Goldie Hawn Promotes the Benefits of Meditation

Goldie Hawn wikimedia commons

Goldie Hawn promotes the benefits of meditation, which is a part of the MindUP™ curriculum. Meditation is integral and foundational to this program, a program which at its core philosophy seeks to transform and help children transform their lives by creating opportunities to develop necessary social and emotional skills.

The MindUP™ consists of fifteen lessons for three developmental levels including Pre-K through second grade; third through fifth grade; and, sixth through eighth grade.

The program is organized into four units, in which mindfulness meditation as a role.  “Let’s Get Focused,” the first unit, features “understanding mindful attention and focusing our awareness.” The second unit, “Paying Attention to Our Senses” includes;Mindful Listening; Mindful Seeing; Mindful Smelling; Mindful Tasting;  Mindful Movement I; Mindful Movement II.” In unit three, “It’s All About Attitude” includes the mindful practice of ‘perspective.’ The last unit is all mindfulness, “Taking Action Mindfully,” including; “Acting with Gratitude; Performing Acts of Kindness; Taking Mindful Action in Our Community.”

It’s easy to see how Goldie Hawn’s vision to bring mindfulness to the classroom has evolved. An article by Ingrid Wickelgren, on the Scientific American blog reviewed Hawn’s address at the Second Annual Aspen Brain Forum speaks directly to the programs evolution. Here’s Ingrid’s take on it…

“Hawn spoke without notes, claiming to be a born communicator, a claim she backed up by her performance. As she talked, it occurred to me that vivaciousness and beauty did not alone propel her to stardom. Unlike most people who wing it, Hawn strung together rhythmic sentences that made sense. If the neuroscience community was going to be delivered an advocate, they could have done a lot worse.

She answered the obvious question first: Why is Goldie Hawn speaking at a brain conference? I already partly knew the answer. Just as any 7-year-old can now do, I had looked it up on the web. Six years ago Hawn established a nonprofit group called The Hawn Foundation “to promote children’s academic success in school and in life through social and emotional learning.” It is based on the notion that kids’ intellects do not exist in isolation from their emotions, their connections to others or the rest of their bodies. The MindUp program, the Foundation’s signature educational initiative, is designed to address these oft-neglected components of learning. It was a perfect fit for the forum, which this year addressed “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning: Implications for Education.” But more on that in a bit.

Hawn’s version was more personal. Decades ago (in 1972 she said), when she became famous, she felt newly anxious and something hard to imagine happened: she lost her signature smile. The change was foreign to Hawn—and not welcome. “When I was 11 years old, I decided that what I wanted to be in life was happy,” she said. “I thought, `All I want to do is hold onto this joy, this tickle I had when I was little.’” Having lost that tickle Hawn went spelunking, in her own psyche. She saw psychologists and began meditating, embarking on a nine-year psychological journey. Such an adventure might make lesser folks crazy or depressed in itself, but Hawn became surprisingly analytical about it. It led, she said, to her first understanding of the brain, “what it can do, how it can change.” She was particularly interested in neuroscience and spirituality, fancying questions such as “What is that God part of the brain?”

Hawn moved to rainy Vancouver, because her son, Wyatt, wanted to play hockey. While watching the rain outside her meditation room sometime in 2002, Hawn’s quest turned outward—in particular, to children. “I was a happy child,” she recalled. “I signed all my 4th grade papers, “Love, Goldie.” But in the wake of 9/11, she perceived U.S. children as being profoundly unhappy. “And I thought why can’t we do something that gets kids to understand their potential? Why don’t we teach our kids about the brain?”

Hawn was no brain expert, but she reasoned that teaching kids about the brain might make them more aware of their own thoughts and emotions. It might help them to develop the ability to think about thinking, or metacognition. That awareness would then give them better control over their own mind—directing their attention more appropriately or calming themselves down—in ways that could improve learning. Hawn seems to give kids lots of credit. I doubt most grownups would be similarly confident that kids could ably control their minds if shown how. Hawn saw this mission as urgent, though. She particularly wanted to prevent stress from shutting down executive function, the self-control of thought, action and emotion that is essential for learning.

So Hawn asked a team of educators, neurologists, psychologists and social scientists to develop a new curriculum built, in part, around lessons about how the brain works. Nowadays teachers in about 65 U.S. schools, nearly 150 in Canada, seven in the UK and one in Venezuela are using MindUp. Some of its young students now weave brain anatomy into casual conversation. One six-year-old girl, Hawn says, explained that it was her aunt’s amygdala that saved her life when the aunt pulled her out of the way of an oncoming car. Another kid reportedly said, “Oh, that lights up my prefrontal cortex, I know how to do this.”

Not all scientists think explicit knowledge of brain anatomy is necessary for prepping kids for study. But it is kind of cool. And why not? “I don’t think kids need to know about the amygdala,” says Adele Diamond, a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia. “But kids enjoy learning about the brain. I don’t think it hurts.”

Another component of MindUp, also apparently aimed at metacognition, is meditation. For three minutes, students concentrate on their breathing. The activity not only promotes calm but also sharpens attention. “It is very hard to stay focused on something for three minutes,” Diamond says. “This is training the mind.”

An equally important objective of MindUp is social and emotional development. Kids are taught, for example, that random acts of kindness matter. They know about mirror neurons, Hawn says, and they learn that you become happy when you give to someone else, a lesson in line with the teachings of the Dalai Lama​. Similarly, in “gratitude journals,” children regularly jot down what they are grateful for. I think this is also designed to make them feel good (Hawn invoked dopamine, the brain chemical for reward, in her talk), and to build better relationships. My kids are told to do this at Thanksgiving, and every November I have the passing thought that we really should be counting our blessings more often.

Preliminary data suggest the program works. Kim Schonert-Riechl, an applied developmental psychologist at the University of British Columbia and her colleagues tested the effectiveness of MindUp in 75 schools in her area. So far, the program seems to have had “incredibly positive effects,” says Diamond, who helped parse the data. It not only boosted kids’ self-reported feelings of happiness, liking of school, and sense of belonging, but also moderated kids’ cortisol levels, suggesting it lowered stress in the classroom. Perhaps most strikingly, it improved children’s executive function.

Scientists I spoke to about MindUp were enthusiastic about its potential to benefit children, particularly those at risk of being unhappy and failing in school. A lot of it did make scientific sense. After all, meditation exercises of the type used in MindUp can help adults better orient their attention, according to work presented by psychologist Amishi P. Jha of the University of Miami. And stress can shut down the ability to think—so reducing it should do the opposite. Some studies exist on the effects of gratitude as well: expressing your appreciation for a romantic partner, for example, seems to solidify those important bonds. (See “The Happy Couple: Secrets to a Long Marriage,” By Suzann Pileggi, Scientific American Mind, January/February 2010.) MindUp is reportedly gaining the support of teachers as well. “Teachers love it,” Diamond claims. “That’s why it’s spreading.”

…Hawn’s program is unique, if for no other reason, because she’s behind it. I couldn’t help admiring this scientific novice for doggedly following up on the instincts she had a decade ago, far-fetched as they might seem, and molding them into something undeniably real and data-driven. Hawn’s determination obviously cuts across disparate fields.”Read original article…

Meditation is a journey into self-awareness and neuroscience is allowing us to explore the landscape of the mind itself. In today’s world our children face so many challenges that have created unprecedented stress which compromise our children’s chance of academic success and wellbeing. Goldie Hawn’s program promotes the benefits of meditation and as she said, “We are going to change education as we know it,” I believe her!

Please click the LIKE button to share this article on Facebook.  Spreading the word about meditation is such a good thing to do, it’s our way of adding to peace in the world, and contributing to the abundance, health and happiness of people around us. 

What are the Benefits of a Walking Meditation?

 

What are the Benefits of a Walking Meditation?

What are the Benefits of a Walking Meditation?

Walking meditation is when the act of walking becomes the meditation, mindfulness meditation to be precise, being focused and present to the experience of walking. When you practice walking meditation, you are not trying to get somewhere or accomplish something, like exercise, you let go and enjoy the journey.

The idea in this approach to meditation is to release the mechanical and bring our attention into our bodies and feel what happening within us, all the sensations, as we move through the world.

Aimee Boyle describes the benefits of walking meditation and one approach to the practice. So here I’ll let Aimee describe it…

“Meditation is so often thought of as a practice of sitting still that we often think if we can’t sit still we can’t meditate. Truthfully, many of us don’t even know what meditation really is; there are stereotypes galore, rife with images of oval-fingered, palm-facing-upward serenity and placid facial expressions, candles and gently closed eyelids.

This Article

• Improved My Health

• Changed My Life

• Saved My Life

Although we’ve heard vague notions of stress relief and bliss, many Westerners– unless you’ve purposely led yourself toward meditation or were born into a family which practiced it–do not understand what it is all about. Can you text during a meditation session? Is it all right if the television is on in the background? Do you fall asleep?

Meditation conjures images of quiet and peace, candles and sitting with eyes closed because the very nature of meditation is to undo the overstimulation of the mind and bring it back to a single point of concentrated focus. By letting go of thoughts, images, worries, high excitements and arousals and low despair and depressions, we can reclaim a sense of balance within ourselves spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.

Walking can serve many of the same purposes. All types of exercise have proven to calm one’s mind and bring the energy into alignment, using endorphins as a means of lifting the sense of doom, dread and despair we feel, and oxygenating the blood so that our millions upon billions of thoughts are crowded out by the buzz in our blood and limbs.

By combining walking with meditation you serve the dual purpose of stilling your mind with the purpose of moving your limbs and staying fit, but what’s more helpful, the rhythm of the walking as you feel your feet find their own drumbeat and steady rhythm of your breathing can really bring your mind back into that still, quiet place.

Candles, incense and sitting have their place, of course, there is no doubt whatsoever. But for many of us who become frustrated with ourselves because sitting is so challenging, or for those who want an extra benefit while walking, combining walking and meditating can be extremely beneficial. Walking early in the morning, just after waking up, when the air is cool and the birds are just starting to sing can refresh your spirit and put things in perspective too. Breathe, step, breathe, step, breathe, step, chant, focus, become one with your walk.”

Walking meditation has been practiced alongside the more formal sitting meditation as a way to continue in mindful awareness. This style of meditation practice is a wonderful way to, not only extend your mindfulness practice, but as a way to practice bringing present moment awareness in to your day-to-day experience of the world.

You can actually practice ‘walking meditation’ without actually walking by bringing mindfulness to any movements you make, become aware of how your body feels as you move. How does the bannister feel as you climb the stairs, feel the changes that take place as you stand or even shift your position in your chair.

And when your minds wanders, bring your attention back to the present moment and feel the sensations that happing to you right now. This type of meditation allows you to begin to walk and work in a meditative, calm and relaxed way. Click here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefits of Meditation Benefits Special-needs Students

 

The Benefit of Meditation

The Benefit of Meditation

The aim of mindfulness isn’t to calm to body or the mind and yet it is that’s the effect and the benefit of meditation for students with special needs such as autism and attention-deficit disorders.

 

Probably, the biggest benefit of meditation for the children is that when they begin to learn how to control their anxiety and stress, even to some degree, they can begin to reduce their medications.

In this story, by Kristin Homes, the question of meditation and the challenges faced by different special-needs students is told. So I’ll leave Kristin to it…

“Brandon Heinz, an eighth grader in the Bristol Township School District, told occupational therapist Charles E. Gallagher that he had been asked to sit still “millions of times.”

The problem is that it’s not always easy.

For Brandon, 14, and his classmates – students with autism, attention-deficit disorders, or other special needs – controlling signs of anxiety is often a struggle.

So Gallagher made a suggestion: Breathe.

“In through your nose, and out through your mouth,” he instructed. Then, he said, let out a big sigh.

Gallagher went on to teach the students meditation techniques to help them cope when frustration threatens to overwhelm.

Students with conditions such as autism and attention- deficit disorders have difficulty reading the social cues of language, voice, and behavior and consequently might react in ways that appear inappropriate. They also can experience high levels of anxiety.

“They feel out of control,” said JoAnn Allison, the district’s supervisor of special education. “A lot of the strategies we have are to help them feel they have control of their environments and themselves.”

Gallagher, who has studied a treatment approach known as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, fit in perfectly, Allison said.

Mindfulness is a concept that means “paying attention on purpose in the present moment without judgment,” said Gallagher, who has trained at the Mindfulness Institute at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

Meditative exercises such as deep breathing help practitioners pay attention to the reactions of the body and mind in stressful moments, said Don McCown, a faculty member at the Mindfulness Institute. Once those reactions are recognized, the person can work toward controlling them.

Meditation also can help youngsters control their anxiety enough to reduce any medications they are taking, said Christina DiNicola, a pediatrician with the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Jefferson.

Early studies show promising results in youngsters with attention-deficit disorders who use yoga and biofeedback to relax, DiNicola said.

This year, Allison invited Gallagher, a therapist at the Delaware County Intermediate Unit, to lead a 30-minute session on meditation.

At the school, Gallagher talked with students in three classes – first and second graders, third and fourth, and fifth to eighth.

Students ran quickly throughout the room, and then in slow motion in exercises designed to get them to notice differences in their body when moving quickly and moving slowly. Gallagher clinked a meditation bell to signal when to stop and go.

He taught them about breathing deeply while standing up and while sitting down with their hands on their belly. He taught them to focus on sounds in their surroundings.

“How do you feel?” Gallagher asked the class of older students.

“My body feels more calm,” said Zachary Ford, 10. “My face feels like it loosened up.”

In the class of third and fourth graders, Christine Smeltzer, 8, said her body felt like she wanted to take a nap.

Christine said she might use the techniques outside the classroom during times when she’s frustrated.

That means when “kids are telling me what to do or bullying my friends,” she said. The breathing would help her feel “calm.”

Mindfulness meditation can reduce stress and that benefit alone is a very powerful tool for children that often feel out of control. Helping the children feel more in control happens as they start to become aware and pay attention to their bodies and mind in moments of stress, the great thing is that the awareness grows as a natural ‘side–effect,’ it’s the benefit of meditation. Click here to visit the original source of this post

The Meditation Benefit of Clearing Your Mind

Who is Andy Puddicombe? He’s a former Buddhist monk and was called by The Times of London, “Britain’s top meditation guru,” but likes to think of himself as an anti-guru.

Andy Puddicombe

Andy Puddicombe - Bringing Headspace to America

And it looks like he is bringing his nonprofit organization, Headspace, to America. Headspace is, “a project to demystify meditation, to make it accessible, practical and relevant to your life,” a site that offers a number of the ‘meditation for beginners’ type videos.

Actually, the New York Times article does a nice job of introducing Andy to those who have not heard about his style of, “secularized meditation.”

Enter the New York Times…

“What would New York look like if everyone took just 10 minutes out of their day to step back from it all?” Mr. Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk, asked in his rubbery Bristol accent. He was trying out his message — that inner peace can be achieved in meditation sessions shorter than the average cab ride — on an invitation-only audience of harried fashion editors, hedge funders and advertising executives.

Outside, the roar of a motorcycle shredded the springtime evening calm. In the rear row, a leggy woman in a black miniskirt tapped away on her BlackBerry.

“New York is undoubtedly my biggest challenge yet,” he said later. Mr. Puddicombe, 38, has made a career of promoting a quick and easy, religion-free brand of meditation, aimed at busy professionals who would ordinarily recoil at the smell of incense. He teaches techniques that can be practiced on a crowded subway or even while wolfing a sandwich (albeit, mindfully) during a quick lunch break at your desk.

Next year, he and his business partner, Rich Pierson (a former client), plan to move their nonprofit organization, Headspace, to the United States and set up operations in New York, Miami and Los Angeles.

Purists may raise an eyebrow at his promise of a shortcut path to bliss, but Mr. Puddicombe has already struck a chord in the United Kingdom, where he has become something of a Dr. Phil of the yogi set. His new book, “Get Some Headspace: 10 Minutes Can Make All the Difference,” was part of a three-book deal that earned him an advance in the mid-six figures, in dollars.

His group’s Web site, getsomeheadspace.com, features beginner-friendly instructional videos and had 200,000 visitors last year, due in part to Mr. Puddicombe’s regular appearances on BBC Radio. He is also branching into television. In September, Channel 4 in Britain will start a series of 10-minute meditation videos that he stars in. They will be broadcast between regular programs, like tiny TV shows.

His growing media presence has been built on top of a clinical practice in the Kensington district of London that caters to hard-charging achievers: bankers, actors, Premier League soccer players and members of Parliament. He also consults for corporations like Nomura securities and Google.

As such, it’s tempting to call him the maharishi of the money class. But Mr. Puddicombe is uncomfortable with any messianic connotations. “I’m the anti-guru,” he said. Despite his Dalai Lama-esque shaved head, he could be mistaken for a nightclubbing striker for the Tottenham Hotspur soccer team, with his sleek sports jackets from Uniqlo and shirts that show off his muscular build.

Ed Halliwell, a meditation author and writer for The Guardian’s Web site, said Mr. Puddicombe is “doing for meditation what someone like Jamie Oliver has done for food.” And like Mr. Oliver, he’s ready to conquer the United States. At the Industria event, Mr Puddicombe was not promising spiritual enlightenment, only a technique that combines steady breathing with mind-focusing exercises.

“We’ve secularized meditation,” he said. Click here to visit the original source of this post

The idea of ‘secularized meditation’ is not for everyone, for some there is a strong need for a deeper connection, but for others, this may be just the approach they need to embrace and receive the benefits of meditation.

However, even if meditation is secularized that does not mean that the practice should be trivialized or that it doesn’t come from a deep and profound place.ᅠ Nor does it mean that, while the benefits of meditation are vast, meditation is the solution to all of life’s problems.

I do believe that the reason for the success of programs like, Jon Kabat–Zinn’s, MBSR program and the Headspace offerings, is the almost desperate need in today’s high speed, high tech world, for stress relief; a reconnecting with our humanity.

So here’s a bit more about Andy Puddicombe, this time from The Times of London… ᅠᅠᅠ

As an ordained monk, Puddicombe spent ten years in monasteries in Nepal, India, Tibet and Russia, often meditating for up to 18 hours a day. He left the monastic life to teach meditation and to fulfil what he believes is his vocation, “to bring meditation [or ‘mindfulness’, as it’s often called] to as many people as possible, and especially to people who wouldn’t usually consider it”.

His timing couldn’t be better. The Beatles were the first to popularise meditation in the UK in the Sixties, but it’s only now that it has reached its tipping point. A growing body of respected research over the past 20 years has suggested that meditation improves a range of psychological and biological functions, including blood pressure, sleep patterns, stress control and levels of serotonin, the happy hormone. The evidence is now so overwhelming that in 2007 it was approved for use in the NHS and independent healthcare — many of Puddicombe’s private clients come to him through GP referral, and he uses it to help with anything from depression and eating disorders to addictions.

The concept of meditation chimes with the times, too. Cheap, portable and scientifically proven to be a powerful defence against stress and anxiety, it’s the perfect self-help treatment for the current convergence of tough times and post-consumerist values.

When I ask about the famous clients, he politely brushes the question away, partly to protect their privacy, and because their celebrity seems genuinely unimportant to him. “One great thing you learn through practicing meditation is empathy. You understand how much the same we all are.” He is just as focused on his non-celebrity clients, and has started a new not-for-profit project called Headspace, which aims to make meditation “accessible and practical”, meaning free from mystery, jargon and religion. It will feature group-training events and interactive online resources including podcasts and MP3 downloads. “My aim is to get as many people as possible to try it for ten minutes a day and see that it’s a great practical tool for everyday life.” He has started a regular Friday morning slot on the BBC Radio 2 Chris Evans Breakfast Show, and is working with Jamie Oliver’s website on issues surrounding “mindfulness” around food and eating.

Anyone can learn to meditate, Puddicombe says. “Meditation is about putting you in the present moment. It’s not about being caught up in never-ending cycle of thoughts that seems to occupy our every waking day. When you step out of that, it brings a sense of profound relaxation, and lets you experience any activity — from your work to eating a sandwich — more directly and more intimately.” Meditation has two main effects on the mind, “calm and clarity”. Finding calm is often what brings people to meditation, “but the greater, long-term benefit is clarity. It gradually allows you to still your mind; you understand what is really causing you stress and become more self-aware”. Most of us don’t know ourselves very well. “We think we do, but we can’t. Our minds are like a pool of water. We’re constantly dropping thoughts into them, which ripple the surface. Meditation doesn’t empty your mind but it creates space between the thoughts so the surface can be calm and we can see our reflection more clearly.” Many people find it helps to give them direction and makes them more focused and creative.

Puddicombe is a great debunker. He teaches meditation to people wearing ordinary clothes, sitting in chairs: “There’s no need to sit in a special posture on the floor.” Ideally, he says, the practice should be integrated into our everyday lives. “You can meditate on the Tube — it’s a good way to beat commuter stress — and there are techniques you can learn so you can meditate while you are brushing your teeth, at your desk or walking home. I recommend three short sessions of ten minutes a time, rather than one big session in the morning.”

To show me how it works, he takes me though a short training session. I sit on a chair with my back straight but relaxed, my feet on the floor and my hands resting on my stomach. He tells me to close my eyes and focus on my breath. The first step is becoming aware of it, and then to count each breath as it comes and goes up to ten, and then to start again. To begin with I’m thinking of other things at the same time — did I send off my car insurance ? — but then, for a few moments, I’m not thinking about anything except noticing my breathing, which has gradually become slower and deeper. I have to “re-enter” the conversation slowly — it feels as if I’ve been in a different room, and for longer than ten minutes. If I can feel noticeably different after ten minutes in a strange office with someone I’ve just met, what could daily practice do for me?

“The word ‘meditation’ comes from a Sanskrit word that means ‘mind training’. It gives you deeper insights and deeper peace. It changes all your perceptions, about yourself and others. Then you take what meditation gives you into your work, and into your relationships and communications with other people.ᅠ

It makes them all better and it makes you happier.” Click here toᅠvisit the original source of this post

So in the end will 10 minutes a day really create the meditation benefit of clearing your mind? Because meditation is a natural and organic process, and because once it’s been, truly, planted in your being, it will then it will grow and expand, so the short answer to the question is, yes.ᅠ

Science confirms it; experience takes it to a deeper place, a place of knowing. If you want to check out the mindfulness training techniques taught in the Headspace program, you can check out Andy’s, “Get Some Headspace,” book at Amazon.

The Benefit of Yoga as Meditation

Here in the west the word “yoga,” has, in popular culture, become synonymous with the physical postures (asana) while meditation is seen as a separate practice. Yet at its core, Yoga means union, and its essential purpose is the integration of all the layers of life, body, mind and soul, so there is an ‘oneness’ in the essence of the practice between the postures and meditation.

The Benefit of Yoga as Meditation

The Benefit of Yoga as Meditation

 

When yoga is practiced in this way it enters into every aspect of our lives and becomes a living meditation in much the same way the Buddhist practice of mindfulness becomes mindful living.

This is the basis of the article by Alice Walton, writing in Forbes, part two of her post, “The Psychology of Yoga,” which is worth clicking past the pop-up advertisement to get to. I’ll start you off with a little taste…ᅠ

“Having explored the nuts and bolts of yoga’s amazing health benefits, it seemed natural to switch from the objective to the subjective, and take a look at what yoga has been shown to do in the mind. After all, many people say that after starting yoga they feel mentally stronger, more relaxed, less depressed, and more level-headed than before. Heck, I’m the first to admit it’s the best therapy I’ve ever had. So to discuss how and why these changes occur, I turned to two well-recognized and seasoned practitioners.

Stephen Cope, director of the Institute for Extraordinary Living at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, explains that yoga itself is a form of meditation, and herein lies its power. “Yoga provides attentional training and self-regulation,” he says. “In practicing yoga, we’re training our awareness to attend to the low of thoughts, feelings and sensations in the body – and to be with these different states without self-judgment or reactivity.”

In other words, yoga teaches a new kind of attention. People who practice yoga learn how to accept all the stress-inducing thoughts that flit around in one’s head – negative self-talk, worries, snap judgments – as just that: thoughts, and nothing more. Since reacting to our thoughts is typically what gets us into trouble, learning to attend to them and accept them nonjudgmentally is key. Then we can let them go, says Cope, and “make wise choices – not based on reactivity to these states, but on our best interests.”

This idea of paying attention to one’s thoughts in a nonjudgmental way is what mindfulness meditation, or mindfulness training, is all about. This ancient practice has gained a lot of interest from researchers (and regular folk) in recent years. Scientists have studied how mindfulness courses can change people’s reactions and behaviors, and how they can literally change the structure of the brain. Attentional training and mindfulness have been shown to provide major benefits in treating everything from stress and depression to serious addictions. And yoga seems to work in much the same way.”

The benefit of yoga as meditation is that the whole of the human nervous system is renewed; the body enjoys greater energy and health, the mind is freed from memories of the past and fantasizes of the future and perception becomes clearer and non-judgmental. ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post

A Field Guide to Taoist Meditation Benefits

Taoism and Taoist meditation benefits, ᅠmake up this ancient Chinese philosophy, a system which emphasizes mindfulness, effortless action and the oneness of life. Taoism is part of the unique blend that makes up Zen and the Tao’s beginning are attributed to two historical figures, Chang Tzu, who wrote the Chang Tzu and the more popular and well known Lao Tzu, who wrote the Tao Te Ching.

A Field Guide to Taoist Meditation Benefits

A Field Guide to Taoist Meditation Benefits

The Tao is mindfulness without the techniques, the most basic of meditation, which is why, I suppose, that it can be the most challenging to comprehend.

But let me let Sat Hon, Author and founder of the New York Dan Tao Center, fill you in on This meditation…

“On Finding a Teacher

On one fine summer day, as I strolled aimlessly along a riverbank,
Beset with a thousand disquietudes,
I chanced upon an old woman fishing under the shady cool of creeping willows.
I wanted to ask her my thousand questions regarding the sun, moon and the creation of the universe and my purpose in life and oh so many more,
She placed her fingers on her lips: Fish are rising.
So I stood there and watched.
The freckled river shimmered with flashes of light like scales of an anaconda.
Clouds drift and tugged the blue horizon with their thick, silken strands;
Shadows of the willow grove deepened.
I felt my questions draining away.
Finally, as she slowly reeled in her line, I laughed as I saw that the line was without a hook.
How does one catch fish without a hook? I wondered.
As she turned to go, I know that tea is ready and I am invited.
Following behind her light, drifting footsteps, a gentle breeze combs through the willow branches,
I catch fragments of their whispering: A big one she caught…”

* * *
“Taoist meditation is action without aim. It is an aimless, meandering meditation without technique or prefabricated notion — fishing without a hook. In Taoism, the very nature of this existence is considered a total meditation of the cosmos. Yet, my clinging mind needs something concrete, steps and the knowhow. Thus, began my foray into the wide horizon of meditation.

Taoist alchemical meditation

I consider this the most simple yet, the most difficult of meditations. There is no technique, no particular posture or formality. Just this very instance of one’s existence is the meditation. One takes each moment as perfect, whole and everything in its rightful place; thoughts, emotions and such are wonderful, magnificent manifestations and an expression of one’s true nature. It is likened to a man waking up after a long coma to find everything — every thought utterly sweet. In other words, as in the case of a patient of mine who suffered partial paralysis from a stroke, the sharp pain of a needle was felt with overwhelming joy and gratitude.

When I teach this pathless form of meditation to students: that there is nothing to teach and everything is perfect and in harmony just as they are in this very moment. I am usually met with the following:

“Ughh. But you have taught us nothing,” is a common response.

“Exactly,” I laugh. While, some walk out in a huff.

“Charlatan!” they shout.

A few stay, hoping that perhaps at a later time I will eventually reveal the secret techniques to them. They will also leave empty-handed and full of blame and anger. Only a rare individual or two will awaken to this instantaneous perfection of suchness.

“You lying thief!” they laugh. And perhaps, we will then share a cup of Dragon Well tea.

Mentak Chia’s macrocosmic/microcosmic meditation

The representative of this lineage of Taoist meditation is Master Mentak Chia who guides students in circulating their endogenous energy/Qi through the acupuncture meridians. Master Chia also utilizes the internal visualization of the inner smile in this meditation. Smiling to one’s angry liver or soothing the weeping lungs might seem farfetched, but such inward smiling does have wonderful healing affects on the organs and their functions. Furthermore, in the opening of the endogenous energy channels, the source and root causes of pathogens are vanquished and one’s health is restored. In summary, the Healing Tao meditation system emphasizes the harnessing of the mind’s power in the health process and guides one toward healing.”

Sat Hon offers a number of other meditations all of which impart wisdom and Taoist meditation benefits and this article also has a FAQ section, which is very interesting and worth the read.

So remember when practicing mindfulness meditation, keep it simple and effortless, and you will be following “the way.” Click here to visit the original source of this post

SAD Meditation Benefits

Social anxiety disorder, also called social phobia, which is when a person has an unreasonable or excessive fear of social situations and symptom relief, according to researchers at Stanford University, may be a meditation benefit. ᅠᅠ

For those suffering with SAD’s intense nervousness or anxiety can potentially lead to panic attacks. Additionally, there is anticipatory anxiety, which is a fear of a social situation before it happens. Meditation is being shown to have beneficial effects in helping with anticipatory anxiety as well.

But let me have Arlin Cuncic tell you in her own words about the benefits of meditation and SAD’S…

Meditation is a practice that dates back thousands of years and draws on Buddhist principles. During meditation you learn to focus your breathing, reduce negative thinking and live in the present. The practice of meditation has been shown to have a positive impact on many medical and mental health conditions, including social anxiety disorder (SAD).

How does meditation help? In a study at Manchester University, Chris Brown and colleagues found that people who practiced meditation had less negative reactions to pain. As part of the study, participants were administered pin pricks on their arms with a laser; brain scans showed that areas involved in anticipation were much less active in those who meditated.

Anticipatory anxiety plays a large role in SAD; worry about upcoming social or performance situations can cause significant impairment in daily functioning. If meditation helps to reduce anticipation of pain, it follows that it would also help to reduce anticipation of feared events.

Indeed, when researchers at Stanford University looked at brain scans of participants with SAD during meditation, they found changes in brain activity that suggested the potential for a reduction in social anxiety symptoms and reactions to negative self-beliefs.

Finally, meditation is believed to have some direct impact on the body’s nervous system. Breathing, heart rate, and other physiological mechanisms respond to this form of relaxation. Given the role of the fight-or-flight response in SAD, it is easy to see how meditation may also have a direct posit

Social anxiety disorder is, according to research, the most common anxiety disorder and the third most common mental disorder in the U.S. and it’s estimated that 19.2 million Americans suffer from it. Is it any wonder, given the meditation benefits regarding the fight-flight response, which researchers are seriously looking at meditation for relief in dealing with SAD’s. ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

One question that comes up in my meditation classes is, “should you meditate to music and are there any meditation benefits if you do?” Paradoxically, the answer is yes and no. It depends on your approach to meditation.

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

Music, Mindfulness and the Meditation Benefits

If you have chosen a Vedic, transcendental, mantra based approach, then listening to, and certainly playing, music is not recommended, because the focus of the approach is deep inner silence and music will draw you attention away.

Because mindfulness is the quality of being in harmony with the present moment and starts by paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, it is the perfect meditative approach to music for both listening and playing.

Rolf Hind, a teacher at the Guildhall School of Music, discovered the benefits of meditation and felt compelled to share the practice with his students, but hey, I’ll let him tell it in his own words…ᅠ

ᅠ“…It dawned on me that meditation naturally appeals to musicians, as clearly evidenced by my mini vox pop. Musicians spend a lot of time – even as children – in a state of solitary absorption, called practice. And when we perform, we seek and occasionally know (generally by not seeking) those elusive “flow states” where, in the coming together of all our preparation and the right circumstances, playing feels wonderfully natural and unselfconscious. The latter is something that people sometimes get mystical about,ᅠbut there is increasing research to suggest that it has a physiological and neurological basis.

For me, the practice of meditating – in its more secular usage, the cultivation of mindfulness – has brought an enormous amount to my life and music-making. A sense of clarity and control, less neurosis about ambitions and “career”, greater efficiency, awareness and body sense as a pianist. As a composer, I’m more in touch with the sources of my own creativity. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, it occurred to me, if more musicians (and more people generally, come to that) could benefit from this straightforward practice?”

“Science is increasingly endorsing mindfulness. It’s been shown as an effective treatment of stress, anxiety, psoriasis and depression, and approved by the Mental Health Foundation. It is taught in prisons and schools and widely used by sportsmen. And among the enthusiastic proponents of this approach is no less than the Dalai Lama. With our western thirst for scientific corroboration of experience, there is now more and more data emerging about the proven effects of mindfulness practice in many trials. But none yet specifically geared toᅠmusicians…”

“So when the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where I teach, suggested I apply for funds to instigate a course with students, I leapt at the chance.

With my friend and colleague, Chris Cullen, an eight-week course was devised to introduce some techniques and encourage the participants to make mindfulness a part of their practice and life. We also wanted to develop a specific form of mindfulness-teaching tailored for musicians. To me, there were four key areas that might benefit: developing a practice routine, dealing with nerves, gaining an increased awareness of the body, and unlocking creativity. All of which could, I hoped, help in all aspects of music-making and listening.

Chris, a highly experienced and effortlessly motivating teacher of mindfulness, brought a wealth of warmth and kindness to the sessions. Indeed a participant wrote: “To be kind to yourselfᅠisᅠ… very important, but in an environment of pressure and competition, I keep forgetting about it.” There was sufficient buzz from the first course thatᅠweᅠwere able to run it again the followingᅠterm.

Its structure was based on the groundbreaking work of Jon Kabat-Zinn, who has been bringing mindfulness meditation into the US medical mainstream since 1979. A version of his mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course is recommended by Nice (the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence) in the UK for sufferers of recurrent depression and anxiety. Kabat-Zinn has worked with the management of chronic pain as well as with specific clients with particular needs: prisoners, the mentally ill, sportsmen and lawyers to name but a few groups.

The students meet for two hours a week. The time is filled with a guided meditation, a discussion relating to their progress with the practices they have been taught, and suggestions of ways in which they can develop mindfulness as a tool in their musical lives. One of the key practices is the guided body scan – you lie on your back and slowly work your way around your body, trying to feel it from within.ᅠParticular themes are explored – embodiment, or dealing with one’s inner critic…”

“If there is not the time for a longer daily meditation (and even if there is) the students are encouraged to see if they can carry out some everyday activities mindfully: while you are brushing your teeth, being fully immersed in the sensations; walking to the tube you are feeling the sensations of your feet on the pavement, the air on your exposed skin, and so on. You’re fully living the experience. They also take three-minute mindfulness breaks when things are in danger of gettingᅠhectic…”

“The feedback has been relentlessly positive. Some students have used the term “life-changing”. “I have become less prone to stress and anxiety, my self-image has become more stable (I feel like I know myself better) and my concentration has improved hugely,” says one. Another writes: “I think the course is a must for musicians wanting to fulfil theirᅠpotentials.”

It’s a piece with calm episodes, but also moments of high anxiety, excitement and violent joy. This seems to surprise people, who, when you’ve come off a retreat, generally say: “Oh, I’m so jealous. Did you have a lovely relaxing time?” Well yes … to an extent … although you would be surprised what an ecstatic cacophony emerges from your mind when there’s nothing around to distract it.”

Listening to music can end up being, besides a meditation, a meditation benefit in its own right. Listening to music is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness. Instead of daydreaming or thinking of all the things you need to do, listen to the music with full attention. When your mind wonders off, gently return to the music, and continue to do that as often as your attention gets drawn away.

There will be times when your slip into the “flow” and you lose yourself in the sound so that you sound merge, only the listening remains. It’s in that moment that you’ve stepped out beyond the mind. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Cooking with Presence a Meditation Benefit

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

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

Life is a Meditation. Click here to visit the original source of this post

6 Meditation Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

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 benefit

Meditation Benefits

 

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?

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?

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.

The meditation benefit of cultivating a mindful awareness is, you deepen your everyday experiences and let go of your social and emotional conditioning. ᅠClick here to visit the original source of this post