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Meditate Your Way To Total Relaxation
UMI takes a look at the benefits of meditation, as well as where to get started in Dubai.
Let’s get this out of the way up front: Meditation is not relaxing. Not at first, anyway. For the beginning meditator, sitting cross-legged and thinking of nothing can be a small torture.
It’s a stumbling block almost any experienced meditator can recall. And no wonder. Movies, television and popular culture give us the impression that meditation is a blissful experience, that it fills the body and mind with such peace one can barely open one’s eyes.
The reality is more like this:
My legs hurt. How many minutes has it been? Surely ten, at least. I’m hungry. Maybe I should go to Benihana’s for dinner tonight. Oh wait. I spent too much last night at the Belgian Beer Café. I should go on a diet. Man alive, my legs hurt. Maybe I should look at the clock just to check... And so on and so forth. Meditation is a discipline: it takes work. And yet there is no shortage of science showing the healing power of meditation. Before you write it off, take a look at some of the incredible benefits.
Benefits of Meditation
1. Decreased Stress: A primary goal for many apprentice meditators is to reduce stress and feel more calm. Our lives are busy and loud. Meditation reduces activation of the sympathetic nervous system, which in turn dilates blood vessels and reduces stress hormones like adrenaline, noradrenaline, and cortisol.
For the meditative mind, thoughts occur with the thinker as a witness, a mere observer to the mind’s sometimes irrational behaviours. In a non-meditative mind, the thinker is a servant to his thoughts. Thoughts become the boss. An upsetting thought can ruin a day, a few months, even years. Since meditators are more aware of their thoughts, they are better able to control their reactions and remain calm.
2. Healthy Heart, Healthy Body: Meditation is proven to reverse heart disease, reduce pain and fight illness. In a study of 60 patients suffering from atherosclerosis, six to nine months of regular meditation was shown to cause a significant decrease in the thickness of artery walls, lower risk of heart attack by eleven percent and reduce risk for stroke by eight to fifteen percent.
3. More Happiness, Love and Compassion: Sound flaky? Not so. One study showed that meditators who heard sounds of suffering had a stronger activation level in their temporal parietal junctures - the part of the the brain tied to empathy - that their non-meditating counterparts.
Meditation changes the brain in a physical, measurable way, altering grey matter density in the parts of the brain associated not just with empathy, but also with memory, sense of self and stress. A study by Psychosomatic Medicine showed that ninety cancer patients who practiced mindful meditation were significantly less depressed, anxious, angry and confused than patients who did not meditate.
Getting Started with Meditation
For those new to meditation, taking a class or sitting a course is highly recommended. Meditating as a group can be a powerful motivator. Doubts, reservation and thoughts of “Am I doing this right?” are extremely commonplace.
It can be helpful to have a guide to answer questions and provide direction. Dubai has no shortage of meditation centres, many of which are free or by donation.
Location: Varies, all courses conducted in and around Dubai
Cost: By donation
What is it? Vipassana Meditation is for the determined meditator only. New students are required to sit a ten day course where not much other than meditation is on the menu. For ten days, students rise at four in the morning and meditate (or try to meditate) over ten hours daily.
Food and accommodation are included at no cost. Meals are prepared and students are provided for completely in order that they may devote themselves entirely to meditation for the duration of the course. Speaking, reading and writing are forbidden, and men and women remain segregated.
Ten days is a long time for reflection. Students battle tough emotions and face years or even lifetime-old wounds. A deep, spiritual journey, these courses are life-changing for almost all who sit them.
Raja Yoga Centre
Cost: All courses and activities are free
Location: 29th Street, Karama, Shop No. 27, Za'abeel Bldg., Located on Za'abeel Road,
Near Dubai Central Laboratories & Ramesh Gallery
Contact: + 971 4 335 2604
A non-profit organisation, the Raja Yoga Centre seeks the betterment of all beings though meditation. The Centre holds public events regularly, including seminars, lectures and workshops for students of all ages including youth and children.
Raja Yoga Meditation promises a better spiritual understanding of self, and freedom from the damaging habits of thought, feeling and reaction. These methods help meditators to strengthen character and rediscover their own positive qualities of self.
Gems of Yoga
Cost: 175-350 DHS/session
Location: Suite 1701, White Crown Building, Sheikh Zayed Road,
Contact: + 971 4 331 51 61
Need your meditation with a side of hatha yoga? Gem of Yoga offers a wide variety of courses and workshops in several types of meditation and yoga taught by masters all the way from India. GOY’s mission is to awaken the best in the human spirit and offer hope and healing for individuals and society.
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