Meditation Benefits: Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

Neuroscientist Fred Travis, PhD, director of the Center for Brain, Consciousness and Cognition at Maharishi University of Management completed his second study investigating the effects of Transcendental Meditation practiced on task performance and improved brain functioning in eighteen students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

Improved Brain Functioning in ADHD Students

This random-assignment controlled study, which was published in Mind & Brain, The Journal of Psychiatry, found decreased symptoms of ADHD in students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique.

The study took place of a six month period of time at an independent school for children with language-based learning disabilities in Washington, D.C.  This study showed improved brain functioning, along with an increase in brain processing; there was also, an improvement in the language-based skills, for those students with ADHD, who practiced Transcendental Meditation.   

All the students were pretested, then using delayed-start or random assignment comparison groups, were post-tested at three and six months. The students in the delay group began learning TM after the first three month period, when they were once again post-tested.

The student were given a verbal fluency test, a psychological test in which participants have to say as many words as possible from a category in a given time (usually 60 seconds). This test measures the executive functions of the brain, including systematic retrieval of knowledge, initiation and simultaneous processing.

How well students were able to perform these tasks were dependent on certain basic cognitive abilities, including attention, spelling and vocabulary knowledge.

EEG (Electroencephalography, can be used to diagnose and accurately identify students with ADHD by measuring the varying relationship between theta brain waves and beta brain waves.

 Daydreaming, drowsiness, and unfocused mental states are usually associated with a theta EEG reading of around 4 to 5 Hz, while a theta EEG reading of around 6 to 8 Hz indicates focus on mental tasks, for example memory, identification, and association.

According to co-researcher William Stixrud, PhD, a prominent Silver Spring, Maryland, clinical neuropsychologist,  Prior research shows ADHD children have slower brain development and a reduced ability to cope with stress. Virtually everyone finds it difficult to pay attention, organize themselves and get things done when they’re under stress,” he explained. “Stress interferes with the ability to learn—it shuts down the brain. Functions such as attention, memory, organization, and integration are compromised.”

Transcendental Meditation was chosen for a variety of reasons, the first being that TM has been shown to increase brain function. TM has been shown to effectively reduce stress and because stress is a key component effecting the lives of students with ADHD, for this reason Dr. Stixrud believed that this meditation technique would be the most effective.

The number one reason that TM would be an affective type of meditation is because it’s easy to practice and easy to learn, TM is a mantra based meditation technique, which means that the students didn’t have to learn to concentrate or control their minds, at least not to the degree that some of the other techniques would require.  

Dr. Travis notes that TM, like all forms of mantra meditation or “automatic self-transcending meditation,” creates an experience known as restful alertness a state that’ associated with increased activity in the frontal and parietal portions of the brain, as opposed to the reduction in metabolic activity in the thalamus which is linked to hyperactivity.       

According to Dr. Travis, “the repeated experience of the Transcendental Meditation technique trains the brain to function in a style opposite to that of ADHD.”

In a student-parent survey:

“Students reported that the TM technique was enjoyable and easy to do. They felt calmer, less stressed, and better able to concentrate on their schoolwork. They also said they were happier since they started TM. This correlated with reports from the parents.

At the end of the research, the parents completed a questionnaire to assess their perceptions of changes in five ADHD-related symptoms in their children from the beginning to the end of the study. There were positive and statistically significant improvements in the five areas measured: a) Ability to focus on schoolwork, b) Organizational abilities, c) Ability to work independently, d) Happiness, and e) Quality of sleep.”

The conclusion of the report was that the results were very promising and as Dr. Stixrud observed, “Significant improvement in the theta/beta ratio without medication and without having to use any expensive equipment is a big deal, as is significant improvement in student happiness and student academic functioning reported by the parents.”

It would seem that there is real hope for improved brain functioning in ADHD students who practice Transcendental Meditation or any form of mantra meditation. While further research is needed, it is seems there is hope for parents looking for a way to reduce their child’s need for medication. Read the full article…

The Benefits of Meditation for College Students

 

The Benefit of Meditation for College Students

The Benefit of Meditation for College Students

You can hardly get through a day without hearing something about the negative effects of stress. And college students must find a way to deal with multiple stressors, such as finance problems, balancing work with study and simply trying to find their way in a time in their lives of intense personal and academic growth; all in addition to the everyday stresses of the modern world.

 

The good news is that benefit of meditation for college students is that it’s an antidote to all that stress, and even better it can help prevent the health problems caused by chronic stress.

 

In a study, published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Psychophysiology, a number of encouraging results were found. This study on a group of students practicing Transcendental Meditation (TM) for 20 minutes, twice a day, for a period of ten weeks (as opposed to a control group), showed a number of positive benefits.

 

The “Brain Integration Scale” scores of the meditating students was higher than the non-meditators, this means that there was more alpha activity in the brain, better match of brain activation and task demands and greater frontal coherence in the brain. As Fred Travis, director of the MUM brain research center, put it, “From pretest to posttest, Brain Integration Scale scores increased significantly, indicating greater breadth of planning, thinking and perception of the environment”

 

Less sleepiness, even during the last week before final exams, was reported by students practicing Transcendental Meditation. One student reported that she could feel, “my whole body releasing the stress of the day.”

 

This study also found that meditating students recovered faster from loud tones, which was measured by galvanic skin response (GSR). The sympathetic nervous system will respond to loud new tones, and the study found the meditators sympathetic nervous system stopped responding quickly as compared to the non-meditators, whose system and a prolonged response.

 

In an article by Mario Orsatti on college students, stress and “perfectionistic thinking,” the benefits of Transcendental Meditation are discussed, so I’ll let Mario take over for a while…

“College students are trying to deal with unprecedented levels of stress,” said lead researcher, Dr. Jaimie Burns, Assistant Director of the Trinity Counseling Center. “They are going through a transitional time in life and are trying to navigate through intense academic and personal growth challenges. The lack of sleep students get is astounding and alarming. More students are graduating without jobs or are getting jobs that they don’t really want, and they know that they are going to go out into a world of rapid change and upheaval.”

“We are always evaluating tools to find out what works and how well they work. Our question was, will a tool like Transcendental Meditation really work? Our goal was to carefully, objectively, assess how effective TM would be, and we were impressed with the results, especially in the areas of trait anxiety and perfectionistic thinking,” she said.

Anxiety can be either a short term “state” or a long term “trait.” Trait anxiety reflects a stable tendency to respond with state anxiety in the anticipation of threatening situations. It is closely related to the personality trait of neuroticism.

“Mental health professionals often have difficulty helping people with this kind of dispositional anxiety,” said Dr. Burns. “To find something that helps these people is a significant problem because it’s entrenched in them. Therapy generally does not help. This is why the effect of TM practice in this study was impressive.”

Another important variable studied by the researchers at Trinity was a specific anxiety-related disorder referred to by the term “perfectionistic thinking.”

“Perfectionistic thinking refers to the extreme end of the striving spectrum,” said Dr. Burns. “When people exhibit a high degree of perfectionistic thinking, it puts them at risk for a variety of problems. Striving toward achievement is obviously good and a motivator, but when people get into what we call perfectionistic thinking, they feel that they have to be perfect all the time and it puts them at risk for developing a variety of psychological problems.”

“Perfectionism,” as it is often referred to by modern psychology, makes people set unrealistically high standards for themselves. Such individuals can feel that their self-worth depends on a consistently spotless performance. Researchers are finding that perfectionism can be a factor in those suffering from depression, eating disorders, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

“Seeing the significant, positive impact that TM practice had on this variable was also quite impressive,” Dr. Burns concluded. “What made the findings even more impressive was that our post-testing took place at the end of a semester around the time of the students’ final exams when one would expect stress levels to be heightened. Further research is needed, but we are clearly enthusiastic about the potential of this tool for student health and well-being.”Click here to visit the original source of this post

In another study showing the benefit of meditation for college students is one conducted by American University, and published in the “American Journal of Hypertension,” showed that students that practiced meditation improved their mental health and lowered their blood pressure.

 

Stress is an inevitable in our culture, and as a student they best way to handle it is to prepare your mind and body to handle it. Of course the right diet and exercise are important and key to reducing the effects of stress, but with so many mental stressors in our lives that to maintain balance meditation has become crucial, for all of us but especially for students.

 

To preview this study you can check out the “Journal of College Student psychotherapy at:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/87568225.2011.556947

 

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

 

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The Growing Trend of Mass Meditation: Is there a Benefit?

The number of mass meditations is a growing phenomenon, like the one recently held in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, part of the World Culture Festival, and that raises a couple of questions. First of all why, and second, is there a benefit, beyond the benefits an individual receives when they practice meditation?

When people meditate on their own, they create a certain balance in their physiology and that balance of body-mind-spirit authenticity influences those around them. By gathering in groups to meditate there is a reinforcement of the other’s practice, which in turn, has a powerful effect on those in their environments. The belief is that when enough people begin practicing meditation that a critical mass will be reached and that it will positively impact to whole of society.

Research has shown that the practice of Transcendental Meditation by, even a small, group of people in one place with a specific intent had a powerful and measurable effect on the surrounding community.

Another benefit of meditating with others is the sense of belonging, a connectedness with others, which besides improving the quality of life, has been proven to increase in life expectancy.

The event in Berlin put on by, Ravi Shanker’s, Art of Living Foundation, is just the most recent of the mass meditations and Lisa Cleary shares her experiences and the foundations aim to “reflect the best of our world.” Here from Lisa Cleary is a view of the event…

For a second, close your eyes and picture this: 70,000 people from around the world assembled in mass meditation, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in a shared moment of silence, their eyes closed and minds free from any cultural or religious differences.

Earlier today, visitors from 150 countries did just that as an international effort of meditation. The event is just one of many at the World Culture Festival, hosted by the International Art of Living Foundation to commemorate the organization’s 30th anniversary. Here, at the two day-long affair at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, guests can experience traveling the world by taking in the sounds of Costa Rican folk music or perhaps by tasting a sweet or two from the Middle East.

“It is an occasion to enrich every individual with the diverse cultures of the world. The festival offers a platform for one to participate with the global community,” said Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, founder of the Art of Living and leader of the meditation session. “It is also an opportunity for one to see that they are a global citizen and part of a global family. It is where each one can celebrate the diversity, shun the prejudice against race, religion and culture, and find deep inner peace in a dynamic atmosphere.”

According to John Osborne, a senior Art of Living faculty member and resident of Santa Monica, mass meditating has been one of the most memorable experiences so far. Osborne, who was raised in a devout Catholic household, describes the 25-minute long session as an awe-inspiring step toward international unity.

“It was as if, by going to the deepest part of myself, I was able to connect to everyone else at that same level. It was an amazing experience knowing that millions of people around the world were involved in the same activity and having the same intention for world peace,” he said. “It felt very powerful and transformative–a feeling that we were, on a deep level, having a very real effect on the possibility for peace in the world.”

Mawahib Shaihaibani, CEO of the Art of Living Gulf and Middle East, traveled from Abu Dhabi to attend the festival and believes that, as a Muslim, all religions lead to one God.

“When you meditate with the mass, you all become one and times stops,” said Shaihaibani. “This event is very unique because people from 150 countries are coming together to celebrate their culture, food, dance, music and belief for a united world full of tolerance, love and peace. This means a lot to me because these days we have so much … unrest in the Middle East, and the youth need to broaden their vision and see that we are one world family.”

“The Foundation’s aims reflect the best of our world: empowering women, promoting human rights and preserving our planet,” said Pelosi in a statement.

To further promote physical, mental and spiritual unity among festival-goers, over 1,000 yoga instructors from around the world have joined forces at the Yoga Park to demonstrate the benefits of yoga as well as to lead workshops and seminars. Folks may also participate in a variety of mass musical performances, designed to literally and figuratively fuse the voices of diversity. The Grand Guitar Ensemble for Peace, one of the performances, included more than 2,000 guitarists who strummed to “Amazing Grace” and “Hare Narayana.”

Dafna Paz, PhD, a secular Jew, additionally notes that the event is an opportunity to form friendships by learning from others and their religious backgrounds. “The World Culture Festival is a beautiful event that brings people from different cultures together. It is important for me to take part in an event of this magnitude especially because of the message of peace and harmony, which is so important for me as an Israeli,” said Dr. Paz, “it feels like we can change the world.”

At the end of the day, among celebrations of diversity, Ravi Shankar asks that people from all walks of life view religion not as an ideology of separation but as a uniting code of conduct–in this way, diversity can be celebrated within a harmonious and kind global community, expressive of varying cultures.

“It is time to celebrate the differences and celebrate life on this planet. With all the volunteers, we are sure we can create a stress-free, violence-free society for our children,” summed up Ravi Shankar at the festival. “Poverty eliminated, differences celebrated and connection to the inner Divinity. One Divinity, one humanity, celebrating differences, this is our sacred duty.”

One of the agreed upon benefits of mass meditation is how it enhances and motivates individual practice and will accelerate spiritual and personal growth. And on a practical note, having the opportunity to meditate with others can help keep your own practice from getting stale and it provides a place where questions that come up, can be discussed or answered.

Click here to visit the original source of this post

The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

 

The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

The Benefits of Zen Meditation Behind Bars

The benefits of implementing meditation programs in prisons have already proven themselves in a number of real world trials. In a five year Harvard University study on meditation and the at-rick population, indicated those who learned and practiced meditation, had significant reductions in stress, aggression and mental disorders along resulting in a reduction in violence. The Harvard study also concluded that the rate of recidivism among participating inmates was 30-35 percent less than in four other treatment groups.

In another study published by the Transcendental Meditation program, outline the benefits to both the correctional system and the prisoner themselves. These benefits included substantial cost saving by lowering staffing needs, lowering health cost, reduced recidivism and shorter prison stays.

And as wonderful as these benefits are for the department of corrections, they are even more powerful for those who have been incarcerated. Although meditation isn’t a panacea, it can help prisoners, which have become accustomed to failure, succeed by giving them the tools they need to take responsibility for themselves.

Now in a monthly meditation class inmates, at the Mark H. Luttrell Correctional Center, are getting the chance to reap the benefits of meditation before returning to a world without bars. Carol Crane, co-founder of “PremaHealing” an organization teaching meditation, healing and emotional processing, began teaching classes at the center after connecting with the support group, “families of Incarcerated Individuals.”

Here’s a bit of the article, by Louis Goggans, on “Zen behind bars…”

“Carol Crane, co-founder of PremaHealing, said the classes teach offenders how to avoid stress.

“We go in and teach them breathing exercises and ways to calm the mind. If they do have emotions arise as a response, they can use these techniques to process through those emotions, instead of having to react to them,” Crane said.

PremaHealing began providing the classes six months ago after partnering with the support group Families of Incarcerated Individuals.

The classes are part of the Families of Incarcerated Individuals’ “Doorways Reentry” program, which helps female offenders make a successful transition after their release. There are around 15 women in the class each month.

Marquetta Nebo, executive director of Families of Incarcerated Individuals, said the classes have helped many offenders vent personal anger.

“The emotional processes for meditation helps them release the anger they have bottled up in them,” Nebo said. “Instead of verbalizing everything, they can do these techniques.”

To qualify for the classes, offenders at Mark H. Luttrell have to be within 12 months of their release and recommended by correctional faculty.

PremaHealing and Families of Incarcerated Individuals are currently searching for additional funding to provide meditation classes for male prisoners at the Shelby County Jail.

“The literature seems to indicate this is worth doing,” said Rod Bowers, assistant chief jailer for the Shelby County Jail. “The benefits the classes could bring include inmates being better behaved, fewer disruptions, arguments and fights, and just day-to-day improvement with the management of the facility.”

Bowers said he didn’t know how much it would cost to institute the program at the men’s jail, but there would have to be long-term evidence that the meditation classes lower the rate of recidivism.

Crane said they decided to start the classes here after similar meditation classes at Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer, Alabama, were shown to lower disruption and violence at the facility.

“We thought Memphis would be a perfect place to incorporate a meditation teaching in the prison system,” Crane said. “Memphis has a lot of people who have experienced trauma, and there’s a lower economic situation here, which causes a lot of people to end up incarcerated.”

Nebo said she hopes they can acquire more funding, so more inmates have the opportunity to release bottled-up emotions and stress.

“The more avenues of therapy, the better,” Nebo said. “We need to give [male and female offenders] as many options as possible if we’re really trying to … get to the root cause of their emotional problems or issues that cause them to do these crimes.”

In an article I published awhile back, “Criminal Minds: Prisoners benefiting from Meditation,” I wrote about the effectiveness that David Krassner, a staff psychiatrist at the California Men’s Colony State Prison, had when he implemented a meditation program.

Given the overwhelming evidence of the success of meditation, as a highly effective method for helping prisoners cope with negative feelings, like anger and stress, and realizing the possible cost saving for the correctional system, especially in this economy, I believe that it’s time to begin integrating meditation in our prison system on a large scale. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Mantra Meditation Benefits and Restarting a Practice

 

Mantra Meditation Benefits and Restarting a Practice

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deepak’s response

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

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

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

Reducing the Risk of Heart Attack a Transcendental Meditation Benefit

 

Transcendental Meditation Benefits and the Beatles

Transcendental Meditation Benefits and the Beatles

The Transcendental meditation benefit is that the body shifts into a state of restful awareness, which is important because it counterbalances the fight-or-flight response.

We know from our own experience that if we are awake then our minds are rarely at rest, in fact very often it’s in the fight-or-flight mode. Fight-or-flight is the body-minds natural stress response that occurs when we feel threatened in any way, which can be as simple as not getting what we want.

The stress response creates physiological damage when it is chronic. This occurs because some of these changes, that accompany the response, are a rise in blood pressure, increase in heart rate, breathing becomes shallower and faster, the release of stress hormones, a lower immune response and it goes on.

The research on the benefit of meditation on the stress response have been ongoing for many years and the more we learn about this relationship the more we discover how powerful a tool meditation is in reducing heart attack and stroke. In this article in the “Daily Mail Reporter,” introduces us to, “…the strongest documented effects yet produced by mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.” Here’s some of what was reported…

Transcendental Meditation, made popular by the Beatles during the flower power era of the 1960s, could cut heart attack rates by half, researchers claim.

The mantra meditation, which involves repeating a sound repeatedly twice daily for up to 20 minutes, lowers death rates from heart attack and strokes.

The relaxation technique was used by patients with heart disease during a nine year £2.25million trial at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

Professor of Medicine Theodore Kotchen said: ‘These findings are the strongest documented effects yet produced by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.

‘The effect is as large or larger than major categories of drug treatment for cardiovascular disease.

‘However, subjects were already taking standard medications and this effect was on top of that.’

It followed 201 African-American men and women with an average age of 59 who suffered from the narrowing of arteries in their hearts.

They were selected to do the Transcendental Meditation technique or to participate in a control group which received health education classes in traditional risk factors, including dietary modification and exercise.

Professor Kotchen said: ‘In African American men and women with heart disease, Transcendental Meditation, a technique for stress reduction, decreased the likelihood of mortality, non-fatal myocardial infarction, and non-fatal stroke by 47 per cent.

‘At the same time, study participants remained on their usual medications for cardiovascular disease risk factors, including anti-hypertensive agents and lipid-lowering medications.

‘Consequently, meditation should be considered an adjunct, not a substitute, for usual medical care. Although provocative, these observations should be confirmed in other patient populations.’

The researchers did further analysis of two subgroups, those participants who had high compliance with the meditation program, and a high stress group, and found even greater reductions in death, infarction and stroke in those groups.

The high compliance subgroup showed a 66 per cent reduction, while the high stress subgroup showed a 64 per cent reduction.

Co-author Dr Robert Schneider claimed the results are the strongest documented effects yet produced by a mind-body intervention on cardiovascular disease.

The findings were published in the American Medical Association’s Archives of Internal Medicine.

At a press conference two years ago before a concert to promote Transcendental Meditation, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney recalled their 1968 trip to India to learn meditation from the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

‘Over 40 years ago, we ended up in Rishikesh,’ Starr said. ‘That is where we hung out with Maharishi. We had met him a few months before in Wales. Since then, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little, I have meditated. It’s a gift he gave me.’

McCartney added: ‘It’s one of the few things anyone has ever given to me that means so much to me. For us, it came at a time when we were looking for something to stabilize us at the end of the crazy Sixties.’

The Transcendental meditation benefit is that the physiological changes are almost the exact opposite of the flight-or-fight response. The fascinating thing about the physiological changes is that even as the body is resting in meditation the mind is awake.

Studies show that the changes that take place in the brain are different during meditation that those that take place during sleep. In transcendental meditation and in “Primordial Sound Meditation,” there’s improved brain wave coherence.

One last thing to keep in mind, studies have shown that the longer a person has been meditating the younger they score on tests of biological age. Click here to visit the original source of this post

Is Meditation an Educational Tool?

Meditation can enhance the educational experience in much the same way that it promotes healing and relieves stress. In fact, stress reduction itself allows anyone, including students, to function more effectively.

Is Meditation an Educational Tool

Is Meditation an Educational Tool

The meditation benefits of positive life choices and mind-states such as feeling at peace, finding joy, love and well-being in the body and mind, all of which promote self-confidence, effectiveness and a personal sense of power. All qualities which are immensely valuable to students navigating into today’s culture and educational systems. ᅠ

Joe Wilner writes in, “Adventures in Positive Psychology,” and asks the question about meditation in schools, “Could it be a promising educational tool?” Here’s what he has to say… ᅠᅠ

Students today are more stressed, have more distractions, and often don’t have an effective outlet to cope with daily tension.

It’s all too easy for teenagers to turn to drugs, alcohol, sex, and the media as a way of escaping the pressure of being a young adult.

Meditation is a simple and effective practice to help reduce stress, and been shown to have many other positive psychological effects.

So, would it be valuable for school districts to integrate meditation programs in their schools?

There are many schools around the nation that have already done so, and it appears that meditation can provide a positive outlet for youth.

Here are a few ways meditation can have a positive impact.

Research has shown meditation improves academic performance and results in improvement in intelligence.

This may be in part due to enhancing attention and concentration, as well as providing a method to cope with stress and anxiety that can impact academic performance.

As well, certain types of mediation have been shown to alter brain activity to improve executive functions involved with attention, focus, planning, and alertness.

Particularly, Transcendental Meditation (TM) helps the brain function in a more orderly and coherent fashion leading to improved creativity, greater emotional maturity, and stress reduction.

The emotional and mental benefits of meditation not only improve academic performance but can lead to healthier interpersonal relationships. Mediation offers a way to train the mind toward optimal emotional states, such as compassion, loving-kindness, joy, and empathy.

With less stress and agitation schools will see a decline in aggressive behavior and a more positive school environment.

Overall, if these social and emotional improvements lead to greater school satisfaction for students this will have recurring benefits of its own.

Research has shown that the level of school-satisfaction is related to improved academic performance and decreases in behavior problems.

Meditation and mindfulness training programs are growing in several school districts around the nation, and students generally like participating in meditation.

However, many parents feel that mediation is connected to religion and view it as an ancient, mystical practice having no place in public schools. Proponents would claim that it is unrelated to religion and is simply a practice that offers physiological benefits, just the same as yoga or cardiovascular exercise.

Regardless of your view, if students are being pushed to work harder and expected to compete in the ever increasing globalized world we live in, it would helpful to provide them with a tool to manage enhance emotional and mental faculties.

In his conclusion Joe believes that, given the expectations placed on students today, that providing them with every available tool, not just to enhance their learning but to help them cope with the pressures of the educational system, isn’t simply a good idea, it’s becoming a survival tool.

And meditation is the tool that will teach them how to cultivate qualities and skills they need; to name a few, increased concentration and focus, how to be in the moment and free from expectations, developing a longer attention span, enhanced mental clarity and, frankly, all the other meditation benefits that come with a regular practice.

 

Regular practice is the key to being able to successfully benefit from this tool, and by teaching it in the schools a regular practice is more likely to occur. In a formal educational environment students can be exposed to other beneficial forms of meditation such as guided imagery. Personally, I do believe that meditation can be a promising educational tool. What do you think? Click here to visit the original source of this post

Transcendental Meditation Benefits: Topping the Bestseller List

Scientific reductionism has its place, but much can be lost or overlooked when the whole is not kept in view, and that has never been more true than when science has investigated Transcendental meditation benefits, or any of the benefits of meditation.

Transcendental Meditation Benefits

Transcendental Meditation Benefits

Dissecting what is at its core is essentially a spiritual practice to understand its benefits carries with it the risk that the essence, its ineffable qualities, which in the end contain its greatest benefit and impact, will be lost.

Philip Goldberg’s excellent post on this topic is as eloquent as it is informative, so I’m going to let Philip’s post speak for itself…ᅠ

“…In 1975, “TM: Discovering Inner Energy and Overcoming Stress” was propelled onto the list when its lead author, psychiatrist Harold Bloomfield, appeared on Merv Griffin’s syndicated TV talk show (the Oprah of its day) with TM founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The book remained a bestseller for six months, and then had a solid run on the paperback list. During that period, Merv devoted a second show to Maharishi, and TM centers could barely keep up with the demand. By the end of 1976, over a million Americans had learned to meditate.

This was the culmination of a remarkable eight-year run that began when the Beatles famously learned the TM and sojourned at Maharishi’s ashram in India. Between that watershed moment and the two Merv programs, meditation moved from the counterculture to the mainstream, from weird to respectable, from youthful mind expansion to middle-age stress remedy. Now, the celebrity meditators were not rock stars but Clint Eastwood and Mary Tyler Moore, and you could not get more mainstream than the nation’s big screen hero and its TV sweetheart.

The route from esoteric mystical discipline to respectable relaxation technique was paved by science. It started in the late ’60s when a young meditator named Robert Keith Wallace was persuaded by his guru, Maharishi, to study the physiology of TM. The research became his Ph.D. dissertation, and then a Science magazine article in 1970. Wallace’s follow-up study, conducted with Harvard cardiologist Herbert Benson, was published in 1971 in The American Journal of Physiology and Scientific American. The data sparked an avalanche of research. By 1975, a substantial body of evidence had demonstrated the efficacy of meditation on various measures of physical and mental health.

Now comes another psychiatrist, Norman E. Rosenthal, with “Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation.” Once again, celebrity endorsements add pizzazz, in this case Mehmet Oz, David Lynch, Martin Scorcese and Russell Simmons, with cameo appearances by the gray eminences, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. And once again science confers credibility. Whereas Bloomfield was fresh out of his Yale residency when Merv Griffin showcased his book, Rosenthal has 30 years of distinguished clinical research and more than 200 scholarly articles under his belt. And by now TM has been the subject of over 300 peer-reviewed articles. The book describes the most recent findings, many of them involving common maladies such as ADHD, PTSD and hypertension, but not limited to medical conditions.

That meditation is good for you is no longer an eye-opening news flash. But the new book’s bestsellerdom suggests that a new generation wants to hear the message. In this era of soaring anxiety, depression and health costs, perhaps the only people who don’t think that’s a good thing are the makers of pharmaceuticals.

As someone who has chronicled the transmission of Eastern spirituality to the West, I hope that this time around we can avoid some of the pitfalls of the past. As the title of Rosenthal’s book “Transcendence,” suggests, meditation is not just a medical intervention. The deeper purpose has always been the development of higher consciousness, as described in the Vedic tradition from which practices like TM derive. But when yogic methods become medicalized and their benefits quantified, they tend to get disconnected from their spiritual roots — a loss for all of us.

Another consequence of the popularization of meditation was the rise of imitation practices. Health experts, self-help mavens and entrepreneurs did everything they could to de-Hinduize and de-Indianize the practice. Recently, we’ve seen a similar tendency as practices derived from Buddhism were secularized as “mindfulness.” The advantage of this adaptation, of course, is that it makes such practices far more accessible. The downside is that something vital can be lost in translation, thereby diminishing their effectiveness. Modernizing the language is one thing, but tinkering with the ingredients of a meditation practice is not unlike changing a medical formula or a food recipe..”.ᅠ

In his conclusion on Transcendental meditation benefits, Philip address another common trap or belief about the benefits of meditation, which is that all approaches to meditation carry with them the same benefits. However as Philip points out, recent research has begun to set the record straight. 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

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