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About the cover

  D e s e r t   E x p o s u r e   October 2008

Exercising Your Brain

Achieving mental fitness through meditation.

By Al M. Rodriguez



It is well accepted that we can improve our general health by maintaining a healthy balance of regular exercise and nutritious dieting. These interventions are relatively easy to incorporate in our schedules and they are modestly inexpensive to engage in. Both of these interventions are helpful because they serve to keep us vigorous and in good spirits. They serve to connect us to a physical sense of health.

It is also well accepted that our brains need an intensive measure of exercise in order for them to stay sharp and vital. Exercising our brains, however, is different from physical exercise in that brain exercise involves stimulating our mental focus, our attentiveness to the world around us, and our rational interpretation of information relayed to us.

For many of us, the simple act of reading regularly and taking time to assess our understanding of the reading is a partial beginning in keeping our brains healthy. And yet, for most people simple reading may be insufficient; they often require a more complete mode of mental stimulation.

Meditation is a unique mental exercise, which encourages and helps to secure a high level of mental fitness. Meditation is especially beneficial for mental fitness when it is combined with the stimulating effect of regular reading. This combination of meditation and reading is particularly powerful because the combination has been shown to amplify our mental ability to associate ideas in an imaginative mode while also engaging our capacity for mental analysis. That is to say, meditation allows us to balance our mental focus with emotional detachment, while regular reading allows us to provide a healthy content for our brains, leading to an enhancement of our imagination and capacity for analysis.

We might generally define mental fitness as a steady individual capacity for mental attentiveness, comprehension and interpretation. But mental fitness also involves the capacity to interrelate and associate ideas as well as to communicate our ideas with others. Mental fitness is an individual experience greatly accentuated in the context of guidance by professionals who can help us keep our mental-processing ability healthy and in peak performance. In effect, mental fitness is attainable and available for all of us, but it requires a commitment to the process and a willingness to accept essential consultation.



I have been teaching meditation for over 30 years. In the course of that time I have come to understand that although meditation is exceedingly helpful in relieving many common physical and medical ailment — such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic pain — it is also helpful in stimulating our individual capacity for creativity, imagination and meticulous mental analysis. Meditation is quite versatile but specific in the benefit it provides us.

Meditation is at its best when it can help us provide a content and context that is educational, entertaining and engaging. It is at its best when it helps us to realize our individual sense of self through the awareness of our thoughts, while it facilitates our mastery of those mental skills that sharpen our mental focus and sustain our mental rigor. I have found that a guided meditative theater format that incorporates the use of stimulating subject content in combination with the effective techniques of meditation is the best way to secure mental fitness.

Beginning a guided meditation training program involves realizing that the setting in which we live can be used to great advantage. Living in the Southwest, we have an abundance of sunny and clear days that stimulate our appreciation of the world in which we live and the vital role that we play in this world. We share a wonderful setting in which we can encourage mental mastery skills over the ideas that we ponder. We are in the midst of a setting where we can refine our capacity for effective descriptive expression and narrative sequencing of ideas. We are in a setting where we can readily ponder in peace our sense of purpose, and perhaps find some answers regarding the questions that baffle us.

With this goal in mind for mental fitness, an ideal meditative method must include the introduction of non-controversial ideas that will stimulate our brains, as we develop our meditative mood. We can implant in our thoughts objects of visualization as well as sounds of recall, maintaining a unique message. We can pace the meditative process through our breathing, alternating with a unique mental resonant pacing, and then immerse our brains in the dynamics of meditation.

Random thoughts typically arise in the meditative process, but with guidance over the awareness that we can exercise over these thoughts, these "uninvited guests" gradually leave our consciousness. In time we begin to adopt a mental pattern of emotional detachment, where those circumstances and events that greatly disturbed or stressed our sense of self gradually lose their importance. We become very strong and are fully liberated in the completeness of our thoughts.

The end-goal of meditation is dynamic. It is a work in progress, but the highest plateau of meditation is a general sense of calm and peace. This is attainable by anyone who is willing to allow the process to take root and who is willing to sustain it as it proceeds to transform us into thinking persons, freed in imagination but tempered in rational consideration.

Meditation is an experience of the individual that involves listening. It can be the effective use of techniques free of any dogma, attempts towards religious conversion or indoctrination towards ill-defined New Age concepts. That is the meditative method, taught according to clinical principals that seek to improve the efficacy of the practice and the benefits derived by its meditating explorers. To a great extent, meditation in this sense is something that you can own while it owns you — because you and the process of meditation ultimately become one. It is a secure path towards mental fitness.

 

 

Al M. Rodriguez teaches Meditosan Meditation Theater Training Workshops at locations in Las Cruces including Mountain View Market, 1300 El Paseo Road. Call 312-4976 or email meditosan1@yahoo.com for information or to learn about upcoming workshops.



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