Top 10 Good News of the Week :) Curry Power: Turmeric Compound Boosts Brain Cell Growth

Depending on where you are in the world, you may be able to view a full lunar eclipse tomorrow. Called a "Blood Moon", it will appear early Wednesday morning for North Americans and in the evening for Australians and East Asians. Check out the times here (and see the April eclipse photo by Christian Ronnel). Happy Full Moon in Aries! xxoo – Geri

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Quadriplegic’s Recovery Could be a Medical Breakthrough
    Russ Evans, 25, was a quadriplegic 10 weeks ago, the former athlete can now move his feet, fingers and arms. He received a drug that may be a breakthrough for treating spinal injuries.
  2. Instead of Issuing a Ticket, Michigan Cop Buys Car Seat for Family
    When a family in Battle Creek, Michigan couldn’t pay their bills after falling on hard times, their car was repossessed with the daughter’s booster seat still inside. While traveling in a friend’s car, the young mom was pulled over by an Emmett Township officer. After hearing her story, instead of writing a ticket, he told her to follow him to a Walmart, and bought her a new car seat. (w/ Video)
  3. Football Star More Proud of His Reading Than His Playing
    One of the best wide receivers in US college football met Kathy Rackley by chance at a bookstore. She had no idea who he was and began telling him about her book club. Malcolm Mitchell, who was trying to improve his reading skills, insisted on joining, even though the club members were all older women. (Great Video)
  4. Scientists Create Crystal That Would Allow You to Breathe Underwater
    Bulky oxygen tanks and face masks may no longer be needed to breathe underwater, thanks to the creation of the "Aquaman Crystal" at the University of Southern Denmark. Just one spoon of the substance is enough to store all the oxygen in a room and then release it again when and where it is needed.
  5. London’s Red Phone Box Goes Green as Solar Charging Station
    Some of London’s iconic red telephone boxes are being transformed into free solar-powered mobile phone charging stations painted green, the brainchild of two graduates of the London School of Economics.
  6. Curry Power: Turmeric Compound Boosts Brain Cell Growth
    Scientists have found that a chemical component in the spice turmeric–commonly used in Indian cuisine and curries–increases the regeneration of new brain neurons. Previous studies have shown that a chemical found in turmeric and curry has anticancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties that may be useful in treating a variety of diseases.
  7. The First Ever Baby Born to a Woman After Uterus Transplant
    In a historic first, a baby was born to a woman after she received a womb transplant from a post-menopausal donor, the successful outcome of a fertility project at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
  8. Firefighters’ Simple Act of Kindness Helps Elderly Woman Stay Safe
    After responding to a call on September 20 to assist an elderly resident who had fallen in her yard, a crew from City of Santa Barbara Fire Department had an idea of how to prevent future tumbles. The Mesa, California woman tripped on the the overgrown shrubs lining the walkway, so Engine #6 returned a few days later to do some yard work.
  9. High School Football Coach Loans Quarterback to the Opposing Team
    When a Brandon, Mississippi high school football team lost their quarterback to injury during a game, the opponents’ coach offered up one of his own quarterbacks, who led them back from a 21-0 deficit with 2 touchdowns, demonstrating sportsmanship to everyone on the field and stands. (w/ Video)
  10. Baby Elephant Falls in a Ditch – Herd Races to the Rescue
    A cute video captured by visitors to the Switzerland zoo in Zurich shows a two-month-old baby elephant falling into a ditch. She can’t get up, but within seconds, the adult herd rushes to her aid, turning her upright like a toy.

Top Video: World’s First Surviving Panda Triplets Thrive in China

The world’s only surviving panda triplets to be born in captivity are now out of danger having reached the two-month-old mark. They are growing quickly — and more cute — every day. [This photo shows them at just 1 month old.]

(Watch them visit with the Today show)

Join Patricia Anne Davis in an interview with The Shift Network Radio August 31!

Karah Pino:

Hope you can enjoy this talk by Navajo Wisdom Keeper, Patricia Anne Davis, a powerful teacher about Peace and the Wisdom of the Natural World.

Originally posted on Native American Concepts:

Please listen to my Interview with The Shift Network Radio Interview

Spirituality & Peace Sunday: The Blessing Way is Living The Loving Way with Patricia Ann Davis, MA ~ lInternational Teacher and Traditional Healer

Teleseminar date: Sunday Aug 31, 10:00am to 10:45am US Mountain time

Join the Webcast to listen to the live call! »

Your dial-in number and PIN for all of the Summer of Peace Summit sessions are:

If you’ll be listening over the internet instead of on the phone, click on the links in the schedule above – or you can always click through to the webcast from the program page or cut and paste this url in your web browser for program information: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/program

LINK to my Interview: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/program/123

LINK to website: http://summit.summerofpeace.net/

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Lion, Tiger and Bear Are Best Friends, PLUS, The Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Knitters Answer a Call for Nests to Save Baby Birds
    A California nonprofit that treats a thousand wild baby birds each year, made a request in April for local knitters to weave bird nests for the orphaned chicks the organization cares for every spring. Knitters went wild, donating 540 nests to keep the orphans warm with the soft feeling of a natural nest. (Photos)
  2. Dutch Man Leads Dehydrated Swan Family to Pond
    A 63-year-old Dutch man was surprised but worried when he awoke to find a family of nine swans drinking from the ditch. A local drought had dried up most of his yard so Jos Maas decided to help. Believing them to be lost, he asked them to follow as he walked toward the road. Father, mother and seven chicks waddled after him.
  3. Foster Families Find Support with Elders in Housing CommunityAbout 15 percent of seniors in the U.S. live near the poverty line and many struggle to find affordable housing. But a unique community in Oregon is offering low-income seniors reduced rents, in exchange for volunteering their time with foster families.
  4. Photo of the Day – Lion, Tiger and Bear Are Best Friends
    A lion, a tiger and a bear (oh, my!) have all become best friends at Noah’s Ark Animal sanctuary in Georgia, since being rescued as cubs from a drug dealer’s basement. The trio is known collectively as BLT.
  5. Restaurant Owner Pays $144K to Employees Out of Pocket After Fire
    40 employees of Culver’s restaurant in Platteville, Wisconsin wondered if they would still have a job after the building was destroyed by fire last November. Bruce Kroll owned Culver’s for 19 years. Instead of forcing all his employees to find new jobs, he made the decision to continue paying them.
  6. Orphaned Elephant Thrives With Buffalo Family That Adopted Her
    An elephant named Nzou, orphaned when poachers killed her parents for their ivory, has become the towering gentle giant among her adopted family, a herd of water buffalo. For years Nzou eschewed the nearby elephant herd, preferring to stay with the buffalo.
  7. Oyster Shell Recycling Program Opens for New Orleans Restaurants
    A new oyster recycling program for restaurants in New Orleans will be helping to restore oyster reefs and shoreline habitat along the the Louisiana Gulf coast.
  8. Teen Creates Backup Emergency System for Local Fire Station
    An 18-year-old in Palm Harbor, Florida came up with a project to earn his Eagle Scout rank that also will provide critical backup communications for emergency responders should 911 communications ever fail.
  9. The YMCA Changes One Family’s Life Forever
    The local YMCA summer reading program did much more than help 7-year old Joy to improve her reading skills. Involvement in the Tampa, Florida Y gave her courage to come out of her shell and to let people know about the hardship that she, her mom, and brother, were facing.
  10. Kind Woman Pays for Diapers in Mom’s Cart After Price-Match Fails

    An energetic grandmother decided to step in and help a thrifty young mother who had been ‘counting her pennies’ at a South Dakota Walmart store. It was a random act of kindness, a private moment between the two women, but a watching stranger caught the scene on video.

Top Video: Guy Pretends to Be Homeless, Then Rewards Whoever Gives Money



A young man with a YouTube channel wanted to reward people who were handing money to homeless people because, he says, "Thousands of people give everyday and it goes unnoticed." (Watch them get their rewards)

Inspiration Point


"Good timber does not grow with ease; the stronger the wind, the stronger the trees."

- J. Willard Marriott

Man Drives Truck Across Country Rescuing Dogs; Plus, Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Family Comforted By Mystery Letter After Home is Burned Down
    They lost their dream home in the San Diego fires this week but found something in the rubble left by a stranger that restored their spirits and their community’s hope as well.
  2. Man Drives Truck Across Country Rescuing Dogs
    Twice a month Greg Mahle leaves his home in Zanesville, Ohio to drive a semi-trailer through Texas and other southern states picking up dogs set to be euthanized. He sleeps on a mattress among the dozens of dogs until he reaches states like Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont, where loving families are waiting to adopt them.
  3. Viewer’s Generosity Changes Afghan Boy’s Life
    Caught in an Afghanistan firefight, 12 year-old Obaid lost both his legs, but refused to give up. He was being measured for prosthetic limbs by the Red Cross when NBC News first featured his story in a televised report. A Boston-area grandmother was touched by what she saw and decided to help from 7000 miles away.
  4. Border Collies Help Reduce E. Coli on Beaches
    Booming gull populations near Lake Michigan has led to swim advisories and beach closings because of the abundance of E. coli bacteria in the sand and water. A team of Central Michigan University students have devised an environmentally friendly solution involving border collies. The success is a win-win.
  5. Teachers Left Speechless As Stranger Picks up Tab for Autism Students
    A school trip to a local restaurant turned into an emotional and wonderful experience for a group of students with autism this month, thanks to the kindness of a stranger.
  6. 7 Body Pains You Should Never Ignore
    Pain management specialist Dr. Houman Danesh of Mt. Sinai Hospital says there are some pains that you should never ignore. Here’s how to recognized them.
  7. Firefighter Who Saved Infant Finally Meets Girl, Now 18, at Graduation At graduation, for the first time, 18-year-old Skyler James got to meet the firefighter who, on a bitterly cold November morning in 1995, found her — a newborn baby — abandoned beneath a snow-laden pine tree in an Illinois cemetery.
  8. Quadruple Amputee Stuns TV’s Mike Rowe: ‘I’m not a victim’
    American soldier Travis Mills served three tours in Afghanistan until he lost his arms and legs in a bomb explosion. The retired US Army staff sergeant spent months recuperating, but don’t dare call him a wounded warrior. (You must see this man’s attitude!)
  9. Community Pours Love on Family of 6 Who Lost Everything
    After the wildfire outbreak in Southern California last week, NBC shared the story of one family who escaped with their lives. Everything they owned was destroyed, but their community rewrote the script.
  10. US Airmen Adopt Little Girl with Special Needs From Ukraine
    The Air Force couple expressed strong feelings about the need for good homes for orphans, especially in Eastern Europe. So, Tech. Sgt. Jamie Meadows-Valley traveled to a Ukrainian orphanage, even dodging street protests, to adopt a 2-year-old girl with special needs. Since then, the tiny girl named Oleksandra has made remarkable strides.

Top Video: Mama Bear Plucks Baby Cub From Highway (Don’t Miss!)


Ricky Forbes was driving through Kootenay National Park in British Columbia, when he spotted a black bear cub sitting dangerously close to the highway. He stopped to record video of the cub and suddenly the mother popped up from behind the concrete barrier to rescue the baby.
(Good Mama – Looks Both Ways)

Research method integrates meditation, science: the meditation experience does not have to be subjective.

[Brown University] —

Mindfulness is always personal and often spiritual, but the meditation experience does not have to be subjective.

Advances in methodology are allowing researchers to integrate mindfulness experiences with brain imaging and neural signal data to form testable hypotheses about the science — and the reported mental health benefits — of the practice.

A team of Brown University researchers, led by junior Juan Santoyo, will present their research approach at 2:45 p.m on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the 12th Annual International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Their methodology employs a structured coding of the reports meditators provide about their mental experiences. That can be rigorously correlated with quantitative neurophysiological measurements.

“In the neuroscience of mindfulness and meditation, one of the problems that we’ve had is not understanding the practices from the inside out,” said co-presenter Catherine Kerr, assistant professor (research) of family medicine and director of translational neuroscience in Brown’s Contemplative Studies Initiative. “What we’ve really needed are better mechanisms for generating testable hypotheses – clinically relevant and experience-relevant hypotheses.”

Now researchers are gaining the tools to trace experiences described by meditators to specific activity in the brain.

“We’re going to [discuss] how this is applicable as a general tool for the development of targeted mental health treatments,” Santoyo said. “We can explore how certain experiences line up with certain patterns of brain activity. We know certain patterns of brain activity are associated with certain psychiatric disorders.”

Structuring the spiritual

At the conference, the team will frame these broad implications with what might seem like a small distinction: whether meditators focus on their sensations of breathing in their nose or in their belly. The two meditation techniques hail from different East Asian traditions. Carefully coded experience data gathered by Santoyo, Kerr, and Harold Roth, professor of religious studies at Brown, show that the two techniques produced significantly different mental states in student meditators.

“We found that when students focused on the breath in the belly their descriptions of experience focused on attention to specific somatic areas and body sensations,” the researchers wrote in their conference abstract. “When students described practice experiences related to a focus on the nose during meditation, they tended to describe a quality of mind, specifically how their attention ‘felt’ when they sensed it.”

The ability to distill a rigorous distinction between the experiences came not only from randomly assigning meditating students to two groups – one focused on the nose and one focused on the belly – but also by employing two independent coders to perform standardized analyses of the journal entries the students made immediately after meditating.

This kind of structured coding of self-reported personal experience is called “grounded theory methodology.” Santoyo’s application of it to meditation allows for the formation of hypotheses.

For example, Kerr said, “Based on the predominantly somatic descriptions of mindfulness experience offered by the belly-focused group, we would expect there to be more ongoing, resting-state functional connectivity in this group across different parts of a large brain region called the insula that encodes visceral, somatic sensations and also provides a readout of the emotional aspects of so-called ‘gut feelings’.”

Unifying experience and the brain

The next step is to correlate the coded experiences data with data from the brain itself. A team of researchers led by Kathleen Garrison at Yale University, including Santoyo and Kerr, did just that in a paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in August 2013. The team worked with deeply experienced meditators to correlate the mental states they described during mindfulness with simultaneous activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). They measured that with real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging.

They found that when meditators of several different traditions reported feelings of “effortless doing” and “undistracted awareness” during their meditation, their PCC showed little activity, but when they reported that they felt distracted and had to work at mindfulness, their PCC was significantly more active. Given the chance to observe real-time feedback on their PCC activity, some meditators were even able to control the levels of activity there.

“You can observe both of these phenomena together and discover how they are co-determining one another,” Santoyo said. “Within 10 one-minute sessions they were able to develop certain strategies to evoke a certain experience and use it to drive the signal.”

Toward therapies

A theme of the conference, and a key motivator in Santoyo and Kerr’s research, is connecting such research to tangible medical benefits. Meditators have long espoused such benefits, but support from neuroscience and psychiatry has been considerably more recent.

In a February 2013 paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Kerr and colleagues proposed that much like the meditators could control activity in the PCC, mindfulness practitioners may gain enhanced control over sensory cortical alpha rhythms. Those brain waves help regulate how the brain processes and filters sensations, including pain, and memories such as depressive cognitions.

Santoyo, whose family emigrated from Colombia when he was a child, became inspired to investigate the potential of mindfulness to aid mental health beginning in high school. Growing up in Cambridge and Somerville, Mass., he observed the psychiatric difficulties of the area’s homeless population. He also encountered them while working in food service at Cambridge hospital.

“In low-income communities you always see a lot of untreated mental health disorders,” said Santoyo, who meditates regularly and helps to lead a mindfulness group at Brown. He is pursuing a degree in neuroscience and contemplative science. “The perspective of contemplative theory is that we learn about the mind by observing experience, not just to tickle our fancy but to learn how to heal the mind.”

It’s a long path, perhaps, but Santoyo and his collaborators are walking it with progress.

Meditation: Our Quest for Love

Bruce Davis, Ph.D From Huffington Post

Some people are always in their worldly life. They say they either do not have time for meditation or they do not believe in sitting, breathing,paying attention to the moment. The idea of an inner life is like a foreign country that does not interest them to travel to.

In recent years, however, more and more people are trying meditation. After experiencing the tastes and delights of an inner landscape they find this foreign travel is not so foreign. In fact, meditation is just the opposite. It is an experience of coming home within ourselves. With less worldly distraction, our awareness finds its own essence, an innocence of simply being. When the details on our mind are not so busy occupying and stirring up our attention, an experience of our heart is naturally present. Love comes forward in our awareness. People who meditate discover love is their true awareness when all the stuff of daily life is not mixed in.

Every day, meditation and the calming, centering effects call more love from within us and into our lives. Yes, meditation invites love into our lives.There is no magic here. A brief time of morning meditation including simplicity, being, silence becomes an anchor for more simple being and peace in our lives. Love attracts love. As meditation becomes a priority so does love become more front and center.

As we take time for meditation, our awareness learns to rest in our heart. We are thinking less and being heartfully more present. In the silence of meditation, our noisy thoughts dissolve in an inner quiet. So much thinking welcomes peace and quiet. Our awareness naturally grabs the stillness of meditation like a child grabbing candy! The sweetness of no thought is just too good to pass by. Of course the world keeps tugging on us. But with our meditation practice, the way to the candy store becomes clearer, easy, and fun. We know it is there. We just have to take the time, close our eyes, and go there.

The simplicity of our journey into meditation becomes a lesson in simplicity in other parts of life. Simplicity is love’s best friend. There is no limit to where simplicity and love, where this relationship can lead us.

With meditation, each of us find our own special way to uncover our ground of being. A candle, ocean view, sacred altar, mantra, or simple silence and meditation begins. Underneath our complicated personality, our likes, dislikes, fears, and self importance, our awareness can just be. As we grab onto inner silence, our thoughts are untying. As the rope of our mental life loosens, meditation opens the heart. As we enter, we are free. The inner quiet washes our personality. The deep silence of meditation is perfect therapy, healing, restoring love into the very structure of our personality and life.

There is an inner vault. It is a place where our daily world cannot enter. I use the word “vault” because even though there are actually no walls, the boundary to this place is so true, nothing but silence, being, awareness can be present. This place is available to all of us. This inner vault is a solid place of complete quietude. Here God is absorbing us and we are absorbing God. There is no separation. Meditation is the most direct route. As we leave our daily world behind, the gentle wind of our breath and stillness of heart take us. An inner space opens. Meditation lessens the weight of our personality as we embrace this vault of inner stillness. There is an emptiness which is actually a warm, pure presence. Deep silence and this inner vault comes forward. Deep silence and the landscape of the heart inside our heart unveils. Here there is a vastness and quality of love that is other worldly yet very natural, as if always waiting for us.

As where before we would chase riches in the world, in meditation we begin to unearth inner riches. In our ground of being is real treasure. Here is an abundance which gives us generosity, humility, and gratitude. Our patterns, routines in worldly life begin to change. Much of who we think we are, what we do is only a habit of thought and doing. The treasure inside us changes all of this and that, changing much of what we think, feel,strive for, and hold onto as important.

This inner treasure is our source of more honesty, humor, patience, and kindness for ourselves and others. Our normal identity and priorities are transforming. Vacations, retreats, retirement is planned around life’s real treasure.It is rather easy to step aside from the distractions in daily life, at least for some days. Getting by our own mental distractions is more of a challenge. Compulsive thoughts, our ever wandering mind can seem so overwhelming. Here our intention is important. Lets seek real peace and quiet. Our focus and concentration helps tame our distractions. Lets practice receiving our heart essence. This gentleness within tames our nervous energy. The peace around us supports us to find and receive deep inner silence. Step by step, meditation is breaking habits of thought and compulsively doing for the special love of simply being.

Follow Bruce Davis, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/silentstay

More doctors embrace meditation as medicine

As evidence of its effectiveness grows, more doctors are prescribing meditation to help boost the body’s healing powers.

The stress of caring for her ailing parents, then grieving their deaths eventually caught up with Sharyn Resvick.

She suffered from shooting pain in her shoulder from a pinched nerve. Worse, she could feel her heart pounding and battled feelings of panic.

“My body just crashed,” said Resvick, 55, of Plymouth.

Instead of going on medication, she took a different tack: meditation.

Her remedy of choice was endorsed by her doctor, who scanned her heart to rule out other issues, then suggested she use mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) — a popular meditation program — to manage her symptoms.

As with yoga a decade ago, meditation is slowly expanding beyond its fringe following, appealing to a wider audience, even in the data-driven medical world. More doctors are prescribing meditation to help treat anxiety and depression, lower blood pressure and manage pain, according to a recent study by the Harvard Medical School. It’s one of several studies showing that meditation can actually alter how the brain works.

“It’s that kind of scientific research that really changes physicians’ minds,” said Dr. Henry Emmons, a Minneapolis psychiatrist and author of “The Chemistry of Joy” and “The Chemistry of Calm.”

The trend has gained a foothold especially among health professionals, some of whom practice meditation themselves to cope with the demands of their stressful occupations. Ever so gradually, they’ve moved from practicing the technique to preaching it.

For a long time, doctors who meditated were quiet about it, said Dr. Selma Sroka, medical director of Hennepin County Medical Center’s Alternative Medicine Clinic.

“It wasn’t professional. It wasn’t medical to talk about it,” she said. “I think things are getting more open.”

The mindful revolution

Sroka is a big believer in meditation’s healing powers.

The body’s stress response, also known as “fight or flight,” is aggravated by emotional or physical stress, she explained. The opposite of that reaction is the body’s relaxation response. Meditation triggers that response.

“Any chronic illness can be benefited from emptying one’s mind and not thinking, and breathing more deeply,” Sroka said. “That’s all part of meditation.”

She often recommends that her patients give their minds a rest for a few minutes each day to help their bodies heal. Getting a patient who has suffered a heart attack, for example, to see the importance of the mind-body connection to their recovery is the first step.

“Then, right there in the exam room, I will teach them a simple deep-breathing technique and have them do it for three to four minutes,” Sroka said. She instructs her patients to aim for meditating for 10 minutes a day. “I’m trying to plant seeds,” she said.

Like Sroka, Dr. Debra Bell, a family medicine doctor, regularly prescribes meditation to her patients.

She works for Abbott Northwestern Hospital’s Penny George Institute for Health and Healing in Minneapolis and recommends several meditation resources to her patients. She suggests classes and books to help them learn different techniques and gives some basic instructions herself.

Meditation in Business: Mindfulness training can help meditator cut losses

by Andrew Hafenbrack and Zoe Kinias

Practice more than just a passing management fad as it can play role in decision-making and bring changes to emotions and behaviour

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that cultivates awareness of the present moment and clears the mind of other thoughts, often accomplished by non-judgmentally focusing attention on the physical sensations of breathing or other experience as it occurs.

Top-level managers appear to be highly interested in mindfulness at the moment, as evidenced by recent sessions on meditation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and a cover story about mindfulness in Time magazine.

Chief executives of major companies such as Ford Motor, Salesforce.com and Tupperware have publicly touted the benefits of meditation. Organisations as varied as Google and the United States military have instituted internal mindfulness-based training programmes for their employees.

Meditation … reduced negative emotion [and] facilitated [the] ability to let go of sunk costs

At Insead – in Singapore and abroad – professors incorporate meditation into executive and MBA courses.

Although there is a risk that some may write off mindfulness as pop psychology or a management fad, it is more than that.

The practice dates back more than 2,000 years to the Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism, and Western clinical psychologists have used secular mindfulness meditation training to effectively combat anxiety and depression for several decades.

There are many articles in academic journals, particularly in the fields of cognitive psychology and neuroscience, that document the benefits of meditation.

Meditating regularly increases how much people habitually focus on the present moment relative to the past and future at times when they are not meditating, a tendency psychologists call trait mindfulness.

Research has linked increased trait mindfulness to increased positive emotions and decreases in several forms of negative emotion, such as rumination, depression, anxiety and anger.

Previous research has also found evidence of other benefits, linking greater trait mindfulness to decreased substance abuse, improved psychological functioning, increased self-control, decreased overconfident gambling, decreased distraction from the task at hand and improved test performance.

Recent research has also found that even a single eight to 15-minute session of focused-breathing mindfulness meditation can cue a brief state of mindfulness, which leads to changes in emotions and behaviour immediately afterwards.

For example, a state of mindfulness has been found to reduce short-term negative emotions, distraction from the task at hand and the impact of negative information on attitudes and persistence.

Illustration: Henry WongOur research team examined the idea that a short state of mindfulness could improve decision-making by helping people cut losses sooner.

In other words, we were interested in whether mindfulness meditation could reduce what economists call the sunk-cost fallacy or the sunk-cost bias, which is the tendency to continue an endeavour after having already invested time, effort or money.

We collaborated with Professor Sigal Barsade from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania on a research article that appeared in the February issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Our key finding is that mindfulness meditation increased resistance to the sunk-cost bias, and this occurred in a two-step process.

First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs.

Our findings can help managers and businesspeople, because there are so many cases in which the sunk-cost bias can destroy value.

For example, people often hold on to losing investments for too long. Businesses often continue with projects even when the costs increase dramatically or their product is less unique or marketable than it initially appeared.

Governments often continue fighting wars they know they cannot win. Managers can be reluctant to fire massively underperforming employees who they hired with great expectations.

In all of these cases, resources are wasted that could have been used more productively in another endeavour, whether that is a more promising investment or project, peacekeeping efforts, or a new hire who is a better fit for the organisation.

Our advice is that when people need to make decisions about whether to change course, that is a great moment to step back, clear one’s mind by meditating, and approach the decision again.

A potentially helpful question to ask oneself is: “Would I continue this endeavour because I truly think it is the best decision in light of all available evidence or because I am reluctant to let go after having invested so much?” As to how to briefly meditate, there are many excellent free recorded meditations available online, such as those from freemindfulness.org

There are also meditation classes and trainers in all major cities and excellent books on the subject by Thich Nhat Hanh and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

More broadly, our findings suggest that even people with little experience meditating can use mindfulness meditation in small doses at times when they need it, such as when experiencing excessive negative emotions or stress, or when thinking too much about the past or future.

For these reasons, mindfulness should be more than a passing fad, and instead a tool people keep at their disposal for use when it can be helpful.

People and corporations should seriously consider the role mindfulness meditation can play in mental and emotional well-being, task performance and decision-making.

Andrew Hafenbrack is a doctoral candidate in organisational behaviour and Zoe Kinias an assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Insead.

Researchers integrate meditation and science to develop targeted mental health treatments

Mindfulness is always personal and often spiritual, but the meditation experience does not have to be subjective.

Advances in methodology are allowing researchers to integrate mindfulness experiences with brain imaging and neural signal data to form testable hypotheses about the science – and the reported mental health benefits – of the practice.

A team of Brown University researchers, led by junior Juan Santoyo, will present their research approach at 2:45 p.m on Saturday, April 5, 2014, at the 12th Annual International Scientific Conference of the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Their methodology employs a structured coding of the reports meditators provide about their mental experiences. That can be rigorously correlated with quantitative neurophysiological measurements.

“In the neuroscience of mindfulness and meditation, one of the problems that we’ve had is not understanding the practices from the inside out,” said co-presenter Catherine Kerr, assistant professor (research) of family medicine and director of translational neuroscience in Brown’s Contemplative Studies Initiative. “What we’ve really needed are better mechanisms for generating testable hypotheses – clinically relevant and experience-relevant hypotheses.”

Now researchers are gaining the tools to trace experiences described by meditators to specific activity in the brain.

“We’re going to [discuss] how this is applicable as a general tool for the development of targeted mental health treatments,” Santoyo said. “We can explore how certain experiences line up with certain patterns of brain activity. We know certain patterns of brain activity are associated with certain psychiatric disorders.”

Structuring the spiritual

At the conference, the team will frame these broad implications with what might seem like a small distinction: whether meditators focus on their sensations of breathing in their nose or in their belly. The two meditation techniques hail from different East Asian traditions. Carefully coded experience data gathered by Santoyo, Kerr, and Harold Roth, professor of religious studies at Brown, show that the two techniques produced significantly different mental states in student meditators.

“We found that when students focused on the breath in the belly their descriptions of experience focused on attention to specific somatic areas and body sensations,” the researchers wrote in their conference abstract. “When students described practice experiences related to a focus on the nose during meditation, they tended to describe a quality of mind, specifically how their attention ‘felt’ when they sensed it.”

The ability to distill a rigorous distinction between the experiences came not only from randomly assigning meditating students to two groups – one focused on the nose and one focused on the belly – but also by employing two independent coders to perform standardized analyses of the journal entries the students made immediately after meditating.

This kind of structured coding of self-reported personal experience is called “grounded theory methodology.” Santoyo’s application of it to meditation allows for the formation of hypotheses.

For example, Kerr said, “Based on the predominantly somatic descriptions of mindfulness experience offered by the belly-focused group, we would expect there to be more ongoing, resting-state functional connectivity in this group across different parts of a large brain region called the insula that encodes visceral, somatic sensations and also provides a readout of the emotional aspects of so-called ‘gut feelings’.”

Unifying experience and the brain

The next step is to correlate the coded experiences data with data from the brain itself. A team of researchers led by Kathleen Garrison at Yale University, including Santoyo and Kerr, did just that in a paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in August 2013. The team worked with deeply experienced meditators to correlate the mental states they described during mindfulness with simultaneous activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC). They measured that with real-time functional magnetic resonance imaging.

Happy Spring! Meditation and Breathing Exercises May Help Allergy Flare Ups, Research Shows

Hay fever and other allergies could be made worse by stress, and some scientists believe meditation and breathing exercises may be the key to relieving flare ups, according to a report by the Daily Mail.

“Stress can cause several negative effects on the body, including causing more symptoms for allergy sufferers,” Dr Amber Patterson, from the Ohio State University Medical Centre said in the report. “Our study also found those with more frequent allergy flares also have a greater negative mood, which may be leading to these flares.”

Researchers looked at 179 patients over 12 weeks and monitored their allergies, and the study was published in the journal “Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology,” revealing the 39 percent who had more than one allergy flare-up had higher stress levels than the rest of the group.

Also, a number of those tested said they had allergy flare-ups that coincided with how stressed they were feeling. Researchers suggested meditation, deep breathing, and avoiding smoking and coffee could help keep stress levels down, and a healthy diet and regular exercise may also reduce symptoms.

“Symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes can cause added stress for allergy sufferers, and may even be the root of stress for some,” said Dr. Patterson. “While alleviating stress won’t cure allergies, it may help decrease episodes of intense symptoms.”

- See more at: http://www.elevatedexistence.com/blog/2014/04/23/meditation-breathing-exercises-may-help-allergy-flare-ups-research-shows/#sthash.nloFNi05.dpuf