Meditate by Using EcoMeditation
Purpose: Meditation may increase feelings of kindness, empathy, and compassion for others, oneself, and the environment.
EcoMeditation is a mind-training practice developed by Dawson Church, PhD as an efficient way for a beginner-level meditator to quickly achieve a meditative state. EcoMeditation combines elements of several evidence-based techniques, including acupressure, hypnosis, and mindfulness meditation. Clinical research shows that after eight weeks of a daily 15-minute practice of EcoMeditation, the brain naturally produces more calming and compassionate brain waves throughout the day.
The Default Mode Network (DMN) is a region of the brain that specializes in memory recall and predicting future events. When a person is relaxing or not focused on a task-specific activity to occupy attention, the DMN becomes more active. Since EcoMeditation is a task-specific activity, the DMN decreases in activity, allowing the meditater to become more present in the meditative experience. The ongoing inner conversations produced by the DMN can sometimes be problematic for people trying other forms of meditation, primarily those that are done in silence.
Acupressure points are areas of the body that stimulate a feeling of relaxation when tapped on. Nine acupressure points are tapped on during EcoMeditation. Please review the illustration below for the locations of these nine acupressure points:
Hypnosis is used in EcoMeditation as a way to guide the mind into a state of relaxation. Hypnosis involves providing the mind with suggestions on how to think or feel in a given moment. The mediator can practice EcoMeditation by using a guided-hypnosis audio (see Resources section below) or by self-hypnosis which involves the meditator creating the suggestions for themself. The Practice section below provides suggestions that the meditator can use to guide the mind into a state of relaxation.
Mindfulness meditation involves the three mind-training pillars of: focused attention, open awareness, and kind intention. These three pillars help to set an intention for where to direct attention and connection. Focused attention is the ability to sustain concentration, ignore distractions or let distractions go as they arise, and refocus attention on the intended object of attention. Open awareness is the ability to be receptive to objects without getting attached or lost in them. Kind intention is the ability to have compassion, positive regard, and love for others, oneself, and the environment. When these three pillars are sustained during mind-training practice, the brain strengthens its pathways that produce intentions of kindness, empathy, and compassion.
Practice: This practice can help someone achieve a meditative state.
Before beginning an EcoMeditation practice it is advised to remove possible distractions from the environment, such as Smartphone notifications. Dedicate 15 minutes of the day to this practice. The practice below is adapted from Dawson Church’s “The 7 Steps of EcoMeditation” which can be found on the EcoMeditation website (see Resources section below).
To practice EcoMeditation, please try the following:
Step 1: Start practicing EcoMeditation by using the fingertips on one hand to tap on each of the nine acupressure points in any order, while holding the intention that a calm and peaceful state is being produced and nothing else matters besides these undisturbed 15 minutes of practice. When the ninth acupressure point is tapped on, start again and this time say “I release any and all blocks to inner peace. I release all tension in my body. I release anything in my past, present or future that stands between me and inner peace."
Step 2: Next, stop tapping, relax the hands, close the eyes, and rest the tongue on the floor of the mouth.
Step 3: Then, feel the hands. Feel the feet. Feel the space inside of the hands. Feel the space inside of the feet. Feel the space inside of the legs, the arms, the torso, the neck and the head. Feel the space inside of the whole body. Picture a big empty space behind the eyes. Picture a big empty space between the eyebrows. If thoughts arise at any point during the meditation, just let them go. Watch any thoughts drift away like clouds across the sky, without any attachment.
Step 4: Next, breathe slowly with a six-second inhalation and a six-second exhalation. Silently count to six with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice how relaxed the tongue is on the floor of the mouth. Picture a big empty space behind the eyes. Keep the tongue relaxed. If any physical sensations arise in the body, just observe them. Keep attention focused on the breath, while silently counting the six-seconds of inhalation and the six-seconds of exhalation.
Step 5: Then, visualize the location inside of the chest where the physical heart resides. Imagine breathing in and out through the heart, while maintaining the six-second inhalation and the six-second exhalation. Keep the tongue relaxed.
Step 6: Now, during each exhalation, imagine a beam of love pouring out through the heart and towards a person or place that is loved. Continue for several breaths. Notice the big empty space behind the eyes and how relaxed the tongue is on the floor of the mouth.
Step 7: Lastly, bring the beam of love back inside of the chest where the physical heart resides. Send that love to any part of the body that is uncomfortable in any way. End the meditation by taking three deep six-second inhalations and six-second exhalations.
At the end of the meditation, open the eyes and bring attention back to the surrounding environment. Look at the closest object and observe its characteristics such as its color and shape. Then, look at the farthest away object. Notice the breath. Notice the weight of the body. Feel the hands and feet. Become aware of the time of day. Become fully present and oriented to the world.
Resources: Below are additional resources that may help someone to meditate.
Bliss Brain: The Neuroscience of Remodeling Your Brain for Resilience, Creativity, and Joy by Dawson Church, PhD
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