Meditation Benefits: Dealing with Distractions in Meditation

Dealing with Distractions in Meditation is really an opportunity for practice. There are many types of distractions that arise during meditation, they can be a thought that catches your attention, sometimes they’re a sensation in the body or they can be noises in our environment.

Meditation Benefits: Dealing with Distractions in Meditation

Dealing with Distractions in Meditation

 

Elbert Hubbard an American writer and philosopher, was quoted as saying “Life is one damned thing after another,” and meditation is the practice of letting go of ‘one damn thing after another.’  

One of the first practices in mind-training is to bring your attention to a point of focus, witness the rising images and thoughts and then let go of the distractions. The problem is that in trying to ‘control’ your thoughts it is easy to get caught up in the idea that they are your adversaries.

About dealing with distraction and, seeing them as your adversaries, Zen master Wolfgang Kopp, expressed it this way, “many are of the opinion that once the evil intellect is suppressed, the ardently desired nirvana will automatically reveal itself. It cannot be stressed enough that this belief has not the least to do the true practice of Zen. The point is not to suppress thought, but rather to surpass it.”  

Distractions are not your enemy, you should treat them with the same kindness that you would your five year old who innocently wanders away from you. You find them, take them gently by the hand and lead them back to where they should be.

Speaking of children and distractions, Olivia Rosewood wrote a wonderful post about meditation, children and distractions. As parents of young children it can sometimes feel as if there are almost insurmountable obstacles to a peaceful meditation. Olivia notes how many of her friends, who are moms, become frustrated when they try to meditate because of the distractions and interruptions created by their young children.

Here are Olivia’s amusing thoughts and insights on meditation and distractions, beginning with…    

“…Eckhart Tolle espouses the simple yet profound encouragement to “allow what is without resistance.”

In fact, Eckhart has spoken at length about meditation practice and children. His most poignant recommendation, from my point of view, is not to yell harshly at your child when they interrupt your meditation practice. You are sitting quietly on your silk pillow, breathing, perhaps repeating a mantra silently. A child bursts in the room screaming and tackles you. How do you react? Scold? Ignore? Hug?

A meditation practice is just that: practice. Practice for what? Practice for life. It is practice for dealing with life as peacefully and receptively as possible, not just superficially, but on the inside, too. So if your child interrupts your practice, it’s no longer practice, it becomes real. Therefore hug the child, love the child, and if you can, resume your practice afterward. If you can’t resume your practice, whether it is energy cultivation or silent sitting, then practice is over and the game is on. How loving, receptive, and calm can you be in real life? Can you have boundaries without being reactive or emotionally volatile? Can you bring the principles of a meditative practice into your parenting style?

On my second trip to India, my meditation teacher felt it was in my best interest to sit in the basement of the ashram for several hours a day first in a mantra practice, and then sitting in silence. This kind of meditation is my idea of sheer heaven: the peace, the depth, the inner quiet are so blissful. Except that just outside of the ashram was a graveyard, and wandering that graveyard shouting out prayers to Shiva for his own personal reasons until sunset was a devoted older man gifted not only with loud voice that carried well, but also gifted with a bullhorn. It was through that bullhorn that he shouted his prayers to Shiva. One early morning, I wandered out to this gentleman in the graveyard and asked him why he shouted, and why the bullhorn? He told me that Shiva was more likely to hear him if he was as loud as possible. He said it with the sweetest smile that I realized there was nothing more for us to talk about. He was on a sincere mission, and I loved his devotion to it. “I understand. Thank you. I know Shiva will hear you.” I told him.

Directly on the other side of the little ashram was a wedding celebration center. In India, weddings can last as long as five days, and they are serious about their celebration. They are beautiful, ornate, full of joy, and constantly accompanied by dancing music. I learned that many Indian newlyweds love to have Celine Dion and Cher alternately played all day and night through surprisingly high-tech speakers that seem to penetrate thick walls — as though they don’t even exist.

Sitting in meditation in the basement of the ashram, my friend blasting his prayers to Shiva on one side, and a very happy bride and groom with all of their loved ones pleasantly rocking out to “I’m Alive” and then “My Heart Will Go On,” I experienced a deep surrender. As soon as I let go of resisting the sounds around me, I not only stopped giving them attention, but they disappeared deeply into the background, passing through my awareness like a cloud passes peacefully through a sky. It was such a relief to stop resisting what was unchangeable. (Well, perhaps I could have changed it, but that would have required great effort. And I had no desire to rain on anyone else’s beautiful journey.)

It’s since then that I can meditate no matter the noise level. And now that I, too, have children who like to be children, this “allowing” really comes in handy” Read more..

You may not have learned to meditate while being blasted from one side with prayers to Shiva or distracted by wedding music on the other. Yet anybody who has tried to sit it quiet solitude, even if they were sitting in a cave in the wilderness, as had to deal with distractions in meditation.  

Meditation, as Olivia points out, is a practice and it’s a gentle practice, so if you face a thousand distractions, whether in the mind, the body or the environment, like the young child you gently return to your meditation a thousand times, without judgment.

With the consistency of practice you will naturally let go of trying to control your mind, as you strive for stillness, and as Sally Kempton said, “simply let it be.” The paradox is that when that happens you will be able to deal with all the distractions in your meditation.

Please share  your thoughts on meditating with distractions, what works for you.

 

I wanted to share with you Olivia’s video on silent meditation practice.

Please Meditate Part 5

Please meditate. You can try it at a sidewalk cafe while you wait for your lunch to be served. Simply stop thinking and feel the peace of being wash over you. Be stillness amidst hustle and bustle. Experts agree that meditation is as essential to overall health as good diet and regular exercise.

Here’s a another way you can help.

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A Healthy Brain is one of the Benefits of Meditation

 

A Healthy Brain is one of the Benefits of Meditation

A Healthy Brain is one of the Benefits of Meditation

New research is showing that a healthy brain is one of the benefits of meditation, that’s the finding in a study by a group of researchers at UCLA, who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. In the over the last ten years the scientific community’s interest in meditation as grown exponentially, and a 2005 study showed that meditators had thicker cortical walls those who didn’t meditate. Thickness in the cortical walls is associated with decision making, memory and attention.

Another reason meditation is linked to a healthy brain is aids in the development of neuroplasticity. In a study led by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, at the University of Wisconsin, has shown that long time meditators are able to control their reactiveness and their thoughts.

In the article, “How to build a bigger brain,” by Mark Wheeler, science is once again showing another benefit of meditation for the brain. Here I’ll let the author speak for himself. Enter mark Wheeler…

“Push-ups, crunches, gyms, personal trainers — people have many strategies for building bigger muscles and stronger bones. But what can one do to build a bigger brain?

Meditate.”

Brain Scan of a Meditator

Brain Scan of a Meditator

That’s the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people who meditate. In a study published in the journal NeuroImage and currently available online (by subscription), the researchers report that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger than in a similar control group.

Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and the inferior temporal gyrus — all regions known for regulating emotions.

“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. “The observed differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have these exceptional abilities.”

Research has confirmed the beneficial aspects of meditation. In addition to having better focus and control over their emotions, many people who meditate regularly have reduced levels of stress and bolstered immune systems. But less is known about the link between meditation and brain structure.

In the study, Luders and her colleagues examined 44 people — 22 control subjects and 22 who had practiced various forms of meditation, including Zazen, Samatha and Vipassana, among others. The amount of time they had practiced ranged from five to 46 years, with an average of 24 years.

More than half of all the meditators said that deep concentration was an essential part of their practice, and most meditated between 10 and 90 minutes every day.

The researchers used a high-resolution, three-dimensional form of MRI and two different approaches to measure differences in brain structure. One approach automatically divides the brain into several regions of interest, allowing researchers to compare the size of certain brain structures. The other segments the brain into different tissue types, allowing researchers to compare the amount of gray matter within specific regions of the brain.

The researchers found significantly larger cerebral measurements in meditators compared with controls, including larger volumes of the right hippocampus and increased gray matter in the right orbito-frontal cortex, the right thalamus and the left inferior temporal lobe. There were no regions where controls had significantly larger volumes or more gray matter than meditators.

Because these areas of the brain are closely linked to emotion, Luders said, “these might be the neuronal underpinnings that give meditators’ the outstanding ability to regulate their emotions and allow for well-adjusted responses to whatever life throws their way.”

What’s not known, she said, and will require further study, are what the specific correlates are on a microscopic level — that is, whether it’s an increased number of neurons, the larger size of the neurons or a particular “wiring” pattern meditators may develop that other people don’t.

Because this was not a longitudinal study — which would have tracked meditators from the time they began meditating onward — it’s possible that the meditators already had more regional gray matter and volume in specific areas; that may have attracted them to meditation in the first place, Luders said.

However, she also noted that numerous previous studies have pointed to the brain’s remarkable plasticity and how environmental enrichment has been shown to change brain structure.

Other authors of the study included Arthur Toga, director of the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging; Natasha Lepore of UCLA; and Christian Gaser of the University of Jena in Germany. Funding for the study was provided by the National Institutes of Health. The authors report no conflicts of interest.

The UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging, which seeks to improve understanding of the brain in health and disease, is a leader in the development of advanced computational algorithms and scientific approaches for the comprehensive and quantitative mapping of brain structure and function. The laboratory is part of the UCLA Department of Neurology, which encompasses more than a dozen research, clinical and teaching programs. The department has ranked No. 1 among its peers nationwide in National Institutes of Health funding for the last seven years (2002–08).Click here to visit the original source of this post

Even though there is a great deal of new research being done, there is still much that can and will be discovered about the benefits of meditation and a healthy brain. The practitioners of the ancient wisdom traditions intuitively knew what science is just now coming to understand, that there are profound benefits found from tapping into our inner bliss.

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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

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

Is there a Benefit to Befriending Anger with Meditation?

“I still see anger arise, even after thirty years of meditating. But now, when it does, I can say, ‘Hello, old friend’ and I invite it in for a cup of tea.” ~ Ram Dass

Leslie Davenport begins her post, “Befriending Anger with Meditation and Guided Imagery,” with the observation that “anger has been getting a bad rap for centuries,” but, as she points out a bit later, anger is built into our DNA. There’s a dichotomy that arises on path to self-realization, on the one hand, we feel the need to avoid or control our anger at the peril of damaging all three layers of our being, body, mind and spirit, on the other hand, we understand it’s anger which facilitates the ‘fight’ portion of the fight-or-flight response which is biologically a crucial part of our survival mechanism.

One of the questions becomes, as Leslie put it is, “…what is a healthy relationship with anger, and how can we employ it in daily life?” In answering the second half of that question it raises another, can meditation be of benefit as we approach our shadow issues, such as frustration, anger or fear?

I believe this would be a good place to turn it over to Leslie Davenport, so enter Leslie…

Hot and Cold Anger Distortions

“…Rage: Rage is not just intense anger; it is an aggressive, amplified attempt to offset underlying feelings of shame and inadequacy. It is abusive in words and/or behavior and is used to intimidate, manipulate and control.

Beneath these outbursts are wounds wrapped in shame that often originate in childhood or more recent but traumatic experiences. While any soothing practices such as progressive relaxation and meditation are helpful, these deep experiences are most fully resolved in therapy.

Anger Underground: Anger may run, but it cannot hide for long. Anger can wear disguises, showing up in many indirect and passive ways, including overeating or excessive dieting, oversleeping, being a pushover and self-blame. It can wear a martyrdom face, expose a cold shoulder, shun difficult conversations and seek distraction as a workaholic. This kind of anger is not loud. It is subtle, cool, and just as harmful to relationships.

This anger pattern usually takes root in people who received the message that anger is not acceptable. Perhaps feelings in general were not allowed. Healing begins by first identifying the emotions that are arising and naming them. Free-form journaling is a wonderful way to safely express and get reacquainted with our emotional terrain.

The Anger Habit

Sometimes we dig a neurological groove that traps us in an emotional loop with anger as the response to most situations. This over-reliance on a single emotion is like painting an entire canvas with just one color. It limits the rich palette of feelings that add depth and texture to life, and it blocks our ability to be receptive to new experiences and others’ points of view.

There are many reasons why this occurs. It feels safe to justify being right, and anger emphasizes the point. Some people feel too vulnerable showing sadness, so the emotion morphs to anger. Sometimes feelings get stuck because we haven’t honored an aspect ourselves yet. For others it’s simply that they haven’t been exposed to emotional intelligence. And while there is often a valid point in the anger story, the limited way of way of expressing it doesn’t serve us or the people around us well.

Mindfulness meditation practice is very helpful in expanding our emotional range. The anger groove gets reinforced by repeating outdated story lines — “She’s always…” “If it wasn’t for him, I’d…” “Others have it better…” — and meditation brings us into a different relationship with our mental stories. With mindfulness, the aim is not to deny or silence our thoughts and feelings or impose a superficial peace. But by loosening our investment in our story, fresh perspectives and other feelings can naturally arise in the space that is created.

Meditation Practice: Set aside about 15 minutes of undisturbed time. Bring awareness to your breath and remain present to its flow and rhythm. When thoughts arise, simply notice that they are there without suppressing, judging or engaging the storyline. Just sit with it, including any physical sensations and emotional intensity. Then bring your focus again to your breath. This cycle may repeat several times during your practice.

Anger As Your Ally

Healthy anger is not aggressive, nor is it passive. The formidable center is clear and assertive. It is responsive but not reactionary. Victor Frankl reminds us that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lie our growth and freedom.” Awareness is key to cultivating that space for choice.

It’s vital to understand that anger arises from a different emotional trigger. The anger may be in reaction to fear, disrespect, lack of control, loss, feeling unsafe, rejection, hurt, lack of acknowledgment, trapped, intense frustration and more. The underlying feeling is often not visible to others and, depending on the level of awareness, may not immediately be recognized by the person expressing anger.

Guided Imagery Exercise: Try this practice for a deeper view of what lies beneath anger. Close your eyes and call to mind something that makes you angry. Experience the pure energy and sensations of anger. Is there tightness in your stomach or heat on the back of your neck? If the feelings had colors, what would they be? What other qualities are present –weightiness, agitation, impulse to flee or fight? Note the scope and level of intensity of your experience.

Now allow an image to form in your mind’s eye for your anger, letting it capture the full range of your experience. It may appear as a symbol, a memory or simply a shape and color. Even if it doesn’t quite make sense, trust how your anger is showing itself to you. Take a moment to study it and be present with it.

Now imagine “peeling back” your image as though it were a mask or overlay on another deeper image. Meet this new image with curiosity, taking time to get acquainted. Notice its energy, size, shape colors, textures and qualities. How do you feel in its presence? Ask it want it wants. What does it need? Is there anything desiring to be reestablished? Is there anything asking for validation, for protection? What needs to be honored? When the exploration feels complete for the moment, bring your focus back to the room and open your eyes.

This exploration may lead to change — the need for a conversation, change in actions or environment or a shift in attitudes or beliefs. Whatever arises, let patience mature and season your understanding. Through this kind of exploration you just may find that in the right relationship, anger can be a true friend and ally, upholding your safety, valuing your unique viewpoint and advocating for your voice.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

While it may, at times, seem that here at ‘Meditation Benefits,’ I portray meditation as a cure-all, I’m fully aware that it’s not; it cannot suddenly transform all our shadow tendencies into enlightened practices, but it does allow us to become aware of and accept who we are. Realizing that there are benefits to anger, like motivating positive change for us personally and in society, we can use the energy of anger for transformation, inspiration and to benefit others.

“Instead of being a victim of my humanness, I am owning it and consciously choosing to be a human being. And, therefore, when I suffer, when I have anger, jealousy, or self-loathing, I can accept it because these are the qualities of a human being.” ~ Dennis Genpo Merzel

Leslie Davenport is the author of  “Healing and Transformation Through Self-Guided Imagery”

A Reduction in Healthcare Costs a Meditation Benefit?

Is there really a meditation benefit that could result in a reduction in our healthcare cost? ᅠI firmly believe the answer is yes. Certainly, on a personal level meditation will impact an individual’s health care coast, which if practiced by enough people, could have an impact on the overall health care system.

A Reduction in Healthcare Costs a Meditation Benefit?

A Reduction in Healthcare Costs a Meditation Benefit?

 

Mind-body fitness is the ultimate goal when it comes to developing a comprehensive approach to wellness and meditation is a key component in this approach because of its stress reliving effects. But meditation is more than an effective relaxation technique. The health benefits of meditation have been shown not only to prevent heart disease but to reverse those effects.

This is what Dr. Robert Puff’s article is all about, so I’ll let him tell you in his own words… ᅠ

The nation’s current healthcare crisis has added a new dimension to the old saying, “Prevention is the best medicine.” With rising co-pays, high deductibles, confusion over coverage, and prescription drug headaches, healthcare consumers recognize that getting sick is more complicated than ever.

So if the solution to a dysfunctional system is to avert illness, then what approaches provide proven results? One answer lies in a practice that dates to the origins of human civilization. Scientific research is pointing to the health benefits of meditation. “Major studies show that a significant cause of illness is stress. And meditation is one of the most powerful ways of reducing it,” says Dr. Robert Puff, a clinical psychologist based in Newport Beach, California.

From a Genetic Standpoint, Some of Us Are Toyotas and Some Are Fords

Stress isn’t the cause of every illness. But many common ailments can be attributed to it. So how are stress and sickness related? Dr. Puff, who has been both meditating and teaching meditation for three decades, compares our bodies to automobiles, where each car’s brand is like a person’s DNA. Just like we can’t turn a Toyota into a Ford, there’s not much we can do to alter our genes.

Imagine that everyday, we slam on our brakes continuously, never change our oil, and overlook all maintenance. At first, our bodies may not reveal signs of damage. Over time, however, the neglect will show — sometimes subtly and other times dramatically. If we are Toyotas, perhaps the result will be a transmission in disrepair. If, on the other hand, our bodies are Fords our transmissions may be fine, but our brakes will no longer function. Similarly, everyone has genetic predispositions particular to him or herself. In the end, we’re all going to wear out, but the speed and how that deterioration manifests itself will be different for each person. Regardless of our own DNA, however, reducing stress significantly elevates everyone’s chances of living longer and experiencing less wear.

Meditation Gives Our Minds a Break

“We can have intense jobs and deal with difficult matters both in and outside of work. But if we meditate regularly, we can still experience peace of mind regardless of our responsibilities,” says Dr. Puff. To illustrate, he provides another analogy. Meditation is like the work breaks we take everyday. If we had to exert ourselves eight hours continuously, without relief, our time at work would eventually become unbearable. But lunchtime and breaks throughout the day allow us to make it through. “Meditation gives our minds time off from constant mental activity. Over the long term, we reduce overall stress, and this, I believe, is one of the main reasons that meditation increases physical health,” he says. And major organizations are listening. Fortune 500 corporations and prestigious hospitals hire Dr. Puff to speak about the benefits of meditation. They are acknowledging the research: meditation increases concentration and decreases stress.

During these difficult economic times, companies are struggling to provide medical benefits, and consumers are having to pay more out of pocket. Getting sick is rapidly becoming cost-prohibitive for everyone. “Meditation is simple, effective, free, and has no side effects — no prescription drug can make those claims,” says Dr. Puff.

Different types of meditation exercises may be more effective than others for specific health problems; meditation benefits are on the whole undeniable. Meditation fosters awareness and awareness of the body increases the desire to maintain feelings of health and wellbeing.ᅠ

One note about a statement made in Dr. Puff’s article, in which he, “compares our bodies to automobiles, where each car’s brand is like a person’s DNA. Just like we can’t turn a Toyota into a Ford, there’s not much we can do to alter our genes.” ᅠIn fact meditation can affect how our genes express themselves and it also affects our DNA because it’s been shown to have a positive effect on telomerase activity in the immune cells. So while we may not be able to ‘turn a Toyota into a Ford,’ meditation may allow us to go from a Ford focus to a Lincoln. And if we can do that then at least we can begin to reduce our personal health care cost. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Meditation Benefits: Snake oil or Elixir?

Susan Morales starts her post, “The Elixir for All Our Mental Ailments,” saying that sometimes she feels like, “the stereotype of a snake oil salesperson,” when she’s touting all the meditation benefits she’s discovered.

Meditation Benefits: Snake oil or Elixir?

Meditation Benefits: Snake oil or Elixir?

I and many other have said have said this before, meditation is power; the paradox is that it can look and seem as if you are not getting anything accomplished, you’re just sitting there, standing there or lying there simply ‘being.’ ᅠBut as I said, meditation is power, when you learn meditation; you are learning the power of stress relief, concentration and awareness and the power that come from the many health benefits of meditation.

What I really enjoyed about this post was the wonderful ‘prescriptions that Susan offers up for us to try. So without further ado, I’ll let Susan present them…

For those with busy minds:

Yes, our minds are very busy. The brain’s job is to think, think and think. However, we tend to over-utilize the analytic function. When our minds are overstimulated, thoughts can become repetitive, like the proverbial broken record. Try one or two of these solutions:

  • Try one two-minute dose of watching your thoughts.

Set a timer for two minutes and pay attention to what thoughts arise. Watching your thoughts engages a different part of the brain, and your brain waves slow down. I imagine my thoughts are like popcorn randomly popping. By observing my thoughts and then waiting to see which will pop up next, I start to relax. You might prefer imagining a rushing stream or floating clouds. The point is to enjoy your thoughts instead of fighting them or dwelling on them.

  • Meditate when your thoughts are naturally slower.

When I awake in the morning, my mind is racing. For someone else this might be the quietest time. I still meditate every morning, because it sets a great tone for the day. But I find an afternoon meditation or an evening meditation takes me into a deeper state. Try different times of the day until you find what’s easiest.

  • Give your mind a focus.

The Ericksonian Institute teaches one of my favorite techniques. Begin with your eyes open. Pick seven objects at different locations in the room. Focus on one object, then on another. Keep moving your focus until you’ve seen each object. Repeat this until you feel your eyelids getting heavy. Then simply meditate on the feeling of heaviness.

For those who can’t sit still:

The reason most of us can’t sit still is because we have lots of energy that doesn’t get used in our daily lives. Perhaps your ancestors were farmers or physical laborers, and you sit behind a desk. Many folks with this kind of excess energy choose to exercise. In fact, I hear, “Exercise is my meditation.” Yes, it does quiet the mind and relax the body. However, if you’d like to go beyond those benefits, I suggest you learn to sit quietly with yourself.

  • Use your workout to prepare you for meditation.

After you go for a run, play your favorite sport or take an aerobics class, sit quietly and feel what is going on inside your body. I love to do this. My breathing slows down and my muscles soften. There’s a pleasant sensation of energy moving through my body. I lie down on a mat after teaching a spinning class and lead my students into five minutes of relaxation. If you take yoga classes, you’ll recognize this as Shivasana.

  • Allow your body to move while meditating.

If you absolutely can’t sit still, even after a workout, try allowing your torso to sway side to side or rock back and forth. You can also do this with your head. Move it up and down or lower your right ear toward your right shoulder and then your left ear to your left shoulder. The rhythm of these motions can be very soothing and lead your mind and body to shift into a quieter state.

  • Sit cross-legged on the floor.

I find that sitting cross-legged either on a wide-seated chair or on the floor takes me out of my usual routine and shouts to me, “You’re going to meditate now!” My legs become engaged in an active, completely different way. There is work going on in my thighs, calves and hips, and that effort exhausts some of the excess energy. I also associate sitting on the floor with my childhood. So, there’s a shift to feeling younger and more flexible, physically and mentally.ᅠ

The greatest challenge, as Susan points out, is actually practicing meditation, because to receive any real meditation benefits you actually have to practice it. I can remember Deepak telling us, at one of the retreats at the Chopra Center, that if a doctor prescribed a medication, that by practicing it twenty minutes a day it would allow us to grow younger and live a longer, happier life; we wouldn’t hesitate to take her advice.

Well here Susan is offering us a mental health multi-vitamin in the form of meditation, a shift in perspective to energize your practice. To your complete health, body, mind and soul, bottoms up or should I say, down onto the cushion. Click here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefit of Meditation in Groups

I have always believed the benefits of meditation are enhanced when you join with others and that’s been true for me whether I’m meditating with one other person or hundreds in a Satsang. ᅠThere is a certain ineffable quality found in meditating with others.

The Benefits of Meditation in Groups

The Benefits of Meditation in Groups

Meditating together, even for a short period, you will begin to attune at a deeper level of being. Research seems to be showing that the connections created between meditators that practice regularly together have continued coherence, which reaches beyond normal space-time (non-locally), acting in much the same way as quantum entanglement. ᅠᅠᅠ

That debate aside, Mallika Chopra, eloquently paints the picture of the benefits of meditation in groups in her post, so without further ado, here’s Mallika…

“I learned to meditate when I was nine years old, and it has proved to be an invaluable technique for dealing with stress and being at peace with who I am.

One of my favorite memories growing up is meditating with my parents. When I would come home from school, my brother and I would settle in for the afternoon, do our homework, watch some television and usually before dinner spend 15 minutes meditating with my mom. And on other occasions, when my dad (Deepak Chopra) was leading a seminar or speaking to a big group of people, we would meditate with dozens, if not, hundreds of other people.

While meditation is fundamentally about self-exploration, the coherence from meditating with others makes it personally and socially more powerful. While some are skeptical, there have been numerous studies that have shown that a large group of people meditating together has a measurable effect on the greater population.

For me personally, meditating with others helps me feel more connected. The experience of knowing that silence I experience in my meditation is the same silence that the person sitting next to me is tapping into is quite moving.

Meditating together also lets us come together in shared intentions for change. On a global scale, we have witnessed many times how a small handful of people strongly unified by a common intent can profoundly influence a larger group of people. Great global movements for peace, from Martin Luther King Jr. to Gandhi, have always begun with a coming together of people who want peace for the greater good.”

Mallika continues in the post and offers a section on “How to start a group Meditation,” along with a short guided imagery meditation.

While I have no objective ‘proof,’ I believe that the benefits of meditation in groups are the healing of individuals and humanity by exponentially increasing the energy of peace and love in the world. ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefits of Meditation in Keeping Your Heart Fit

The benefits of meditation and yoga have long been known in the wellness movement as a good preventive measure for heart disease. It seems, now, that these practices may stop or even reverse heart disease and other serious illness.

Recent research as gone to the genetic level and it’s been shown that hundreds of genes may change their expression in as short a time as a few months after the person make a lifestyle change in a positive direction.

Genes associated with heart disease and inflammation where “turned off” or down-regulated and genes that were found to be protective where up-regulated.

In this post the author speaks to the benefits of meditation and yoga on the heart, especially the blood vessels.ᅠ

“It has been seen that practicing yoga and meditation about three times a week helps in decreasing pulse,ᅠblood pressure and potential risk of heart problems. Yoga proves to be effective in healthy individuals as well as people diagnosed with heart disease.

Research indicates that around six week practice of yoga and meditation can improve the functioning of blood vessels, known as endothelial function, by 17% in healthy individuals and people with heart diseases by 70%. Blood vessel function indicates atherosclerosis as the vessels constrict and expand less as they become less supple. The program included 20 minutes of deep relaxation, 40 minutes of postural yoga, 15 minutes of breathing yoga exercises and 15 minutes of meditation.

Yoga and meditations are very effective in stress and anxiety, which are the main causes of coronary artery diseases (CAD). Experts believe that CAD development can be reduced with regular yoga combined with a vegetarian diet.

Many yoga poses are effective in augmenting the fitness of your heart, proper blood circulation and strengthening the heart muscle. Some of the best poses for cardiovascular fitness are the warrior pose and the triangle pose. These also enhance the stamina, replenish the body and promotes better sleep.

For strengthening the heart, reducing muscle cramps and enhancing flexibility, you can try the tree pose, the mountain pose and the lotus pose.

So, if you are also suffering from heart problems, then try yoga. However, remember that yoga is not a cure for these afflictions, it will just help your system to cope with these diseases.”ᅠ

You can help your heart and receive the benefits of meditation by practicing, “Meditations on the Heart.”

Sit quietly, observing your breath and with your eyes closed bring your attention to your heart. Breathe naturally and keep your attention on your heart, feel it beating in your chest or hear it pulsing in your ears, feel it in whatever way you find comfortable. Allow any feelings or sensations to arise and let them go, simply let them pass. And when your attention wanders, gently bring it back to your heart center. Continue for ten to fifteen minutes.ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post

Getting Real About Meditation Benefits and Stress

It turns out that the number one meditation health benefit, stress reduction, could save us $300 billion a year, because that is the estimated cost of stress-related problems to our economy. And I have to think, three hundred billion is as about as real a meditation benefit, as you can get.

Getting Real About Meditation Benefits and Stress

Meditation Benefits and Stress

Almost every different type of meditation can be used as a meditation technique for stress. Whether you use mindfulness meditation exercises or transcendental mantra meditation techniques, breath meditation or walking meditation, they are all going to help alleviate the negative effects of stress.

Here’s an interesting post on this subject and maybe it will help reduce your stress, and it’s sure to be enlightening, because it’s written by Ed and Deb Shapiro. Enjoy…ᅠ

“All of this would be fine if we had a bear to hunt or a war to wage. However, the stress most of us are dealing with is not from life-or-death situations, but is the distress that arises from an accumulation of pressure from much smaller issues. And although each separate incident may appear benign, if our response becomes increasingly stressful and we are no longer able to maintain our equilibrium then the body will put out the red alert. The stress response is activated when we are unable to adjust our behavior or deal creatively with demanding circumstances; we soon feel overwhelmed, like a steam cooker coming to full pressure. We are the only one who can turn down the heat, but unfortunately we usually feel powerless to do so.

When there is no animal to hunt or war to fight in which to release the energy accumulating inside us, where does it go? Is it difficult to believe that ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome are connected to high stress levels, that we might get constipation, diarrhea or lose our appetite? What happens to the urge to scream, to lash out, to find release from the tension? Is it surprising that marriages suffer, or that alcohol and food addiction is rising?

Few of us like to think of ourselves as stressed, we prefer to think of stress as what happens to others, without realizing how susceptible we may be ourselves. The most comprehensive study of the causes of stress was done by Drs. Holmes and Rahe at the University of Washington. They based their findings on the level of adjustment required for different circumstances, as the inability to adequately adjust is most likely to stimulate the stress response.ᅠ Their Social Readjustment Scale placed the death of a spouse as the most difficult circumstance to adapt to, followed by divorce or separation. In more recent studies, money problems and work/unemployment issues are being rated more highly. To that list we must also add environmental stressors, such as pollution, traffic, noise, and increased population.

What must be remembered, however, is that as we all respond differently to circumstances, a divorce may be high on the list of stressors for one person but it may be a welcome relief to another! Our perception of the circumstances and of how well we can cope is the vital factor. For although we may have little or no control over the circumstances or stressors we are dealing with, we do have control over our understanding of the situation, and over our response. Remember: we cannot stop the wind but we can adjust our sails. Although changing our circumstances certainly can help, it may be only temporary. Invariably, no matter where we go or what we do, the change that is the most effective is within ourselves.”

We all deal with conflicting situations throughout our day, the meditation benefit, is that we can deal with those situations without feeling of anxiety, fear, without raising our blood pressure or releasing adrenalin. ᅠᅠ

Meditation makes us more aware of our perceptions, reactions and behavior, and with that increased awareness, comes the ability to recognize the onset of the stress response and consciously move into the relaxation response instead. ᅠᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post