Music and Meditation and Alzheimer’s Disease

Music and meditation and Alzheimer’s disease are coming together in a forth coming book to be penned by, esteemed researcher, Rudolph Tanzi and renowned author and Doctor, Deepak Chopra.

Music and Meditation and Alzheimer’s Disease

Music and Meditation and Alzheimer’s Disease

The two meet at a TEDMED conference and were attracted to each other research and have agreed to collaborate on a book, that according to Tanzi will be about, “how to optimize the use of your brain to elevate both your levels of consciousness and cognition.”

I can say that as a member of the baby boomer generation this subject holds more than a passing interest for me, and really no matter what age group you’re in, ultimately, it should for you too. I have long been aware of the benefits of meditation as a means of stress reduction.

It is the connection between meditation, consciousness and Alzheimer’s that would, also be of interest to Dr. Chopra.

The benefits of a regular meditation practice are one of the most scientifically proven ways to elicit the relaxation response and reduce stress. It is the eliciting of the relaxation response that is one of the most powerful ways to delay memory loss and possibly even the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. This is believed to be as the result of anti-stress response and the lower production of cortisol a dangerous stress hormone.

Tanzi’s interest in music and Alzheimer’s disease, sparked by his own love of playing music, as prompted him to begin working on a book about music therapy for Alzheimer’s disease (as yet unfinished). He leads the Alzheimer’s Genome project and in article, published at KTVU.com, is working on…

“…a groundbreaking initiative in collaboration with the Cure Alzheimer’s Fund that is dedicated to finding genes associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Once scientists identify what’s going wrong with those genes in people who have the condition, they can work toward developing drugs that may repair the damage. “The idea is fix what’s broken,” Tanzi said.

Beginning with an accordion at age 9, Tanzi has always loved playing music, and that passion isn’t entirely separate from the work that he does on neurological conditions. In fact, right now he’s working on a book about music therapy for Alzheimer’s disease – more details will follow when it’s further along.

Tanzi is composing and practicing music all the time, which he says helps his research. It keeps his mind clear and free to come up with new ideas that can be tested in the lab later.

“For me, music is just an integral part of keeping my mind in the right state for doing science that’s hopefully novel and creative and out of the box and not simply derivative,” he said.

One focus of Tanzi’s group is examining genes associated with the brain’s immune system. This system is designed to help you in the event of trauma (such as concussion or stroke) or infection, but too much activity in the brain’s immune system can damage neurons, too. It seems that this system’s activity influences the buildup of beta-amyloid, the main ingredient of plaques seen in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The current goal is to develop drugs that could prevent this accumulation of beta-amyloid. Like cholesterol, beta-amyloid serves a purpose, but too much buildup is bad. The drugs in development “could be the statins of Alzheimer’s,” Tanzi explains.

A drug with a different mechanism that Tanzi’s group influenced is now in clinical trials. That one is designed to prevent the copper and zinc from binding to beta-amyloid, which would redistribute these metals in the brain and therefore reduce the brain plaque buildup associated with Alzheimer’s. The drug is being tested by Prana Biotechnology, an Australian company that began in Tanzi’s lab; evidence from phase II clinical trials suggests it may help cognitive function in patients, but further study is needed to say for sure.

Tanzi is also exploring a possible association between a commonly used anesthetic called isoflurane and Alzheimer’s. In mice, experiments have found that this chemical increases the production of beta-amyloid; whether this is also the case in humans is the subject of further exploration.

Having read other research that carnivores in the animal kingdom appear more likely to show Alzheimer’s pathology than herbivores, Tanzi is a vegetarian. There’s no new study on the subject, but existing evidence suggests there may be a connection, at least among animals. And in humans, the Mediterranean diet, which is low in red meat and high in vegetable content, has been associated with lower Alzheimer’s risk in several studies.” Read more…

This collaboration could be an important one, because medical studies indicate that by delaying the onset of memory loss by as little as five years that we can reduce a person’s chance of developing Alzheimer’s disease up to fifty percent. And if the memory is kept strong for ten years longer than expected that there is almost no risk of Alzheimer’s.

Music and meditation and Alzheimer’s disease are going to be linked together in a powerful way, and I believe for the benefit of us all.

Genes, Time & Immortality…Rudolph Tanzi, PH. D . & Deepak Chopra Part #1

Genes, Time & Immortality…Rudolph Tanzi, PH. D . & Deepak Chopra Part #1

Genes, Time & Immortality…Rudolph Tanzi, PH. D . & Deepak Chopra Part # 2

Genes, Time & Immortality…Rudolph Tanzi, PH. D . & Deepak Chopra Part # 2

Henry McCance and Rudolph Tanzi at TEDMED 2010

Rudolph Tanzi describes the cause of Alzheimer’s disease and how a venture capital-style funding model backed by Henry McCance has helped lead to progress in fighting this disease.

Related Books:

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Meditation Benefits: What is Meditation?

What is Meditation?

What is Meditation?

What is meditation? The word meditation has been misunderstood and used incorrectly, especially in the culture of the mass media. Meditation has come to mean everything from contemplating to daydreaming or fantasizing. In Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) the word for meditation is dhyana and it is not contemplation or imagination.

Meditation is a specific practice that quiets the mind, taking us beyond our doubt, anxiety, judgments, in other words, beyond the prison of our mental conditioning. It is a state of consciousness beyond the ordinary waking state. Meditation is a means for understanding and experiencing the center of consciousness within.

Meditation is not a religion, though it plays a part in all the worlds’ wisdom traditions and is used to enrich the spiritual experience. Meditation is a science, which means it has defined principles, that there’s a specific process which is followed, and it produces results that can be verified.

The practice of meditation is the practice of clearing the mind, allowing it to become relaxed and inwardly focused. Meditation is a state of restful-awareness; your mind is clear, you are fully awake and aware, but your mind is not focused on the external environment or any of the events that are happening around you. You are cultivating an inner state that is one-pointed and still, so that the mind will slip into silence. When this stillness happens, and the mind falls silent and it no longer distracts you, your meditation deepens.

In this ‘modern’ age, we are not educated in how to look within; all our educational practices are focused on examining the external world. As a result we remain, mostly, unknown to ourselves, strangers to our true nature. Vast reaches of our mind go unknown, the deep reservoir of our unconscious (subconscious) mind remains a mystery and outside of our control. The result is confusion, doubt and disappointment, with these attributes often playing a major role in our lives. It’s been said that the whole of the body is in the mind but the mind (the intellect) is not in the whole of the body.  It is only through the awareness which arises in meditation that we can really develop control over the mind.

To reach the goal of meditation, which is to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature, our biggest obstacle is our mind, which stands between us and pure awareness. This is the reason that it is often referred to as the ‘monkey mind,’ and why the practice of training the mind is compared to that of training a puppy. The mind resists any efforts to control it, because it seems that our mind has a mind of its own. It’s the uncontrolled mind that causes us to only experience daydreams, visions and fantasies instead of having the genuine experience of meditation.

The practice of meditation is the practice of stilling and calming yourself, releasing judgment and seeing things as they are. It is a way training the mind so that you won’t be caught up in its endless movement and distractions. Meditation is the process of systematically exploring your inner dimensions.     

Meditation is a commitment, you are committing yourself to a practice not a ritual or ceremony. Meditation is not about forcing the mind to be quiet (it really can’t be done that way); instead it is the process of letting go and discovering the quietness that is always present behind the screen of our internal dialogue. Meditation requires a certain discipline; there is a need for consistency. Meditation is like learning to play a musical instrument or paint a picture, if you want to reach the level where creativity can flow naturally through you; then you need to practice the techniques until you can let go of them.

Meditation is freedom from the endless noise and distractions inside your head. Meditation allows you to experience what is taking place around you without reacting. Meditation brings you the freedom to experience who you really are, free from all the mental activity, and you begin to experience inner contentment and joy.

This relief and respite from the hectic pace of everyday life is not an escape from the world but the foundation of inner peace. With practice you can begin bringing the attributes of meditation into your everyday activities, which allows you to move more effectively in the world. Applying the principles of meditation to the experiences that happen before you, you can become fully present to them, which gives you time to respond before reacting to them.

Meditation is very beneficial in that way; it exposes your unproductive habits and reflexes instead of acting them out and this leads to inner balance, harmony and freedom.

So what is meditation? It is the place where you remember your essential nature as centered, creative and peaceful, free to experience the joy of being fully present in this moment, NOW

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Meditation Benefits: Patience and the Practice of Meditation

Patience and the practice of meditation will equal consistency. And because every action has a reaction, it’s not possible to consistently practice and not receive benefits. However, those benefits may not be noticeable to you early on in your practice. This is where your patience comes in. You may not, in the beginning, notice the benefits, but gradually over time, because you are storing the samskaras (impressions) in your unconscious mind, the benefits will bloom to help you later. And because it takes time to notice the results be consistent, and most of all, gentle with yourself.

Meditation Benefits: Patience and the Practice of Meditation

Patience and the Practice of Meditation

Meditation is quietly looking inward, beyond the mind and discovering the different levels of your being, one after another. This process is personal and it is experiential, meaning that it can only grow out of practice and not by intellectual pursuits. This is important because you “need to do in order to be.”

In his article in the “times of India,” Sant Rajinder Singh notes that there are two ‘elements’ which make up the study and pursuit of spiritual (self-realization) teaching, Study and practice (he refers to study as theorizing). Singh warns against too much study and not enough practice.

As a way of illustrating the point he tells us a story of  Buddha and one of his disciples Malunkyaputta.

“While we must satisfy the mind and have our questions answered, we do not want to get trapped into mental wrangling, for that is like a spider web in which we may get stuck.

The Buddha spent 45 years teaching spiritual truths to enable people to break free of the karmic wheel of life that binds them to this world. Buddha was full of compassion and served humanity selflessly. The only time he did not tour was during the rainy season, when he stayed in one place. He gave all an equal chance to find the way to enlightenment.

So many questions

One day, a disciple, Malunkyaputta sought an interview with the Buddha. Malunkyaputta had a restless mind, that asked: “Is the world infinite or finite? Is the soul identical with the human body?” Since he was preoccupied with these questions, he could not meditate. He requested the Buddha to answer his questions failing which he would leave the order.

Buddha replied, “O Malunkyaputta, did I ever ask you to take up this path and did I promise you that I would answer these intellectual wranglings?” The disciple sheepishly replied, “No.” Buddha said, “Whoever worries about these meaningless speculations such as whether the world is infinite or finite, or whether the soul looks like the body, is taking away time from spiritual practice. It is just like someone who is shot by an arrow who instead of letting the doctor treat him to get out the poison starts saying, ‘I will not allow my wound to be treated until I know who is the man who shot me, what kind of person is he, is he tall or short, what type of bow and arrow did he use, or what colour is his skin.’ The key is to get treatment first. Similarly, if we say we will not do our spiritual practices until we get answers to these questions about whether the universe is eternal or not, and other such questions, then one may pass one’s whole life and never reach the spiritual goal.”

While in the Simsapa forest near Kosambi, Buddha was sitting with his disciples. He picked up a few leaves and asked his disciples, “What is your opinion? Which is more? Is it the few leaves in my hand, or the leaves in the forest around us?”

The disciples said, “You have very few leaves in your hand, while there are many more in the forest.” Buddha then told them, “It is the same with my teachings. Of everything I know, I have only told you a little. What I have not told you is much more, like the leaves in the forest. Why did I not tell you everything I know? The reason is that all that information is not useful. Information that will not lead to enlightenment, I have not told you. I have only told you that which you need to know to gain the spiritual experience and find salvation.”

Practise makes perfect

As we think about our own lives, many get involved in intellectual pursuits. But there comes a point when we find that the mind will never stop its wrangling. We have to discriminate which questions will help our spiritual progress and which ones are merely to satisfy the intellect’s curiosity. People who are steeped in the theoretical side of religion can spend years debating each point found in scriptural writings and never find any solution. It is far better to spend time in our spiritual practices so that we can rise above our limited intellect and come in contact with our soul. Then, we will not have to wonder about answers, for we will know them for certain and see them for ourselves. Our soul has all the answers; it is one with the Lord.” Read more…

In cultivating a meditation practice, how much and what technique you need to practice, will depend on your motivation. If you simply want a little less stress in your life, you don’t need to meditate three or four hours a day, on the other hand if you are seeking spiritual awakening, then ten minutes in the morning really isn’t going to cut it. This is where the “theorizing” come in, after determining your motivation you can begin to discover which meditation or combination of meditation practices fit your needs.    

No matter which technique(s) you decide upon, at first you will see progress in terms of feeling less stress, physically relaxed and emotionally calmer. As your practice progresses and depending, again on your intention, you may begin to notice subtle changes. At this stage some of the benefits of meditation will only make themselves known over time and are less dramatic.

With persistence, patience and the practice of meditation, you will discover a sense of freedom. Freedom from everyday worries and the freedom to experience the joy in this moment.

What is your motivation? What meditation techniques do you use, and do you need help determining what one fits your needs. You can share here.

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Meditation Quotes: Within yourself is a stillness…

 

Within yourself is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.

~ Herman Hesse ~

Meditation Quotes Herman Hesse:

Meditation Quotes ~ Herman Hesse ~

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Meditation benefits: The Source of Joy and Sorrow

The mind is the source of joy and sorrow.

Patanjali sutras

Patanjali sutras on the source of joy and sorrow

In the Yoga sutras, Patanjali explains, by cultivating a practice of meditation a student begins to develop a calm and clear mind, and as the practice evolves the still mind can focus on both the subtle and gross objects. The highest goal spirituality or meditation is to awaken to the true nature of things and discover the cause of suffering at the individual and collective level. To implement a cure for our suffering, Patanjali reminds us, we must awaken to our own true nature.

All sorrow lies at the core of our being, deep within us, and it’s here that the cure can only be found. Unless you can shine the light of awareness on the deepest parts of your inner being, your search for emotional freedom will be confined to external factors, where they can never be found.

Most of us know how precious and wonderful life is and that we should not waste it. Yet somehow we manage to pass each day lost in the fog of the unconsciousness. Sometimes events awaken and motivate us to participate, and even then despite our good intentions, we found ourselves slipping back into the unconscious and mundane.

Though we have the powerful spiritual teachings and the words of wisdom from the great seers and teachers, we find ourselves only looking to external causes for unhappiness and sickness, instead of placing our vision on the underlying subtle and more potent causes. As a result we hold someone or something in the outer world responsible for all our problems. Patanjali, in the sutras, ask and answers why.

The sutras teach that we are what we think, that the core of our being is made up of our belief system, our inner tendencies and habitual patterns that make up and define our personalities. It’s out of these personal tendencies and patterns that our mindset arises. While at the level of our soul we contain the essence of the Divine, in our everyday existence our mindset create our reality, good or bad, happy or sad, filled with suffering or imbued with joy. We perceive (and therefore create) our reality based on our mindset. It is from this perception that our patterns of likes and dislikes, our conditioned world, grows.

It’s through the repeated actions that our mental impressions grow stronger and stronger creating, what Vedanta describes as, deep groves in the mind-field, called samsara. This effect in the mind-field is also known as the wheel of karma. And once we are caught up in these perceptions the grooves deepen and the wheel spins faster and our only opportunity to disrupt this pattern is to bring awareness to our fundamental perceptions, our likes and dislikes. This is the level of true transcendence and transformation and the only way to bring fundamental and lasting change to all aspects of our lives.

This is why, according to Patanjali, the highest form of meditation is on self-awareness, and why enlightenment is understood to be self-realization. When we still our minds we have then have to power to become whatever and whomever we wish. We accomplish this when we transcend our judgments (likes and dislikes), our aversions and attachments. It’s from this place of transcendence, that the clear awareness of what lies at the core of our being allows us to discern what we need to release, and give us the courage to do it.

Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us that meditation on our real nature takes us into the subtlest realms of our being, the birthplace of all our suffering and with this knowledge we can end it. This clear, still and peaceful state of mind is called samadhi (the most subtle being sabija samadhi, meditation on prakriti), a state of total spiritual absorption.  

Yes, the mind is the source of joy and sorrow. Patanjali, through the sutras, shows us how to shine our inner light of awareness on the source allowing us to directly experience the truth and attain liberation.

One of my favorite translations and commentaries is,The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali by Alistair Shearer.” 

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Meditation Benefits: Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga

Asanas are not all there is to Yoga. For the few who may not know the ‘asana’ (meaning posture) are the poses that are generically referred in Western pop culture as Yoga. The asana is the third ‘limb’ (anga) of the sage Patanjali’s eight limbs of Yoga known as Ashtanga Yoga.

Bhartendu Sood, in his article, in the editorial page of “Times of India,” makes exactly this point, and that in practicing only the asanas one is practicing only one limb of Yoga. While practicing the postures will keep you fit and toned, if they are practiced with only that intention, fitness and good health will be the only benefit. A great one to be sure, but not one that will awaken you to your Divine nature.

Mr. Sood explains what is involved in walking the path set out by Patanjali, so here’s Mr. Sood…

The eight stages of ashtanga yoga are yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratihara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. The five yamas are non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, celibacy and non-covetousness. The five niyamas are cleanliness, contentment, austerity, self-study and surrender to God. Sage Patanjali expected seekers to embrace yama and niyama before coming to the third stage, asana. The eightfold path is to take the practitioner towards moral, physical and spiritual uplift. The ultimate aim of yoga is spiritual realisation or samadhi via mind and body.

Pranayama is control of breath; it purifies and removes distractions, facilitating concentration and meditation. Pratyahara is withdrawal of the senses during meditation that enables you to focus on the Supreme Power and establish a cosmic link. Dharana is to concentrate on one point for a considerable length of time. The aim is to still the mind by gently pushing away superfluous thoughts. Dhyana is uninterrupted meditation without an object.

The eight limbs work together: The first five steps – yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara – are the preliminaries of yoga and they build the foundation for spiritual life with body and brain. The last three, which would not be possible without the previous steps, are concerned with reconditioning the mind. They help the yogi to attain enlightenment.

Samadhi or enlightenment can be achieved only when we follow these eight stages in the order prescribed by Patanjali. A yogi acquires equanimity and a detached outlook before developing a flat tummy or toned body.

Training of the mind brings equanimity. It is a mental state that looks with equal ease at happiness and sorrow, at misery and luxury, and treats success and failure alike. It looks at the world and happenings around with an open mind, free of biases, fears and has only good and positive thoughts.

The Bhagavad Gita describes yoga as a state of equanimity, achieved by cultivating a detached but unified outlook, serenity of mind, skill in action and the ability to stay attuned to the glory of the Self or atman and the Supreme or Bhagavan.

According to Krishna, the root of all suffering and discord is the agitation of mind caused by selfish desire. The only way to douse the flame of desire is by simultaneously stilling the mind through self-discipline and engaging in a higher form of activity. Yamas and niyamas speak of this self-restraint and discipline, underlining that asanas without yamas and niyamas are simply exercises.

Traversing the path of yoga is not that easy since it calls for lot of restraint, discipline and devotion. It is not good to skip the first two steps in order to begin with asanas. There is nothing wrong in it but it can’t be named yoga and we ought to be aware of its limitation when it comes to making a person spiritual. Read more…

Mr. Sood points out that the first five steps are preliminary steps need to reach the final three. This true, but there is a deeper truth. It is true that there is a sequence to the eight limbs which makes up the daily practice and that total samadhi is the result of the previous seven limbs being fully developed, however, there are different levels of samadhi. Samadhi means a completely still or settled mind, and the first stage of samadhi (samprajnata), is the initial settling down of the mind, that right from the beginning of the practice, helps bring together the practice of all eight limbs.

Even these early stages of samadhi are very beneficial for the mind body system and move the practitioner closer to total absorption.

The whole process of Yoga is to unite the separate individual self with the Universals self. Yoga is the practice of reentering our original state, the state of perfection, a state of perfect self-realization. Knowing this it’s easy to understand that asanas are not all there is to Yoga.

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