiful
You can now find most of these almost anywhere, like Target, Walmart, TJ Maxx. Online, try Amazon, Yogaaccessories.com, etc.
Use yogafinder.com to find local classes to attend in person. When online, the following sites offer seemingly unlimited classes that you can stream from your computer (just choose level of difficulty, length and style): yogaglo.com, yogavibes.com, yogisanonymous.com.
You can order a bench or a pillow made especially for meditation (a Zafu) online, some yoga studios will carry them as well. A timer is helpful so you don’t “need” to peek at the clock.
More yoga studios offer meditation now, as well as some libraries, community centers and martial arts studios. Remember: Start small and make it manageable. Even 10 minutes can transform your day and shift your perspective.