Stalingrad 1942 was one of the most savage battles in military history. My father, a reluctant German infantry soldier (the other option would have been execution) was wounded and sent back from the front. That saved his life and for me, the guide of my life. He never talked about what it was like. Except that an old Russian mamushka rubbed him back to life before he froze to death. His hair had tuned from blond to white and his face was etched by suffering.
After the war he returned to a totally destroyed country, just ruins, hardly any food, no coal or wood, no work, no money for his family – a nation mired in shame. Survival is a powerful instinct. We survived somehow. After years, Germany rose from the ashes, as we witness it in the present.
I was too young at 12 years to know about my father’s affinity for Eastern religions. It was an instinct in him, a feeling. It must have given him hope, strength and a connection to the universe.
My father meditated. Much later did I learn what that meant. Today, I know that his resilience and wisdom came from his study of Buddhism, a peaceful, nature-oriented, deeply contemplative religion. It saved his life and the life of his family. Meditation is powerful.
Meditation has been with us as long as humanity. It includes guidance to promote relaxation, build energy of life force, and develop compassion, peace, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
Meditation originated with Eastern religions where it is an integral part of life. In a universal sense, one can meditate or contemplate in any religion, or no religion, in nature, under the stars, a tent, a house, a church, a temple – just about anywhere. The health benefits are numerous. It also helps us to cope with life in our later years.
The rapid advances of technology have propelled our minds and bodies into extreme stress. We are in the midst of an epidemic of hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure) which predisposes us to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attacks and strokes. Meditation has clinically proven to lower hypertension and control it, with young and old patients alike.
Companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter are teaching their employees meditation and mindfulness to better adjust to a wired world. That is a huge testimony and example.
There are many types of meditation practices: yoga, Transcendental Meditation (TM), vipassana, Mahayana, Sufism, and Taoism to name a few. If you choose to try meditation, study and follow the one which suits you best.
For me, a combination of self-hypnosis and meditation offers simplicity – and it works. It is taught locally by Michael Meyers (visit www.MichaelMyersHypnotherapist.com). I also recommend the book The Relaxation Response by Herbert Benson, MD.
George can be reached at [email protected].