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.

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Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit?

Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit

Meditation Benefits: What is Spirit

When we ask the question “What is Spirit,” the answer that all the wisdom traditions have in common is known as the perennial philosophy, which as three basic threads of commonality. First, there’s a deeper reality that underlies the world of ordinary physical and mental reality. Second, that within each of us there exist a quality that is a part of this greater reality. And that the purpose of life is to realize, or awaken to, this larger reality.

The deeper reality that underlies the world of ordinary physical and mental reality is, according to the great traditions, a Spiritual or Divine reality that really exists, known to some as God or Holy Spirit, for others its described as the ground of being. Other language used to describe this deeper reality is, Tao, essential nature, emptiness of Self. Whatever language that is used to describe this sacred reality, it’s the reason, meaning and purpose of life.

We are the connected to and a part of this Divine reality. Once again there the language differs but the meaning is the same. Known to the Hindus as Atman, to the Buddhist as Buddha nature, to the Christians as Soul and to Jews as the Divine spark within. While the words used to describe it differ, all the traditions agree that there is something that connects us all to the greater reality.

The purpose of life is to realize, or awaken to, this larger reality. Millions of us acknowledge our connection to Spirit in church, temple or synagogue and many of us yearn, like the Buddhist monk, to awaken it. However we choose to acknowledge it, whether we are Christian and seek to embody the Holy Spirit or like the Sufi mystic long to unite with it, there is a natural and deep desire to realize this deeper reality.

No matter how you describe it all the wisdom traditions agree that the reason we suffer, and the primary difficulty that we need to resolve is the feeling of separation, the loss of connection to the deeper reality; we feel isolated, cut off from our own essential nature.

Why do we feel separated from Spirit?

Deepak Chopra addresses this question on his blog, giving his answer to what Spirit is.

Asking “What is spirit?” is another way of asking “Who am I?” Your true Self is pure, infinite spirit. Spirit isn’t something outside you, but is intertwined in everything you feel, think and do. Looking for spirit, the Vedic sages observed, is like a thirsty fish looking for water.

Even when you know that your essential nature is spirit, you can easily be deluded by the incessant activity of your mind and ego . . . the continuous cascade of thoughts, sensations and emotions. The mind can get mired in a conditioned pattern of thinking, returning again and again to thoughts of anxiety, stress, depression and limitation.”

Some of the traditions define the ego as self-image, personality or pride, and it’s the inner turbulence created by this self-centered preoccupation that keeps us feeling separate and from realizing true self-awareness.

These ego patterns can be buried deep within us and can require years of meditative practice to unravel. At a deeper level of awareness there is no, and never has been, a separation from Spirit.      

The Benefits of Meditation, Expanding Your Spiritual Awareness

Deepak explains it this way:

“In truth, you are always free. You can go beyond mental conditioning by using the timeless tool of meditation to expand your consciousness and access the field of pure potentiality. Meditation allows the mind to become quiet and experience the silence and peace of pure awareness. Numerous studies also show the many health benefits of meditation, including lowered blood pressure, stress reduction and increased immune function.

With a regular practice, the expansive awareness you enter during meditation begins to permeate your life outside of your meditation sessions. You might experience flashes of elation and notice feelings of well-being sweeping over you at unexpected moments. You will begin to walk with more buoyancy and feel a warmth and peace in your heart. These are all signs that you are opening to spirit.” Continue reading 

Ramana Maharshi

Ramana Maharshi

The way Ramana Maharshi said it The only thing that separates you from the Self (Spirit) is the belief that you are separate.”  

Ultimately the question, “What is Spirit” can only truly be known and understood by asking the question, “who am I?”

Meditation Benefits: Deepak Chopra on Happiness and being present

The last piece of advice given to Deepak, by his Abbot, The Venerable Arjarn Ekachai, at the end of his two weeks of a “monk’s journey” in Thailand, was advice that Deepak wanted to share with us all.

"monk's journey" in Thailand

"Monk's journey" in Thailand ~ Photo Gotham Chopra

Here’s the piece of advice that the Abbot gave to Deepak, “The only moment that never ends is now. The most important activity in your life is what you are doing now. The most important people in your life are the ones you are with now. And the most important way to create the future is to be present now.”

When we are present in this moment life will consistently reward us. When we see in the present moment, we won’t miss the beauty, when we taste in this moment, flavor will be our reward, when we are fully present to the sound we will feel the music in our soul, when we are present to the aroma the scent will become sense, and when we are present to touch we will know that we are alive. That is the power of the present moment.

Being in the present moment we enter the timeless and we arrive at the true nature of our being.

Does this all sound esoteric? Well, in fact it’s very real and practical. All meditative practices, from mantra meditation to mindfulness, seek presence, either as deep inner awareness or being wholly present in the moment.

Before a thought arises in the mind we are in a timeless state and in this timeless state we need no, nor do we seek any, reason to be happy, we just are. This is the true state of happiness and our birth right.

When we are dependent on, people, positions, places or things to make us happy, then our happiness becomes conditional and bound to those people, positions, places or things. When our happiness is dependent on the world outside of us it can be taken away from us at any moment because the nature of the universe is change.

Bliss is defined as happiness that needs no reason, and the wisdom traditions came to the conclusion that time is the movement of consciousness, not far from Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity (Some physicists argue that there is no such thing as time). In consciousness time has a ‘flow,’ often described as the ‘arrow of time,’ but that flow is subjective and personal.

When we focus on the present we are attuning ourselves with our deepest reality and that this level happiness can never be taken away.

This focus on our true nature, or being present in the moment, doesn’t mean giving up participation in the everyday world; it simply means giving up attachment to it. Letting go of attachment is not becoming aloof, or detached from the world, it’s allowing the world to be as it is, the wonderful, the good, the bad and the ugly, without identifying with it or losing sight of your eternal nature.    

Ram Dass, in the title of his iconic book, “Be Here Now,” said it all. And in his book, “The Ultimate happiness Prescription,” Deepak said it again with one of his favorite sayings, “being here is enough.”  Deepak explained it this way:

“When people hear this, particularly successful people whose lives are full of projects and accomplishments, they look confused. To them, “being here” sounds passive and empty. Yet think about it. As they pursue lives that are so full of activity and goals, most people are not fulfilling their being. Quite the opposite. They are running away from a deep-seated fear that life is empty unless you constantly fill it up.”

Our ego drives our need to identify with people, positions, places and things, starting as children we begin our attachment and identification with our toys, and as we grow we continue to identify with the changing world, and to us this is the ‘real world.’ Yet, we live in two realities. The reality of the time bound is the reality created by the ego, and it’s thought be, by most of us as the only reality, but for some, the invisible world is the primary reality out of which all other realities are created; realities which arise out of every moment of now.  

Experiencing presence and ‘being here now’ are the same and no effort is required to enter. And as Deepak puts it, “Easy come, easy go” actually has a deep spiritual meaning. What comes and goes isn’t the real you. The real you is the bliss that exists beyond time.”

In This video, recorded at TEDMED 2010, Deepak speaks on the subject of happiness and being present, NOW.

Enjoy.

Deepak Chopra at TEDMED 2010

Meditation Benefits: Duck don’t do Anger

Meditation Benefits: Duck don’t do Anger

Meditation Benefits: Duck don’t do Anger

There’s a story told in meditation circles used to illustrate how meditation helps us deal with a very human emotion; anger. The story, I like to describe as, ‘ducks don’t do anger,’ tells how two ducks fighting over a piece of bread, after a short bit of angry nipping at each other, are able to just swim away, and unlike their human observers aren’t holding a grudge, feeling resentment or feeding their anger.

Anger is part of being human and it’s hardwired into our reptilian brain, it comes from our ego state, that part of us that needs us to feel secure and safe. In order to deal with anger we must find the underlying cause. Anger can rise out of fear, pain, sorrow; anger can be a cry for attention or help, it may be an expression of grief, loneliness or a desire for love.

In the end we have to own our anger and more importantly the root cause and in order to own it, we need to acknowledge it and not try and repress it. The questions arise, can meditation help us embrace this shadow side of our humanness and if so how?

Meditation is a practice of awareness and when we sit in meditation we start to become present with those parts of who we are, even those parts which we’ve repressed, hidden from, the darker side of our nature.

Unpleasant as unearthing these thoughts, feeling and emotions are, as long as we continue to repress them, the more they will rise up and make themselves known. Meditation opens a doorway allowing us to see what the real emotions are hiding behind it. Meditation invites us in to witness the anger, and in that process of witnessing anger, begin to evaporate it.

Ram Dass describes this process as ‘making friends with anger,’  a place from which he no longer identifies with it, he said it this way, in the Shapiro’s new book, “Be the Change,” “I still see anger arise, even after thirty years of meditating. But now, when it does, I can say, ‘Hello old friend’ and invite in for a cup of tea.”  He went on to say, “Meditation has helped to overcome the more negative places, like anger, because it gives me the chance to bring together my identification with my awareness.”

Anger unchecked can do untold damage both on an individual level and on the wider level of our collective consciousness. When anger is repressed it can transform into hatred, a transformation that occurs when we feel we’ve been especially wronged.

It’s natural to feel greater justification for this kind of anger, as well as, in situations where we see injustice. And in situations where find gross inhumanity, it becomes possible to transform angry passion into acts of compassion. This, however, can be a slippery slope, because justification can, also, become rational, and rational can be used to justify irrational acts.

It’s this level of anger that creates enemies and is ultimately the rational for violence. So, how do we move from anger and hatred of our enemies, to a place, if not of love, at least of tolerance?     

Deepak Chopra offers us this analysis of the problem from his blog post, “How to Love Your Enemies (Really).”  

Deepak Chopra

Deepak Chopra

1. Anger is a natural emotion, but when it turns to hatred, a natural emotion becomes distorted. Anger is bottled up and feeds on itself. Ideas of revenge, retribution and violence build up over time. People who have injured, opposed or offended you start to turn into enemies.

2. The rationale for hating an enemy can become quite complex and convincing. Long-held grudges always tell a story in which the wronged party is in the right. But behind these rationales the fuel is bottled-up anger.

3. Even when someone commits a horrendous offense against you, which would seem to justify seeking revenge, you are doing harm to yourself by harboring built-up anger. This insight, which is hard for many people — and nations — to arrive at, is key.

4. Once you see that the problem is built-up anger, and that anger is irrational and destructive, there is an incentive to release it. An emotional debt to the past creates suffering in the present. In cases where horrible crimes have been committed, the higher goal is to seek justice, not revenge. The two aren’t the same thing.

5. Paying old emotional debts can be done in various ways. A person can begin to cross the divide, talking to his enemy and realizing that both share a common psychology. Empathy can be cultivated. Letting go of pride and ego is worth pursuing. Yet much of this letting go happens only at the mental level, which isn’t adequate to the hot, violent feelings being held inside. In fact, when anger management training brings up old hostility without giving a way to release it, attempts at controlling anger fail miserably.

6. Releasing the hot, violent energy of anger can be done. Under the rubric of “energy work,” there are now many practitioners in this area. If that seems too arcane, it needn’t. Sit down and revisit a memory that arouses your anger. Generally these are memories where you feel that an injustice has been committed against you. Your mind is filled with reasons for how you were wronged. Now pause and feel the actual energy of your anger. Your body may be tense, your skin warm, breathing ragged, heartbeat increased. The physical side of anger is the key to releasing it, because rationales go on forever. They are all-consuming and self-consuming at the same time.

7. Once you have contacted the physical side of anger, there is a pivotal moment. If you express your anger by acting it out, mentally or physically, none of the energy will be released. Feeling your anger and expressing it still holds the energy inside. You must want the anger to go, which can be tricky. Like every strong emotion, anger believes in itself; it wants to stick around and keep telling you its story. To get past this allure, stop paying attention to the story and the rationales attached to it. Instead, focus on making the angry energy leave. This may require an experienced guide, because the pivotal moment is psychologically slippery. Read more…

In meditation, because we develop a greater sense of self-awareness, we have the opportunity to see anger as it is, with all its recurring patterns of thought and its waves of shadow energy, and make ‘friends with it.’ It is from this quiet space of self-reflection that we can begin to accept ourselves for who we are.   

Meditation is not a panacea; will we will be instantly be transformed into beings of light and love because we’ve practiced sitting on the cushion? No.   Meditation’s benefit is that it allows us to be honest and accepting of ourselves as we are and it’s that awareness which carries with it the power of real transformation.

Meditation Benefits: Deepak Chopra’s Xbox 360 meditation game – Wii

Deepak Chopra has once again entered the virtual world this time in the form of a new Xbox 360 meditation game. This is not Deepak’s first time in the gaming world, though this is the most ambitious partnering.

Deepak Chopra’s Xbox 360 meditation game

~ Deepak Chopra unveils Leela ~ Diane Bondareff/Associated Press:

 

Video gaming has often received bad press because of the violent nature of some of the games. Yet, there are many benefits to gaming, such as teaching empathy. According to Dr. Kourosh Dini a Chicago-based psychologist, “One of the big things about many games is you’re interacting with other people in such a way that you have to actively think about what the other people are doing or thinking in order to either play against them or play them cooperatively…”

Another benefit of playing video games is that they have been shown to improve cognitive health. Gaming requires players to follow rules, make quick decisions and complete numerous tasks, so it’s no wonder that it sharpens mental skills.  Arthur Kramer from University of Illinois recently found that the “Rise of Nations strategy” game improved specific cognitive skills, such as short-term memory, in adults in their over 60.

It should be noted here that just playing video games doesn’t automatically guarantee improved cognitive abilities. While gaming can be good mental exercise, to improve your cognitive health you still need physical exercise, good nutrition and stress management.

Deepak Chopra’s new ‘Leela’ game will tic two of the four boxes to improve cognitive health, mental exercise and stress management. Jeffrey Van Camp at Digital trends asks the question, “does a game like Leela have a chance at success?” here’s Jeffrey to discuss the game and address the question…

“Do violent games stress you out? Would you like to meditate to a soothing video game after a long day’s work? If so, spiritual guide Deepak Chopra and THQ may have a game for you. Called Leela, a word that means “play” in Sanskrit, the game uses Microsoft’s Kinect or the Wii Remote to combine the world of games with breathing and meditation exercises, reports the AP.

Xbox 360 meditation game

Xbox 360 meditation game

 

“I personally believe that you can accelerate neural development and biological evolution through video games,” said Chopra. “Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re doing right now. What we’re doing is creating addictions to violence, adrenaline and mindlessness, rather than mindfulness. That was my personal motivation to get involved in this medium.”

The game will use the Kinect sensors to guide users through the seven “chakras,” or points along the body that many believe serve as a body’s energy centers. Somewhat like Wii Fit or other games like Flower, Leela will have minigames that get more difficult over time, but it will not have scores or other competitive aspects. Instead, it will be more about learning how to better do the exercises and enjoy the soothing visuals and music. In one exercise called the “root chakra,” players must tilt their hips to seed a plant on the screen. The “heart chakra” has players use their hands to direct fireballs that destroy rocks to release hidden gems.

If this sounds strange, it is. THQ had a difficult time converting Chopra’s idea into anything resembling an entertaining game. ”We wanted to make sure each of the movements was fun and replayable,” said Peter Armstrong, director of product development at THQ. “That’s why we did more than 500 prototypes. We took the teachings and tried to boil them down. We would show those to Deepak and some of his experts, but there were several instances where they just didn’t work. They just didn’t quite fit the meaning of that chakra.”

But does a game like Leela have a chance at success? Its biggest problem may be its hybrid nature. Regular Xbox or Wii gamers may not be interested in a meditation game, while Chopra’s followers may not own a video game system. With console prices as high as $400, plus the price of the game, only the most devoted may spend the money to pick this up. Still, it will be fun to see what Chopra’s mediation practices are all about.

“It’s all doable now,” said Chopra. “We just have to bring it all together. If we can measure what’s happening in your body, your heart, your emotions, your breath and your mind, then there’s no reason why we can’t create a new generation of video games that can help accelerate the personal, psychological, emotional and spiritual development of human beings.”   Click here to visit the original source of this post

There are many other benefits found in playing video games, for example gaming is used to treat post-traumatic syndrome and to enhance mood. The list goes on, everything from better hand-eye coordination to imagination boost, so it would seem, it’s not playing video games that can have a negative influence on the player, it’s what video games are played.

I mentioned at the beginning of this piece that the Xbox 360 meditation game was not Deepak’s first adventure into the virtual world; in fact Deepak as always embraced the cutting edge in technology when it comes to sharing his passion, meditation. His first real ‘journey’ into gaming, “Journey to Wild Divine,” uses biofeedback technology, and is advertised as a “meditation adventure for the mind and body.”  Having used, and thoroughly enjoyed, ‘Wild Devine’ I can say honestly that I’m looking forward to the November 8th release of Leela for the Xbox 360 and Wii.    

“In the midst of movement and chaos keep stillness inside of you.”

~ Deepak Chopra ~

The First Complaint of a New Meditator

Yoga Vasistha

The Yoga Vasistha: the wisdom of Vedanta

The first complaint of a new meditator is just how restless the mind becomes the moment the eyes are closed, ‘I can’t stop thinking, it’s one thought after another, after another, after another.’ And the problem of thoughts seems all the more apparent, first of all because they simply more aware, and secondly, because there is this misconception that adept meditators can sit down and within moments still their mind as they drift off on a sea of bliss; this is simply not true.

 

 

All meditators wrestle with thoughts; after all, the mind is a thought generator, so even the practiced meditator must learn to move through thought. It’s learning how to move through thought and into meditation, that’s the practice, it’s learning you can meditate even when there are thoughts in the mind. As Sally Kempton explains in her new book, “Meditation for the Love of It,” when there is a shift in perception then, “…the mind need not be completely still for you to experience the state of meditation.”

According to the ancient wisdom tradition of Vedanta, the Yoga Vasistha; “Consciousness plus thoughts is the mind. Consciousness minus thoughts is God.” The practice is to point the restless mind in the proper direction, which we do by bringing the mind to and object of focus, and gently return it, each of the thousands of times it wonders off.

In a post, “Meditation: I am Ocean,” taken from his book, Quantum Healing, Deepak Chopra explores the nature of thought and the challenges that all meditators face, so here I will turn it over to Deepak…

“Thoughts are like ocean waves. Rising and falling, they see only their own motion. They say, “I am a wave,” but the greater truth, which they don’t see, is, “I am ocean.” There is no separation between the two, whatever the wave might suppose. When the wave settles down, then it instantly recognizes that its source in ocean – infinite, silent, unchanging – was always there.

When the mind is thinking, it is all activity; when it stops thinking, it returns to its source in silence. Only then, when the mind touches pure awareness, will the real storehouse of Veda be located.

The experience of Veda therefore is not ancient or even particularly Indian. It is universal and can be had at any moment by any person. The whole trick is not to move horizontally, which is how the stream of consciousness normally moves, but to sink vertically.

This vertical descent is transcending, meditation, dhyan, “going beyond” – all manifestations of a mind that ceases to identify with waves and begins to identify with ocean.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

Sometimes thoughts run deeper than simple distractions, and continue to replay in our minds as a kind of mental feedback loop; these habitual patterns are known in yoga as samskaras. It’s through the light of awareness which is created in meditation that allows us to release all the old emotional and habitual baggage, to free ourselves of the samskaras.

Often we come to meditation with the expectation that we can ‘let go,’ freeing ourselves of all those troublesome and sometimes, buried feelings, thoughts or emotions. What happen instead is, meditation allows these mental blockages, emotional struggles and deep seeded feelings to rise to the surface of our conscious awareness, where once light is shed on them they begin to dissipate into the ether.

As your practice deepens over time you begin to slip into the space between thoughts, sensing and experience the spaciousness which arises. You become the clear sky, unaffected by the clouds of thought as they drift through the vast expanse your serein space.

To read more from the authors mentioned in the article, you can check out their books here:

Sally Kempton: “Meditation for the Love of It,”

Deepak Chopra: “Quantum Healing”

Yoga Vasistha

 

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

 

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

Orgasm and Meditation it’s not What You Think

William James, the famous American psychologist and philosopher, once said that the ‘self’ was a kernel of consciousness that carries through all our various sensations and experiences. This ‘self’ is consistently vacillating between our interior ‘voice,’ the self-talk going on in our heads all the time, and our exterior stream of consciousness, except in those rare moment when we slip into being, those moments of pure awareness.

 

 

 

 

These moments of ‘mysticism,’ as Nadia Webb, described it in a recent article in Scientific American, are where orgasm and meditation share a common distinctions which are, a lack of self-awareness, changes in bodily perception and a reduced awareness of pain. It’s this escape from our continuous ‘running critique’ that is what seems to be the catalyst for our pleasure.

Meditation is not about escape but presence, awareness and transformation. The link between the two experiences, however, has been that’s recognized by the practitioners of the wisdom traditions for millennia.

 

This link between meditation and orgasm was explained this way in an article published in the Huffington Post, “…Osho, the Indian spiritual teacher formerly known as Rajneesh, was famous for his acknowledgment of the mystical value of an orgasm. “The experience of orgasm itself is always nonsexual. Even though you have achieved it through sex, it itself has no sexuality in it,” he once said. “And my own understanding is that meditation has grown out of the experience of orgasm.”

 

I’ll let you reach your own conclusions about the “neurobiology of bliss,” so I’ll turn over to Nadia Webb…

 

“In studies that observe the brain in action, the right hemisphere seems to be the sexy hemisphere. It lights up during orgasm—so much so that, in one study, much of the cortex went dark, leaving the right prefrontal cortex as a bright island. New research suggests the right hemisphere is also hyperactive amongst the “hypersexual,” a symptom of brain injury loosely defined as groping, propositioning or masturbating in public without shame.

What is surprising about this is that pleasure is classically thought of as the province of the left hemisphere, not the right. The left is most active when recalling happy memories, meditating on love for another, and during the expansiveness of grandiosity or mania.

The left hemisphere is even preferentially more active among people free of depression and less active among the unhappy. If the brain were a simpler and more cooperative organ, the left hemisphere would be lit up like the Fourth of July during an orgasm. Instead, it is surprisingly silent. Why might this be so?

Until eight years ago, neuroscience had little scientific basis from which to comment on bliss, sexual or otherwise. Despite our public fascination with things sexual, as researcher, Gemma O’Brien put it, “orgasm is not impersonal and third person enough for the sciences.” Neuroscience was hobbled by the avoidance of such squashy topics, even if it meant setting aside important parts of human experience. However, a clearer portrait of pleasure is now emerging. Bliss, both sacred and profane, shares the diminution of self-awareness, alterations in bodily perception and decreased sense of pain. And while the left frontal lobe may be linked to pleasure, the other three characteristics are bilateral.

Absence of pain is predictably akin to pleasure, but the other two—losing a sense of identity and of bodily limits—are less obvious. Self-awareness, apparently, is no picnic. William James described the self as that kernel of consciousness that persists throughout various experiences and sensations. The self is divided between the stream of consciousness and an internal observer—except in those rare moments when we dissolve into mysticism.

Self-awareness exists as a running critique organizing conscious experience. Telling stories to ourselves (often about ourselves) is the cognitive default.

Escaping continual self-observation seems an underappreciated pleasure. Roy Baumeister wrote an entire book devoted to the premise that self-awareness is frequently a burden. Across cultures, we blunt awareness with alcohol, drugs, auto-hypnotic rituals and when times are dire, suicide. Meditation offers relief from this self-preoccupation and one of the few tools for creating a durable boost in happiness—perhaps by dampening activity in regions implicated in judgment, comparison, planning and self-scrutiny. Left prefrontal cortex activation correlates with happiness and Tibetan Buddhist monks have created the greatest measured spike in activity in this region produced by simple thought when meditating on compassion. The reported depth of meditation also corresponds to activity in the brain’s pleasure centers, such as left forebrain bundle, anterior insula and precentral gyrus. This overt pleasure is accompanied by a shift in emotional self-regulation; meditators are more aware of thoughts and feelings conceptually, but less emotionally disrupted by them, according to one study. Both hemispheres are involved in self-observation.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

Understanding that there is a common experience in meditation and orgasm it has only been natural to combine the two. It begs the questions, why would you want too and what could it possibly add to the experience? The answer is, meditation will enhance your lovemaking tremendously by giving it your complete attention and full awareness, by being fully present in the moment.

The Kama Sutra, the ancient text of India is both an inspiring spiritual text and as the title is sometimes translated, “instructions on pleasure,” and is proof that meditation and sex have been successfully combined for all of human history.

 

One of the best translations of the Kama Sutra is Deepak Chopra’s which includes the “Seven Spiritual Laws of Love.” His translation is not only a ‘study on sexual pleasure but an inspirational spiritual text.’

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

 

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

The Heart Meditation Benefit for Relief of Loss and Loneliness

We can define suffering as, a pain that feels as if it will never heal, one that makes life feel meaningless. We will all, at some point in our lives, suffer, loss, grief and loneliness, because it is part of the inevitable process of life. And if that sadness and grief builds up it will become depression.

In searching for a meaning to suffering, especially from a spiritual perspective, Deepak Chopra, in his book, “The Deeper Wound,” says that there are three answers. The first answer, based on nature, is that suffering is an inevitable part of life. The second answer says that we humans suffer from the inside out and is the result of sin and ‘wrongdoing,’ which cause us to feel shame and guilt. The third and last answer is the one based on transformation, which says that within suffering there is a hidden spiritual message, the seeds of the transformation and that makes it very different from the first two. The message contained in the third is that out of suffering can come love.

Through meditation it’s possible to heal suffering, to hold it gently and lovingly. With meditation you become aware of your thoughts, images and memories which keep reoccurring and you open yourself up to the whole range of experiences that surround suffering. With awareness there is the opportunity to transform suffering and you may discover that your emotions are not as overpowering or infinite as you feared.

Meditation offers the opportunity for continual awareness so that you can ‘name’ the emotion, a process that will allow most emotions to flow through the body and begin releasing; a process that you keep gently repeating as many times as the persistent emotions arise.

In this excerpt, reprinted on the “care2″ website, Deepak offers us a meditation for the heart…

“The ache of loss is difficult to bear, and often the worst part is the fear that nothing exists behind the ache except a void. Know that emptiness is an illusion. No matter how much you have suffered, your soul sees you as whole.

Affirm today that you share this vision and have the intention to allow the light of spirit to come in and fill any voids it may find. To aid in this repair, close your eyes and see white light surrounding you like a bubble or cocoon. Visualize the light filling the entire space within you, seeking out rifts, tears, holes, and gaps. Ask for these to be completely filled with light.

One of the worst parts of suffering a great loss is the feeling of utter isolation. The problem of loneliness, which exists for countless people, requires deeper healing than simply seeking out company. Loneliness can happen in a crowd and may feel most intense when you find yourself alone on a packed city street.

As a child it was easier to cure loneliness, because the presence of a parent was enough to offer reassurance. As an adult, loneliness becomes more existential – it feels as if you have been abandoned, yet you cannot say by whom.

Invite spirit in with a meditation on the heart. Sit quietly for a moment, placing your attention on your heart, at the center of your chest under the breastbone. When you are settled, repeat the word “peace” silently, and see its influence radiating out from your body in all directions. Do this three times, and then say the word “happiness” the same way. Repeat three times, then go on to “harmony,” “laughter,” and “love.”

Sit quietly for a few minutes after each session with eyes closed and simply appreciate the simplicity of quiet awareness. End it by sitting quietly and asking to be allowed into the refuge of your heart. Feel your heart as a soft, warm enclosure; settle there with your attention, and rest as long as you wish. If you repeat this technique enough times, you will find that the presence of spirit is very real and accessible.”

Pain and suffering are not always the same thing, there are many ways to relieve pain, but relief of suffering comes with self-awareness or spirituality. Here Deepak offers us the following wisdom, suffering is a paradox because suffering “ennobles people, teachers us lessons, guides us toward insight, and purifies our nature.”

If you would like deeper insight and help with how to hold and release suffering cause by loneliness and loss, then I would recommend reading “The Deeper Wound,” and practicing the “Heart Sutra.”

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Mantra Meditation Benefits and Restarting a Practice

 

Mantra Meditation Benefits and Restarting a Practice

At the deepest level of the material universe everything is a vibration or sound. The great sages, thousands of years ago, intuited that our world had its own unique sounds, which change over time, and these sounds were taught to their disciples.

A mantra is a sacred sound or series of sounds, which may be the name of a spiritual being, it may be a special phrase, or simply, a special sound but one without a meaning. When a mantra is repeated, aloud or silently, it has the effect of taking us out of our normal ego mind and into the pure present moment.

It’s the repetition of the mantra that calms the mind, and in the case of silent inner awareness or transcendental meditation, the mantra drifts off, which allows us to transcend the mind altogether.

The benefits of mantra meditation come with practice and simultaneously create healing in the body, mind and spirit. Deepak Chopra address a question about the different schools of mantra meditation, and the essence of his conclusion is; find the approach that you feel most drawn too and the one you feel most comfortable with and then do it, practice, practice, practice. Remember its about the journey not the destination.

So here’s Deepak on the different schools of mantra meditation…but first the question.

“I am a long time tm meditator/Siddha who fell out of my habit of twice a day meditation following a divorce about ten years ago — for the last ten years it has been a few times a week, but not consistent… I am wondering how primordial sound technique differs from mantra meditation…also I am wondering (as I am still on my second mantra technique (TM) if you also teach more mantras for those who have been meditating since the early seventies)…I read somewhere that we are supposed to upgrade according to our age. Advice on how to make my meditation a regular practice again is also my question…I miss how it used to feel…”

Deepak’s response

“Primordial Sound meditation is mantra meditation that you do in silence with eyes closed. So it is different than guided meditation. It uses different mantras than the TM technique, but its practice is quite similar in that it is easy and does not involve concentration. So given that you are happy with your Transcendental Meditation practice, there is really no need to start a different mantra meditation. The advanced meditation techniques that are offered for TM practitioners are given in time intervals of 18 months or 2 years. If you contact your local TM teacher, or the TM website, you should be able to find out when and where the next instructions in your area are being offered. To restart your practice make a commitment to meditate twice a day, every day for the next 21 days. If it helps, use a calendar that you can mark off on it every time you meditate. After 3 weeks, you should be back in the habit again and meditating automatically. If you are feeling a lack of confidence in whether you are doing your meditation correctly, then call a local TM teacher to get your meditation checked. That checking process can also be a great aide in getting back on track.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

Mantra Meditation is like spiritual music; it enlivens our spirit and open our hearts. Meditation is not about forcing our minds to be quite, rather it’s about discovering the silence that’s already there, in the same way that space is already there, and clouds drift through it.

A simple mantra meditation practice is to sit comfortably with your back straight and after taking a few deep (yogic) breaths begin repeating the mantra, either silently or if you are alone you can chant it aloud. The mantra is your tool to keep the mind focused and quiet. And whenever you find yourself drifting off back to thought, gently return to your sound, without judgment.