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The purpose of meditation is to relax and calm the mind and relax the body.  Choose a quiet time when you would not be disturbed at all, at least for 5 to 10 minutes. The idea behind keeping the time a little less, in the beginning, is to let you get comfortable with the principles of meditation- silence and concentration. The mind is so used to wandering and flitting about, that getting it to remain still needs some practice.  While it is possible to meditate while standing or walking, to begin with sit in a comfortable posture, keeping your eyes partially closed, so as to avoid getting distracted by your surroundings. If you are more comfortable keeping your eyes open, then try and focus on a single point in front of you, because if you keep looking around, you wouldn’t be able to calm the mind. Don’t be too conscious about your posture. Choose a place where you would feel relaxed and undisturbed. If you can, choose to meditate outdoors but indoors, too is good as long as the place is free of clutter. Try to make your meditation a ritual by lighting a candle, burning some incense, playing some soft, or soothing music and then begin.

Take in a deep breathe, fill your lungs with fresh, pure air and observe the passage of air through your body. Then exhale softly and again, focus on the passage of air leaving your lungs. You may choose a sound to focus on or simply, concentrate on the passage of your breath or play some music to focus on.  Continue this for 5-10 minutes, whatever is comfortable for you, and at the end of the session, rub your palms together and place them lightly on your eyes. Open your eyes and smile gently as you get ready to face the world around you. Try and meditate at least once a day to begin with and gradually, you could meditate even twice and experience greater benefits.

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Meditation is about learning to become present in the moment. Being present in your life and having a calm mind are essential to optimal health. A quiet mind however is not something all of us can make happen automatically. If you've never taken the time to meditate or perhaps you are struggling with meditation here are some ways to improve upon this in your life.

The very first and most important thing is to listen and tap into your breathing. Breathe however you feel most comfortable but make sure you are taking deep and full breaths. This will help you to stay in the moment and clear your mind of distractions. A lot of people believe that meditation is about leaving your body, but in actuality it's about getting into your body and the space between your thoughts and your body. Everything is connected to everything else.

There's a lot of question as to how much and how long to meditate for. It's better to set yourself up in the habit to meditate rather than to overdo it some days and not enough on others. If you set yourself up to meditate when you wake up in the morning or whenever works best for you, try and set out to do it every day. When you set up a time to meditate choose a length of time that works for you such as 10 or 15 minutes and gradually work up to an hour or even an hour and a half. The more of a habit this becomes the easier your mind will be able to shut down.

Clear your mind. Take a few minutes before beginning your mediation to think about everything you have going on in your head. Write it down in a journal or electronically, but take five to ten minutes to let yourself work out everything that is distracting you. Let your stream of consciousness flow out. You'll be much more effective when you let your mind deal with everything that is going on. When you have thoughts of the past and future crowding your mind, you lose the power of intention and your goal of awareness.

A final note, you do not need to bend like a pretzel or be a yoga master in order to position yourself for meditation. The best position is to sit in a chair comfortably. Place your feel on the ground and do not cross your arms or legs, just place your hands open on top of your legs. Sit upright and make sure that you have support for your back. Do not sit or lie down in a place where you may typically relax or sleep as you may drift off to sleep during this exercise.

With these steps you should find it fairly easy to glide into your daily meditation. There are so many good reasons to be meditating. Meditation can assist with blood flow and oxygen consumption, chronic diseases like allergies, reduce pre-menstrual syndrome, help to build your self-confidence and most of all lead to a deeper level of relaxation improving your overall condition. Take a moment, breathe and allow yourself the time to be conscious in your present self.

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Meditation is a mental discipline in which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, thinking mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation is the Holy Grail of inspiration. It can bring peace, wisdom, awareness, stress relief, spiritual growth, connection to God's will, intuition, purpose, improved physical health, pain management, intelligence and even increased metabolism. At the core of meditation is the goal to focus and eventually quiet your mind. As you progress, you will find that you can meditate anywhere and at any time, accessing an inner calm no matter what's going on around you. You will also find that you can better control your reactions to things as you become increasingly aware of your thoughts like letting go of anger.

There are numerous methods of meditation varying from those which aim to achieve complete lack of conscious thought to those which focus on an intellectual problem to solve. Some methods call for complete stillness while others call for vigorous physical activity. In general, they all aim to exercise some constraint on conscious thought.

So how should you meditate? In the beginning, one should first learn to practice meditation skillfully while sitting. Later, you can apply the principles learned during sitting meditation to the practice of meditation in any other position such as walking, standing or lying down. When you sit for meditation, you should sit in a posture which will help you to achieve tranquility quickly. You can either sit cross-legged on the floor, or sit on a chair if you find the floor too uncomfortable. The most important thing is to keep your body relaxed and to find the best position that allows you to sit still for a long time without the risk of falling asleep. Some people, when they first start to meditate are very keen to make rapid progress that they meditate with too much force. This is wrong. This would result very poor progress and a number discomforts such as headaches.

When you first start to meditate, you should always remind yourself that children are some of the most successful meditators in this technique, because of their playful and innocent attitude towards meditation. Therefore do not be too serious or do not try too hard. You should maintain a light attention and a happy mind. To know more about meditation and its amazing benefits, or if you want to learn how to meditate - you can visit www.meditate.com.au

The author is a health care specialist that deals studies on the subject of alternative medicine.

Chinese alternative medicine is built on a number of eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism and Taoism. Of these, Taoism has had the most influence on the traditional Chinese medicine guide.

Taoism holds that all the organs of the body jointly supplement each other. It is the balance of an individual's different organs that ensures that the person leads a healthy life. The balance is attained by the two forces of Ying and Yang being in harmony. Ying and Yang are believed to be the two opposite but complementary energies that influence all aspects of life. A different theory is that two vital energies ‘qi' and ‘chi' flow all over the body through certain passage ways. If the energies are blocked then disease is likely to occur. Bringing back the balance of these energies is essential to achieving wellness.


It is on the basis of these core theories that traditional Chinese medicine guide lists the different forms of treatment used in Chinese medicine:


Herbal medicines- There are over 500 different types of herbs available for treating various illnesses. The herbs are mixed into different formula combinations to meet the differing needs of patients. The herb mixture can be administered in the form of a powder, capsules or as an ingredient in herbal tea.


Acupuncture- One of the most recognizable forms of TCM, the acupuncturist injects around 20 fine needles into specific points in the patient's body. Acupuncture relieves pain, creates an optimal energy balance and increases overall blood flow.


Dietary therapy- The traditional Chinese medicine guide emphasizes the need to eat well for a healthier lifestyle. TCM identifies 5 flavor types that must be present in meals. A healthy and nutritional diet is achieved if all the five flavors are in balance.


Massage therapy- Here, the hands are used in rubbing, kneading and rolling muscles and joints of the body. Originally used by and on persons practicing martial arts, TCM massage helps treat injury and reduce muscle pain.


Traditional forms of treatment like TCM are fast gaining ground around the world. But understanding and gaining proficiency in Chinese medicine can a long time with the best known practitioners of TCM often having to undergo years of training. The traditional Chinese medicine guide has evolved over time due to the effects of modernization. This has seen the introduction of more herbs and plants in the medication used. Some TCM medication will include snakes, lizards, worms, fungi specimens and even frogs. A traditional Chinese medicine guide will cover the diseases that TCM can help in treating including asthma, obesity, insomnia, allergies and many other diseases.

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