Meditation Techniques

Meditation: So Much More Than Watching and Letting Go – HuffPost

Meditation: So Much More Than Watching and Letting Go

Posted: 09/27/2013 1:22 pm

Most people are taught when sitting in meditation to watch their thoughts, feelings, everything which comes into awareness and let it go. Focus on your breath. Simply watch what arises and let it go. Focus on your breath.

The preoccupation with watching and letting go in meditation can easily continue the separation of our small mental stream from the great body of awareness of who we really are. The mental activity of watching and letting go can keep us entertained with the busyness of our ego while keeping us from deeper levels of meditation. It is in deeper meditation where we discover the love of our core self and a vast inner universe. In other words, meditation is much more than merely watching and letting go. No wonder many people give up on daily sitting. The endless thoughts, tiredness, boredom that seem to be waiting for us each time we sit are not much reward to continue a meditation practice.

Mindfully watching and letting go can lead to devaluing our thoughts, feelings, the story of our life. When we are told the life passing by our inner screen is only distraction, only clouds covering the large sky of awareness, we can downgrade important parts of who we are. The thoughts and feelings we are watching and hoping will disappear can lose their life force. We can forget there is purpose. In our detached observing and our desire to let everything go, we can be detaching and letting go instead of embracing life. The thoughts, feelings, and story filling our awareness are expressions of our life energy. These are our thoughts, our feelings which we are told are interrupting the clarity of meditation. If we are only watching and letting go we can be separating ourselves from the power, the life juice which our thoughts and feelings come from and are made of. Instead of feeling bigger, we can be left feeling small and unsuccessful. Many people try and quit meditation. They feel it maybe great for others but for me, thinking about not thinking seems like a waste of time and effort.

Watching and letting go of our mental activity by itself can be just an exercise of more mental activity. It can be an unending adventure of the ego watching and trying to let go of itself. Instead of trying to get our grasping ego to let go of itself, there is a loving presence, the love of our natural awareness, inviting us deeper within. The hope and power of meditation is to widen the river of our mental world to the ocean of being that is who we really are. Sitting and waiting for glimpses of clear viewing in the midst of a busy mental stream is not the same as clear being, experiencing awareness as a great body of peaceful presence.

The path to the great love of our core being begins with valuing and embracing the thought and feeling passing in our meditation. Instead of merely watching and letting go, we can embrace our mental stream. When we embrace the stream of thoughts, we are right away including our heart essence. Meditation is this embrace, feeling the presence of our heart in our awareness. This presence is underneath, in, and all around the inner voice, the stream of thought. As our awareness includes the greater presence we find inside, the engine of our mind slows down, the busy voice of our ego calms. Our experience of heart strengthens. We are no longer waiting for a break in the clouds, a clearing in our thoughts. Meditation is feeling the body of presence in our heart. Our meditation is bigger than the thought and feeling floating down our inner river. Meditation is the daily connection with the part of us that is much greater.

With practice, no matter what or how much thought and feeling come and go, we are identifying with something more, a brilliant stillness, the gentle vastness, the awe that is within us. Meditation is changing our identification from the narrow focus on thought and feeling. Meditation is sitting with something greater than today’s page in this chapter of our life story. Meditation is remembering the expansive peace in our heart which is so much more than the ups and downs on any page of our personal story. Meditation is directly receiving our heart essence. Our mental activity lessens as the inner well of our lightness of being is experienced. The strength of the busy mental activity decreases as the awareness of our inner silence grows. We are beginning to experience our core self, our no self with by its magnitude heals the unnecessary habit of always thinking. We can learn to be, heartfully present.

If we are going to take the time to meditate lets not just sit here watching and letting go.
More than needing to be mindful, lets be heart full. More than finding a few centering words, we can receive directly the quietude inside which carries us. There are realms of complete acceptance, an intimacy of soul and spirit to discover in deeper meditation.

As the culture of meditation grows and spreads it is important that we guide one another to the true garden, the real fruit which meditation offers. Sacred emptiness waits for us. This emptiness fulfills the part of us, our personality, that is seemingly always struggling. This sanctuary of emptiness heals the part of us that wants more, needs to be busy, that can’t have enough no matter how much we have. There is a home inside of each of us. Its walls, roof, and floor are a diamond light of unlimited emptiness. This home speaks directly to our materialism, greed, anger, and mistrust. Sacredness and holiness are words with meaning as we connect to the very real wordless encounter of a loving emptiness which is full of warm presence.

Meditation is so much more than watching and letting go. Life is much more than observing, letting go of grasping, and trying to control the events and characters of our story. Meditation takes down the veil, lightens the filter, uncovering our essence and true being. Meditation is devotion, understanding, humility, and joy. Meditation is true whenever our heart is involved. We are discovering consciousness. Meditation is washing away everything occupying the Divinity of awareness. This daily bath of our awareness is important if we are to stay in touch with our unworldly self, our true self, our innocence, and life’s beauty. Lets tell everyone hesitant to try or about to give up on meditation, the magical life of your heart and deep joy depend upon it. Meditation, absorbing the essence of our heart, frees our mind. Meditation brings forward the richness of consciousness, inner worlds beyond our imagination, and perhaps most important, the simplicity of this moment of love.

We invite you to join us in the exploration of meditation and consciousness at Silent Stay Retreat Home & Hermitage near Napa, California and Assisi, Italy.

The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People

The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 07/05/2013 8:55 am EDT  |  Updated: 07/06/2013 6:32 pm EDT

“Meditation more than anything in my life was the biggest ingredient of whatever success I’ve had.” That’s what Ray Dalio, the billionaire founder of Bridgewater Associates — the world’s largest hedge fund firmexplained in 2012.

Dalio is in good company. More and more leaders in the corporate world have been taking note of the benefits of meditation, which include lower stress levels, improved cognitive functioning, creative thinking and productivity, and even improved physical health. A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, AOL, Apple and Aetna, offer meditation and mindfulness classes for employees — and the top executives of many major corporations say that meditation has made them better leaders.

Ford Motor Company chairman Bill Ford and former Google.org director Larry Brilliant are also among the executives advocating the mindfulness practice. Here are 10 influential business leaders who say meditation has helped them achieve (and sustain) a high level of success.

1. Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO, News Corp

rupert murdoch

News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch recently tweeted that he was trying out Transcendental Meditation, a popular technique developed in the 1960s and followed today by famous practitioners like Oprah, David Lynch and Candy Crowley.

2. Padmasree Warrior, CTO, Cisco Systems

padmasree

Warrior, the chief technology and strategy officer of Cisco Systems, meditates every night and spends her Saturdays doing a “digital detox.” In her previous role as Cisco’s head of engineering, Warrior oversaw 22,000 employees, and she told the New York Times in 2012 that taking time to meditate and unplug helped her to manage it all.

“It’s almost like a reboot for your brain and your soul,” she said. “It makes me so much calmer when I’m responding to e-mails later.”

3. Tony Schwartz, Founder & CEO, The Energy Project

tony schwartz renewal

The Energy Project CEO Tony Schwartz has been meditating for over 20 years. He originally started the practice to quiet his busy mind, according to his book What Really Matters: Searching for Wisdom in America. Schwartz says that meditating has freed him from migraines and helped him develop patience, and he also advocates mindfulness as a way to improve work performance.

“Maintaining a steady reservoir of energy — physically, mentally, emotionally and even spiritually — requires refueling it intermittently,” Schwartz wrote in a Harvard Business Review blog.

4. Bill Ford, Executive Chairman, Ford Motor Company

bill ford

The Ford Motor Company chairman is a big proponent of meditation in the business world, according to Inc. Magazine. At this year’s Wisdom 2.0 conference, Ford was interviewed by leading American Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield. Ford told Kornfield that during difficult times at the company, he set an intention every morning to go through his day with compassion. And to lead with compassion, Ford said he first learned to develop compassion for himself through a loving-kindness (metta) meditation practice.

5. Oprah Winfrey, Chairwoman & CEO, Harpo Productions, Inc.

oprah weight body image ego

An outspoken advocate of Transcendental Meditation, Oprah — recently named the most powerful celebrity of 2013 by Forbes — has said she sits in stillness for 20 minutes, twice a day. She’s also brought in TM teachers for employees at Harpo Productions, Inc. who want to learn how to meditate.

After a meditation in Iowa last year, Oprah said, “I walked away feeling fuller than when I’d come in. Full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy. Knowing for sure that even in the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction, there is — still — the constancy of stillness. Only from that space can you create your best work and your best life.”

6. Larry Brilliant, CEO, Skoll Global Threats Fund

larry brilliant

Larry Brilliant, CEO of the Skoll Global Threats Fund and former director of Google.org, spent two years during his 20s living in a Himalayan ashram and meditating, until his guru instructed him to join a World Health Organization team working to fight smallpox in New Delhi.

In his 2013 commencement address at the Harvard School of Public Health, Brilliant emphasized the importance of peace of mind, wishing the graduates lives full of equanimity — a state of mental calm and composure.

7. Ray Dalio, Founder & Co-CIO, Bridgewater Associates USA

ray dalio

In a 2012 conversation at the John Main Centre for Meditation and Inter-Religious Dialogue at Georgetown University, Dalio said that meditation has opened his mind and boosted his mental clarity.

“Meditation has given me centeredness and creativity,” said Dalio. “It’s also given me peace and health.”

8. Russell Simmons, Co-Founder, Def Jam Records; Founder of GlobalGrind.com

russell simmons

Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has long practiced Transcendental Meditation, speaking out about the benefits of the practice and sitting on the board of the advisors for the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace.

“You don’t have to believe in meditation for it to work,” Simmons wrote in a Huffington Post blog. “You just have to take the time to do it. The old truth is still true today, ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ My advice? Meditate.”

9. Robert Stiller, CEO, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc.

russell simmons

There is a dedicated meditation room at the Vermont headquarters of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., and CEO Robert Stiller himself is a devoted practitioner.

“If you have a meditation practice, you can be much more effective in a meeting,” he told Bloomberg in 2008. “Meditation helps develop your abilities to focus better and to accomplish your tasks.”

10. Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group

arianna huffington

And last but not least, Arianna Huffington described early-morning yoga and meditation as two of her “joy triggers” in a 2011 Vogue feature. Now, Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees.

Huffington has spoken out on the benefits of mindfulness not just for individual health, but also for corporate bottom lines. “Stress-reduction and mindfulness don’t just make us happier and healthier, they’re a proven competitive advantage for any business that wants one,” she wrote in a recent blog.

The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People.

Shifting our Perception with Meditation – Ram Dass

Though you can start meditation at any time, it’s harder if your life is chaotic, and if you’re feeling paranoid, if you’re overwhelmed with responsibilities, or if you’re sick. But even starting under these conditions, meditation will help you to clear things up a bit. Slowly you reorganize your life to support your spiritual journey, At each stage there will be something you can do to create a supportive space. It may mean changing your diet, who you’re with, how you spend your time, what’s on your walls, what books you read, what you fill your consciousness with, how you care for your body, or where and how you sit to meditate. All these factors contribute to the depth and freedom that you can know through meditation.

You are under no pressure to rush these changes. You need not fear that because of meditation you are going to lose control and get swept away by a new way of life. As you gradually develop a quiet and clear awareness, your living habits will naturally come into harmony with your total environment, with your past involvements, present interests, and future concerns. There need be no sudden ending of relationships in order to prove your holiness. Such frantic changes only show your own lack of faith. When you are one in truth, in the flow, the changes in your life will come naturally.

You start cleaning up your life when you feel that you can’t go on until you do. Cleaning up your life means extricating yourself from those things which are obstacles to your liberation. But keep in mind that nothing in and of itself is an obstacle; it’s your attachment to it or your motive for doing it that is the obstacle. It’s not an issue of eating meat or not eating meat; it’s who’s eating it and why.

If your senses can be caught and held by something, you are still chained to the world. It’s your attachment to the objects of your senses that imprisons you. Failing to break off the attachments of the senses ultimately holds you back. The minute you aren’t preoccupied with what’s out there, then that pull is lost. You are free to go deep in meditation.

It’s not easy. It’s a stinker to get to that level of purity. You start out with things like what you eat, who you sleep with, what you watch on TV, what you do with your time. Many people fool themselves and imitate someone else’s purity. They do it in an imitative way, one of fear of being unholy. Abstaining from something for the wrong reason is no better than doing it. You can’t pretend to be pure; you can only go at your own speed.

As changes occur through meditation you find yourself attracted to things that are inconsistent with your old model of who you are. Usually, for example, after having meditated in a rigorous (and somewhat righteous) fashion, I have then taken time off to wallow in television, go to movies, take baths and relax. Then, to my surprise, I found myself not being attracted as much as before to these diversions, but being pulled toward just sitting quietly. This new way of being didn’t fit with my model of who I was. It was as if I were living with somebody I didn’t know very well. My models of myself hadn’t changed fast enough to keep up with who I was becoming.

“Inside yourself or outside, you never have to change what you see, only the way you see it.” – Thaddeus Golas

– Ram Dass, excerpt from Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook

via Shifting our Perception with Meditation – Ram Dass.

Motivational Video, Headspace: What Are The Benefits Of Meditation? (WATCH)

Why meditate? For one, to clear a cloudy mind. Find out other reasons to meditate from ‘Mind Man’ Andy Puddicombe in the video via Motivational Video, Headspace: What Are The Benefits Of Meditation? (WATCH).

‘Meditation Has Changed My Life,’ Says Hugh Jackman

An unlikely poster boy for meditation, Wolverine star Hugh Jackman revealed in the latest issue of Men’s Health that meditation “changed his life.” The August issue of the magazine features a world exclusive on his workout (and some mighty fine muscles he has too).

Talking about the gruelling training involved to shape up for the film, he said: “The bottom line is you’ve got to train until you want to throw up and you have to eat until you want to throw up. And that’s pretty much it.”

Meditation may play a role in the mindful attitude he takes to working out. He added: “Over the years I’ve really got to know my body. I know what it takes to get ready, I know how long it’s going to take to get there and I know what I need to eat. I’ve really adjusted my diet and narrowed it down to the least painful way for me.”

hugh jackman

Looking fit comes at a price however, as his diet involved eating one piece of steak a day and was so off-putting towards the end, that he’s thinking of becoming a vegan. “I eat one steak a day minimum. Now I don’t know any doctors recommending a 12oz steak every day. I’m pretty sure that’s not good.”

The star has been very open about relaxation and meditation, which has become a fundamental part of his wellbeing over the last 20 years. He said: “I practise different strains of meditation and its really changed my life. It is not a religious thing.”

This isn’t the first time the actor has spoken about it – he explained in an interview to Oprah:

“In meditation, I can let go of everything. I’m not Hugh Jackman. I’m not a dad. I’m not a husband. I’m just dipping into that powerful source that creates everything. I take a little bath in it.”

Transcendental meditation has also featured in Hugh’s life, and he uses it to give himself space in an otherwise busy life. He says: “Nothing has ever opened my eyes like transcendental meditation has. It makes me calm and happy, and, well, it gives me some peace and quiet in what’s a pretty chaotic life!”

‘Meditation Has Changed My Life,’ Says Hugh Jackman.

The Difference between Tai Chi and Qigong

Difference between Tai Chi & Qigong

Often at retreats and from students the question arises; “What is the difference between qigong and tai chi?” In this article we will explore this question, understanding that this is a more complex matter than it seems, and cannot be fully answered in a few simple sentences. This is because there are literally hundreds of styles of qigong (chi gung) and five major schools of tai chi with numerous variations.

This is a lot of tai chi and a lot of qigong from which to make a simple statement. Accurately distinguishing between them is like separating out all the color flows and shadings within a single beautiful but complex painting.

Energy Gates Qigong Instructor Training in EnglandEnergy Gates Qigong Instructor Training in England

Cultural Translation Issues

There is another issue that muddies the waters and makes answering this qigong question diffi­cult. Many obtain information on the differences and similarities from a local qigong or tai chi instructor, or from a Chinese instructor who cannot translate from one culture to another easily, or who may not want to share what has been secret, etc.

The trouble is that instructors may only know details about the specific type of qigong they do, and not other types or its rela­tionships to chi-energy arts as a whole. This is not unusual, just as in the field of science, biologists often don’t know that much about civil engineering, and vice versa. As a result, misinformation and half-truths abound.

Comparing Qigong and Tai Chi

Anything of truly great value always has great subtlety, whether or not it looks simple and easy on the surface. Some other differences not mentioned here are too technical, and will not be covered as they may confuse rather than clarify. To bypass complex tech­nical issues, just as is done when you want common sense to tell you how computers work, we will look at the four most commonly given simple answers to the original question—what is the difference between tai chi and qigong?

Each answer gives a progressively more complete answer. All are only partial truths, but at least they are the most accurate answers that can be given without going into excessive detail.

Level 1: Tai chi is a form of qigong, or, qigong is tai chi’s parent

This is the most common answer.

The accurate part of the statement is this: the invisible chi or internal power aspects included within the tai chi part of tai chi chuan derive directly from one branch of the 3,000-year-old Taoist qigong tradition, whereas Taoist qigong does not come from tai chi. However, the statement is misleading because it omits Buddhist or Confucian qigong, which have little in common with tai chi’s roots in Taoist qigong or Taoism. Learn more about this in the Five Branches of Qigong.

This answer also involves a common error in logic: since to the Western ear it sounds as if the word energy is contained in both words, they must mean the same thing. Right? Wrong! The qi or chi of qigong means energy, the chi of tai chi does not. In tai chi the chi means ‘ultimate’.

To add to the confusion, the chi in tai chi and qigong are almost universally pronounced by Westerners as “chee,” which is accurate for qigong and inaccurate for tai chi (“gee”) chuan. Those who commonly both see and mispronounce tai chi as chee also tend to assume both mean the same thing, which they do not.

Confusion escalates and gets reinforced when you find out both tai chi and qigong work with chi-energy (however often in different ways) and have similar benefits. Adding to the potential confusion, although many people may have heard the name, most in the West have only seen tai chi or qigong in still photos, on television, or at the cinema.

When shown visually, if these arts are even named, usually narrators inaccurately call both tai chi, because they don’t know the difference. This commonly leaves the impression that qigong is tai chi or vice versa. The public subsequently has an association that slow-motion movements + Chinese something-or-other = tai chi. Consequently, the public and the media are more familiar with the name tai chi than qigong, and commonly do not make much distinction between them.

Tracing Acupuncture Lines with QigongTracing Acupuncture Lines with QigongLevel 2: Tai chi is a martial art, qigong is purely for healing

The accurate part of this statement is that qigong has specific techniques or styles that are particularly effective for specific diseases beyond the ken of tai chi. For instance, there are specific qigong methods for helping those with cancer and mitigating the effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In China one set used for this was Dragon and Tiger Medical Qigong.

The misleading part is that although all tai chi powerfully heals and maintains health, only a tiny fraction of participants do any of its practical martial arts techniques. On the other hand, qigong also has within it practices for increasing the power you need to make self-defense techniques effective, even though qigong per se does not include the fighting techniques themselves.

Level 3: Tai chi and qigong have different movements

Although the first part of this answer can be a little murky, the second part is relatively clear. Both tai chi and some (but not most or all), aspects of qigong do what they do using flowing, fluid, slow-motion movements. To an untrained eye, all regular, smooth, slow-motion movements would tend to look the same, no matter how different they are in reality. Yet a casual observer would be able to clearly distinguish between different kinds of movements done at a faster speed. Nevertheless, slow-motion movements are only fast movements done slowly.

The second part of the answer is this: just because tai chi and qigong movements are done in slow motion does not mean that their movements must basically be the same. There is an exceptionally wide range of different movements, each requiring different kinds of physical coordination. Moreover, although the slow-motion movements of different tai chi styles may be somewhat different, on the whole they are basically variations of the same theme.

In contrast, slow-motion movements in a particular qigong style can look radically dif­ferent from either tai chi or other qigong systems. Take, for example, two well-respected members of the Taoist qigong tribe—tai chi chuan and Wild Goose qigong. Wild Goose has as many moves as a tai chi long form, yet looks radically different from tai chi. Likewise, non-Taoist medical and Buddhist qigong systems also contain movements not to be found in tai chi or each other.

There are many ways to move the body, as can be seen in the differences in the dance world between styles of ballet, ballroom, tap, disco, and hip-hop. Like dance styles, within the hundreds of qigong schools you can move in other ways besides regular, smooth, slow-motion movements. There are techniques which involve shaking, jumping up and down, vibrating, shouting, alternating speed with staying dead still, flapping like a bird, squatting flatfooted, and even moving freely and spontaneously in ways almost too strange to describe, while making weird, otherworldly sounds.

Above and beyond moving, qigong also has primary methods that specialize in:

  • Standing, either with your arms by your sides or in all kinds of positions.
  • Sitting, both on the floor and in chairs.
  • Lying down in various positions.
  • Sexual and all kinds of human interactions, including talking.

Although tai chi may use standing, sitting, and lying down techniques, they are ancillary to the primary technique of slow-motion movements for health, longevity, and stress management.

Using the Beak Hand in Dragon and Tiger Qigong to Move ChiUsing the Beak Hand in Dragon and Tiger Qigong to Move ChiLevel 4: Tai chi and qigong may work with chi-energy differently

Why are you doing these movements in the first place? From a purely physical viewpoint the body needs to move and exercise to prevent problems. A different perspective is that the movements are designed to specifically promote the flow of chi within you. Therefore, if you want to generate a specific chi flow in your body, one type of movement may make it easier whereas others may make it harder.

Tai chi is based upon the potential to fully incorporate all 16 parts of the neigongi system seamlessly into every movement; qigong normally tends to partially utilize some, but not all, of the 16 neigong components in any specific movement or entire form. In tai chi, although some specific moves may make it slightly easier to initially learn or solidly assimilate any one of the 16 components, for an advanced practitioner, the other 15 are ideally always present and integrated within each and every move of the form.

Some Taoist qigong schools will teach the entire 16 components initially through a series of short qigong forms, each of which emphasizes two or three specific parts of the neigong, until the final form which encompasses all 16. After this the student has a complete background within which to engage learning the full energetic potential of tai chi. The Energy Arts Qigong Exercise Program, for example, does this in his teaching work, using five very short qigong sets plus Dragon and Tiger Qigong, the first five of which initially emphasize only one to three components of the entire 16 neigong components.

Qigong also often separates specific chi functions into separate movements or differ­ent forms. For example, while doing a qigong form, during one move you might direct energy through a specific acupuncture meridian (the lung or heart meridian for example), and in the next move you might direct energy through a different meridian. Or in one move, you might draw energy through a particular acupuncture point in your body, and in the next release the energy from a different one. Or within the same form during one series of moves you could deliberately only exclusively activate and work with one of your three tantiens or centers of energy, and later within the same form, in a different series of moves,deliberately solely activate a different tantien and its functions, or other specific elements of the Taoist neigong system.

Ideally, in tai chi, an experienced practitioner will not separate these energy practices in this way. So that provides you with four different ways of looking at the question. All have truth in them and help elicudate the difference between qigong and tai chi.

Article extracted from Tai Chi Health for Life Book.  To order this book click here.

The Difference between Tai Chi & Qigong.

Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk

Checking your overflowing Gmail inbox — or sending out a message to an important business contact — is a pretty surefire way to make your pulse quicken and your mind start racing with worries about deadlines and obligations. In fact, one study actually found that checking and sending email at work can increase your blood pressure and heart rate, and cause levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the body to spike.

“People expect us to respond within 24 hours … just handling the amount of email we get can be stressful,” Dr. Lillian Cheung, mindfulness expert and editorial director of The Nutrition Source at Harvard, tells the Huffington Post. “But instead of getting stressed and overwhelmed with emails, I think it’s an opportunity for us to refresh and restore ourselves.”

Taking a moment to perform a short meditation before sending an email can be an easy way to lower your stress levels and integrate mindfulness into your everyday work life. Before sending out your next message, try a simple breathing exercise outlined by Cheung and zen master Thich Nhat Hahn in their book “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life.”

After writing an email, stop and take three deep breathes, focusing on each inhale and exhale. You can repeat to yourself, “Breathing in, I thank the power of the Internet. Breathing out, I am fully conscious of my current email actions.” Then, input your recipient and cc-recipient addresses, and click send on the email.

“Not only are you helping yourself to calm down, but you’re also preventing yourself from making mistakes,” says Cheung. “It’s just a moment of pause and it doesn’t take long.”

Read the original instructions from “Savor,” and click here for more ways to de-stress at your desk.

via Work Stress: An Email Meditation To Reduce Tension At Your Desk.

 

The stress of not meditating, when you know you should – Lifestyle – The Boston Globe

I want to meditate. I do. I want to be calm and happy and live in the now. I want to try to deactivate genes associated with stress and inflammation and turn on those associated with mitochondrial function and telomere maintenance. I want to be mindful, darn it. And yet, like George Costanza, who wanted to be a Civil War buff without the bother of actually learning about the Civil War, I’ve yet to put tush to cushion.

“You want to meditate like you want to wear a bikini,” a friend observed. “You want to change your life, but only if no effort is involved.”

Who has 20 minutes a day to spare? There are detailed analyses of “Mad Men” to devour, photos of friends’ meals to “like” on Facebook, computer passwords to remember. Please don’t throw that Gandhi quote in my face — “I have so much to do today, I will need to medidate twice as long.” I’m busy.

And yet, the studies showing the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are so relentless that I need to retreat to a monastery just to get away from the news. Nothing’s more stressful than hearing about the advantages of something you’re not doing.

Researchers published almost 600 studies on the subject last year, according to the editor of a new high-end magazine sold at Whole Foods called — what else? — Mindful. That’s up from 10 in 1993, when meditation was more associated with incense than with the US Marine Corps, which recently ran a pilot Mindfulness-Based Mind Fitness Training program.

These days, top money managers are meditating. So is US Representative Tim Ryan (D-Ohio). He wrote a book on the subject, “A Mindful Meditation,” and says that to his knowledge, no colleagues have accused him of going New Age. Eager to lower stress-related business costs — $300 billion annually in the United States, according to the World Health Organization — corporate America is getting in on the action. At Google, employees can take a “Search Inside Yourself” course.

From a merchandising perspective, meditation has a lot to learn from yoga, but it’s making progress. In Lawrence, DharmaCrafts sells $349 Sherpa meditation cloaks and $59 zabutons (meditation cushions) for kids. Earlier this year, Electrolux tried to use meditation to promote its new ultra-quiet vacuum. “In an age of anxiety every opportunity to reduce stress matters,” the press release read. “Electrolux is now transforming the chore of vacuum cleaning into a resource for personal well-being, with a meditation program developed especially for vacuuming; an opportunity to clean your home — and your mind.”

The well-off are building meditation rooms and taking luxury meditation retreats. At the Esalen Institute, in Big Sur, Calif., a single suite perched at cliff’s edge with a stunning view of the Pacific, and Internet access, goes for $1,750 per weekend.

Katie Boyd, a pageant-fitness guru, at her gym the Miss Fit Club, where she has started teaching meditation.

Barry Chin/Globe Staff

Katie Boyd, a pageant-fitness guru, at her gym the Miss Fit Club, where she has started teaching meditation.

In Hudson, N.H., former Miss Taunton Katie Boyd, a pageant-fitness guru, recently started teaching meditation at her Miss Fit Club. “It’s not always about are my boobs perky enough? How does my [rear end] look in this swimsuit?” she said, noting that meditating gets rid of negative energy.

“When these girls walk into the judging room, they’re nervous nellies, and the judges can feel it.” Now that they’ve started meditating, she added, she gets pageant-day calls from clients who are nervous because they are not nervous.

A pastry shop selling “mindful cupcakes” has yet to open, but it can’t be far off. No less a trend omnivore than Arianna Huffington is all over it (in tweets and blog posts, on TV, and at her company’s New York headquarters, where employees can participate in breathing and meditation sessions). In January, a meditation workshop debuted at the buzzy Davos World Economic Forum meeting. Perhaps most significant, the movement has crossed over to the pet world. In the book “How to Meditate With Your Dog,” the authors James Jacobson and Kristine Chandler Madera explain that “meditating with our dogs is one of the most caring things we can do for them.”

NKate Conti does PR for clients in the health and fitness fields and enjoys running, yoga, and beaches like this one on Nantucket. But she struggled with staying focused on meditation.

JONATHAN WIGGS/GLOBE STAFF

Kate Conti does PR for clients in the health and fitness fields and enjoys running, yoga, and beaches like this one on Nantucket. But she struggled with staying focused on meditation.

How did we get here? Barry Boyce, the editor in chief of the new Mindful magazine, said a key moment came in a 1993, when Bill Moyers’s “Healing and the Mind” series featured the groundbreaking stress-reduction work Jon Kabat-Zinn was doing at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Before that, the word “mindful wasn’t really in play,” Boyce said. “I’m 57, and when I was in college, [meditation] was considered religious and a little weird. Everyone seemed to think you had to have a beatific smile on your face and a chant going through your head. Now, 40 years later, there has been a health revolution that emphasizes self-care. Mindfulness can be a religious thing but it doesn’t have to be.”

Despite all the evidence of its benefits, most people don’t meditate, but the numbers of those who do are growing, according to the National Institutes of Health. In 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available, 9.4 percent of American adults had meditated within the past 12 months, up from 7.6 percent in 2002.

To her dismay, Monika Lutz is not one of them. “I always seem to find an excuse,” said Lutz, a junior at the Harvard Extension School and the vice president of its student association. “If I’ve got 15 minutes free, I think I could go for a quick run or finish some task or call this professor or work on my resume. I think that if I could just get it all done then I’ll reduce my stress and I won’t need meditation.

“But when I do get it done, something new always pops up.”

Lutz went on a 10-day meditation retreat after high school, and she’s been unable to incorporate mindful meditation in her everyday life. “To say that I can only relax my mind when I’m four states away in complete silence surrounded by strangers — it’s not sustainable,” she said. “I need to be able to do it on the Red Line.”

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love” ) says she is not good at meditating.

Tom White for The New York Times

Author Elizabeth Gilbert (“Eat, Pray, Love” ) says she is not good at meditating.

Boston-based publicist Kate Conti is also in what might be called a pre-meditative state. With clients in the health and fitness field, she and her firm, KC Public Relations, have promoted meditation’s benefits, yet Conti is unable to reap them for herself. “I even have gone through a yoga teacher training program where we had a special session on meditation, and I struggled with being able to stay focused for a short 10 minutes,” she said. “I signed up for a Deepak Chopra online mediation e-mail, but I didn’t stick with it.”

You know who else doesn’t meditate? Elizabeth Gilbert , the author of “Eat, Pray, Love,” a travelogue of spiritual seeking. Even so, people regularly ask her for advice on how they can do it. “What they forget about ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ is how poorly I did it,” she said. “Even when I was in the ashram, it was hard for me. If you live in New Jersey” — where she does — “it’s even harder.”

Gilbert, also the author of the forthcoming novel “The Signature of All Things,” says she has a “pretty religious yoga practice” and finds peace in gardening. “But I completely intend to begin a disciplined meditation program,” she said. “Probably tomorrow.”

She paused, and then gave me some advice. “You should meditate,” she said.

I plan to.

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Getting started is the hardest part

Everyone knows that. OK, sometimes with dieting — and exercise and dense nonfiction and house cleaning and just about everything else — the middle also presents a challenge. And the end can be tough, too. But if you’ve been wanting to try meditation but are unsure how to begin, here are tips from Barry Boyce, the editor in chief of the new Mindful magazine:

1. Go online to get a clearer picture of just what mindfulness meditation is, anyway. Mind the Moment at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care offers a series of short, fun, and accessible videos. A YouTube video called “What Is Mindfulness?” with Jon Kabat-Zinn is also a great place to start.

2. Learn how to do mindfulness practice online: A great resource is www.mindful.org — in particular the section called “Mindfulness: The Basics.”

3. Read a short book such as “Mindfulness for Beginners,” by Kabat-Zinn, or “A Mindful Nation” by congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), an avid meditator.

4. Find a local group and set up an appointment to meet someone who can teach you face-to-face how to meditate. Mindful Boston offers drop-in classes.

Beth Teitell can be reached at bteitell@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.

The stress of not meditating, when you know you should – Lifestyle – The Boston Globe.

 

Meditation In Action: 5 Tips For Integrating Mindfulness Into Everyday Life PHOTOS

By Headspace

Mindfulness starts to get really interesting when we can start to integrate it into everyday life. Remember, mindfulness means to be present, in the moment. And if you can do it sitting on a chair, then why not while out shopping, drinking a cup of tea, eating your food, holding the baby, working at the computer or having a chat with a friend? All of these are opportunities to apply mindfulness, to be aware.

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This means that rather than drifting through the day on auto-pilot, not really being fully conscious of the decisions you make, you move from one moment to the next with a sense of calm and clarity in the mind. Researchers have found that most people are caught up in thought for between 30 percent and 50 percent of the time, even while engaged in activities. They also discovered this mind wandering was a direct cause of unhappiness and confusion.

So why not let this is be one more reason to integrate mindfulness into your life?

The mindfulness experts at Headspace describe five situations to which you could easily apply mindfulness on a daily basis. Typically, these are the kind of events where your mind is wandering — but it doesn’t have to be this way. This isn’t about trying to stop thoughts and feelings, but instead learning to step back from them, allowing them to come and go. And if you do find yourself suddenly lost in thought, then no problem at all, simply bring your attention back to the physical senses and whatever it is you’re doing.

1. Mindfulness While Brushing Your Teeth
brushing teeth
The Old Way:Vague awareness of picking up your toothbrush and moving it around the mouth on autopilot, as you wander around the house, tripping over the cat, looking for your keys, mentally preparing for your first meeting of the day, while wondering who’ll play James Bond after Daniel Craig.
The New Way: Being mindful of the feet on the floor, the temperature and the texture on the soles of your feet; mindful of the appearance, smell, flavor and texture of the toothpaste; mindful of the arm moving from side to side and the sound of the brush against your teeth; mindful of each and every tooth and the sensation of the brush against the gums.
Bonus: Not only will you feel calm and collected afterward, your dentist will be happy with you, too!

2. Mindfulness While Taking A Shower
shower
The Old Way:Acute awareness of scolding hot water alternating with freezing cold water until you find the sweet spot. From there, the mind wanders off to the eternal question of ‘What would it be like to win The X Factor?’ as you sing your favorite tune into the shower-head.
The New Way: Being mindful of the need to set the temperature before getting into the shower; mindful of the wave of pleasure as the warm water washes over you; mindful of the smell of the shower gel, soap or shampoo; mindful of the mind jumping forward, imagining conversations that have yet to happen; mindful of the amount of water you’re using; and mindful of the sound of the water coming to a stop.
Bonus: Greenpeace will love you for it, and you’ll end up with a much clearer mind for the day ahead.

3. Mindfulness While Commuting To Work
commute
The Old Way: Standing like a sardine squashed into a tin can on a train or bus, resenting anyone who has a seat, feeling nauseous at the potent cocktail of perfumes, aftershaves, deodorants and hairsprays, while trying to keep your cool as a stroller rocks back and forth into your shins. Alternatively, sitting in the relative comfort of a car, but in traffic so slow that you fear you might actually have to put the car into reverse.
The New Way: Being mindful of your environment and the tendency to resist it; being mindful of the emotions as they rise and fall, come and go; mindful of all the different senses, but rather than thinking about them, judging them, or analyzing them, simply acknowledging them; mindful of wanting to be somewhere else, of wishing time away; and mindful of wanting to scream out loud or put your foot down in the car.
Bonus: The other people around you will almost certainly appreciate your lack of road-rage, train-rage or bus-rage and, you never know, you may even find yourself turning up to work with a smile on your face.

4. Mindfulness While Washing The Dishes
washing dishes
The Old Way: Vaguely aware of the need to avoid the sharp knife, hidden beneath the plates in the water, as you stare out of the window and wonder why Mrs. green coat with the brown shoes from number 48 doesn’t get together with Mr. square jaw with the fancy car from number 32. They’re both single, and they look as though they’d be perfect together.
The New Way: Being mindful of the very first moment when your hands meet the water; mindful of the warmth and the transference of heat to the body; mindful of picking up one thing at a time and taking just an extra second or two to clean it thoroughly; mindful of the passing thoughts and of letting them go; mindful of seeing people come and go through the window without getting involved in any storylines; mindful of wanting to get on and do something else; and mindful of feeling satisfied when you’ve finished.
Bonus:OK, so you have a dishwasher, but you get the picture. And if the dishwasher ever breaks down, you’ll know that it is possible to get some headspace while washing the dishes.

5. Mindfulness While Waiting In Line
queue
The Old Way: As you stand there tapping your foot, arms crossed and jaws clenched, you wonder why everyone else has chosen the exact same time as you to come to the bank. As you flick through old texts and emails on your cell, desperately searching for something, anything, to do to escape your own impatience, you consider the possibility of robbing the place one day (hypothetically of course), absentmindedly looking to see where the different cameras are and, thereby, getting your picture saved to yet another database in the sky.
The New Way: Being mindful of the sense of urgency with which you enter the bank; mindful of your reaction when you first see the line; mindful of your posture as you stand there waiting; mindful of your breath as you focus on the physical sensations in the body; mindful of your reaction each time the line creeps forward; mindful of the tendency to keep looking at your watch, checking your phone or looking for some kind of distraction; and mindful of your interaction with another human being when you finally get served.
Bonus: You can see the queue as an irritating inconvenience, or as an opportunity to take a break. Either way, you know you’re not really going to rob the bank, so why are you even looking?
Want more tips on how to make meditation part of your day? Headspace is meditation made simple, accessible and relevant to your everyday life. Sign up for the free Take10 program to get the basics just right with guided audio programs and support to get your Headspace, anytime, anywhere on the Headspace app.

Meditation In Action: 5 Tips For Integrating Mindfulness Into Everyday Life PHOTOS.

 

Cindy Griffith-Bennett: Turn 5 Things You Do Every Day Into Meditation Moments

For most of us, a typical day begins when we get out of bed, wash, and then start our activities. At some point, we get a bite to eat, walk somewhere, and talk to someone. Often, by the end of the day we find ourselves stressed out and physically exhausted. It doesn’t have to be that way!

By turning everyday activities into meditation moments, you can bring more mindfulness, clarity, and peace into your day while energizing yourself and reducing stress. A study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found: “Brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.”

These brief mindfulness meditations don’t require sitting like a pretzel or sniffing incense, not that there is any thing wrong with a traditional meditation practice if you have the time. But if you are like me, life keeps getting in the way! Here are five opportunities to add meditation without taking time out of your hectic schedule.

  1. When you get up in the morning, you usually wash. Let’s use washing your face for our first meditation opportunity. Feel the temperature of the water on your hands. Focus on the temperature as you add a little soap. Notice how the suds feel on your hand. When a thought comes in, think of it as someone else’s phone ringing. You hear it, but you don’t have to answer it. Next, feel your soapy hands or the washcloth on your face. Focus on that sensation as you wash your face. Next, feel the rinse water on your face — how does it feel? Is it too cold? Too hot? Just right? If your mind wanders, there is no need to judge, just go back to focusing on the feeling of the water on your face. As you towel off, feel the sensation of the air on your face. It’s that simple, you just meditated!
  2. As you go about your day, you are most likely waiting in line or in traffic, so take a moment to breathe. Everyone has to breathe, and there is no way the person in front of you in the coffee line will know you are meditating! Sense the breath coming in and out of your nose or mouth. Don’t worry about thoughts; you know what to do, think of your thoughts as someone else’s cell phone ringing. Some people like to label their thoughts as “thought” and then let them go. The important thing is returning to sensing your breath coming in and out of your body. You will feel your shoulders relax and your patience returning.
  3. Now it is time to grab some lunch. We all eat, don’t we? Another mindfulness meditation can be done while eating. Take a small bite and really taste the food. What is the consistency? What are the different flavors? Can you tell if there is salt or pepper added? Do you like it? Try to eat a few bites without talking. You don’t have to spend the whole lunchtime on this, but even 30 seconds or a minute will have interesting results. For even more relaxation and satisfaction, try chewing each bite until it is totally done before you take a drink. You will most likely feel fuller, and psychologically you will feel more satisfied. I love to eat a Peppermint Pattie one tiny bite at a time. The cool mint and chocolate taste even better! I also take a moment to be grateful for the food, the food preparer and, in the case of the Peppermint Pattie, for the chocolate!
  4. It is always healthy to take a walk after you eat. But even if you don’t have time then, you will have to walk somewhere today, maybe from the kitchen to the living room or from your car to the house. Take this time to do a quick walking meditation. Feel your feet as they touch the ground and lift up. If you have thoughts, label them or decide to answer them later. You may walk a little funny at first. You probably haven’t paid attention to your feet in a while! We all have to walk somewhere, and this meditation can be used for short walks or long ones. It is important to pay attention to where you are going, but besides that, simply focus on the sensation of your feet as they touch and leave the ground. Once you get good at this, you can add focusing on your breath!
  5. Lastly, you will most likely speak to someone during your day. Before you speak, ask yourself, “Are my words kind, useful, necessary and true?” What a wonderful opportunity to empower others with our words! This may not sound like a meditation, yet this technique uses focused attention. You really need to pay attention to your thoughts for this one! You can also give yourself the gift of paying attention to how you speak to yourself. Are your words to yourself also kind, useful, necessary and true? Often we have such negative self-talk. This is a wonderful opportunity to empower yourself!

So you now have five different opportunities to add meditation into your day and start to reap the rewards! Not only can you reduce your stress, increase your mindfulness, strengthen cognitive ability, and energize your body, you can also empower yourself and others without stopping your busy day! It just takes washing, breathing, eating, walking and talking — all things you do every day anyway.

For more by Cindy Griffith-Bennett, click here.

via Cindy Griffith-Bennett: Turn 5 Things You Do Every Day Into Meditation Moments.