HEALTH & FITNESS - Relaxation first step in meditation

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People often ask what they should do to be able to meditate.

The very first thing you can do to prepare yourself to meditate is to relax your body in order to relax your mind.

First, set the stage by finding a relaxing space. This can mean going to a favorite place outdoors or to a private, peaceful room indoors. Dimming the lights, lighting some pleasing incense (if you like), and putting on some soft music can be a nice, soothing way to begin to relax.

Next, find a comfortable position sitting with your back straight in a chair or cross-legged with a meditation pillow on the floor or lying down flat on your back. By using a pre-recorded CD, having someone else talk you through or by you reading or thinking yourself through the relaxation process, you can begin to let go of the tension you're holding in your body.

Start at your feet, tensing and relaxing any tension in your toes, the arches of your feet, the tops of your feet and your ankles. Then move to up your legs to the calves and shins and repeat the process of tensing and releasing.

Remember to breathe. Continue moving up your legs to your thighs. Then move your attention to your lower abdomen, your lower back, your upper abdomen and mid-back region.

Tense and relax your chest and upper back, your shoulders, your hands, arms and neck. Do the same with your scalp and finally tense and relax your face: the brow, the eyes, the nose, the mouth and the jaw.

Once you have relaxed your body completely, you'll notice two things.

One, you feel better. And two, your mind also is not nearly as crazy with chatter as it was before you started.

This, in itself, is a gift. You are now ready to begin the next step toward meditation: deep, mindful breathing. Namaste.

Joy Kachel is spiritual leader at Unity Church of Peace, where she offers Meditation for Inner Harmony classes on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-8 p.m. She is also a master energy healer and teaches healing classes and facilitates a monthly reiki healing circle. You can reach her at the church at 509-520-1915 or personally at 509-529-1048. Go to www.drjoykachel.com for class information and registration.

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