Before to talk about the Zen meditation benefits, it is go to know that Zen actually means, “Meditation,” but Zen isn’t just sitting or formal meditation. Zen is meditation if you mean meditation is life, another way of saying mindfulness.
Cooking with Presence a Zen Meditation Benefit
Zen is about letting go of attachments sometimes confused with letting go of strong opinions or feelings. Having opinions or feelings is fine, it’s human, the practice is to release any attachment to them, to recognize them, to acknowledge them, experience them and then let them go of them as they slip off into oblivion. ﾠ
One of the reasons that strong opinions or feelings arise is our need to feel in control, which is, of course, a myth of the ego. We aren’t in control. Practicing mindfulness is the way we can begin to relinquish our illusory idea of being in control, by accepting what ‘is’ and bring awareness to our participation in the illusion in the first place.
Because Zen is meditation and meditation is life, Zen is practiced in all aspects of life, sitting, writing, eating and cooking. This article is a Zen approach to the kitchen.
“I find it an encouraging and inspiring reminder for the 21st century; how to cultivate an attitude of caring, a spirit of generosity and of focus, right here in my kitchen.ﾠ I can do this while chopping vegetables, steaming kale, or washing dishes.ﾠ Meditation, bringing awareness and focus to day-to-day activities, can be done anywhere, even in the kitchen
Dogen goes on to say, in his instruction to the cook, that you should bring three minds to your work in the kitchen: Joyful Mind, Grandmother Mind, and Big Mind.
Joyful Mind is somewhat obvious, but not always easy to practice — enjoy what you do in the kitchen.ﾠ Be present, have fun, create an atmosphere that is playful and alive.ﾠ Bring your knives and vegetables and pots and pans alive.
Grandmother Mind is the attitude of unconditional love of sincerity and of acceptance.ﾠ Imagine planning, cooking, and cleaning with this mind, working with others with this mind, and serving food with the mind of grandmotherly love and acceptance.
Big Mind is the mind that is wide and open, accepting things as they are.ﾠ There is an expression in the Zen tradition that says The Way is easy; just avoid picking and choosing.ﾠ When you give up grasping and rejecting, the Way unfolds before you.ﾠ This is pointing to the spirit of Big Mind.ﾠ On one level, impossible.ﾠ On another, this is how are lives really are, beyond picking and choosing.ﾠ And yet, what should we make for dinner?”
Zen isn’t complicated; it is about ridding yourself of all the unwanted clutter, your fears, worries, opinions, unwanted feelings and attachments. Enlightening yourself of all this undesirable baggage is the real Zen meditation benefit.ﾠﾠ
There are different approaches and benefits to meditation and these are usually divided into two or three categories; either mindfulness and concentrative or mindfulness and concentrative and inner self-awareness. Mindfulness is present moment awareness, concentration is focused attention and inner self-awareness is a Vedic mantra based transcendental meditation.
Meditation is sometimes seen as having formal or informal approaches, the formal being meditation that is practiced in a structured setting and informal is mindfulness practiced ‘off the cushion.’
This post is about six meditation benefits of practicing mindfulness ‘off the cushion.’ ﾠﾠﾠ
“How do you practice mindfulness outside of meditation?ﾠ
Take three or four conscious breaths while resting your attention on the sensation of the breath coming in and going out of your body. You may have been aware of a sound, a smell, or maybe a bodily sensation other than the breath. Careful attention to whatever is happening in the present moment is the essence of mindfulness. The sensation of the breath is often used as an anchor because breathing is always present in the moment.
It may surprise you to learn that practicing mindfulness outside of meditation is a major component of meditation retreats. For example, while eating, the instruction is to pay careful attention to the food being pierced by the fork, being raised to your mouth, touching your tongue, being chewed and then swallowed.
This eating sequence is a succession of moments of mindfulness and may include the sight and smell of the food, the physical sensation of your arm being raised to your mouth, the sound of the food being chewed, the taste of the food, and even the thought, “This food is good.”
On a retreat, everyone participates in “work meditation.” I always signed up to put food away after meals. I’d perform the task slowly, so I could be mindful of the sights and sounds and physical sensations as I picked an appropriate container, put the leftover food into it, covered it, and put it in the refrigerator.
What are the benefits of practicing mindfulness outside of meditation?ﾠ
1. Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from our fixation on discursive thinking. Of course, we need to think at times. But the mind tends to get lost in stressful thoughts about the past and the future: we replay painful experiences from the past; we mock up worst-case-scenarios about the future. It’s exhausting and rarely productive. Paying attention to what is happening in the present moment is a welcome relief from these stressful and habitual thought patterns.
2. Mindfulness takes us out of ourselves. You can see from #1 that most of that discursive thinking is self-focused. It’s refreshing and energizing to open our awareness to the world around us instead of always being preoccupied with our personal stories. Mindfulness also helps us cope with painful physical sensations when their intensity takes over our entire sense of self and we feel we are nothing but painful sensations (see my post,ﾠMindfulness: Potent Medicine for Easing Physical Suffering).
3. Mindfulness turns a boring activity into an adventure. My work meditation—putting food away after a meal—may have sounded boring. But with mindful awareness, it became an adventure: finding just the right-sized container for the amount of food that was left; transferring the food from the serving tray into the container without spilling it (all the while enjoying the stimulation of my sense of smell!). This intentional engagement with what is happening in the present moment generates curiosity not boredom.
4. Mindfulness frees us from judgment. Non-judgmental awareness of whatever presents itself to the senses is a key feature of mindfulness. We become friendly and impartial observers, free to put down the heavy burden of judging. In this way, mindfulness is a doorway to equanimity because the essence of equanimity is being calmly present in the midst of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. Note: This doesn’t mean we wouldn’t take action to prevent harm to ourselves or another. Mindfulness, like all Buddhist practices, is intended to alleviate suffering. We know when to abandon our impartial observation and grab a child who’s about to step out into traffic!
5. Mindfulness enables us to make wise choices. When our minds are caught up in stressful thought patterns, it’s hard to see through the mental clutter. We get confused and become reactive, not reflective. Then we’re more likely to respond to others unskillfully, perhaps saying something we later regret. (When I first lost my health, I vented my anger and frustration at many a person who intended me no harm.) But if we’ve practiced mindfulness in the midst of both pleasant and unpleasant experiences, we’re more likely to be aware of our reactive tendencies and can catch ourselves, take a conscious breath, and choose a more skillful way to respond.
6. Mindfulness opens our hearts and minds to the world unfolding right before us. The great Tibetan Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön (a chronic illness sufferer herself), describes this as, “Letting the world speak for itself.” When I practice mindfulness outside of meditation, I often use this phrase as a sort of mantra: “Let the world speak for itself,” I silently say. The world answers with the full array of life’s experiences—the squawking of a scrub jay, the breeze in my face, the sadness in a child’s cry, the sight of a young couple in love.”
Mindfulness can be practiced anywhere and everywhere, not just on the meditation cushion or the yoga mat. You can be mindful strolling down the street, talking to a friend or writing a blog post.
In practicing mindfulness meditation you discover the joy of living in the present moment instead of constantly living in the past or worrying about the future. The benefit of this meditation is it reduces stress which eases pain.
Mindfulness teaches you how to live in a harmonious way, because the present moment is the only moment in which you really live, create, smile or do anything at all.
The more you practice mindfulness meditation the greater the effects, in studies on monk’s who’ve practiced meditation for a long time, the levels of their wellbeing measured in the brain where well beyond what was expected.
This is why in their “tip of the day,” Drs. Oz and Roizen, endorse mindfulness meditation as a way to help elevate chronic pain.
“We know, and you know, chronic pain isn’t all in your head. But you can use your noodle to turn down the volume on agonizing aches, whether you’ve got back pain, arthritis or other day-in, day-out discomfort. The tool: an easy relaxation technique called mindfulness meditation. Bonus: It can counteract one of pain’s sneakiest, most frustrating downsides: memory loss.
You may have heard that this type of meditation eases pain by soothing stress. But the more we learn about mindfulness, the better it gets. It also helps control your alpha rhythms, a type of brain wave that blocks out distracting information. Practicing mindfulness a few minutes daily boosts your ability to focus by tuning out distractions … like, yes, pain signals, and fears about pain — both mess with your memory. It improves your ability to recall important stuff (when you’re meeting your wife for dinner or where you put the dog’s leash).
Want to give it a whirl? Find a quiet place. Get comfortable. Close your eyes, and breathe in and out at a natural pace. Notice whether your breath feels warm or cool. When other thoughts, feelings and sensations crop up, acknowledge them, then gently re-focus on your breathing. After about 10 minutes, open your eyes and re-enter the world slowly. You’ll go about your day feeling better.”ﾠ
Mindfulness meditation has been shown to reduce stress, depression, anxiety and pain, and increase creativity, energy and an overall sense of wellbeing. And in reducing your stress you improve your immune function helping your speed up your recovery rate. ﾠclick here to visit the original source of this post
Mindfulness meditation and its benefits is often the subject of post here at Meditation Benefits, because this approach to meditation is at the forefront of research. There are many reasons for that and two of them are, the Dalia Lama and Jon Kabat–Zinn.
Jon Kabat–Zinn is a researcher in the emerging field of mind body medicine and has focused his efforts on the effects of mindfulness in meditation training.
It is not simply the benefits that transformative healing has on an individual that Jon is focusing on, but he holds a larger vision, which is introducing the inner “technology” of mindfulness meditation, “to make integral “the contemplative mind in society.”
The following post highlights some of the benefits of mindfulness meditation from recent research.
“There have been several scientific studies that have revealed that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain ion a positive way. It is only now that we can more appreciate the positive benefits of meditation, since modern technology is allowing us to delve deep into the recesses of the mind.
Details of Researchﾠ
Here are some details of such research, and a simple explanation of how to perform mindfulness meditation.
In a study in the January 30 2011 issue of ‘Psychiatry Research’, results show that by participating in an 8 week mindfulness meditation program, significant changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress can be made.
Mindfulness meditation essentially involves focusing on your own inner mind, and tuning out or ignoring the world around you, whilst you focus on your inner mind. There are many different ways of achieving this, and I will show you one such method later in this article.
MR images were taken of the brain structure of 16 participants two weeks before and after they took part in an 8 week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) Program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness. During the 8 weeks they received weekly meetings and had guided meditation audio sessions to take home with them. It was found that the participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises.
The analysis of MR images after the 8 weeks found increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, which is important for learning and memory. It also revealed an increase in grey matter density in areas associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection. This shows that meditation literally improved the brain in almost every way.
Most subjects also reported reductions in stress. This was confirmed by the decrease of grey matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in stress and anxiety.
In 2007 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania also conducted a study on mindfulness meditation and they concluded that practicing even small amounts daily improves performance and the ability to focus attention.
Benefits of Meditation
Therefore it would seem that science firmly points to mindful meditation helping our minds in many ways. Just these two studies showed improvements in learning, memory, self-awareness, compassion, introspection, and a reduction in stress and anxiety. It is likely that further studies will reveal even more improvements, such as improved energy, sleep patterns, and even happiness.”
Mindfulness meditation provides a plethora of benefits many of which can reduce the reaction, if not the intensity, of menopausal symptoms. Here are some of the ways in which meditation could benefit those who are distressed by hot flashes.
Helping Women Cope with Hot Flashes a Meditation Benefit
Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation does change the brain, and the more regular the practice the greater the changes in the brain. And those practicing loving kindness meditations report feeling greater love for themselves, reducing stress and anxiety. ﾠ
Numerous studies show that relationships tend to improve as people begin to practice mindfulness meditation. The benefit here is that you become more understanding, less reactive and judgmental and experience higher levels of compassion and empathy. Again this reduces stress and increases a tolerant attitude, not only of others but towards yourself.
Here’s some highlighted information from a blog on just this topic.
“The University of Massachusetts research showed that mindfulness training, based on a Buddhist meditation concept, reduced the distress associated with hot flashes and improved physical, psychosocial and sexual functioning.
“The findings are important because hormone replacement therapy, used to treat menopause symptoms in the past, has been associated with health risks,” said study author James Carmody, an associate professor of medicine in the division of preventive and behavioral medicine.
Mindfulness therapy helps focus on the present. Practitioners avoid making judgments and simply accept whatever is passing through their mind while focusing on each breath. The technique is not difficult to learn, but requires some discipline in the beginning, experts noted.
The researchers aimed to influence women’s reaction to their symptoms, “including psychological distress, social embarrassment and anxiety.”
“We wanted to see if we could affect women’s resilience in response to these symptoms,” Carmody explained. “We were not trying to affect the symptoms themselves, although there was some effect on those as well.”
About 40 percent of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes and night sweats, which undermine their quality of life, the researchers noted. But since hormone replacement therapy has been linked with an increased risk of heart disease, breast cancer and stroke, Carmody observed that “not only are women looking for alternative treatments, it is an NIH (National Institutes of Health) priority to find behavioral treatments.”
No other treatment has been found to substitute for hormone therapy, according to the study, but mindfulness training appears to allow women to be “less reactive” to menopausal symptoms.
ﾠAnother expert praised the study for using the “mind-body connection” to help women with serious menopause symptoms with “no side effects.”
“We’ve known about the mind-body connection,” said Dr. Jill M. Rabin. “We’re just beginning to unlock the power of the mind to have an impact on our physiological selves.”
The study authors were “self-critical regarding the limitations of the study,” said Rabin, chief of the division of ambulatory care and head of urogynecology at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center. Among other things, the study lacked an active control group program, they wrote.
Noting that the women were mostly white and had a high level of education, Rabin said more study was needed to see if the results apply to the general population.
“It’s not that the results don’t apply, or will be different for a different population,” she said. “We just don’t know.” ﾠﾠ
Mindfulness meditation can actually reduce chronic pain. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) studies have shown the benefits of meditation for those dealing with chronic pain. These benefits may be partially due to the way that mindfulness meditation trains you to accept, and not resist, challenging bodily sensations, which of course, holds true for the chronic symptoms of menopause.
There are a number of other meditation benefits that can have a positive effect on menopausal symptoms, like helping to regulate eating habits, reducing anxiety and stress and generally increasing your set point for happiness. ﾠ
Think of meditation as a way to do some mental spring cleaning, sweeping out that constant chatter that’s always cluttering things up in your head. Most of the time we are living in our heads, either in the past or on the future, in fact, if we are in the ‘now’ than we aren’t in or heads at all, we’re simply present.
Meditation is the practice of getting out of our heads and slipping into the gap between our thoughts, you know, silence, or into the present moment, and that would be mindfulness. Either way, the self-talk stops, at least for a time and with it goes the worries, anxieties and general mind drama and in slips peace.
Use the same place to do this every time. You just might find that the urge to sit and stew gets weaker over time. Consider taking an actual course or program to learn meditation and mindfulness techniques. Practice what you learn, …
Albany Times Union (blog)
The benefit of meditation is that the more you practice it the more it becomes a part of your everyday life, which means more peace and less worry and happier, healthier life. And I would say that’s a spring cleaning worth doing.
Nature has a way of creating a meditative state within us, without effort. When you meditate in a place of natural beauty, you know that you’ve arrived a place that feel like home, even if you’ve never been there before, that what meditation is.
The Benefits of Meditating in Nature
When we walk in nature and something beautiful takes our breath away for just a moment, for that moment we are part of the experience, for that moment meditation is not something we are ‘doing’ it’s something we are ‘being.’ﾠ
It didn’t occur to Remington that he was meditating. After a year of clairvoyant training and studying a variety of meditation techniques, it became clear those moments in nature were effective meditations. He shares these nature-based techniques and …
There is a magic in nature, notice how your mind settles down, the stress melts away, your breathing deepens and your heart fills with joy.
We evolved in the natural world so make it a practice to meditate in nature as often as you can, and notice how easily your heart opens.
One of the most scientifically proven ways to elicit the relaxation response is with meditation; and eliciting the relaxation response may be one of the most powerful ways to delay the onset of memory loss or even Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to the fact that when we are stressed we produce more of a, brain cell killing, hormone called cortisol.
The benefit of meditation is the anti-stress response that it creates reverses the effects of stress and as a result a lower production of cortisol.ﾠ
For the past decade or so, the Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation (ARPF), of which I’m president, has been researching a simple, 12-minute meditation technique called Kirtan Kriya (KK). KK comes from the Kundalini Yoga tradition as taught …
The various approaches to meditation all seem to have a positive effect on stress, while improving overall health and well-being. The benefits of stress reduction are basically the same for mantra based meditation practices, such as Transcendental Meditation or Primordial Sound Meditation, as well as mindfulness meditation, whether in the traditional Buddhist form or the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program, taught by John Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D. and others.
To this point the studies have not be done regarding the long term effects of meditation on memory loss, but we can say the meditation has been proven to be of benefit in creating a healthy life style.
According to the wisdom traditions the purpose of life is to be truly happy, and our desire for happiness is an integral part of our nature, and it’s evolutionary. The mistake we make very often is, believing that if we get, accomplish or become something else, then we will be happy. Not realizing it’s the other way around, that by being happy now, it will lead to our getting, accomplishing and becoming what we most desire.
The Meditation Benefit of Happiness
The wisdom traditions teach that happiness is found in being and not by doing, and it’s defined as bliss, contentment and joy without need or cause. Understanding intellectually, what happiness is and where it’s found, is much different than applying that knowledge. You can learn to address the root causes of unhappiness, but that’s only half the challenge, the other half is in the application and the practice. This is where meditation becomes a benefit.
Happiness and meditation have been long been linked together and now western science understands why. Scientists have now identified, the happiness set point, where happiness is located in the brain and the neurotransmitters of happiness.
The Neurotransmitters of Happiness
According to these researchers, it’s the release of neurotransmitters in the seat of higher thinking, the pre-frontal cortex, which changes the brains set-point for happiness. Meditation stimulates the release of neurotransmitters, including opiates, serotonin, oxytocin, and dopamine. So, we now know that happiness isn’t some elusive emotion, it’s a physiological state which can be studied and measured. The effects of meditation on all the neurotransmitters change the brains set point for happiness in a way that no single drug can.
The Most Powerful Benefit of Meditation
As important, as the physiological effects are, there is a more powerful benefit that meditation offers in awakening true happiness. The Eastern spiritual traditions, from the beginning, understood that life inevitably contains suffering, from accidents to aging, from natural disasters to death. These same Eastern traditions diagnosed suffering and found five main causes of unhappiness and then came to understand that all of them were contained in the first; ignorance of your true identity. Once you experience your true nature, who you really are, then your suffering will come to an end.
Meditation is the key to discovering your true identity which lies in deep in your consciousness beyond your mind, intellect, and ego. Meditation allows you to discover, and most importantly,experience, that part of you that transcends space-time, cause and effect; the part of you that’s immortal, your core consciousness. The experience of self-realization is experience of enlightenment, which is the only permanent cure for unhappiness.
Enlightenment is knowing your real self, or as Deepak puts it, “In the world of constant change, there is something that doesn’t change,”know that ‘something,’ is the real you. When you experience yourself as the non-change in a world of change, and come to know the underlying ground state as who you really are, then you have discovered the key to true happiness.
Two of the best sources for deeper exploration into this meditation benefit are; Marci Shimoff’s book, “Happy for No Reason,” and Deepak Chopra’s book, “The Ultimate Happiness Prescription.”
Here are this weeks post on the Meditation benefits of Happiness.
In my work for the David Lynch Foundation, I find teaching at-risk children the Transcendental Meditation technique is one of the most valuable tools you can give a young person. They grow in self worth and inner happiness as they daily …
Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” challenge: What’s it like to meditate for 28 days? | Our March 2011 review of Salzberg’s new book Real Happiness | Shambhala Sun Audio: Sharon Salzberg (Dec 13, 2010) | Sharon Salzberg: “Surprised by …
“Many studies have shown that meditation is good for the mind. It’s also good for the body; it is good for the immune system, blood circulation, and overall sense of happiness” he said. At the Open Center event, Rinpoche told his …
I think, without them, all the other steps would be nothing. 2. Meditation, Happiness and the Trap of the Intellect (http://www.treelight.com/essays/meditationAndHappiness.html). Here, intellect plays a major role in one’s happiness. …
For more information visit – www.TM.org Russell Simmons explains how through practice of Transcendental Meditation http everyone can easily grow in happiness. Russell Simmons (Def Jam) was one of the founders of the hip- hop movement and is now an en…
anmolmehta.com (free article with full details). If you want to be happy, peaceful and have confidence, then the Smiling Buddha Meditation Technique is perfect for you. Although this meditation uses mantras, mudras, etc to bestow it’s benefits, it’s …
www.ted.com What is happiness, and how can we all get some? Buddhist monk, photographer and author Matthieu Ricard has devoted his life to these questions, and his answer is influenced by his faith as well as by his scientific turn of mind We can tra…
www.selfimprovementsguide.com Happiness Top 20 most famous happy quotes and happiness quotations. Get 16 free self improvement and selfhelp guides with inspirational quotes, affirmations, happiness, meditation, relaxation, positive, manifestation, mo…
Yogis have been known to meditate while standing and sometimes doing it balanced on one leg. For those who can’t sit comfortably, either because it’s physically uncomfortable or there is a need to move.
One of the benefits of Buddhist meditation is that there are four acceptable alternatives for formal meditation that are equally acceptable, sitting, standing, walking and lying down. Also, there are different traditions in which meditation is practiced in ways beyond even the four of Buddhist tradition, for example, the Sufi’s practice whirling and the Taoist practice the slow movements of T’ai chi.ﾠ
15 minutes is enough time to do this meditation. To take off 15 minutes at any time of the day is not tough. Stand upright on your toes but not in a rigid …