mrs. neal's not-so-conventional MEDITATION [CLASS] for TEENS...

...the book and the recorded meditation


The wise man should consider that
health is the greatest of human blessings.
Let food be your medicine.

– Hippocrates, father of medicine


You have been amazingly created!

God has placed within you all you need to soothe your spirit and calm your soul.
All you have to do is learn how to tap into what He has given you.

An important part of making that connection is to keep your body and your mind healthy.

You always should be aware of what you are allowing into your body — physically, mentally, and spiritually —
including the types of food and drink, music, movies, and the influence of your family and friends.

— ♦ —

Physical Health

Part of taking care of your body is to be sure you are eating properly, drinking plenty of water, and getting plenty of rest.

The types of food you choose to put into your body can make a huge difference to your overall health.

Nutrition is an important part of keeping your stress levels under control by making sure you maintain a healthy body.

Be aware of the foods you eat — eat your veggies, stay away from sugars and unhealthy fats, and avoid junk food!

Basically, natural foods — foods that are not processed — are best for you. As my doctor tells me, shop the outer aisles of the store and try to stay away from the center aisles.

Learn to read labels, and know what you are putting into your body. If you are not sure what kinds of food are healthiest for you — look it up!

— ♦ —

True Story:

When my son was a teenager, one of his friends — we’ll call him Michael — came by our house on a Sunday morning to pick him up. The two boys had plans for the day that involved their trucks and mud.

We had just finished our breakfast which had included a little bacon (an occasional weekend treat), and the pan with the bacon grease was still on the stove.

Michael had some sort of big dripping-with-grease fast-food sandwich and a huge order of fries in one hand, and held a very large soda in his other hand when he came to the door looking for my son.

He mentioned he needed to stop and get gas before they continued with their plans for the day.

This brought on the “mommy lecture” on nutrition.

I asked Michael if he cared even a little bit about what he was putting into his body, then proceeded to tell him the importance of eating food that was good for him, and the dangers of drinking so much soda — he said this was his second one of the day.

Like many teens, he didn’t seem to care all that much about the nutritional value — or lack thereof — of his meal.

Then I asked, “Since you need fuel for your truck, would you like to use this left-over bacon grease?”

He looked at me with a look of shock and horror on his face!

He said quite emphatically that he would never put any bacon grease into his truck!

I smiled and said, “So, you care more about what you put into your truck than what you are putting into your body?”

Point made.

— ♦ —

The bottom line is, you cannot separate your mind from your body. Poor nutrition can contribute to elevated levels of stress — not to mention poor health, which also contributes to elevated levels of stress. (The good news is, one of the benefits of meditation is that it helps to reduce stress.)


The Importance Of … WATER!

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things
and be in health, just as your soul prospers.

– 3 John 1:2


Another aspect of maintaining a healthy body — and topic of another Mommy Lecture — is the importance of avoiding less-than-healthy beverages, and drinking enough water.


Question:    Do you know how much of your body is made up of water, and
how much of your brain is made up of water?

Answer:       On average, the human body is comprised of from 66% to 75% water
(or at least 2/3 of your body weight). Your brain is comprised of about
85% to 90% water.

— ♦ —

Some Facts About Your Body And Water...

You lose, on average, about 2.5 quarts of water each day.

Let’s do some math!

How many ounces are in 2.5 quarts?

(Hint, one quart is 32 ounces.)


32 + 32 +16 = 80


So how many glasses of water do you need to replace that 80 ounces or so you lose every day?

If an average sized drinking glass is about 10 ounces, in order to replace the water you lose, you should drink (on average) eight of those 10-ounce glasses of water daily.

This amount may vary based on your age, sex, level of activity, and body type.

— ♦ —

Interesting Stuff You Just Might Like…

  • You can’t count other beverages — such as soda, coffee, tea, juice, etc. — because they contain substances that contradict the effects of water, and actually can dehydrate you and deplete nutrients from your body.
  • Your body loses water whether you are awake or asleep from the moisture in your breath, and through your skin in the form of perspiration. In addition, you lose water from your body through urination, crying, talking, spitting, and drooling.
  • You should be drinking water throughout the day. If you wait until you’re thirsty to get a drink of water, you will already have lost 16 or more ounces of your total body water.
  • When you aren’t drinking enough water to keep yourself hydrated, your body will retain water to compensate. The more water you drink, the less water you retain.
  • There is such a thing as drinking too much water which can have a negative impact on your overall health. If you are not sure how much is good for you, ask your doctor.

— ♦ —

Student Tip:

Drinking water helps the brain function more efficiently; take a drink of water before your next test!


The Importance Of … SLEEP!

Sleep is the best meditation.

– His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, Dalai Lama


I often ask my students how much sleep they get each night. Most tell me they get less than six hours of sleep per night; not nearly what they should be getting.

Statistically, we are a sleep-deprived country — one-third of all Americans get six hours or less of sleep per night.


With everything you have going on in your life — including school work and extracurricular activities at school (sports, band, theater, clubs, etc.), homework, studying and tests, jobs, household chores, playing video and/or computer games, hanging out with friends, texting, chatting, and so on — you are staying active from the time you get up until the time you get to bed, and you rarely get enough sleep.

Getting enough sleep is necessary in order to maintain good health. This is when healing of your brain and body occurs.

During sleep, the body secretes a hormone that repairs and regenerates tissue throughout the body.

— ♦ —

Research indicates that on average — based on your age — you need the following number of hours of sleep per night:



1-2 years of age

14-15 hours

3-5 years of age

10-12 hours

6-10 years of age

10 hours

12-18 years of age

8-9 hours

19-65 years of age

7-8 hours

65+ years of age

7-8 hours


Sleep is defined in two ways: the number of hours you sleep and the quality of your sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can affect your physical and mental performance throughout the day.

— ♦ —

Many factors can interfere with the sleep process.

The “stress response” causes adrenaline to be released into your system, which will prevent you from falling asleep.

Nicotine has a similar effect on the body as caffeine; both are stimulants that can interfere with sleep. Those who don’t sleep well — or who don’t spend enough time sleeping — may suffer all day from feeling irritable, anxious, and less able to focus, as well as having memory problems and a short attention span.

Some other effects include impaired alertness and reasoning skills, a lack of concentration and problem solving skills, overeating, depression, and a slowed reaction time which could be particularly hazardous when driving.

Chronic sleep loss also can affect your health in a number of ways including increased stress levels, and a higher risk for high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease.

Meditation — and the relaxation response — can help with the sleep process. It can be a great tool for getting into a relaxed state, leading to peaceful and restorative sleep.

— ♦ —

Sleep Cycles

The sleep process includes two sleep states: REM (rapid eye movement) and NREM (non-rapid eye movement).

The cycle usually begins with a period of about 80 minutes of deep NREM sleep (Delta) followed by about 10 minutes of REM (Theta) sleep. This 90-minute cycle is repeated four to six times each night.

If this sequence is interrupted, the quality of sleep suffers.


You should have several periods of deep, restorative non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, and four to five cycles of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep each night. Deep NREM sleep is vital in maintaining general health; it accounts for longer periods of sleep during which our brain activity and bodily functions slow down. REM happens in brief spurts of increased activity in the brain and body, and is considered the dreaming stage of sleep.

The periods of REM sleep get longer as the night progresses. Studies have shown that between the seventh and eighth hour is when you get almost an hour of REM sleep. REM affects our moods, performance and behavior by processing learning and memory, and resolving emotional distress.

— ♦ —

Interesting Stuff You Just Might Like…

  • When you meditate — or go to sleep — you reach a state where your body and mind are calm and quiet. Your brain releases endorphins to relax you. You may feel that your body is asleep or detached — this is called sleep paralysis, or pseudo paralysis.
  • Everybody dreams — several times a night — however, we don’t always remember our dreams.
  • Dreams that occur earlier in the sleep cycle will be shorter, and the dreams that occur later in the sleep cycle will be longer. Dreams last anywhere from just a few seconds up to as long as 30 minutes or so; most people only remember the dream they had just before waking.
  • Not everyone dreams in color.

— ♦ —

Student Tip:

To help ensure you get enough sleep, have a sleep schedule; get up each day and go to bed each night at the same time.


The Importance Of … BREATHING!

Breathing is central to every aspect of meditation training.
It’s a wonderful place to focus in training the mind
to be calm and concentrated.

– Jon Kabat-Zinn


Breathing is the single most important thing you do from the moment you are born until the moment you die. And, it is a key element in relaxation and in the practice of meditation.

So, do you think you know how to breathe?

You’re probably thinking, “Yes, of course I do!”

Let’s find out.

Place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach. Take a few breaths. Be honest. Are you breathing deeply — can you feel the hand on your stomach moving? Or are you just panting — breathing with only the top part of your lungs?

Now, bring your awareness to your breathing.

Really pay attention to how you breathe.

When you take a breath, you should relax your belly muscles so you can breathe deeply to fill your lungs.


Breathing is a natural physical reflex to stress, and one that can help with relaxation.

Just a few breaths will trigger the “relaxation response” — the opposite of the “stress response” — sending a message for the brain to release chemicals which help us to relax.

Try it! Sit up straight, relax your shoulders, close your eyes, and take a few deep breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose. Be aware of how it feels when the air is going in your nose and filling your lungs. Exhale slowly, controlling your breath as you exhale. Be aware of how you feel as your breath leaves your body.

You should notice your body relaxing a little with each breath you take.

— ♦ —

The Nose is for Breathing, the Mouth is for Eating!

There are several benefits to breathing through your nose.

The nostrils and sinuses not only filter and warm the air going into the lungs, but breathing through your nose also will lessen your chance of catching a cold.

The mucous membrane lining the nose extends from the nostrils, through the trachea, on to the bronchi, then directly into the lungs. The mucous catches and kills the germs, keeping you healthier!

Your nasal passages have many nerve endings and when you take a breath, air rushes past those nerve endings and sends a message to your brain — you are stimulating the calming centers of the brain. So, next time you are stressed, take a breath!

— ♦ —

Interesting Stuff You Just Might Like…

  • Most adults in the U.S., about 90% of them, are “shallow breathers,” breathing only into the chest, not breathing deeply into the lungs. This causes the bottom 1/3 of the lungs to become like dead space.
  • Children, however — and most mammals — are naturally-born belly breathers. Have you ever watched babies, or puppies, or kittens with they are sleeping? Their little bellies are moving as they breathe.
  • Men average 12 to 14 breaths per minute (bpm), women average 13 to 15 bpm, and children average 15 to 18 bpm.
  • The sinuses produce nitric oxide (NO) which is a pollutant but harmful to bacteria in small doses.
  • Breathing through your mouth increases the loss of body hydration (water), which ties in with the importance of drinking water throughout the day.

— ♦ —

A Little Trivia:

On average, man may be able to survive

40 days without food, perhaps 4 days without water,

but only 4 minutes without air.

— ♦ —



Are you aware of what you put into your body?
Do you get enough sleep? Drink enough water?
Do you take a breath when you’re stressed?




Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices  but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.

– Albert Einstein, physicist