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How mindfulness can change the way our brain works

January 29, 2015 - 10:20am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction Amanda Payne, Digital Journal: Mindfulness is in the news a lot these days but what is it and how can it help you to improve your health and well-being?

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness means “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgementally.” Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Although based on ancient Buddhist practices, mindfulness “does not conflict with any beliefs …

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Our online meditation event, “Living With Awareness,” starts Sunday

January 28, 2015 - 9:38am

Living With Awareness is a 28 day meditation event exploring the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is the gentle effort to be continuously present with our experience. When we’re not mindful, we get carried away with our thoughts and emotions, which leads to stress, anxiety, depression, anger, and distractedness.

When the quality of mindfulness is present, we have a greater ability to choose our thoughts and emotions. It has been clinically proven to reduce stress, promote feelings of wellbeing, and improve mental and physical health.

Signing up for this 28-day event gives you access to:

  • Emails (three times a week) with practice suggestions
  • Access to guided meditations
  • Support in our online community

We’ll be exploring the practice of mindfulness not only in meditation but in daily life, through the lens of the “Four Foundations of Mindfulness,” in which we cultivate mindfulness of the body, feelings, the mind, and patterns of mental states.

This event is suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

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How to Register

Registration for Living With Awareness (Feb 1–28) is now open!

Running these events is a full-time activity, and we can’t make them available without donations from participants. Please select a contribution level from the drop-down list below. After you make a donation you’ll be redirected to a page where you can sign up for the event. Or you can choose to make a donation later.



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Mindfulness exercises improve kids’ math scores

January 28, 2015 - 8:30am

Meditation MP3 – Mindfulness Meditations for Teens Mandy Oaklander, Time: Fourth and fifth graders who did mindfulness exercises had 15% better math scores than their peers.

In adults, mindfulness has been shown to have all kinds of amazing effects throughout the body: it can combat stress, protect your heart, shorten migraines and possibly even extend life. But a new trial published in the journal Developmental Psychology suggests that the effects are also powerful in kids as young as 9—so much so that improving mindfulness showed to improve everything from social skills to math scores.

Researchers wanted to test the effects of …

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Meditation master Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn breaks down the Jedi mind trick

January 27, 2015 - 7:27am

Guided Mindfulness Meditation: A Complete Guided Mindfulness Meditation Program from Jon Kabat-Zinn Leslie Anne Frye, Fusion: Meditation has gone mainstream and is no longer the exclusive practice of yogis, peace-loving hippies or Jedis. Univision’s Enrique Acevedo caught up with world-renowned scientist, writer and meditation teacher, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn at the World Economic Forum in Davos, to discuss the ancient tradition.

In fact, Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness mediation technique is being implemented in classrooms and board rooms across the country as well as in medicine, the U.S. military, legal and social justice domains. What’s the big deal about mindful meditation? According …

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Let the mind take over

January 26, 2015 - 10:09am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love Ayesha Singh, The New Indian Express: When you are in the moment, any moment for that matter, are you really in that moment? Ask yourself. Surrounded by 50,000 thoughts per day, that is about 48 thoughts per minute—positive, negative and neutral—we wonder how this state of constant distraction impacts our brain functioning. And it sure does, sometimes quite adversely. Mindfulness meditation, a profound but underrated approach, has now found its due place in the sun. According to a new report by Harvard University scientists, mindfulness meditation, a version of Buddhist Vipassana, helps …

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George Takei on ‘Being Gay, Being Buddhist’

January 24, 2015 - 3:22pm

The Purpose and Practice of Buddhist Meditation by Sangharakshita (ebook) George Takei, Lion’s Roar: The actor, author, and undisputed King of Social Media reflects on his fascinating personal history: his childhood and his family’s internment during World War II, his life as a gay man and activist, how far we’ve all come, and why we must press on together.

I was born to a Buddhist family — my father was Zen and my mother was Shin, and both were rather casual about it. Before Internment all I remember of Buddhist temples are the funerals and the weddings.

Then the …

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Meditation and mindfulness

January 23, 2015 - 7:48am

Click here to check out our online meditation store Georgette Gilmore, Baristanet: Can you remember the last time you ate a meal without checking your email or taking a photo of it to share on Instagram? Are you able to watch a television show without tweeting about it? How often do you perform one task and ONLY one task at a time? We’re willing to bet it’s been a long time, which is why the practice of meditation and the effort to obtain mindfulness, is becoming a popular practice.

Whether you want to slow down your day-to-day life and …

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Another free book giveaway!

January 22, 2015 - 12:16pm

We’re giving away another copy of Dipa Ma: The Life and Legacy of a Buddhist Master by Amy Schmidt!

Simply sign up for Wildmind’s bi-monthly newsletter for a chance to win!

We will choose one new subscriber at random on Monday, January 26, 2015 at 4:00 pm (US EST). The winner will be notified by email.

“Dipa Ma’s profound wisdom and compassion continue to inspire and guide an ever-growing number of spiritual seekers and practitioners of every persuasion. Weaving together her powerful words and techniques with heartwarming biographical stories and encounters shared by her family, her students in India and the West, and prominent teachers of Buddhism and meditation in America, this is the only full account of Dipa Ma’s extraordinary life and legacy.”

Enter your name and email address below if you wish to join the thousands of people who receive our monthly newsletter and to have a chance to win this great book. You can see examples of past newsletters here.

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Please don’t start meditating (unless you’re willing to change)

January 22, 2015 - 6:33am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love Lodro Rinzler, Huffington Post: A Buddhist teacher I respect a great deal once proclaimed a warning about meditation: Don’t do it unless you’re willing to change. If you’re one of the two gazillion people aiming to launch a meditation practice in this new year, please heed that warning. But here is the good news about that warning: You will change for the better.

It’s that time of year when self-reflection is at an all-time high, so I shouldn’t be surprised at my wall. It’s covered in all the various activity …

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How meditation is finally hitting the mainstream

January 21, 2015 - 8:02am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Busy People Alena Hall, Huffington Post: As more influential men expound on the mindful benefits of meditation, from Congressman Tim Ryan to media entrepreneur Russell Simmons, the practice may seem more accessible — or even masculine — to men around the country. ABC’s Dan Harris joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani to discuss how this trend among public figures could help the practice of meditation grow in popularity among men with mainstream sensibilities.

“More men who don’t wear robes or describe themselves as gurus… People like that will slowly over time make this seem more acceptable,” …

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How stress kills our ability to feel compassion

January 20, 2015 - 7:18am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction Carolyn Gregoire, Huffington Post: Stress isn’t just bad for our physical and mental health — it may also inhibit our ability to empathize with others, according to new McGill University research.

The study, recently published in the journal Current Biology, found that a drug that blocks stress hormones can increase the ability of both humans and mice to “feel” others’ pain.

The researchers studied the phenomenon known as “emotional contagion of pain,” a key component of empathy which has to do with our ability to experience the pain of strangers.

Previous research by …

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Meditation changes the brain’s wiring and mindset, Harvard studies show

January 19, 2015 - 7:26am

Meditations to Change Your Brain, by Rick Hanson PhD & Richard Mendius (3CDs) Debra Stern, HNGN: Sarah Lazar’s voice was calming even over the phone as she demonstrated, for this interview, a typical start to a mindfulness practice. “Notice you are breathing in and breathing out. Can you just be aware and really feel what it feels like as air passes through your nostrils?” she asks, gently.

“It may sound incredibly boring,” she says with a chuckle. “But things start to quiet down inside.”

According to Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, observing your breath without self …

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Meditation may prevent absenteeism by stressed public servants, MPs claim

January 16, 2015 - 7:39am

Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (CD) Robert Booth, The Guardian: Stressed out teachers, prison officers and nurses should be trained in ancient techniques of mindfulness meditation, a cross-party group of MPs and peers said on Wednesday.

An eight-month inquiry by the all party group on mindfulness found frontline public servants could be less likely to fall ill with stress, or quit altogether, if they engage in the increasingly popular meditation practice which involves increasing awareness of the present moment to help control anxiety and depression.

A rash of small pilot studies about mindfulness meditation’s potential impact in the public …

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Meditation class helps student stay mindful of stress

January 15, 2015 - 12:21pm

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Stress Reduction (complete album) Chelsea Mulligan, The Oracle: “Mindfulness mediation” is a term talked about everywhere from drum circles to corporate gatherings. It is a practice in which one attempts to be observant and non-judgmental of his or her thoughts, emotions and sensations in order to focus awareness of the present moment.

There are now more than 20 million Americans who practice meditation in order to reduce stress, pain and anxiety, according to a National Health Interview Survey. There has also been research that suggests mindfulness meditation can have physical, tangible benefits.

Now a twice-weekly …

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Could meditating as a cure for insomnia backfire?

January 14, 2015 - 9:19am

When I find myself awake in the middle of the night, perhaps after a trip to the bathroom or a weird dream, I often practice some kind of meditation to quiet my over-active mind. I’ll usually pay attention to my breathing, or do a body scan, and most times this will help me calm down and nod off.

But could meditating in the middle of the night create its own problems? Someone asked me whether this practice could either lead to us developing the habit of falling asleep during meditation, or keep us awake because mindfulness is so associated with alert attention that we can’t fall asleep.

I don’t think the first is much of a danger; we’re not likely to end up training ourselves to fall asleep in meditation. What happens when we can’t sleep is that intrusive mental activity inhibits the normal physiological mechanism that causes sleep. By being more mindful of the body, we let go of that mental activity, stop inhibiting sleep, and nod off. But in normal meditation (unless you’re already very tired) the physiological mechanism leading to sleep isn’t active, and so you’re not likely to drop off.

Not only can the second problem happen, but it’s something I’ve experienced many times. Meditation isn’t just about relaxation, but involves the arising of counter-balancing “active” qualities like curiosity, interest, and physical arousal. While calmness and relaxation are more likely to predominate when we meditate in order to get to sleep, sometimes alertness will prevail, so that we find ourselves in a “perked up” state that isn’t conducive to nodding off. But if that happens, I think it’s just a signal that we need to take another approach.

I find that visualizing soothing but boring imagery works rather well. For example I’ll imagine rain pattering on the leaves of a tree, on a particularly gray and dismal day. This counteracts the thought patterns and the emotional arousal that prevent sleep from happening, but it makes for a dull experience, and so I don’t get excited about it. I sometimes suspect that I fall asleep just so that I can dream about something more interesting!? This isn’t classic meditation, obviously, but it’s a good way of applying the principles of meditation in order to bring about a desired result — in this case a good night’s sleep.

If you like our articles and want to support the work we do, please click here to check out our ebooks, guided meditation CDs, and MP3s.One way that middle-of-the-night meditation has backfired on me has been when I’ve woken from an anxious dream, and taken my attention to the feeling of anxiety. Normally what I’d do is to give the anxiety some compassionate attention, and to sooth myself by being aware of the breathing down in the belly. But recently I’ve found that if I try being mindful in the middle of the night, my experience of the body changes radically. The body’s solidity and sense of form dissolves away, and I’m left with an experience of a translucent cloud of sensations hovering in space. The first couple of times this happened there was a “What the heck?” reaction that led to me remaining awake, seemingly for hours, just observing this phenomenon. But now that I’m used to this happening, I quite quickly get back to sleep again. Perhaps a general lesson is that if using meditation to overcome insomnia doesn’t work at first, keep going. It may be something that you need to persist with.

Seven essentials of mindfulness practice

January 14, 2015 - 7:27am

Guided Mindfulness Meditation: A Complete Guided Mindfulness Meditation Program from Jon Kabat-Zinn Dr. Frank Lipman, The Epoch Times: Nearly twenty years ago, I did a workshop with Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., whose first book “Full Catastrophe Living” and overall teachings have had a lasting influence on me. This book is a classic on the topic of mindfulness and it has played a spiritual role in both bringing this practice into the Integrative Medicine World as well as in developing the method we teach our patients on how to deal with stress.

I would like to share with you the Seven …

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Red Sox create new behavioral health department

January 13, 2015 - 9:58am

Meditation for Beginners, by Jack Kornfield (2 CDs) Alex Speier, The Boston Globe: The annual announcement of Red Sox front office personnel changes typically features an array of title changes and newly hired evaluators who put in critical but unseen work, and this year’s will be little different — except, perhaps, on one count.

Amid the announcement of promotions and hires will be the mention of an unusual addition to baseball operations. According to team and industry sources, the Red Sox will name Dr. Richard Ginsburg, co-director of the PACES Institute of Sports Psychology at Massachusetts General Hospital, as the …

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The opportunity of “the magic quarter second”

January 12, 2015 - 3:18pm

In the book My Stroke of Insight, brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor explains that the natural life span of an emotion—the average time it takes for it to move through the nervous system and body—is only a minute and a half, a mere ninety seconds. After that, we need thoughts to keep the emotion rolling. So, if we wonder why we lock into painful emotional states like anxiety, depression, or rage, we need look no further than our own endless stream of inner dialogue.

Modern neuroscience has discovered a fundamental truth: Neurons that fire together, wire together. When we rehearse a looping set of thoughts and emotions, we create deeply grooved patterns of emotional reactivity. This means that the more you think and rethink about certain experiences, the stronger the memory and the more easily activated the related feelings become.

For example, if a young girl asks her father for help and he either ignores her or reacts with irritation, the emotional pain of rejection may become linked with any number of thoughts or beliefs: “I’m not loved,” “I’m not worth helping,” “I’m weak for wanting help,” “It’s dangerous to ask for help,” “He’s bad. I hate him.”

The more the child gets this response from either parent—or even imagines getting this response—the more the impulse to ask for help becomes paired with the belief that she will be refused and the accompanying feelings (fear or hurt, anger or shame). Years later, she may hesitate to ask for help at all. Or, if she does ask, and the other person so much as pauses or looks distracted, the old feelings instantly take over: She downplays her needs, apologizes, or becomes enraged.

Unless we learn to recognize and interrupt our compulsive thinking, these ingrained emotional and behavioral patterns continue to strengthen over time. Fortunately, it’s possible to break out of this patterning.

Researcher Benjamin Libet discovered that the part of the brain responsible for movement activates a quarter-second before we become aware of our intention to move. There is then another quarter-second before the movement begins. What does this mean? First, it casts an interesting light on what we call “free will”—before we make a conscious decision, our brain has already set the gears in motion! But secondly, it offers us an opportunity.

Say you’ve been obsessing about having a cigarette. During the space between impulse (“I need to smoke a cigarette”) and action (reaching for the pack), there is room for choice. Author Tara Bennett-Goleman named this space “the magic quarter-second.” Mindfulness enables us to take advantage of it.

By catching our thoughts in the magic quarter-second, we’re able to act from a wiser place, interrupting the circling of compulsive thinking that fuels anxiety and other painful emotions. For instance, if our child asks us to play a game and we automatically think “I’m too busy,” we might pause and choose to spend some time with her. If we’ve been caught up in composing an angry e-mail, we might pause and decide not to press the send button.

The Buddha taught that to be free—not identified with or possessed by thoughts or feelings—we need to investigate each and every part of our experience with an intimate and mindful attention. The first step is pausing, making use of the magic quarter second, and the second, choosing to be present with our moment –to- moment experience. We need to recognize the fear-based thoughts and the tension in our bodies with an accepting, curious and kind attention. The fruit of this presence is a capacity to release habitual reactivity, respond to our life circumstances with a wise heart and step out of the grip of oppressive emotions.

The Power of Mindfulness: a four-week course starting Feb 2, 2015

January 12, 2015 - 9:26am

Do you want to be calmer, happier, and experience more freedom from stress? Mindfulness has been clinically proven to reduce stress, promote feelings of wellbeing, and improve mental and physical health.

The next Power of Mindfulness online course starts February 2, 2015. It’s a four-week meditation course that’s accessible 24 hours a day, every day of the week, wherever you are. All you need is an internet browser. You can even participate on an iPad or other mobile device.

The convenience makes this perfect for people who don’t have meditation classes nearby, or who work irregular hours or who can’t travel because of illness, childcare arrangements, etc.

The course is web-based, and involves readings, guided meditation MP3s that were specially recorded for this course, a discussion forum, and email exchanges with the teacher, Bodhipaksa.

Weaving together the latest scientific research with ancient Buddhist wisdom, this four-week course provides a comprehensive introduction to living mindfully. It’s not just about the skills of meditation. You’ll also learn how to take what you learn into action. This course gives you the tools to gain more insight into yourself, and be more at ease and content through life’s ups and downs.

For more information, or to register for the course click here to go to the online store.

Introduce yourself to mindfulness, quiet

January 12, 2015 - 7:55am

Meditation MP3 – Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love Monisha Vasa, M.D., Fredericksburg.com: As a psychiatrist, I have the honor of being with people through the ups and downs of life’s journey. I bear witness to joy, fear, anger and sorrow, and the ways in which we deal with these emotions.

My patients often say to me, “I think what I need is to just stay busy. I need to distract myself.”

Distraction certainly has its role. Sometimes keeping ourselves occupied with meaningful activities like exercise, time with friends or work can keep us out of our head. Sometimes distraction …

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