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: Bhakti Fest 2011

On September 8, 2011, for four days of Kirtan, Yoga, Meditation, Workshops and Loving Community, many thousands will arrive at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center, “to express our love and devotion as one community through an enchanting array of activities.”

Bhakti Fest 2011

Bhakti Fest 2011

This will be an absolutely a cornucopia of the spiritually gifted and the event has been billed as the Spiritual Woodstock. There will be yoga led by Shiva Rea, Saul David Raye, Bryan Kest, Seane Corn and there others as well. Of the many workshops, one will be led by my one of my beloved teachers, Ram Dass.

Krishna Das, will of course, be leading Kirtan, but along with the singing and playing Krishna Das and Radhanath Swami and others will also be leading workshops. Speaking of Kirtan, Deva Premal & Miten, Jai Uttal, Dave Stringer, Donna de Lory, Wah!, MC Yogi, Larisa Stow and Shakti Tribe, The Mayapuris, to name a few will be there adding to the joy.     

Jai Uttal, just back from India, has a new album out, “Bhakti Bazaar,” which is absolutely wonderful with hints of rock, reggae, and classical music. In his blog Jai said about the music, “We took some beats and grooves and simply wandered. No rules, no formulas except following our feelings,” and “Making an album is a journey across mountains and valleys of moods and emotions.” We have certainly been blessed to have been invited along and the treat of hearing it performed live, well, bliss.   

There are so many notables that will be attending Bhakti Fest it’s hard to decide who to write about, because if I were to write about all the wonderful people ths would be a book not a blog post!

If you’re a fan of Krishna Das you’ll be happy to know he’ll be performing and doing a workshop, the Heart of Devotion and this will allow you the opportunity to ask him questions. The workshop will include chanting with musical accompaniment, storytelling, dharma talks, and discussions about life on the spiritual path.

Krishna Das

Krishna Das

 

I would like to note that substantial portion of the profits from Bhakti Fest will go to charities like the Seva Foundation, created by Ram Dass, an organization of “compassionate action.” That is the meaning of “seva,” compassionate action and that is in perfect balance with bhakti, which translates as “devotion.” Together they fulfill the mission of the Seva Foundation, “To be fully human, we must translate our compassion and concern into useful service.”

Damien Rose returns to Bhakti Fest for his third annual performance, those who are unfamiliar with Damien or his performance with the Tibetan healing bowls, are in for a very wonderful surprise. Damien have had a very synchronistic introduction to the Tibetan healing bowls, says he first discovered the Tibetan bowls when he picked up a hitchhiker in Northern California after graduating from law school. After arriving at hitchhiker home, he was invited in, and it was there he saw “a vast array of ancient bowls set up in the living room.” It was from that point on he decided to dedicate is energy to “working with sound vibration as a revealing and healing source of spiritual experience.”

My own experience was, as I said, synchronistic. I too, picked up a hitchhiker in Northern California. It as thirty five years ago, I noticed a man hitchhiking with a baby so I pulled my VW over and offered them a ride. It turned out that he was a somewhat of a local celebrity in the Bay area. Karman Moffitt, then also known as the ‘bell ringer of San Francisco,’ had played, on occasion, with the Grateful Dead and other area band, when they were in town. Karman was also a pointillist and on a trip to Nepal a couple of years earlier had traded some art for a set of Tibetan healing bowls. That was my introduction to the bowls.

And like Damien, the bowls have been a part of my life ever since. A few years ago I was introduced to my master teacher, Suren Shrestha, and began to become immersed in the healing practice. And as a side note if you are interested in the Tibetan healing bowls, Suren’s book “How to Heal with Singing Bowls,” is a chance to learn from a master.  

Here are a few other highlights to look forward to at Bhakti Fest. Philippo Franchini will talk about musical alchemy and how “creation is vibration.” Hoop Girl Christabel Zamor brings her love of hoopdance to Bhakti Fest. Joey Lugassy will enlighten us with the message of “stillness,” and how to release attachments and transform them “with a lighter touch” as “doorways to relevant self-discovery.”

Many of people, I’ve come to know and call friend, from the Chopra center will be attending and participating. Max Simon (assuming all is well with his dad) will make, as he has in the past, an appearance. Paul Heussenstamm, will be leading a mandala workshop. By the way, Paul’s workshops are of the ‘not to be missed’ variety, truly fun and transformative.     

Bhakti Fest is a Spiritual festival not a religious one, though there is a loving acceptance of all faiths. It’s the coming together of a loving community, creating a space as was said to express our love and devotion as one community through an enchanting array of activities.”

I thought I would leave you with a couple of videos of past festivals, so that if you’ve never had the opportunity to attend you can a sense of the ‘vibe’ and if you have, well, for a moment to be there again.   

Bhakti Fest September 2010.mov

Bhakti Fest brings people together from around the world to celebrate life through kirtan. This is an event that you do not want to miss. Next festival September 9-12, 2010, Joshua Tree, California. www.bhaktifest.com

Bhakti Fest 2010 Jai UttaL Groove Ananda

Jai UttaL led Kirtan for 3 hours! It was so crowded I could only get long shots but the sounds and psychedelic lightshow are awesome! My pleasant surprise was Wynn Paris’ band Groove Ananda ~ a sweeet mix of Music my fav being the Gospel type song. M…

Deva Premal and Miten… Whaou! – Bhakti Fest 2010

stunning! the crowd was speechless – Incredible silence for a minutes after that one!

Meditation Benefits: Why should Baby Boomers Meditate?

Why should Baby Boomers Meditate

Why should Baby Boomers Meditate

As a member of the baby boomer generation and a long time meditator, I have had the opportunity to experience, first hand, the long and the short term benefits of meditation on my wellbeing. The best known of these benefits is stress reduction, but as we pass midlife, meditation becomes so much more than a simple stress reduction practice and instead can become an important part of our overall health regiment.

Let’s face it, if you’re a baby boomer then you know you’ve started to slow down in the last few years, and while aging doesn’t have to be accompanied by, any health issues, depression, or the loss of desire, ambition and joy, however, it often is.

We know that to enjoy the latter half of our lives we need to take care of ourselves, and how important it is to be physically active and eat right. And now it’s becoming increasingly evident, the third key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and aging successfully, is meditation.

The only true measure of our age is found by measuring our bio-markers. Because we don’t all age at the same rate, three different measures of age have used to describe the aging process. The first is chronological, simply the number of our birthday’s. Second, and closer to our ‘real’ age, is our biological age, a measurement of the functioning of our physiological systems in comparison to the average of the same aged population, and the final type of measurement are the biomarkers of age based on all our different biochemical and physiological measurements and then compared to the group averages of all ages.

One of the more recent findings, regarding meditation and aging, has to do with a simple structure at the end of our chromosomes, the telomeres, which help maintain the optimal health of our cells and genes.

In his article, “Why Aging ain’t no Myth,” Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. spoke with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (who was awarded the prize for her work on telomere biology), along with her associate, Dr. Ellisa Epel, about the issue of the benefits of meditation and the lengthening of telomeres and the improvement of “many aspects of psychological wellbeing (PWB), a critically important aspect of successful aging.”

PWB is made up of the following six characteristics:

1. Self-Acceptance: You learn to compassionately accept yourself as you are and accept others as they are as well.
2. Self Confidence: You have the perception that you can handle whatever comes your way with strength and grace.
3. Independence: You are not reliant on other’s approval and feel you are healthy enough to take care of yourself. You want to live at home and not have to go an assisted living facility, for example, later in life.
4. Personal Growth: You sustain a desire to learn new things and have new experiences. You remain mentally active.
5. Positive Relationships: You surround yourself with people who love and support you and forsake those who don’t.
6. Purpose and Mission in Life: You continue to have a reason to live, be it giving back to society or taking care of your children or grandchildren.”
   Read more…

In an earlier study the way older adults defined, for themselves, successful aging (which was considered a critical component for well-being) was in alignment with the six characteristics psychological wellbeing offered by Dr. Epel.

According to the study published in “The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry,” defining healthy aging from the perspective of the older adults would only enhance an understanding of the correlations between self-rated criteria and researcher-defined criteria which could lead to development of a valid and reliable model for successful aging.”   

Dr. Epel told Dr.  Dharma Singh Khalsa, “that meditation is the fastest way to PWB. This is substantiated by emerging medical research. In one recent study, practicing mindfulness meditation for six hoursa day, for three months in a retreat setting, increased telomere length and enhanced PWB. In two studies in which I’ve been involved, one published and one presented in abstract form at the conference in Sweden, it was revealed that PWB can be increased by practicing a simple twelve minute meditation called Kirtan Kriya (KK). Practicing KKfor 12 minutes a day, for eight weeks, increased telomere length by 43 percent, which is groundbreaking.”

Another benefit of a regular meditation practice is improved cognitive function, and because there are such a large number of us in baby boomer generation the numbers who are thought to suffer from cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) will be proportionally large.

A study published in the “Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease,” tested meditation’s effects on cognitive function and cerebral blood flow in people exhibiting memory loss. The results showed a “number of significant changes in the preprogram baseline and the post program baseline scans in the” group practicing a specific type of meditation. In a low cost meditation practice practiced for only 12 minutes a day over an eight week period showed “positive results in both functional neuroimaging changes as well as an improvement in cognitive function in people with memory loss…”

In the end those who practiced meditation regularly, even for short periods of time, on measures of associative learning, cognitive skills, mental health, and aging, fare much better than those who don’t. So if you meditate, not only will you live longer, but you will think clearer, you will be less likely to suffer from depression and will feel a greater sense of joy and well-being.

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: The Ego and Healthy Self-esteem

Meditation Benefits: The Ego and Healthy Self-esteem

Meditation Benefits: The Ego and Healthy Self-esteem

It is the nature of the ego to attempt to stay in control of that which is completely uncontrollable, life. The ego, I believe, evolved as the mental counterpart of the fight-flight response, there to protect us from real or perceived threats.  

It’s the ego that gives us such a strong sense of self and when ego ‘feels’ unthreatened a positive and healthy self-esteem arises and fills us with confidence and purpose. When, on the other hand, the ego feels threatened then the negative aspects make an appearance, greed, jealousy and selfishness, and we begin to feel unworthy and unlovable. This is when the sense of self is out of balance.

There is almost no limit to the damage an out of control ego can do; on an individual level there is arrogance, abuse of power, making us feel like a prisoner, trapped within ourselves. When a collective ego is offended it can have horrific consequences.

The ego creates the ‘me’ through identification with possessions or positions, the ego identifies with the personality and the body, the ego sets limits and creates boundaries, it’s the ego that creates the illusion of a separate ‘self,’ defining where ‘I’ end and the ‘outside world’ begins.

The ego always experiences its self in comparison to others, as a mirror with a somewhat distorted reflection. Never feeling quite equal, either feeling a little bit superior or inferior and makes judgments accordingly; this person is friendly this one needs  to be watched.

As one of my teachers, Dr. David Simon, put it, “the ego is perpetually prepared to be offended.”

The true self simply see what is, without judgment, seeing everything and everyone as equal to itself. The true self transcends the ego. One of the analogies that I think best illustrates the relationship between the ego-self and the true-self, is one that meditation teacher, Sally Kempton, gave in her new book, “Meditation for the Love of It.”  Sally said:

 “The ego bares the same relationship to the Self as does a light bulb to the electrical current coursing through it. The blub looks as if it gives the light independently, but in fact it doesn’t. It is just a container. The true source of illumination is the electrical current that runs through the bulb.”          

“In the same way, it is the Self that gives energy to the ego and enables the ego to perform its function of making you think that the boundaries it sets is the real you.”

As Sally points out later, we do need the ego, it does have a function to serve, it create our sense of individuality and it is not our enemy to be eliminated, its simply limiting. To go beyond this limited perception of the world we need to transcend the ego, to experience the true Self.

The Yoga Vasishtha sees the ego as an illusion and the Self as the true reality:

“Egotism is but an idea based on a false association of the self with the physical element. In reality, this egotism does not exist anymore than water exists in a mirage.”  

And the Yoga Vasishtha explains that in transcendence there is freedom:

“As and when one turns away from the notion of “I” and the “world,” one is liberated; the notion of “I am this” is the sole bondage here.”

 This ‘liberation’ arises when we see the ego as it is, a continually inflating and deflating, ever-changing relationship to other egos, and rest in the ever-present Self.

In the video below Eckhart Tolle answers a question about how life can be more pleasant if we have healthy self-esteem, when the ego is feeling ‘unoffended,’ but in the end, freedom comes through transcendence.     

Eckhart Tolle – Healthy Self Esteem

Read More

Your life is about constant change, in fact everything in life changes and shifts. You grow old, people come and go and your circumstances change. And through it all, your ego changes and reacts, defending and bolstering its position. The Self, that part of you that is pure awareness, never goes anywhere; it’s the same now as it was when you were a child, a teenager or any other stage in your life.  As you move through life the Self is always with you, it is the presence as the awareness that lets you experience all of life.  

It is easier to experience pure awareness during silent meditation, without all the distractions of daily life, but the Self underlies all thinking and is always with us. We can contact the Self by simply focusing on the gap between thoughts, and in that gap we can drop into unbounded consciousness. When we come from this place of pure awareness then our ego feel unthreatened and a sense of healthy self-esteem naturally arises.

Benefits of Guided Meditation: Kundalini Meditation for Healing

 

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi

Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi founder of Sahaja Yoga

The benefits of guided meditation have shown up in a large Australian research study of Sahaja Yoga. Sahaja Yoga is based on Kundalini meditation for healing or wholeness and is a method of meditation “which brings a breakthrough in the evolution of human awareness.” Sahaja Yoga begins with self-realization, which is accomplished by a method devised by Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi, through which self-realization is achieved spontaneously, helped by the collective growth in human consciousness.

Sahaja Yoga has been around since 1970 when a divine spiritual experience filled Nirmala Srivastava and she discovered the process of en-mass Self-Realization. Shri Mataji has made it her dharma (purpose) in life to awaken the spiritual power (Kundalini) of every human being.

Now, it would, seem that Australian scientists are confirming what practitioners of Sahaja Yoga have known all along, so here in the Sydney Morning Post is an article by Melissa Lahoud explaining the study…

“Meditation triggers change in electrical activity of the brain, improving the mind and body in measurable ways, the latest study on work stress, led by Dr Ramesh Manocha at Sydney University, reveals.

“Within the context of meditation and stress, it’s the largest study in the world … and we’ve applied some rigorous conditions,” Dr Manocha said.

The secret to the success of the study, he said, was the ”mental silence” traditional approach used in Sahaja Yoga.

“What authentic techniques should do is show you how to widen space between thoughts until the space is so large you have no thoughts whatsoever in that moment,” he said.

The clinical trial participants, 178 full-time workers, practised twice daily at home, for 10 to 20 minutes over eight weeks.

The improvements for mood and depression were twice as high for those practising ”mental silence” compared to the ”relaxation” and placebo groups.

”We’ve done other published studies where, when you teach people relaxation, they feel better, but there’s no change in disease, but when you teach mental silence approach, they felt twice as better but also saw significant changes in indicators with disease,” Dr Manocha said.

He stressed this was not the case for everyone, but many people had told him their symptoms had improved.

This might be the case for Toni Martelli, 33, who took part in the trial. She believes the benign lump on her throat has shrunk by half since adopting mental silence and an alternative medicine approach.

“I started my own drama school this year and the lump appeared this year – I think it was from stress and feeling overwhelmed,” Miss Martelli said.

She found it hard to empty her mind of thoughts, but said it gets easier with practice.

“You always walk away with something and if you’re going through a stressful time, it’s almost like a different point of view to your problem because you detach yourself,” she said.

A Lifeline poll reveals that stress levels are rising, with 93 per cent of Australians under strain at a rate that could create serious illness. .

Workplace stress costs the economy $15 billion a year. Sydney University runs a non-profit program teaching workers and students meditation during classes over four weeks, with about 10 large companies involved over the past few years.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

All real healing happens when we feel whole, and being whole (or holy) is the same thing as Self Realization, Second Birth, Enlightenment, Liberation, Moksha, or Satori this is why Kundalini meditation is a healing meditation.

We feel whole when we realize that “we are not this body, mind, ego, conditionings, emotions or intellect, but something of an eternal nature which is always residing in our heart in a pure, undisturbed state – the Self or Spirit.”

The Benefits of Short-Term Meditation

 

 

The benefits of Short-Term Meditation

The benefits of Short-Term Meditation

This a small yet, I believe, significant study in which the conclusion appears to be, that even with a short term, but regular, meditation practice, the benefits are measurable and quantifiable. This study, scheduled to be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that there are, after only five weeks, changes in brain activity.

Research has long proven, in hundreds of studies on the health benefits of meditation, those who meditate regularly consistently to better when their markers for health are measured. The question that had yet to be answered was, just how fast could we expect to see measurable results?

This study is a nice step in that direction. Here I believe that I will let Divya Menon, of Psychological Science take over…

In the late 1990s, Jane Anderson was working as a landscape architect. That meant she didn’t work much in the winter, and she struggled with seasonal affective disorder in the dreary Minnesota winter months. She decided to try meditation and noticed a change within a month. “My experience was a sense of calmness, of better ability to regulate my emotions,” she says. Her experience inspired a new study which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, which finds changes in brain activity after only five weeks of meditation training.

Previous studies have found that Buddhist monks, who have spent tens of thousands of hours of meditating, have different patterns of brain activity. But Anderson, who did this research as an undergraduate student together with a team of University of Wisconsin-Stout faculty and students, wanted to know if they could see a change in brain activity after a shorter period.

At the beginning of the study, each participant had an EEG, a measurement of the brain’s electrical activity. They were told: “Relax with your eyes closed, and focus on the flow of your breath at the tip of your nose; if a random thought arises, acknowledge the thought and then simply let it go by gently bringing your attention back to the flow of your breath.”

Then 11 people were invited to take part in meditation training, while the other 10 were told they would be trained later. The 11 were offered two half-hour sessions a week, and encouraged to practice as much as they could between sessions, but there wasn’t any particular requirement for how much they should practice.

After five weeks, the researchers did an EEG on each person again. Each person had done, on average, about seven hours of training and practice. But even with that little meditation practice, their brain activity was different from the 10 people who hadn’t had training yet. People who had done the meditation training showed a greater proportion of activity in the left frontal region of the brain in response to subsequent attempts to meditate. Other research has found that this pattern of brain activity is associated with positive moods.

The shift in brain activity “was clearly evident even with a small number of subjects,” says Christopher Moyer, one of Anderson’s coauthors at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “If someone is thinking about trying meditation and they were thinking, ‘It’s too big of a commitment, it’s going to take too much rigorous training before it has an effect on my mind,’ this research suggests that’s not the case.” For those people, meditation might be worth a try, he says. “It can’t hurt and it might do you a lot of good.”

“I think this implies that meditation is likely to create a shift in outlook toward life,” Anderson says. “It has really worked for me.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

When we bring the mind-body into balance and increase our overall levels of peace, well-being and relaxation, through regular meditation, it causes the f life-affirming chemicals into our bloodstream and enhances our immune system. Studies have shown that, not only will you live longer, but your mind will stay sharper and you will be less likely to suffer from depression and other mental health problems. And now we will happen in a much shorter time that previously believed.

“The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this life. For it is only through meditation that you can undertake the journey to discover your true nature, and so find the stability and confidence you will need to live, and die, well. Meditation is the road to enlightenment.” ~ Sogyal Rinpoche

The Benefit of Downtime through Meditation

The Benefit of Downtime through Meditation

The Benefit of Downtime through Meditation

Meditation is a process of training the brain and the transformation of the body, mind and soul. The benefits of meditation are discovered, not on the cushion, but how they are reflected in all the aspects of your life, in your actions and attitudes. So it is necessary to develop a regular practice and allow yourself the opportunity to fully immerse yourself in the practice, even if it’s simply for short periods twice a day.

As you practice, with consistency and sincerity, over the course of time you will begin to notice real changes taking place in you. This is why it’s important to spend time in meditative practice, even if it’s only 20or 30 minutes a day, of course, when possible, more would be better. I especially enjoy the morning meditation, it can give my day a whole new ‘color,’ and in a subtle, yet powerful, way it’s effects permeate all aspects of my day, from my the inner relationship with myself to those around me.

You will notice that, as you continue throughout the day you carry the experience of your formal practice. Because you carry that experience with you into your day you will be able to refer to it and drawn upon it as you move through your daily activities. And when you have a momentary break in the action of your daily hustle and bustle, it will be easy for you to slip back into your meditative experience, because it’s now familiar, and you’ll find you easily maintain its beneficial effects.

Another way to immerse yourself in meditation is to experience a meditation retreat. In his article, “Downtime for the Stone Age Brain,” Michael Taft tells of his experiences and his insights after a nighty-two day silent meditation at a retreat center in rural Massachusetts. This is, however, about more than a ‘what I did at my retreat last summer’ type of literary hug, he explores why it was necessary for meditation to arise in the first place. But, hey, I’ll just let Michael speak…

“Recently, I found a meditation retreat center in rural Massachusetts that cost just 10 dollars a day. That super-affordable price included a room of my own, and delicious, organic hippy food. As I was moving to a new city anyway, I let go of my apartment, put my stuff in storage, and went off to the center for three months. Ninety-two days of silent (absolutely no talking) meditation in a cabin in the woods. There were about thirty other people there, the size of your basic hunter-gatherer tribe in the Paleolithic. Because I have been meditating for decades, I had no trouble sinking into the groove of long sits for many hours a day, every day…”

That experience made me very sensitive to a condition that I call my “brain being full.” It’s a specific feeling that I have taken in enough stimulation, and now need to just go be quiet for a while. Having felt what it’s like to have all the backlog of experiences cleared out of my head, I’m intolerant of letting it build up a backlog again. It feels too good when it’s all clean and clear. Another way of talking about this is to say that the frantic, amped up feeling of too much seeking clears away. When we are seeking all the time, we are intaking new material constantly without ever actually dealing with it.

And that makes sense in terms of evolution and our ancestral environment. Our brains would have been more than adequate to handle the few exciting things that came up, and been perfectly content to sort of idle along the rest of the time. That idle mode feels really, really good, because it is probably the natural waking rest mode of the brain. Not caught in a seeking feedback loop. No stress, no anxiety or cortisol, and no overload of problems problems problems that our information overlords shovel into the gaping maw of our need for novelty. It’s like feeding Cap’n Crunch to kids: they can’t stop eating it, even though it’s not doing them any good.

Stone Age Nights

If you were instantly transported back to the Paleolithic, with all your modern faculties intact, what would be the number one thing you would notice? The beauty of nature, the enormous herds of game and flocks of birds, the fresh air, the lack of noise? Sure, those would be wonderful, but your amazement probably wouldn’t last all that long. I suspect that, if you were to stay back in the Stone Age any length of time longer than, say, a week, you would be slammed in the face by how incredibly boring it was. Boring and painful.

Those would be your main impressions. Imagine a world with no books, movies, television, music on demand, Internet, texting. Imagine a world where you only had the same thirty people to talk to, every day for your whole life. Nature is beautiful, but it is also placid. Bird calls, rustling leaves, and babbling brooks comprise the soundscape, something so boring that we call it ambient white noise. It all looks great, but after a while it all looks the same. If you want to see something different, there are no pictures, no magic of the world wide web. When the sun goes down, you can’t see anything for twelve long hours until it comes up again. Next to a campfire or on the few nights of the bright moon, you can sort of see something, but in general you’re just stuck there, staring into the darkness for hours and hours. Boring…”

Seeking

“…Mammals are wired to look for novelty in the environment, a behavior called “seeking…”

“…Our brains have an insatiable urge for seeking new things, but now we have a limitless source of novelty. We are stuffed beyond the limit with unprocessed, undigested, and unhelpful experiences that we cannot convert to energizing, useful, practical knowledge. We can’t stop pressing the seek button, looking for another little hit of dopamine. We are information junkies, and our brains are full. Like rats in a lab, we could just keep hitting the seek button until we collapse.

But maybe there’s a way out. It’s not to shut off the firehose, although I gave up television 30 years ago, and it’s not a bad idea. Instead, it’s to every so often take a break from new information.

I’m not suggesting that everyone take three months off to look at trees (although it wouldn’t hurt). What I am suggesting is that our brains require some real down time. Down time doesn’t mean watching a movie (which is just a bunch of emotional stimulation, and more novelty seeking) or doing something exciting and fun with friends. Down time means deeply quiet, really simple, totally open time in which you are not working, accomplishing anything, or taking in new information. Down time means staring at trees, or strolling aimlessly in a forest. Hanging out at the beach, or sitting on a mountainside. Even in the city, it’s not that hard to just kick back and watch the sky or relax at home. Let yourself get really bored.”

Meditation

Will sitting in a park looking at clouds really be enough to clear all the detritus out of your neurons? My guess, from experience, is that it probably would be, if you could do enough of it. The trouble is that our complicated, busy lives do not afford us enough down time to actually allow the brain the downtime it needs. With all that happens in just one day of modern life, it would take something like a week of hanging out next to a stream to process. Simplicity is not an efficient enough process; it cleans too slowly. We were not designed by evolution to have that much stuff to clear out. Input is greater than the processing available…”

“This is where meditation comes in…. Meditation is a fuzzy word in English. There are many different definitions, and many different techniques, some of which are apparently the opposite of others. For most people, meditation means sitting with your legs crossed and trying not to think. That is actually a very difficult and advanced technique, and not necessarily even the best one. There are certain forms of meditation (such as Zen shinkantaza, Krishanmurti’s choiceness awareness, and various advaita non-techniques) that are essentially just sitting there without doing anything on purpose. This is different than trying not to think, or doing a mantra, or trying to concentrate (although all of these are useful meditation techniques). It is essentially getting out of the way, and allowing the brain eventually to revert to its “natural state.” Although natural is a loaded word, often used to obscure rather than reveal, in this case I think it’s exactly accurate in the sense of the state your brain evolved to be in most of the time. A kind of alert, relaxed openness. Not thinking about anything in particular, but not striving to remove thinking either. Not seeking, in other words.

Meditation is, in a sense, unnatural. It’s very unlikely that HGs in the Paleolithic sat around meditating. They didn’t need to, because everything was much slower, spacious, and gentle. It was low impact on the brain. But with the rise of modern society (and I’m calling India at 500 BCE a modern society, meaning people living in cities), people couldn’t find enough down time to return their minds to a natural state. There was too much novelty, too many new ideas, too much cool stuff to do, talk about, and see. The feedback loop of seeking had too much fuel, and something had to be done. Something that itself was a new technology, an activity that people had not done before, but which would return the brain, and the person, to a relaxed, open state. So we can think of meditation as an unnatural way to return to a natural state. Sort of like weightlifting or special diets–activities which no hunter-gatherer would have engaged in, but which help our bodies return to a more natural state of health and wellbeing…” Click here to visit the original source of this post

I’ve only provided a taste of what Michael has to share and this one of those rare pieces that is well worth spending the time to fully experience.And if you are interested in learning more from Michael you can check out his book, “Ego; the Fall of the Twin Towers and the Rise of an Enlightened Humanity”

Meditation is compatible with, and I believe, a necessary component of an active professional and family life. Meditation provides us the chance to see the events of our lives from a larger perspective while experiencing greater serenity and to move confidently into our future. You will find yourself being less effected by the inevitable setbacks that occur in our life or being carried away by superficial success.

That is the transformative effect of meditation, which happens organically and without effort, as your practice deepens, so that you will find yourself acting more effectively in the world, with a greater sense of personal peace.

“The very best and utmost attainment in this life is to remain still and let God act and speak in thee.”

-Meister Eckhart

The Benefits of Meditation – A Nurse’s Perspective

 

The Benefits of Meditation - A Nurse’s Perspective

The Benefits of Meditation - A Nurse’s Perspective

It seems as though that there’s exponential growth in benefits of meditation, with something new being learned every day. In this next post, a psychiatric nurse tells her story about the benefits of meditation she’s found in her practice.

But before we go there, I thought I would share one benefit of meditation, which as the Dalai Lama put it, will make you a, “wise self-ish” person, and that benefit is lovingkindness.

Lovingkindness isn’t some ethereal practice, but the natural outcome of meditation, which now, has overwhelming scientific verification. The practice of lovingkindness is enlightened self-interest, because when we send love to others then we instantly receive the emotional benefit of experiencing love, courage, joy and hope and the corresponding physiological benefits that flood our bodies as the result of our emotional experiences.

These benefits of this type of meditation have shown up in as little as eight weeks in the form of discernable changes in brain matter which can be measured. However, it’s not about the scientific proof, it’s about the experience you have and the benefits that you feel.

And on that note I’m going to let Jeanne Millsap, the author of the post, tell the psychiatric nurse’s story…

“Christine Daniel, a behavioral health liaison nurse with Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center, said she’s been practicing meditation for a while and feels its calming, refreshing effects immediately.

“I usually get my best meditation times on vacation by the water,” she said. “Afterward, I feel like I’ve had the best sleep in my life.”

Research published in April in the medical journal, Brain Research Bulletin, found that meditation may actually modify alpha rhythm waves in the brain, which help regulate sensory input from the surrounding environment.

Previous research has found other changes in the body during meditative states. Studies even show a long-term health benefit from regular meditation — a reduction in the occurrence of depression for those who have the condition. Areas of the brain associated with learning and anxiety may actually undergo physical changes with daily meditation.

“Past studies show that it (meditation) does decrease anxiety, blood pressure, and stress levels,” Daniel said. “When you’re able to quiet your brain down, you slow down the whole neurochemical thing that’s happening.”

Stress relief

Daniel said that, especially today with all our social media, we are inundated with stimuli, and we don’t allow our bodies and minds to get a respite from it.

“So often, we’re just bombarded with input and stress,” she said, “and our bodies and minds never have that chance to decompress. Anytime you can quiet down and relax, your stress will go down and blood pressure will go down.”

Daniel said she has seen people with headaches and gastrointestinal problems feel better after meditating.

A psychiatrist she knows takes meditation breaks now and then during his practice to regroup during stressful times. She does, too, on occasion and finds it is a way to refresh and return to her life with a better attitude and feeling better.

It’s a great way to quiet the mind, she said.

“Meditation is especially good to help with anxiety or depression disorder,” she said.

Quiet the mind

Daniel emphasized those with serious medical problems should consult a physician, rather than try meditation first, but meditation in conjunction with medications and other therapy can work wonders.

Meditation is different for everyone, but Daniel said one thing all the various techniques have in common is to seek a quiet place within the mind.

“Some people start with prayer,” she said. “Some people have to be in a dark room. Some people can do it in a park. People find their own way to get into that quiet place within themselves.”

To achieve the most with meditation, Daniel advised doing it on a daily basis, even if only for five minutes, and to be consistent with it. It’s going to take some time to learn how to quiet your mind, she said.

To begin, she said, sit in a comfortable position for you. The classic position thought of for transcendental meditation is sitting cross-legged, but Daniel said any position is fine.”

So in the end, here’s another health professional using meditation to benefit her patients. Maybe we should all prescribe a healthy dose of lovingkindness and let that meditation bestow it’s benefits on all the relationships in our lives.

Click here to visit the original source of this post

8 Ways Meditation Benefits Can Change Your Life

 

8 Ways Meditation Benefits Can Change Your Life

8 Ways Meditation Benefits Can Change Your Life

Ed and deb Shapiro are living their purpose, and it’s the very same purpose that’s everyone reason for being, and that’s to be happy. When we really examine the motivation for every choice we make, we discover that we make all of them because we believe that the outcome of those choices will bring us happiness.

Meditation is a powerful way to help us shape and guide our thinking. And meditation is the path that the Shapiro’s have chosen to guide them on this journey in the pursuit of happiness.

Their new book, “Be the Change,” is already a treasured part of my meditation library. It contains the wisdom of more than one hundred meditation teachers sharing their thoughts on various subjects related to the practice of meditation, as well as, some of their own thoughts.

In this post they share some of that wisdom by sharing with us 8 ways you can benefit from meditation and how the practice can create more happiness in your life…

“We can’t imagine what life would be like without meditation. It has seen us through tough times and many life changes, keeping us sane and grounded and real. Life is challenging enough, we can never know what will arise next and only when our minds are clear and focused can we make the best decisions.

How are you able to deal with the madness and chaos that occurs daily? How do you deal with the challenges of life? Meditation is highly misunderstood and often under-rated yet is perhaps what it takes to be a truly sane person. How does meditation affect us? How does it shift our priorities, enable us to make friends with ourselves, to find answers to our questions?

Here are eight ways meditation can make your life more meaningful and enjoyable!

1. Living With Kindness

No one deserves your kindness and compassion more than yourself. Every time you see or feel suffering, every time you make a mistake or say something stupid and are just about to put yourself down, every time you think of someone you are having a hard time with, every time you encounter the confusion and difficulty of being human, every time you see someone else struggling, upset, or irritated, you can stop and bring loving kindness and compassion. Breathing gently, silently repeat: May I be well, may I be happy, May I be filled with loving kindness.

2. Lightening the Load

In a stressed state, it is easy to lose touch with inner peace, compassion and kindness; in a relaxed state, your mind is clear and you can connect with a deeper sense of purpose and altruism. Meditation and medication are derived from the Latin word medicus, to care or to cure. A time of quiet calmness is, therefore, the most effective remedy for a busy and overworked mind. Anytime you feel stress rising, heart closing, mind going into overwhelm, just bring your focus to your breathing and quietly repeat with each in- and out-breath: Breathing in, I calm the body and mind; breathing out, I smile.

3. Letting Go of Me

Stillness is always there between the thoughts, behind the story, beneath the noise. What keeps us from experiencing our natural state of being is the habitual and ego-dominated monkey mind. Meditation enables us to see clearly, to witness our thoughts and behavior and reduce self-involvement. Without such a practice of self-reflection there is no way of putting a brake on the ego’s demands. From being self-centered, we can become other-centered, concerned about the welfare of all.

4. Dissolving Anger and Fear

We do not accept or release our negative feelings so easily, we are more likely to repress or disown them. But when denied they cause shame, depression, anger, and anxiety. Meditation invites you to openly meet these places, and to see how selfishness, aversion and ignorance create endless dramas and fears. Beneath these is a quiet stillness where you can get to know yourself; this is a wondrous and beautiful experience. Whether you practice for just ten minutes a day or longer does not matter. You are releasing your limitations, while opening to self-acceptance and awareness.”

I’ve included four of the eight way meditation can change your life, if here you want to read the rest (something I would recommend) just click continue.

I thought it would be appropriate to end this post with a quote from Robert Thurman, from his forward to “Be the Change,” on finding your true purpose.

“The great mystics of Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were all blown away when they found nirvana or the kingdom of God within. We need not think they are so far beyond us. All of them patiently told us we could find our true purpose, discover our real meaningfulness, and actually enjoy happiness.”