Meditation Benefits: Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

Neuroscientist Fred Travis, PhD, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management completed his second study investigating the effects of Transcendental Meditation practiced on task performance and improved brain functioning in eighteen students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

This random-assignment controlled study, which was published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry, found decreased symptoms of ADHD in students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The study took place of a six month period of time at an independent school for children with language-based learning disabilities in Washington, D.C.  This study showed improved brain functioning, along with an increase in brain processing; there was also, an improvement in the language-based skills, for those students with ADHD, who practiced Transcendental Meditation.   

All the students were pretested, then using delayed-start or random assignment comparison groups, were post-tested at three and six months. The students in the delay group began learning TM after the first three month period, when they were once again post-tested.

The student were given a verbal fluency test, a psychological test in which participants have to say as many words as possible from a category in a given time (usually 60 seconds). This test measures the executive functions of the brain, including systematic retrieval of knowledge, initiation and simultaneous processing.

How well students were able to perform these tasks were dependent on certain basic cognitive abilities, including attention, spelling and vocabulary knowledge.

EEG (Electroencephalography, can be used to diagnose and accurately identify students with ADHD by measuring the varying relationship between theta brain waves and beta brain waves.

 Daydreaming, drowsiness, and unfocused mental states are usually associated with a theta EEG reading of around 4 to 5 Hz, while a theta EEG reading of around 6 to 8 Hz indicates focus on mental tasks, for example memory, identification, and association.

According to co-researcher William Stixrud, PhD, a prominent Silver Spring, Maryland, clinical neuropsychologist,  Prior research shows ADHD children have slower brain development and a reduced ability to cope with stress. Virtually everyone finds it difficult to pay attention, organize themselves and get things done when they’re under stress,” he explained. “Stress interferes with the ability to learn—it shuts down the brain. Functions such as attention, memory, organization, and integration are compromised.”

Transcendental Meditation was chosen for a variety of reasons, the first being that TM has been shown to increase brain function. TM has been shown to effectively reduce stress and because stress is a key component effecting the lives of students with ADHD, for this reason Dr. Stixrud believed that this meditation technique would be the most effective.

The number one reason that TM would be an affective type of meditation is because it’s easy to practice and easy to learn, TM is a mantra based meditation technique, which means that the students didn’t have to learn to concentrate or control their minds, at least not to the degree that some of the other techniques would require.  

Dr. Travis notes that TM, like all forms of mantra meditation or “automatic self-transcending meditation,” creates an experience known as restful alertness a state that’ associated with increased activity in the frontal and parietal portions of the brain, as opposed to the reduction in metabolic activity in the thalamus which is linked to hyperactivity.       

According to Dr. Travis, “the repeated experience of the Transcendental Meditation technique trains the brain to function in a style opposite to that of ADHD.”

In a student-parent survey:

“Students reported that the TM technique was enjoyable and easy to do. They felt calmer, less stressed, and better able to concentrate on their schoolwork. They also said they were happier since they started TM. This correlated with reports from the parents.

At the end of the research, the parents completed a questionnaire to assess their perceptions of changes in five ADHD-related symptoms in their children from the beginning to the end of the study. There were positive and statistically significant improvements in the five areas measured: a) Ability to focus on schoolwork, b) Organizational abilities, c) Ability to work independently, d) Happiness, and e) Quality of sleep.”

The conclusion of the report was that the results were very promising and as Dr. Stixrud observed, “Significant improvement in the theta/beta ratio without medication and without having to use any expensive equipment is a big deal, as is significant improvement in student happiness and student academic functioning reported by the parents.”

It would seem that there is real hope for improved brain functioning in ADHD students who practice Transcendental Meditation or any form of mantra meditation. While further research is needed, it is seems there is hope for parents looking for a way to reduce their child’s need for medication. Read the full article…

The Benefits of Meditation for College Students

 

The Benefit of Meditation for College Students

The Benefit of Meditation for College Students

You can hardly get through a day without hearing something about the negative effects of stress. And college students must find a way to deal with multiple stressors, such as finance problems, balancing work with study and simply trying to find their way in a time in their lives of intense personal and academic growth; all in addition to the everyday stresses of the modern world.

 

The good news is that benefit of meditation for college students is that it’s an antidote to all that stress, and even better it can help prevent the health problems caused by chronic stress.

 

In a study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology, a number of encouraging results were found. This study on a group of students practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 20 minutes, twice a day, for a period of ten weeks (as opposed to a control group), showed a number of positive benefits.

 

The “Brain Integration Scale” scores of the meditating students was higher than the non-meditators, this means that there was more alpha activity in the brain, better match of brain activation and task demands and greater frontal coherence in the brain. As Fred Travis, director of the MUM brain research center, put it, “From pretest to posttest, Brain Integration Scale scores increased significantly, indicating greater breadth of planning, thinking and perception of the environment”

 

Less sleepiness, even during the last week before final exams, was reported by students practicing Transcendental Meditation. One student reported that she could feel, “my whole body releasing the stress of the day.”

 

This study also found that meditating students recovered faster from loud tones, which was measured by galvanic skin response (GSR). The sympathetic nervous system will respond to loud new tones, and the study found the meditators sympathetic nervous system stopped responding quickly as compared to the non-meditators, whose system and a prolonged response.

 

In an article by Mario Orsatti on college students, stress and “perfectionistic thinking,” the benefits of Transcendental Meditation are discussed, so I’ll let Mario take over for a while…

“College students are trying to deal with unprecedented levels of stress,” said lead researcher, Dr. Jaimie Burns, Assistant Director of the Trinity Counseling Center. “They are going through a transitional time in life and are trying to navigate through intense academic and personal growth challenges. The lack of sleep students get is astounding and alarming. More students are graduating without jobs or are getting jobs that they don’t really want, and they know that they are going to go out into a world of rapid change and upheaval.”

“We are always evaluating tools to find out what works and how well they work. Our question was, will a tool like Transcendental Meditation really work? Our goal was to carefully, objectively, assess how effective TM would be, and we were impressed with the results, especially in the areas of trait anxiety and perfectionistic thinking,” she said.

Anxiety can be either a short term “state” or a long term “trait.” Trait anxiety reflects a stable tendency to respond with state anxiety in the anticipation of threatening situations. It is closely related to the personality trait of neuroticism.

“Mental health professionals often have difficulty helping people with this kind of dispositional anxiety,” said Dr. Burns. “To find something that helps these people is a significant problem because it’s entrenched in them. Therapy generally does not help. This is why the effect of TM practice in this study was impressive.”

Another important variable studied by the researchers at Trinity was a specific anxiety-related disorder referred to by the term “perfectionistic thinking.”

“Perfectionistic thinking refers to the extreme end of the striving spectrum,” said Dr. Burns. “When people exhibit a high degree of perfectionistic thinking, it puts them at risk for a variety of problems. Striving toward achievement is obviously good and a motivator, but when people get into what we call perfectionistic thinking, they feel that they have to be perfect all the time and it puts them at risk for developing a variety of psychological problems.”

“Perfectionism,” as it is often referred to by modern psychology, makes people set unrealistically high standards for themselves. Such individuals can feel that their self-worth depends on a consistently spotless performance. Researchers are finding that perfectionism can be a factor in those suffering from depression, eating disorders, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

“Seeing the significant, positive impact that TM practice had on this variable was also quite impressive,” Dr. Burns concluded. “What made the findings even more impressive was that our post-testing took place at the end of a semester around the time of the students’ final exams when one would expect stress levels to be heightened. Further research is needed, but we are clearly enthusiastic about the potential of this tool for student health and well-being.”Click here to visit the original source of this post

In another study showing the benefit of meditation for college students is one conducted by American University, and published in the “American Journal of Hypertension,” showed that students that practiced meditation improved their mental health and lowered their blood pressure.

 

Stress is an inevitable in our culture, and as a student they best way to handle it is to prepare your mind and body to handle it. Of course the right diet and exercise are important and key to reducing the effects of stress, but with so many mental stressors in our lives that to maintain balance meditation has become crucial, for all of us but especially for students.

 

To preview this study you can check out the “Journal of College Student psychotherapy at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/87568225.2011.556947

 

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

 

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The number of mass meditations is a growing phenomenon, like the one recently held in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, part of the World Culture Festival, and that raises a couple of questions. First of all why, and second, is there a benefit, beyond the benefits an individual receives when they practice meditation?

When people meditate on their own, they create a certain balance in their physiology and that balance of body-mind-spirit authenticity influences those around them. By gathering in groups to meditate there is a reinforcement of the other’s practice, which in turn, has a powerful effect on those in their environments. The belief is that when enough people begin practicing meditation that a critical mass will be reached and that it will positively impact to whole of society.

Research has shown that the practice of Transcendental Meditation by, even a small, group of people in one place with a specific intent had a powerful and measurable effect on the surrounding community.

Another benefit of meditating with others is the sense of belonging, a connectedness with others, which besides improving the quality of life, has been proven to increase in life expectancy.

The event in Berlin put on by, Ravi Shanker’s, Art of Living Foundation, is just the most recent of the mass meditations and Lisa Cleary shares her experiences and the foundations aim to “reflect the best of our world.” Here from Lisa Cleary is a view of the event…

For a second, close your eyes and picture this: 70,000 people from around the world assembled in mass meditation, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a shared moment of silence, their eyes closed and minds free from any cultural or religious differences.

Earlier today, visitors from 150 countries did just that as an international effort of meditation. The event is just one of many at the World Culture Festival, hosted by the International Art of Living Foundation to commemorate the organization’s 30th anniversary. Here, at the two day-long affair at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, guests can experience traveling the world by taking in the sounds of Costa Rican folk music or perhaps by tasting a sweet or two from the Middle East.

“It is an occasion to enrich every individual with the diverse cultures of the world. The festival offers a platform for one to participate with the global community,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living and leader of the meditation session. “It is also an opportunity for one to see that they are a global citizen and part of a global family. It is where each one can celebrate the diversity, shun the prejudice against race, religion and culture, and find deep inner peace in a dynamic atmosphere.”

According to John Osborne, a senior Art of Living faculty member and resident of Santa Monica, mass meditating has been one of the most memorable experiences so far. Osborne, who was raised in a devout Catholic household, describes the 25-minute long session as an awe-inspiring step toward international unity.

“It was as if, by going to the deepest part of myself, I was able to connect to everyone else at that same level. It was an amazing experience knowing that millions of people around the world were involved in the same activity and having the same intention for world peace,” he said. “It felt very powerful and transformative–a feeling that we were, on a deep level, having a very real effect on the possibility for peace in the world.”

Mawahib Shaihaibani, CEO of the Art of Living Gulf and Middle East, traveled from Abu Dhabi to attend the festival and believes that, as a Muslim, all religions lead to one God.

“When you meditate with the mass, you all become one and times stops,” said Shaihaibani. “This event is very unique because people from 150 countries are coming together to celebrate their culture, food, dance, music and belief for a united world full of tolerance, love and peace. This means a lot to me because these days we have so much … unrest in the Middle East, and the youth need to broaden their vision and see that we are one world family.”

“The Foundation’s aims reflect the best of our world: empowering women, promoting human rights and preserving our planet,” said Pelosi in a statement.

To further promote physical, mental and spiritual unity among festival-goers, over 1,000 yoga instructors from around the world have joined forces at the Yoga Park to demonstrate the benefits of yoga as well as to lead workshops and seminars. Folks may also participate in a variety of mass musical performances, designed to literally and figuratively fuse the voices of diversity. The Grand Guitar Ensemble for Peace, one of the performances, included more than 2,000 guitarists who strummed to “Amazing Grace” and “Hare Narayana.”

Dafna Paz, PhD, a secular Jew, additionally notes that the event is an opportunity to form friendships by learning from others and their religious backgrounds. “The World Culture Festival is a beautiful event that brings people from different cultures together. It is important for me to take part in an event of this magnitude especially because of the message of peace and harmony, which is so important for me as an Israeli,” said Dr. Paz, “it feels like we can change the world.”

At the end of the day, among celebrations of diversity, Ravi Shankar asks that people from all walks of life view religion not as an ideology of separation but as a uniting code of conduct–in this way, diversity can be celebrated within a harmonious and kind global community, expressive of varying cultures.

“It is time to celebrate the differences and celebrate life on this planet. With all the volunteers, we are sure we can create a stress-free, violence-free society for our children,” summed up Ravi Shankar at the festival. “Poverty eliminated, differences celebrated and connection to the inner Divinity. One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty.”

One of the agreed upon benefits of mass meditation is how it enhances and motivates individual practice and will accelerate spiritual and personal growth. And on a practical note, having the opportunity to meditate with others can help keep your own practice from getting stale and it provides a place where questions that come up, can be discussed or answered.

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The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

 

The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

The benefits of implementing meditation programs in prisons have already proven themselves in a number of real world trials. In a five year Harvard University study on meditation and the at-rick population, indicated those who learned and practiced meditation, had significant reductions in stress, aggression and mental disorders along resulting in a reduction in violence. The Harvard study also concluded that the rate of recidivism among participating inmates was 30-35 percent less than in four other treatment groups.

In another study published by the Transcendental Meditation program, outline the benefits to both the correctional system and the prisoner themselves. These benefits included substantial cost saving by lowering staffing needs, lowering health cost, reduced recidivism and shorter prison stays.

And as wonderful as these benefits are for the department of corrections, they are even more powerful for those who have been incarcerated. Although meditation isn’t a panacea, it can help prisoners, which have become accustomed to failure, succeed by giving them the tools they need to take responsibility for themselves.

Now in a monthly meditation class inmates, at the Mark H. Luttrell Correctional Center, are getting the chance to reap the benefits of meditation before returning to a world without bars. Carol Crane, co-founder of “PremaHealing” an organization teaching meditation, healing and emotional processing, began teaching classes at the center after connecting with the support group, “families of Incarcerated Individuals.”

Here’s a bit of the article, by Louis Goggans, on “Zen behind bars…”

“Carol Crane, co-founder of PremaHealing, said the classes teach offenders how to avoid stress.

“We go in and teach them breathing exercises and ways to calm the mind. If they do have emotions arise as a response, they can use these techniques to process through those emotions, instead of having to react to them,” Crane said.

PremaHealing began providing the classes six months ago after partnering with the support group Families of Incarcerated Individuals.

The classes are part of the Families of Incarcerated Individuals’ “Doorways Reentry” program, which helps female offenders make a successful transition after their release. There are around 15 women in the class each month.

Marquetta Nebo, executive director of Families of Incarcerated Individuals, said the classes have helped many offenders vent personal anger.

“The emotional processes for meditation helps them release the anger they have bottled up in them,” Nebo said. “Instead of verbalizing everything, they can do these techniques.”

To qualify for the classes, offenders at Mark H. Luttrell have to be within 12 months of their release and recommended by correctional faculty.

PremaHealing and Families of Incarcerated Individuals are currently searching for additional funding to provide meditation classes for male prisoners at the Shelby County Jail.

“The literature seems to indicate this is worth doing,” said Rod Bowers, assistant chief jailer for the Shelby County Jail. “The benefits the classes could bring include inmates being better behaved, fewer disruptions, arguments and fights, and just day-to-day improvement with the management of the facility.”

Bowers said he didn’t know how much it would cost to institute the program at the men’s jail, but there would have to be long-term evidence that the meditation classes lower the rate of recidivism.

Crane said they decided to start the classes here after similar meditation classes at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, were shown to lower disruption and violence at the facility.

“We thought Memphis would be a perfect place to incorporate a meditation teaching in the prison system,” Crane said. “Memphis has a lot of people who have experienced trauma, and there’s a lower economic situation here, which causes a lot of people to end up incarcerated.”

Nebo said she hopes they can acquire more funding, so more inmates have the opportunity to release bottled-up emotions and stress.

“The more avenues of therapy, the better,” Nebo said. “We need to give [male and female offenders] as many options as possible if we’re really trying to … get to the root cause of their emotional problems or issues that cause them to do these crimes.”

In an article I published awhile back, “Criminal Minds: Prisoners benefiting from Meditation,” I wrote about the effectiveness that David Krassner, a staff psychiatrist at the California Men’s Colony State Prison, had when he implemented a meditation program.

Given the overwhelming evidence of the success of meditation, as a highly effective method for helping prisoners cope with negative feelings, like anger and stress, and realizing the possible cost saving for the correctional system, especially in this economy, I believe that it’s time to begin integrating meditation in our prison system on a large scale. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Reducing the Risk of Heart Attack a Transcendental Meditation Benefit

 

Transcendental Meditation Benefits and the Beatles

Transcendental Meditation Benefits and the Beatles

The Transcendental meditation benefit is that the body shifts into a state of restful awareness, which is important because it counterbalances the fight-or-flight response.

We know from our own experience that if we are awake then our minds are rarely at rest, in fact very often it’s in the fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is the body-minds natural stress response that occurs when we feel threatened in any way, which can be as simple as not getting what we want.

The stress response creates physiological damage when it is chronic. This occurs because some of these changes, that accompany the response, are a rise in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, breathing becomes shallower and faster, the release of stress hormones, a lower immune response and it goes on.

The research on the benefit of meditation on the stress response have been ongoing for many years and the more we learn about this relationship the more we discover how powerful a tool meditation is in reducing heart attack and stroke. In this article in the “Daily Mail Reporter,” introduces us to, “…the strongest documented effects yet produced by mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.” Here’s some of what was reported…

Transcendental Meditation, made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s, could cut heart attack rates by half, researchers claim.

The mantra meditation, which involves repeating a sound repeatedly twice daily for up to 20 minutes, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes.

The relaxation technique was used by patients with heart disease during a nine year £2.25million trial at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Professor of Medicine Theodore Kotchen said: ‘These findings are the strongest documented effects yet produced by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.

‘The effect is as large or larger than major categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease.

‘However, subjects were already taking standard medications and this effect was on top of that.’

It followed 201 African-American men and women with an average age of 59 who suffered from the narrowing of arteries in their hearts.

They were selected to do the Transcendental Meditation technique or to participate in a control group which received health education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise.

Professor Kotchen said: ‘In African American men and women with heart disease, Transcendental Meditation, a technique for stress reduction, decreased the likelihood of mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and non-fatal stroke by 47 per cent.

‘At the same time, study participants remained on their usual medications for cardiovascular disease risk factors, including anti-hypertensive agents and lipid-lowering medications.

‘Consequently, meditation should be considered an adjunct, not a substitute, for usual medical care. Although provocative, these observations should be confirmed in other patient populations.’

The researchers did further analysis of two subgroups, those participants who had high compliance with the meditation program, and a high stress group, and found even greater reductions in death, infarction and stroke in those groups.

The high compliance subgroup showed a 66 per cent reduction, while the high stress subgroup showed a 64 per cent reduction.

Co-author Dr Robert Schneider claimed the results are the strongest documented effects yet produced by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.

The findings were published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

At a press conference two years ago before a concert to promote Transcendental Meditation, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney recalled their 1968 trip to India to learn meditation from the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

‘Over 40 years ago, we ended up in Rishikesh,’ Starr said. ‘That is where we hung out with Maharishi. We had met him a few months before in Wales. Since then, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, I have meditated. It’s a gift he gave me.’

McCartney added: ‘It’s one of the few things anyone has ever given to me that means so much to me. For us, it came at a time when we were looking for something to stabilize us at the end of the crazy Sixties.’

The Transcendental meditation benefit is that the physiological changes are almost the exact opposite of the flight-or-fight response. The fascinating thing about the physiological changes is that even as the body is resting in meditation the mind is awake.

Studies show that the changes that take place in the brain are different during meditation that those that take place during sleep. In transcendental meditation and in “Primordial Sound Meditation,” there’s improved brain wave coherence.

One last thing to keep in mind, studies have shown that the longer a person has been meditating the younger they score on tests of biological age. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Is Meditation an Educational Tool?

Meditation can enhance the educational experience in much the same way that it promotes healing and relieves stress. In fact, stress reduction itself allows anyone, including students, to function more effectively.

Is Meditation an Educational Tool

Is Meditation an Educational Tool

The meditation benefits of positive life choices and mind-states such as feeling at peace, finding joy, love and well-being in the body and mind, all of which promote self-confidence, effectiveness and a personal sense of power. All qualities which are immensely valuable to students navigating into today’s culture and educational systems. ᅠ

Joe Wilner writes in, “Adventures in Positive Psychology,” and asks the question about meditation in schools, “Could it be a promising educational tool?” Here’s what he has to say… ᅠᅠ

Students today are more stressed, have more distractions, and often don’t have an effective outlet to cope with daily tension.

It’s all too easy for teenagers to turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, and the media as a way of escaping the pressure of being a young adult.

Meditation is a simple and effective practice to help reduce stress, and been shown to have many other positive psychological effects.

So, would it be valuable for school districts to integrate meditation programs in their schools?

There are many schools around the nation that have already done so, and it appears that meditation can provide a positive outlet for youth.

Here are a few ways meditation can have a positive impact.

Research has shown meditation improves academic performance and results in improvement in intelligence.

This may be in part due to enhancing attention and concentration, as well as providing a method to cope with stress and anxiety that can impact academic performance.

As well, certain types of mediation have been shown to alter brain activity to improve executive functions involved with attention, focus, planning, and alertness.

Particularly, Transcendental Meditation (TM) helps the brain function in a more orderly and coherent fashion leading to improved creativity, greater emotional maturity, and stress reduction.

The emotional and mental benefits of meditation not only improve academic performance but can lead to healthier interpersonal relationships. Mediation offers a way to train the mind toward optimal emotional states, such as compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and empathy.

With less stress and agitation schools will see a decline in aggressive behavior and a more positive school environment.

Overall, if these social and emotional improvements lead to greater school satisfaction for students this will have recurring benefits of its own.

Research has shown that the level of school-satisfaction is related to improved academic performance and decreases in behavior problems.

Meditation and mindfulness training programs are growing in several school districts around the nation, and students generally like participating in meditation.

However, many parents feel that mediation is connected to religion and view it as an ancient, mystical practice having no place in public schools. Proponents would claim that it is unrelated to religion and is simply a practice that offers physiological benefits, just the same as yoga or cardiovascular exercise.

Regardless of your view, if students are being pushed to work harder and expected to compete in the ever increasing globalized world we live in, it would helpful to provide them with a tool to manage enhance emotional and mental faculties.

In his conclusion Joe believes that, given the expectations placed on students today, that providing them with every available tool, not just to enhance their learning but to help them cope with the pressures of the educational system, isn’t simply a good idea, it’s becoming a survival tool.

And meditation is the tool that will teach them how to cultivate qualities and skills they need; to name a few, increased concentration and focus, how to be in the moment and free from expectations, developing a longer attention span, enhanced mental clarity and, frankly, all the other meditation benefits that come with a regular practice.

 

Regular practice is the key to being able to successfully benefit from this tool, and by teaching it in the schools a regular practice is more likely to occur. In a formal educational environment students can be exposed to other beneficial forms of meditation such as guided imagery. Personally, I do believe that meditation can be a promising educational tool. What do you think? Click here to visit the original source of this post

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

One question that comes up in my meditation classes is, “should you meditate to music and are there any meditation benefits if you do?” Paradoxically, the answer is yes and no. It depends on your approach to meditation.

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

If you have chosen a Vedic, transcendental, mantra based approach, then listening to, and certainly playing, music is not recommended, because the focus of the approach is deep inner silence and music will draw you attention away.

Because mindfulness is the quality of being in harmony with the present moment and starts by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, it is the perfect meditative approach to music for both listening and playing.

Rolf Hind, a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music, discovered the benefits of meditation and felt compelled to share the practice with his students, but hey, I’ll let him tell it in his own words…ᅠ

ᅠ“…It dawned on me that meditation naturally appeals to musicians, as clearly evidenced by my mini vox pop. Musicians spend a lot of time – even as children – in a state of solitary absorption, called practice. And when we perform, we seek and occasionally know (generally by not seeking) those elusive “flow states” where, in the coming together of all our preparation and the right circumstances, playing feels wonderfully natural and unselfconscious. The latter is something that people sometimes get mystical about,ᅠbut there is increasing research to suggest that it has a physiological and neurological basis.

For me, the practice of meditating – in its more secular usage, the cultivation of mindfulness – has brought an enormous amount to my life and music-making. A sense of clarity and control, less neurosis about ambitions and “career”, greater efficiency, awareness and body sense as a pianist. As a composer, I’m more in touch with the sources of my own creativity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, it occurred to me, if more musicians (and more people generally, come to that) could benefit from this straightforward practice?”

“Science is increasingly endorsing mindfulness. It’s been shown as an effective treatment of stress, anxiety, psoriasis and depression, and approved by the Mental Health Foundation. It is taught in prisons and schools and widely used by sportsmen. And among the enthusiastic proponents of this approach is no less than the Dalai Lama. With our western thirst for scientific corroboration of experience, there is now more and more data emerging about the proven effects of mindfulness practice in many trials. But none yet specifically geared toᅠmusicians…”

“So when the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I teach, suggested I apply for funds to instigate a course with students, I leapt at the chance.

With my friend and colleague, Chris Cullen, an eight-week course was devised to introduce some techniques and encourage the participants to make mindfulness a part of their practice and life. We also wanted to develop a specific form of mindfulness-teaching tailored for musicians. To me, there were four key areas that might benefit: developing a practice routine, dealing with nerves, gaining an increased awareness of the body, and unlocking creativity. All of which could, I hoped, help in all aspects of music-making and listening.

Chris, a highly experienced and effortlessly motivating teacher of mindfulness, brought a wealth of warmth and kindness to the sessions. Indeed a participant wrote: “To be kind to yourselfᅠisᅠ… very important, but in an environment of pressure and competition, I keep forgetting about it.” There was sufficient buzz from the first course thatᅠweᅠwere able to run it again the followingᅠterm.

Its structure was based on the groundbreaking work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has been bringing mindfulness meditation into the US medical mainstream since 1979. A version of his mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course is recommended by Nice (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in the UK for sufferers of recurrent depression and anxiety. Kabat-Zinn has worked with the management of chronic pain as well as with specific clients with particular needs: prisoners, the mentally ill, sportsmen and lawyers to name but a few groups.

The students meet for two hours a week. The time is filled with a guided meditation, a discussion relating to their progress with the practices they have been taught, and suggestions of ways in which they can develop mindfulness as a tool in their musical lives. One of the key practices is the guided body scan – you lie on your back and slowly work your way around your body, trying to feel it from within.ᅠParticular themes are explored – embodiment, or dealing with one’s inner critic…”

“If there is not the time for a longer daily meditation (and even if there is) the students are encouraged to see if they can carry out some everyday activities mindfully: while you are brushing your teeth, being fully immersed in the sensations; walking to the tube you are feeling the sensations of your feet on the pavement, the air on your exposed skin, and so on. You’re fully living the experience. They also take three-minute mindfulness breaks when things are in danger of gettingᅠhectic…”

“The feedback has been relentlessly positive. Some students have used the term “life-changing”. “I have become less prone to stress and anxiety, my self-image has become more stable (I feel like I know myself better) and my concentration has improved hugely,” says one. Another writes: “I think the course is a must for musicians wanting to fulfil theirᅠpotentials.”

It’s a piece with calm episodes, but also moments of high anxiety, excitement and violent joy. This seems to surprise people, who, when you’ve come off a retreat, generally say: “Oh, I’m so jealous. Did you have a lovely relaxing time?” Well yes … to an extent … although you would be surprised what an ecstatic cacophony emerges from your mind when there’s nothing around to distract it.”

Listening to music can end up being, besides a meditation, a meditation benefit in its own right. Listening to music is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Instead of daydreaming or thinking of all the things you need to do, listen to the music with full attention. When your mind wonders off, gently return to the music, and continue to do that as often as your attention gets drawn away.

There will be times when your slip into the “flow” and you lose yourself in the sound so that you sound merge, only the listening remains. It’s in that moment that you’ve stepped out beyond the mind. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Could a Meditation Benefit be helping Vets Suffering with PTSD?

In this study, conducted by Dr. Norman Rosenthal, and will appear in the June 1st issue of “Military Medicine,” a great deal of promise in treating the symptoms of PTSD using Transcendental Meditation.

Meditation is known to lower blood pressure, reduce the heart rate in other words reduce the stress response. It’s the ‘fight-or-flight’ response that is hyper-active in those suffering with PTSD.ᅠ

If even a small percentage of people with PTSD were to obtain the kind of benefits Joe reports, then teaching our wounded warriors to meditate promises an abundant return on our investment. Norman E. Rosenthal, MD is Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at

Being able to even provide treatment programs for all those suffering from PTSD, based on the standard of treatment, has been sorely lacking, because the facilities that can provide aversive deconditioning are limited.

If, as the preliminary studies suggest, meditation can help control or alleviate the symptoms of PTSD, then a very accessible and inexpensive treatment will be available to all those who suffer from the syndrome, including earthquake, tornado or any other victims of devastating natural disasters.

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Freedom is Bliss and Meditation makes it Blissful

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, speaks to the freedom that comes from letting go of attachment.

The bliss of freedom makes meditation blissful – Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
www.tm.org The bliss of freedom makes meditation blissful – Maharishi Mahesh Yogiᅠ
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Maharishi Mahesh Yogi speaks to the freedom that comes from letting go of attachment.

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Transcendental meditation the Meditation Benefits of a Daily Practice

Best known for describing seasonal affective disorder (SAD), Dr. Norman Rosenthal, believes that we would all benefit from a daily meditation practice. Just as a musicians tune their instruments, we can and need to tune our brains. Meditation is the means to do the tuning and Rosenthal recommends transcendental meditation, though any mantra based, inner awareness meditation will have the same affect.ᅠ

But the benefits of meditation are not limited to anger management and lower cholesterol. At the seminar psychiatrists, therapists, mental health workers and spiritual teachers had come together to explore how the spiritual dimension of meditation  
The Guardian

A mantra is a word without meaning that “anchors” the mind, which allows us to still our thoughts and eventually leads us to self-realization. This self-realization is the gradual releasing of attachment or the process of enlightenment.

In the end, the benefits of meditation can be experienced in the same way that the benefits of exercise can be, through a daily practice.

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