7960447884?profile=original   Students practice breathing exercises during a Meditation and Mindfulness seminar facilitated by Charlene Wilkinson at Unity of Delray Beach. Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star

By Paula Detwiller

Meditation dates back thousands of years. In modern times, it’s been commercialized, co-opted by new-age psychology, and pooh-poohed by skeptics.
    But meditation endures. Why? For one thing, it’s a powerful antidote to that familiar by-product of a multitasked life: “monkey mind.”  
    Gotta leave for that appointment by 10 o’clock, no later. Oh, we’re out of olive oil. I wonder why my daughter isn’t calling. Another shooting on TV?  Must Get Cat Litter. I cannot be late for that appointment today …
    These random, ping-ponging thoughts are like static in a broadcast signal, interfering with our brain’s ability to focus, remember and perform efficiently, says Charlene Wilkinson of coastal Delray Beach.
    Wilkinson is a corporate attorney who has studied and taught meditation for more than 30 years. She recently conducted workshops in meditation and mindfulness at Unity Church in Delray.
    “I have students in their 70s who come in and say, ‘I can’t get my mind to slow down, I can’t sleep at night,’ ” Wilkinson says. “It may be that as we age, our nervous systems are less able to deal with all the things coming at us. But with practice, meditation can slow the mind down and bring it into its natural state, which is a very calm, peaceful state.”
    Bringing the mind into stillness has helped one of Wilkinson’s students, 58-year-old Luanne Cadem, cope with her high-stress career as a litigation paralegal.
    “It helps me focus,” Cadem says. “I’ve seen a tremendous difference.”
    Another student, retiree Lotus Boss, 68, says daily meditation enables her to maintain emotional equilibrium, cultivate a positive attitude, and deal with the aches and pains of aging.
    “Even when I’m aching, I can detach from it more easily because I’m calmer,” Boss says.
    There are other benefits, too — both mental and physical. St. Andrews Club resident Ann Purcell has practiced Transcendental Meditation since the early 1970s and has traveled the world teaching the trademarked TM technique. She cites research that shows it can help improve job performance, lower blood pressure, relieve depression, and reduce the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
    “When we’re tense and anxious, we’re more incoherent, but when we’re settled and clear, we’re more focused and can accomplish much more,” Purcell says. She recently published a book called Let Your Soul Sing: Enlightenment is for Everyone.
    Given all the distractions of modern living, is regular meditation difficult? It depends on whom you ask.
    “With TM, you learn right from the start that it’s easy and effortless,” Purcell says — but she adds you must learn it from a certified TM instructor. The standard fee is $1,500.
    Wilkinson, who teaches for a nominal fee or simply a “love donation,” is amused by claims of effortlessness “because meditation isn’t easy. It’s a discipline. We have to make the effort, set aside the time, find the place, use our techniques — primarily focused breathing and repeating a mantra — and then surrender to the results,” she says.
    If you’ve read the best-selling book Eat, Pray, Love, you’ll remember the author’s struggle to settle into her meditation sessions at an ashram in India. In the end, she was able to overcome “monkey mind” and find inner peace.
    You can, too. And you don’t have to book a trip to India to try it.

A few places to learn
Peaceful Mind, Peaceful Life
A nonprofit organization based in Boca Raton
Meditation and mindfulness seminars held in various locations
http://peacefulmindpeacefullife.org/events/

Unity (Church) of Delray Beach
101 NW 22nd St.
Delray Beach, FL  33444
276-5796
Check website for occasional meditation workshops
www.unityofdelraybeach.org/events

Palm Beach Shambhala Meditation Group
“Learn to Meditate” program at the West Palm Beach Library
411 Clematis St.
West Palm Beach, FL  33401
6-7 p.m., second and fourth Tuesdays of the month
868-7701

The Sacred Treehouse
250 Royal Court
Delray Beach, FL 33444
278-6033
www.sacredtreehouse.org

The Quantum Healing & Empowerment Center
12 NE Fifth Ave.
Delray Beach, FL 33483
272-3733
www.spiritgrowth.com

The Transcendental Meditation Program
of Delray Beach/Boca Raton
660 Linton Blvd., Suite 201A
Delray Beach, FL 33444
314-1945
www.tm.org/transcendental-meditation-boca-raton

Paula Detwiller is a freelance writer and lifelong fitness junkie.  Find her at www.pdwrites.com.

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