Buddhist Mantras

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Can’t sleep? This might be why

13 hours 46 min ago

iAfrica.com: In a first-of-its-kind study, researchers at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine explored the pathway that leads to short-term insomnia disorder after stressful events.

According to the study, dangerous coping mechanisms that could lead to insomnia include disengaging without confronting the stressor, turning to drugs and alcohol, and using media as a means of distraction.

“Our study is among the first to show that it’s not the number of stressors, but your reaction to them that determines the likelihood of experiencing insomnia,” says lead author Vivek Pillai, PhD, research fellow at the Sleep Disorders & Research Center at Henry Ford Hospital in …

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What did the Buddha know about addiction?

15 hours 57 min ago

We know that before Shakyamuni became a Buddha (waking up to the truth of reality) that he tried extreme self-discipline that included abstaining from all forms of indulgence, which was called the practice of asceticism. His self-mortification included eating just one grain of rice a day, and sometimes walking around with one arm in the air for weeks. In his search for an end to suffering, Gautama became like an addict to asceticism. Like today’s addicts, he had learned how to master pain, or so he thought. He grew as thin as a skeleton, and did not budge from his addiction. Still he did not find an end to suffering. Until one day he realized he was getting nowhere.

It is believed that when he became a Buddha his first teaching to his disciples referred to addiction. He says:

“There is addiction to indulgence of sense-pleasures, which is low, coarse, the way of ordinary people, unworthy, and unprofitable; and there is addiction to self-mortification, which is painful, unworthy, and unprofitable. Avoiding both these extremes, the Tathagata (The Perfect One) has realized the Middle Path; it gives vision, gives knowledge, and leads to calm, to insight, to enlightenment and to Nibbana.”

There are many stories about the Buddha encountering different people during his travels. There was a King Pasenadi from Kosala who consulted him on many aspects of life. One such story tell us that King Pasenadi who was addicted to eating. One day after eating a bucket full of rice and curries, he was fortunate to have an encounter with the Buddha. The Buddha advised that the King begin to reduce his intake, and recite this sutta

“When a man is always mindful,
Knowing moderation in the food he eats,
His ailments then diminish,
He ages slowly, guarding his life.”

But the king lamented ‘how’. And then he had an idea. I will pay for someone to help me.

It’s said he paid a young Brahmin to watch over him every time he had a meal. The Brahmin would snatch a fistful of food, and recite the sutta. The next day the King was only allowed to eat the amount he consumed the day before, and then the Brahmin would snatch another fistful. And the Brahmin continued to recite the sutta, reduce the King’s food intake until he ate only a pin pot amount and was relieved of his addiction. The Buddha’s method here was harm reduction, with the intention of skilfully leading the King to abstinence.

In the introduction of our book we talk about the Buddha being in recovery. We suggest the following questions for you to work through after reading the introduction.

  • What does addiction mean to you?
  • What does Recovery mean to you?
  • Share your personal story of addiction from the perspective of what was it that got you clean and thinking about the spiritual path
  • When you read the Buddha was in recovery what thoughts arise?
  • What would it mean if you were to wake up from your present life?
  • The Buddha taught the middle way – what would the middle way look like in your life?
  • How can this book be for you?

Eight Step Recovery is out now: Eight Step Recovery – Order your book now

Or try a free sample – For a free sample chapter of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: [email protected]

The power of meditative thinking versus positive thinking

July 8, 2014 - 10:38am

Eden Kozlowski, Huffington Post: In conducting my meditation and mindfulness work, I meet many seemingly happy-go-lucky types who focus their attention on positive thinking. Chances are, many of you also aspire to this lifestyle. There are countless websites, Facebook pages and self-help diatribes dedicated to the upbeat idea.

However, this recent HuffPost blog on PT books states, “Positive thinking is at once the most widely embraced and the most frequently reviled philosophy in America.”

So, let me get straight to the point and continue with more of the reviling (actually, how about we clarify instead of revile). In my professional experience, I find …

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Emotion in the brain

July 8, 2014 - 7:25am

The major brain regions that support emotional processing include the limbic system – particularly the hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus – and the prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), nucleus accumbens, and insula. Technical note: there are two hippocampi, one in each hemisphere of the brain; the same for the two amygdalae, ACCs, and insulae. Following common practice, we’ll mainly use the singular form.

By the way, as an interesting evolutionary detail, the limbic system seems to have evolved from the olfactory (scent) neural circuitry in the brain developed by our ancient mammal ancestors, living around 180 million years ago. They seem to have used their advanced sense of smell to hunt at night, while those cold-blooded reptiles were snoozing – and easier prey.

The conscious experience of emotion is just the top story – the penthouse floor – resting on many layers of neurological activity, both the firing of very complex and intertwining neural circuits and the tidal flows of neurotransmitters and hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin. Here’s a brief summary of each of these brain regions and its apparent role in emotion:

  • Hippocampus – This vaguely sea-horse shaped region helps store the contexts, especially visual-spatial ones, for important experiences, such as the smell of a predator . . . or the look of an angry parent. This region is necessary for forming personal memories of events, and is unfortunately damaged over time by the cortisol released by chronic stress (especially, high or even traumatic levels of stress).
  • Amygdala – Connected to the hippocampus by the neural equivalent of a four-lane superhighway, this small, almond-shaped region is particularly involved in the processing of information about threats. The subjective awareness of threat comes from the feeling tone of experience when it is unpleasant (distinct from pleasant or neutral). When it perceives a threat – whet her an external stimulus like a car running a red light or an internal one, such as suddenly recalling an impending deadline – the amygdala sends a jolt of alarm to the hypothalamus and other brain regions. It also triggers the ventral tegmentum, in the brain stem, to send dopamine to the nucleus accumbens (and other brain regions) in order to sensitize them all to the “red alert” information now streaming through the brain as a whole.
  • Hypothalamus – This is a major switchboard of the brain, involved in the regulation of basic bodily drives such as thirst and hunger. When it gets a “Yikes!” signal from the amygdala, it tells the pituitary gland to tell the adrenals to start release epinephrine and other stress hormones, to get the body ready for immediate fight-or-flight action. But keep in mind that this activation occurs not just when a lion jumps out of the bushes, but chronically, in rush-hour traffic and multi-tasking, and in response to internal mental events such as pain or anger. (For more on the stress response – and what you can do about it – see the Wise Brain Bulletins, Volume 1, #5 and #6.)
  • Prefrontal cortex (PFC) – If you whack your self on the forehead, the mini-shock waves reverberate through the PFC, which is “pre” because it is in front of the frontal cortex. The PFC is centrally involved in anticipating things, making plans, organizing action, monitoring results, changing plans, and settling conflicts between different goals: these are called the “executive functions,” and if the brain is one big village, the PFC is its mayor. Where emotion is concerned, the PFC helps foresee the emotional rewards (or penalties) of different courses of action. The PFC also inhibits emotional reactions; many more nerve fibers head down from the PFC to the limbic circuitry than in the other direction. The left PFC plays a special role in controlling negative affect and aggression: stroke victims whose left PFC is damaged tend to become more irritable, distraught, and hostile (the same happened for the unfortunate and famous Phineas Gage, the engineer who suffered an iron bar through his forehead in a mining explosion). On the other hand, differential activation of the left PFC is associated with positive emotions – and years of meditation practice!
  • Anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) – This sits in the middle of the brain, centrally located for communication with the PFC and the limbic system. It monitors conflicts between different objects of attention – Should I notice the bananas in this tree or that snake slithering toward me? Should I listen to my partner or focus on this TV show? – and flags those for resolution by the frontal lobes. Therefore, it lights up when we attend to emotionally relevant stimuli, or sustain our attention to important feelings – inside ourselves and other people – in the face of competing stimuli (e.g., trying to get a sense for what’s really bugging a family member underneath a rambling story and other verbiage).
  • Nucleus accumbens – In conditions of emotional arousal – especially fear-related – the accumbens receives a major wake-up call of dopamine from the tegmentum, which sensitizes it to information coming from the amygdala and other regions. Consequently, the accumbens sends more intense signals to the pallidum, a relay station for the motor systems, which results in heightened behavioral activity. This system works for both negative and positive feelings. For example, the accumbens lights up when a person with an addiction sees the object of his or her craving.
  • Insula – Deeply involved in interoception – the sensing of the internal state of the body (e.g., gut feelings, internal sensations of breathing, nausea) – the insula lets you know about the deeper layers of your emotional life. And it is key to sensing the primary emotions in others, such as fear of pain, or disgust.

25 minutes of mindfulness meditation can be best stress buster – study

July 7, 2014 - 9:16am

Alvin Barnes, Wall Street OTC: If there’s one mental practice that’s stood the test of time and rigorous laboratory tests, it’s meditation. Mindfulness meditation in particular has done a good job of proving itself effective in reducing stress and depression, improving attention and cognitive performance, and even increasing grey matter density in the brain.

According to a new study in Psychoneuroendocrinology, just a little mindfulness training goes a long way, at least when it comes to quieting the mind in stressful situations. And for most people beginning a meditation practice, that’s not a bad place to start.

Mindfulness has been described by Jon …

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Is mindfulness the key to being a better boss?

July 3, 2014 - 7:55am

HCOnline: We’ve all done it. In a fit of fury or just plain annoyance, we’ve hastily typed a snarky email to a colleague and hit ‘send’ – without first thinking of the repercussions.

It’s known as action addiction – often when things happen we want to fix it, immediately. There’s even a neurological incentive to do so – we get a hit of dopamine from feeling like we’ve taken quick, decisive action.

It’s human nature to act before thinking, right? It is, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. The concept of mindfulness is not new – in fact as a concept it …

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A lotus that blooms with your meditating mind?

July 3, 2014 - 6:30am

Rohan Dixit is a former neuroscience researcher who studied meditation and the brain at Harvard and Stanford University. He also spent a year measuring the brainwaves of meditating monks in the Himayalas, which is nice work if you can get it.

Rohan has a fascinating project that he’s Kickstarting at the moment. It’s called the Lotus and it’s essentially a hand-made brass flower that blooms with your mind.

The Lotus responds to your brainwaves through a supported brain-sensing headset, which is hooked up to a smartphone app. When the headset detects that you’re calm and relaxed, the flower blooms and begins cycling through colors.

The Lotus gradually closes and slowly changes colors when it’s time to meditate again. This is a nice visual reminder to take a mindful break during your day.

That’s nice, but there’s a really lovely feature, which is that you can connect friends to your Lotus. You can assign a particular color to a friend, and when he or she meditates your Lotus will respond and change to their color. I love that idea.

Another really cool thing is that the Lotus isn’t mass-produced by sweatshop workers in China. It’s hand-crafted by artisans in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra in India, forging petals by hand out of metal. As the Kickstarter page says, “Combined with cutting edge neurotechnology, biosensors, and 3D printed components, the Lotus is a blend of the very ancient and the highly modern.”

Some of the rewards are very nice, too, including a bunch of guided meditations for $5. I think the Lotus is an intriguing idea, and if you do as well, why not head over to Rohan’s Kickstarter page and make a donation.

Can meditation really make you look younger?

July 2, 2014 - 11:35am

Sara Bliss, Yahoo!: There’s a particular buzz around meditation right now, probably a direct result of more than half of working American adults being seriously concerned about their stress levels. Studies—and history—have shown that regular practice can reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and keep depression and anxiety at bay. If you’re more concerned with the external effects of stress, how’s this: regular meditation might even make you look younger. Recent studies show that long-term practice changes your body on a cellular level that might actually slow down aging. Vedic Meditation instructor Charlie Knoles says, “People are spending a fortune on anti-wrinkle creams even …

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Settling the Mind: You Have Allies

July 1, 2014 - 1:20pm

Meditation means settling the mind, but if you try it you’ll quickly find that this is easier said than done. Our minds are often busy and like to keep thinking about the things that stimulate and interest them. So what are our allies in settling the mind?

 Preparation

Settling is a process. You can’t sit down after you have been rushing around and expect to be calm and quiet straight away. So, if it’s possible for you, take time to prepare for meditation. Make sure the place you are sitting is tidy and beautiful. Light a candle, perhaps. Then spend time carefully setting up your meditation posture. Notice how it feels to be making this transition.

The Present Moment

Many of the thoughts that distract us are connected with the past (things that we have been doing, memories, regrets), or the future (plans, worries, fantasies). Settling the mind means focusing our attention on things that are happening right now, in the present moment. This simply means noticing the sense experiences that are arising right now: your feet on the floor, your bottom on the seat. It can also mean noticing the thoughts and feelings you are experiencing right now without being carried away by them.

Checking In

Give yourself the space to recognise, as sensitively as you can, how you are feeling and what is going on in your experience. What thoughts are present? What is your overall state of mind? That helps us see what we need to do next in the practice.

 The Body

Meditation doesn’t mean thinking about our experience; it isn’t something that happens in our heads. Awareness of the body is direct and it’s a way to become aware of our emotions and our energy, which are often wrapped up in the body. That’s why it’s a key to meditation.

Finding a Focus

We settle the mind by paying attention to something in particular: the meditation ‘object’. In principle, you can use anything, but in mindfulness meditation we usually use the breath, which is always with us and usually has a calming influence. To start with, it’s a good idea to make the object as clear and specific as possible, noticing, in detail, a particular area of the body that is affected by the breath. Your attention, awareness and energy can gather around that.

The Breath

The breath is a powerful object of meditation because it’s naturally soothing and refreshing (unless you have breathing difficulties). We all know that taking a deep breath helps you calm down. The breath connects us to the body, the environment and to the most basic elements of being alive, so it’s a key ally when we want to settle our minds.

Letting Go

Becoming quiet and settled means letting go of the busy ‘doing mode’. Even when we sit quietly, our thoughts keep going because we are still in the same mode and our minds are drawn to the stimulation and urgency these thoughts bring. Letting them go means gradually disengaging from these thoughts and feelings and finding a way to settle into our experience without trying to change it.

Interest

Our minds usually find it easy to engage with plans, activities and worries. Engaging with meditation is subtler. We need to become interested in the process of settling the mind. That might mean noticing the detail in our experience of the breath and body and it might mean including our feelings and emotions.

Finding Your Key

As you become more experienced in meditation, you will get to know the things that help you become more calm, whole and settled. That might mean the breath or the sensations of the body, as I have suggested. Or it might be something that is quite personal to you: a word or a phrase; an image; a certain kind of breathing. Some people like to count the breaths, others contact a sense of kindness. So explore what will help you connect each time you sit down to meditate.

Patience

Because settling is a process, it requires patience. When the sea is full of waves, you need to wait for the wind to die down before it will become calm. Gently, kindly, just keep bringing the mind back, again and again.

Be mind full of good

July 1, 2014 - 8:22am

It’s kind of amazing: right now, what you think and feel, enjoy and suffer, is changing your brain. The brain is the organ that learns, designed by evolution to be changed by our experiences: what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity.

Neurons that fire together, wire together. This means that each one of us has the power to use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better. To benefit oneself and other beings.

Using this internal power is more important than ever these days, when so many of us are pushed and prodded by external forces – the economy, media, politics, workplace policies, war on the other side of the world, the people on the other side of the dining room table – and by our reactions to them.

Life is often hard. To cope with hard things, to be effective and successful, or simply to experience ordinary well-being, we need resources inside, inner strengths like resilience, compassion, gratitude and other positive emotions, self-worth, and insight.

Some strengths are innate – built into your DNA – but most are acquired, woven over time into the fabric of your brain. These lasting traits come from passing states – experiences of the inner strength – that get installed into the brain. You become more grateful through internalizing repeated experiences of gratitude; you become more compassionate through internalizing repeated experiences of compassion; etc.

So far, so obvious. But here’s the catch: without this installation – without the transfer of the experience from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage – beneficial experiences such as feeling cared about are momentarily pleasant but have no lasting value. Yikes! There is no learning, no growth, no change for the better.

Meanwhile, your brain is rapidly and efficiently turning unpleasant, negative experiences – feeling frazzled, stressed, worried, frustrated, irritated, inadequate, hurt, etc. – into neural structure. To help our ancestors survive in harsh conditions, the brain evolved a negativity bias that makes it good at learning from bad experiences but relatively bad at learning from good ones – even though learning from good experiences is the main way to grow the inner strengths we all need.

In effect, today our brains have a well-intended, universal learning disability because they’ve been painstakingly built over millions of years for peak performance . . . in Stone Age conditions.

Most of us are pretty good at having beneficial experiences – but pretty bad at installing them in the brain. Similarly, most therapists, mindfulness teachers, coaches, parents, and human resources trainers are pretty good at encouraging beneficial experiences in others, but pretty bad at helping them get installed in those brains; this was certainly true for me.

In effect, most beneficial experiences are wasted most of the time. The result is a learning curve, a growth rate, that is a lot flatter than it needs to be.

Poignantly, because we are not internalizing most of our wholesome, beneficial experiences – authentic moments of feeling relaxed, capable, peaceful, glad, successful, contented, appreciated, loved, and loving – we feel emptier inside than we truly deserve to feel. And we become a lot easier to manipulate by fear, consumerism, and “us vs. them” conflicts.

What can we do?

We can use the mind to change the brain for the better.

How?

Here’s the essence: Have It, Enjoy It.

In other words, have a beneficial experience in the first place – usually because you simply notice one you are already having: you’re already feeling a bit of ease, relief, pleasure, connection, warmth, determination, confidence, clarity, hope, etc. And it’s fine to create beneficial experiences, such as deliberately thinking of things you feel thankful for, or calling up compassion for someone in pain, or recalling how it felt in your body to assert yourself with someone who was being pushy.

Then, once you’ve got that good experience going, really enjoy it: taking 5, 10, or more seconds to protect and stay with it, and open to it in your body. The longer and more intensely those neurons fire together, the more they’ll be wiring this inner strength into your brain.

This is positive neuroplasticity, the essence of self-reliance: taking in everyday experiences to develop more inner strengths such as grit, confidence, kindness, emotional balance, happiness, patience, and self-awareness.

I don’t believe in positive thinking. You’re not overlooking the pains, losses, or injustices in life. I believe in realistic thinking, seeing the whole mosaic of reality, the good, the bad, and the neutral. Precisely because life is often hard – and because we’ve got a brain that’s relatively poor at growing the inner strengths needed to deal with these challenges – we need to focus on the good facts in life, let them become good experiences, and then help these experiences really sink in.

Most of the time you take in the good will be in the flow of life, maybe half a dozen times a day, usually less than half a minute at a time. You can also use more structured moments, such as at meals, after exercising or meditation, or just before bed.

Besides being more open in general to beneficial experiences, you can look for those specific experiences that will grow the particular inner strength(s) that will help you the most these days. For example, if you’re feeling anxious, look for authentic opportunities to feel supported, protected, resourced, tough-minded, relaxed, or calm. If life feels disappointing or blah, look for the genuine facts that naturally support experiences of gladness, gratitude, pleasure, accomplishment, or effectiveness. If you feel lonely or inadequate, look for the real occasions when you are included, seen, appreciated, liked, or loved – and open to feeling appropriately cared about, and valued; also look for chances to feel caring yourself, since love is love whether it is flowing in or flowing out.

Our beneficial experiences are usually mild – a 1 or 2 on the 0-10 scale of intensity – but they are real. Any single time you let these experiences really land inside you won’t change your life. But much as a cup of water is filled drop by drop, you’ll be changing your brain synapse by synapse for the better – and your life for the better as well.

And with a mind full of good, you’ll have more to offer others. Growing the good in them, too, in widening ripples seen and unseen, perhaps reaching eventually around the whole world.

Simply noticing — a path to mindfulness

June 29, 2014 - 12:10am

Patricia Pearce: Each morning I begin my day by reading a poem by Mary Oliver. Yesterday morning I read one, “Humpback,” from her book American Primitive that brought me to tears. Oliver has a unique gift of opening herself to Reality, the Reality so many of us spend our days asleep to, and of finding words to convey it such that its radiance can pierce our own minds.

It got me thinking about how the poet’s foremost job is to be awake to life and to notice things that most of us don’t. Only by being awake does the poet have anything to …

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The dark knight of the soul

June 28, 2014 - 12:05am

Tomas Rocha, The Atlantic: For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.

Set back on quiet College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, sits a dignified, four story, 19th-century house that belongs to Dr. Willoughby Britton. Inside, it is warm, spacious, and organized. The shelves are stocked with organic foods. A solid wood dining room table seats up to 12. Plants are ubiquitous. Comfortable pillows are never far from reach. The basement—with its own bed, living space, and private bathroom—often hosts a rotating cast of yogis and meditation teachers. Britton’s own living space and office are on the …

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Mindfulness emerges as hottest meditative tool

June 27, 2014 - 7:20am

The News International: Mindfulness is fast emerging as the hottest meditative tool, which is known to contribute to our wellbeing and productivity.

Mindfulness is all about being focussed on the present moment, which has the power to liberate one from the shackles of past failures or pointless day dreaming about the future.

Given its global sweep and popularity, Time magazine featured mindfulness on its covers early this year as “the science of finding focus in a stressed out, multi-tasking culture”.

“The key to success in a fast paced world is a calm, resilient and non-judgmental inner being, steeped in mindfulness,” Santhosh Babu, a …

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Mindfulness can avert bodily responses to emotional stress

June 27, 2014 - 12:04am

Tom Jacobs, Pacific Standard: New research finds acceptance of moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings can greatly reduce the impact of stress on your health.

Emotional stress is undeniably uncomfortable. But the real danger it poses is the damage it can do to our bodies, causing or exacerbating health problems ranging from headaches to high blood pressure.

If we could experience emotional pressure strictly on an intellectual and emotional level, rather than a physical one, we’d certainly be better off. Newly published research suggests there’s a secret to doing just that: Mindfulness.

Confirming previous research, a study finds that “strong identification with, or judgment of, …

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Mindfulness for kids: Why we should be encouraging young people to find inner peace

June 26, 2014 - 7:42am

Brogan Driscoll, Huffington Post UK: Once upon a time mindfulness was reserved for spiritual types sitting cross-legged on the tops of faraway mountains, but these days the mind-calming practice has well and truly gone mainstream.

Now, everyone is doing it, from comedian and HuffPost UK blogger Ruby Wax to high-flying bankers ditching the city for a life of peace.

But what exactly is it? Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique that involves focusing on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting feelings and thoughts – whether positive or negative.

While the practice is certainly helping adults deal with negative tendencies such stress, self-doubt and anxiety, …

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Expressing your intentions

June 25, 2014 - 8:15am

Once your intentions are clear, the next question is: How to express them?

There are many ways, including:

  • As thoughts in your mind
  • As an image
  • In writing
  • As a collage with words and images
  • Through physical expression, posture, movement, dance
  • As a sense of being

When you think intentions, you know them to yourself. Putting them in explicit words is usually helps create real clarity in your mind. Some intentions co-exist as equally vital, but many times it’s important to establish what your top priorities are. It’s kind of like filling a bucket: you want to get the big rocks in first, then the pebbles, and last the sand. Your most important aims are the big rocks, and if you take care of them, everything else usually works out just fine.

The nonverbal expression of intentions is through imagery. For all the emphasis in education and in our culture on language – certainly an important tool – it’s good to keep in mind that most of the brain, and most of our mental processes (especially unconscious ones) have nothing to do with language at all. A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, and pictures in your mind of your intentions – including both the path toward them and their fulfillment – are very, very valuable.

You can also write out your intentions, perhaps informally – as in a to-do list – or formally, as affirmations. These are complete sentences, positively stated, with the result already existing in the present. Like this: “I am healthy, happy, and whole.” “My family is full of love and harmony.” “I am completing my college education.” “My wife loves me.”

Collages are another powerful way to express your intentions. I have collages on the wall of my office at home that were made several years ago yet they still speak to me; I look at them, and know what I’m supposed to do.

Or you could move your body as an expression of your intention, letting it move through you as you walk or dance or whatever.

Last and definitely not least, you could get the feeling of the intention in your body, and rest in that sense of being. For example, if your intention is to be loving, rest in the sense of being loving. If it is to be highly focused and productive, get a sense of being that way, and then abide there. Be the goal you are aiming for.

Mindfulness for children

June 25, 2014 - 7:04am

Gail Innis, Michigan State University Extension: It’s not just another way to get your kids to pay attention to you.

“Pay attention!” or “Why can’t you pay attention?” How many times have you said this to a child? We often expect that children should pay attention to us, their surroundings and their actions yet how do they actually learn to pay attention? According to Michigan State University Extension, paying attention isn’t easy when there are lots of things going on vying for your attention.
Research shows that when children are able to manage their own emotions and get along well with others (social …

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6 meditation problems that aren’t really problems: but here’s how to fix them, anyway!

June 24, 2014 - 8:34am

Sarah Rudell Beach, Huffington Post: You’ve begun your meditation practice. You know all the amazing benefits of meditation and are excited about this change in your routine.

And then problems set in: body aches, itching, thoughts, sleepiness. Who ever thought just sitting could be so hard?!

I’ve practiced meditation for several years, and while I enjoy meditating, I’ve hit some bumps along the way, too. We all encounter bumps along the way, don’t we? The thing is, there are no problems in meditation.

A problem is only a “problem” when we perceive it as such. In fact, meditation is a great way to …

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Why is it so hard to pay attention? Or is it? Curiosity may be key to concentrating

June 23, 2014 - 11:40am

Dr. Judson Brewer, Huffington Post: There is a new medication in early clinical trials that will likely revolutionize our ability to pay attention. Interested in learning more? Yes, we all are. The paradox here is that right now, because of this interest, you’re paying attention. We naturally pay attention when we are interested.

Given what we now know about the science behind how our brains learn best, what if we could tap into our natural interest to train ourselves to pay attention? Do I still have your attention?

Over 100 years ago, Edward Thorndyke described a neural process now known as reward-based learning. Many …

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Is your marriage on the rocks? Mindfulness could be the key to saving your relationship

June 19, 2014 - 9:21am

Sophie Donnelly, Express: It has been used to combat depression, stress and over-eating. Now a new book says this meditation technique could give your relationship a lift.

Politicians have practiced it in Parliament, the NHS employs it to treat stress and it is thought to be so good for mental health that it has been dubbed “bicep curls for the brain”.

However, now it appears practicing mindfulness techniques could have another benefit – it could help to save your relationship.

Mindfulness originated as a type of Buddhist meditation but in recent years has gained popularity as a way to combat stress. Being mindful …

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