Sunday, 20 May 2007

Nice bit of serendipity

You can't tell, of course, but I'm blogging this across our brand-new wireless network, which I spent most of yesterday morning setting up. I hit a few issues initially, but now it works really well.

We were sitting in the lounge taking it for a test-drive, and Erin went to the NZ Herald site to see if it's possible to subscribe just to the Weekend Herald (it isn't). While there, we spotted a random Google ad for The Labyrinth Company, and clicked on it, since we're interested in labyrinths. (I talked about putting in a garden labyrinth at our other place. There isn't really room for one here.)

On their About Labyrinths page they say:

Research conducted by Dr. Herbert Benson at Harvard Medical School’s Mind/Body Medical Institute has found focused walking meditations are highly efficient at reducing anxiety and eliciting what Dr. Benson calls the ‘relaxation response’. This effect has significant long term health benefits, including lower blood pressure and breathing rates, reduced incidents of chronic pain, reduction of insomnia, improved fertility, and many other benefits. Regular meditative practice leads to greater powers of concentration and a sense of control and efficiency in one's life. Labyrinth walking is among the simplest forms of focused walking meditation, and the demonstrated health benefits have led hundreds of hospitals, health care facilities, and spas to install labyrinths in recent years.

We thought that was pretty interesting, so we Googled for Dr Benson and his Institute and found one of the best descriptions of Centering Prayer we've seen that doesn't call it that - he calls it "Elicitation of the Relaxation Response". It's all there: choose a focus word from your belief system, sit quietly, close your eyes, progressively relax your muscles, breathe slowly and naturally, when you find yourself drifting into thoughts gently return to your word, practice for 10 to 20 minutes twice daily for optimum effect.

It sounds, on rereading, as if he is more on the lines of John Main's Christian Meditation, where you keep repeating the word, rather than Centering Prayer as such, where you only use the word to return to when needed. But basically it's all the same stuff.

I'll have to look out for his book. And a link to his research is definitely going on the Hypno NZ website.

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