From boosting our hearts and minds to fighting addiction and stress, meditation can truly transform our lives. Transcendental Meditation, one of the more popular forms of meditation, has been praised in boardrooms and box offices as an effective method of cultivating some inner calm. The practice involves sitting comfortably for several minutes and repeating a mantra. TM has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and even increase work efficiency. For more evidence of why you should pick up meditation, take a look at the infographic below. Your body and brain will thank you for it.
BY EVGENY MOROZOV of The New Republic
In yet another sign that the new age lingo of the 1960s is still very much with us, “mindfulness” has become the new “sustainability”: No one quite knows what it is, but everyone seems to be for it. It recently made the cover of Time magazine, while a long list of celebrities—Arianna Huffington, Deepak Chopra, Paolo Coelho—are all tirelessly preaching the virtues of curbing technology-induced stress and regulating the oppressiveness of constant connectivity, often at conferences with titles like “Wisdom 2.0.”
The embrace of the mindfulness agenda by the technology crowd is especially peculiar. Consider Huffington, whose eponymous publication has even launched a stress-tracking app with the poetic name of “GPS for the Soul”—a new app to fight the distraction caused by the old apps—and turned the business of mindfulness into a dedicated beat. Or take Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, who has warned that we need to define times when we are “on” and “off” and announced his commitment to make his meals gadget-free. There are also apps and firms that, at a fee, will help you enforce your own “digital sabbath,” undertake a “digital detox,” or join like-minded refuseniks in a dedicated camp that bars all devices. Never before has connectivity offered us so many ways to disconnect.
In essence, we are being urged to unplug—for an hour, a day, a week—so that we can resume our usual activities with even more vigor upon returning to the land of distraction. Here the quest for mindfulness plays the same role as Buddhism. In our maddeningly complex world, where everything is in flux and defies comprehension, the only reasonable attitude is to renounce any efforts at control and adopt a Zen-like attitude of non-domination. Accept the world as it is—and simply try to find a few moments of peace in it. The reactionary tendency of such an outlook is easy to grasp. As the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek once quipped, “If Max Weber were alive today, he would definitely write a second, supplementary, volume to his Protestant Ethic, entitled The Taoist Ethic and the Spirit of Global Capitalism.” And what a wonderful Kindle Single that would make!
CEOs embrace mindfulness for the same reason that they embrace all the other forms of the “new spirit of capitalism,” be it yoga in the workplace or flip-flops in the boardroom: Down with alienation, long live transgression and emancipation! No wonder Huffington hopes that the pursuit of mindfulness can finally reconcile spirituality and capitalism. “There is a growing body of scientific evidence that shows that these two worlds are, in fact, very much aligned—or at least that they can, and should, be,” she wrote in a recent column. “So yes, I do want to talk about maximizing profits and beating expectations—by emphasizing the notion that what’s good for us as individuals is also good for corporate America’s bottom line.”
But couldn’t the “disconnectionists”—asone critic has recently dubbed this emerging social movement—pursue an agenda a tad more radical than “digital detoxification”? For one, the language of “detox” implies our incessant craving for permanent connectivity is a medical condition—as if the fault entirely resided with consumers. And that reflects a broader flaw in their thinking: The disconnectionists don’t seem to have a robust political plan for addressing their concerns; it’s all about small-scale individual action. “Individuals unplugging is not actually an answer to the biggest technological problems of our time just as any individual’s local, organic dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues,” complained the technology critic Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic.
Note that it’s the act of disconnection—the unplugging—that becomes the target of criticism, as if there are no good reasons to be suspicious of the always-on mode championed by Silicon Valley, what is called “real-time.” Madrigal, for example, draws an intriguing parallel between our attitudes to processed foods (once celebrated for their contribution to social mobility but now widely condemned, at least by the upper classes) and processed communications (by which, he means all digital interactions). Like processed foods, social media and text messages are increasingly perceived as inferior, giving rise to an odd form of technophobic—but extremely artisanal—living. As Madrigal sardonically observes, “[T]he solution is to make local friends, hang out organically, and only communicate through means your Grandma would recognize. It’s so conservative it’s radical!”
There’s some truth to this, but in their efforts to reveal the upper-class biases of the “digital detox” crowd—by arguing, for example, that the act of unplugging falls somewhere between wearing vintage clothes and consuming artisanal cheese—critics like Madrigal risk absolving the very exploitative strategies of Twitter and Facebook.
So far, our debate about distraction has hinged on the assumption that the feelings of anxiety and personal insecurity that we experience when interacting with social media are the natural price we pay for living in what some technology pundits call “the attention economy.”
But what if this economy is not as autonomous and self-regulating as we are lead to believe? Twitter, for instance, nudges us to check how many people have interacted with our tweets. That nagging temptation to trace the destiny of our every tweet, in perpetuity and with the most comprehensive analytics, is anything but self-evident. The business agenda is obvious: The more data we can surrender—by endlessly clicking around—the more appealing Twitter looks to advertisers. But what is in Twitter’s business interest is not necessarily in our communicative interest.
We must subject social media to the kind of scrutiny that has been applied to the design of gambling machines in Las Vegas casinos. As Natasha Dow Schüll shows in her excellent book Addiction By Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas, while casino operators want us to think that addiction is the result of our moral failings or some biological imbalance, they themselves are to blame for designing gambling machines in a way that feeds addiction. With social media—much like with gambling machines or fast food—our addiction is manufactured, not natural.
In other words, why we disconnect matters: We can continue in today’s mode of treating disconnection as a way to recharge and regain productivity, or we can view it as a way to sabotage the addiction tactics of the acceleration-distraction complex that is Silicon Valley. The former approach is reactionary but the latter can lead to emancipation, especially if such acts of refusal give rise to genuine social movements that will make problems of time and attention part of their political agendas—and not just the subject of hand-wringing by the Davos-based spirituality brigades. Hopefully, these movements will then articulate alternative practices, institutions, and designs. If it takes an act of unplugging to figure out how to do it, let’s disconnect indeed. But let us not do it for the sake of reconnecting on the very same terms as before. We must be mindful of all this mindfulness.
Evgeny Morozov is a senior editor at The New Republic.
Editor at Open Minds Magazine
Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz applies Buddhist teachings to his work with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and bucks the mainstream belief that the brain is a static organ that dictates our actions. So it is no wonder that he is a controversial figure.
The amazing thing is that he has proven to be right, and has shown that mindfulness meditation can be effective at reducing the effects of OCD. In part, by utilizing what he calls “self-directed neuroplasticity.” In other words, the idea is that we can use meditation to physically rewire our brains. A process I believe I have utilized myself to improve my outlook and health.
Steve Volk’s new book OBSESSED: The Compulsions and Creations of Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, is the first offering by Discovery magazine’s Discovery In-Depth series. It is available via Kindle single on Amazon.
In the book, Volk examines Schwartz as a scientist and a person. He describes Schwartz as a “pariah among his academic peers,” and “a man battling demons of his own.” Schwartz is often combative, and has a tough time with personal relationships. However, Volk says Schwartz was very open and willing to let Volk spend a lot of time with him, which Volk says is rare in the scientific community. Volk believes Schwartz really just wants to be understood.
Despite his quirks, Schwartz has made substantial contributions to the understanding and treatment of OCD. Volk says his ideas used to be taken lightly, but “he helped produce this shift where now people take mindfulness very very seriously as an effective therapy.”
I find his work fascinating because it relates to the existential question of who we are. As Volk explains it, some scientists believe “our whole selves and our choices are all dictated by physical processes in the brain, and a lot of people take this to mean we don’t have any free will.”
But what if we choose to be different, and in doing so change our brain physically? It sounds fantastic to be able to change the inner workings of our brains by thought alone, but it is now believed it happens, and it is called neuroplasticity. Volk explains, “Schwartz says his therapy, which involves shifting your attention in particular ways in regard to your illness, he says this shows we do have free will and we are not our brains.”
Years ago I learned through studying meditation techniques, methods similar to what Schwartz teaches, and they have helped transform my life. Buddhists teach that in mindfulness mediation one can view their thoughts and self impartially. In doing so one can identify behaviors that are not helpful, and purposefully change the way they react to certain situations. In this way we can choose to alleviate our own suffering, which Buddhists believe we cause ourselves.
For instance, let’s say you get flipped off on the highway on the way to work. That can be kind of frustrating. Some people are prone to get really upset, and then have a terrible morning. In mindful mediation one lets go of emotional static to reflect on oneself and the ways we cause our own suffering.
In reflecting upon why we had a bad morning and realizing it was because somebody flipped us off, we can see that it was our reaction to this event that caused the suffering for the rest of the morning. We can then choose to react differently. I have chosen to smile and wave at people who flip me off, and wish them a good day. I then leave the situation chuckling, while the flipper offer continues on their grouchy way.
This is us choosing to modify our behavior. It may be difficult at first, but as we continue to act out this new behavior, neuroplasticity is at work changing our neural pathways and making this reaction easier to accomplish. One thing I remind myself in these situations is that I cannot let another’s dysfunction become my dysfunction. Just because their brain is wired to be a total jerk, doesn’t mean I have to let mine be wired that way.
In using these methods to help OCD patients alleviate their symptoms, Volk says in his book, “what Schwartz had proven was that his patients could rewire their brains (and reinvent their lives) through sheer force of will, with thought alone.”
Volk says he was inspired to write the book because he has also benefited from “self-directed neuroplasticity.” Beyond that, Volk says, “I really enjoy being able to tell the story about this guy operating on sort of the fringes of things.” See Video: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alejandro-rojas/ocd-expert-stars-in-ebook_b_4119218.html
Not surprising coming from a guy who also authored a book called, Fringe-ology: How I Tried to Explain Away the Unexplainable — And Couldn’t.
The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People
“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 firm — explained 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
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
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
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
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.
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, 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
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
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.
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
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.
- Habit uber- successful people have in common (huffingtonpost.com)
- The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People (huffingtonpost.com)
PHILADELPHIA, PA, July 04, 2013
Anne Germain, a spiritual medium, philanthropist, and human resources expert, uses her talents to help cope with loss and regain confidence.
Confidence, for athletes, is everything. A recent article on the Huffington Post outlines a few key factors why meditation is more than beneficial for athletes. Basic meditation, according to Germain, allows people to cope with tragedy and loss. Loss, a big part of being an athlete, is no different. Loss obsession is common among athletes. A bad season, a few interceptions, or a couple bad putts can really affect an athlete’s performance in every sport imaginable.
Whether it’s running, swimming, climbing, wrestling, or spelunking, meditation helps athletes reduce obsessive thinking and “reset” their minds when it comes to overcoming a bad streak. Most of all, meditation helps athletes focus. Sports depend on focus and staying concentrated through quarters and miles. The article cites a study that shows increased focused via meditation — focus, of course, relates to all manner of activities and athletics alike. It also helps with fear. For instance, a big game or challenging team may cause hesitation in athletes and motivate them to dig deep into their minds. “Fear, focus, and pain are easily manageable with a strict meditation regime,” Anne Germain says. ”
A lot of injuries, for example, are partially mental. Whether it’s a golf swing or pitch, certain hitches in an athlete’s mental state can hinder performance. Mediation helps flush out mental barriers.” The article states that meditation also strengthens immune systems and makes athletes more resilient. Athletes are not able to perform sick or injured. Professional, guided meditation, according to Germain, helps mentally prepare them for anything. The fear/failure obstacle is constantly present for athletes, too, and meditation can help athletes detach from negative thoughts and focus on success. ”
Good mediation can put an athlete in the game at that moment,” Germain says. “There’s pre-mediation, like taking a few moments in a locker room to mentally prepare and cleanse your mind, then there’s on-field mediation. On-field meditation is as simple as taking a few deep breaths, closing your eyes, and picturing the task at hand.” Stress is a danger for everyone. Kids, work, field goals, bills — stress factors are omnipresent every day, but studies have shown mediation to reduce stress. It is also a factor with maintaining emotional stability. Moody people often lack self-control, which mediation actively helps. Sleep is a factor, as well, and relates directly to stress and mood swings. Meditation helps all three aspects of everyday life, allowing athletes and non-athletes alike to perform better at daily tasks. The article then goes on to talk about coaches.
“Having an outside source allows an athlete to deal with blind spots,” Anne Germain says. “Coaches are good for this, but meditation and active thinking can help athletes coach themselves through the hardest tasks.” Mediation, while not entirely accepted by athletes as a whole yet, is a viable approach when speed, power, and performance mean everything. Anne Germain sees the advantages, and encourages everyone to give it a try. ABOUT: Anne Germain is a spiritual medium and human resources professional. Currently living in the United Kingdom, she helps people find closure and peace in the face of tragedy. She has spent a lot of time with various police departments.
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.
Mindfulness may be so successful in helping with a range of conditions, from depression to pain, by working as a sort of “volume knob” for sensations, according to a new review of studies from Brown University researchers.
In their paper, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, the researchers proposed that mindfulness meditation works by enabling a person to have better control over brain processing of pain and emotions.
Specifically, the researchers postulate that mindfulness meditation plays a role in the controlling of cortical alpha rhythms, which have been shown in brain imaging studies to play a role in what senses our bodies and minds pay attention to.
“We think we’re the first group to propose an underlying neurophysiological mechanism that directly links the actual practice of mindful awareness of breath and body sensations to the kinds of cognitive and emotional benefits that mindfulness confers,” study researcher Catherine Kerr, an assistant professor of family medicine and director of translational neuroscience for the Contemplative Studies Initiative at Brown University, said in a statement.
Previous research has shown that mindfulness meditation could have a positive effect on the brain by increasing the density of the grey matter in the brain’s amygdala, which is a brain region known for its role in stress. That study was conducted by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers and published in the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging in 2011.
And in another study, University of Oregon researchers found that mindfulness meditation — particularly a kind called integrative body-mind training — is linked with an increase in the brain’s signaling connections (called axonal density), as well as the protective tissue that surrounds the brain’s axons.
Also on HuffPost:
Mindfulness meditation could help doctors provide better care to their patients, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers found.
When doctors underwent mindfulness meditation training, they listened better and were less judgmental at home and at work, according to the
Meditation is a mystery to many in the Western world. Sure, we’ve all heard of it, but most say they “don’t have time” to slow down for it and others say they simply don’t know how or they’ve tried it and couldn’t do it “right.” Some even misunderstand it as being against their religion or think something crazy might happen, like they’ll start levitating during a session. While I actually think that levitating would be pretty cool — no, that’s not going to happen! What will happen is a slew of positive health benefits. Regular meditators experience a sense of calm, peace, balance, and reduced stress, anxiety and depression. They also may have the ability to stay more focused with longer attention spans and better thought control than they would have without meditation. Other side effects can include increased happiness, more creativity, and deeper self-awareness and acceptance. The Dalai Lama, reportedly, has boldly declared, “If every 8-year-old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.”
So, what is stopping us? Despite all of the fantastic benefits, statistically, less than 10 percent of Americans have a meditation practice. And the reason why is quite simple. As a whole, we don’t know any better. We live in a very fast-paced society and have it ingrained in our brains that if we slow down, we’re going to get passed up and plowed over. Further, as a society, we are over-medicated and taught that the cure for pretty much everything lies within a pill. Therefore, we’ve lost faith in our own bodies and their amazing abilities to heal. If doctors wrote out prescriptions to start a meditation practice and fuel our bodies with healthy nutrition, then miracles could happen. But we’ve come so far in science that we overlook the basics that are right in front of us and easy for all to achieve. There is no money to be made in telling people to meditate, and we’re a very profit-driven society.
We can all become spiritually rich if we turn to tools like meditation, which help us to raise our own vibrations and those of the world around us. A meditation practice helps us to get to the core of our being. By stilling our minds and silencing the overwhelming abundance of thoughts wildly dancing through at any given time, we’re able to hear the voice of our loving inner guide over that of our fear-based ego. Once we’re able to loosen the tight grasp that the ego mind has on us, we can swap out unpleasant insecurities, anxieties and fears for peace, happiness, and fulfilling our destinies.
There is an old Zen adage, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day — unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” At first, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But, anybody that has had a meditation practice will say, “I totally get it!” When we’re super busy, we usually feel tense and high-strung, which is our body’s normal reaction to stress. Meditation helps us to feel calm and thus allow stress to melt away. Meditating is not going to make our schedules any less hectic. However, it will make us more clear-headed and able to deal with whatever life tosses our way so that we actually begin dancing joyfully amidst the chaos. We’re essentially training our brain how to relax and deal with things in a much more level-headed and peaceful manner.
If this all sounds good to you, but you still have no idea where to begin, here are seven steps to get your practice going:
- Try to set up a little sacred spot in your home to go to every time you meditate. Put a few articles out that inspire you or that you have a spiritual connection too. If not, don’t let that stop you. That point is to just get it in when you can! My ideal spot is on my meditation pillow in my own little sacred spot, but as a new mom, I’ve logged plenty of recent sessions with a sleeping baby on my lap on the rocking chair. Those sessions are just as valuable!
- If you have something specific that you want to meditate on, think or pray about it before you begin your session. You don’t want to try to force or control your thoughts while meditating, so if you have something that you’re seeking guidance on, it’s best bring it up beforehand.
- Find a quiet spot and sit comfortably. If you have kids, you might need to sneak out of bed before the rest of the house wakes up or do it after they go to bed. Or, you might try headphones with some relaxing music to drown out the noise. Just find a way to make it work with your schedule and lifestyle.
- Decide how long you will meditate for. Beginners might want to start with just a few minutes a day and gradually increase. Five minutes is better than zero! Just like working out, the benefits will compound over time. Generally, the more frequently and longer, the better, but don’t discount the short sessions. Thirty minutes a day is an excellent goal to strive for.
- Set a timer. There are many apps you can download for your phone or table that have timers, keep logs, and play chimes at the beginning and end of your session. Insight Timer is one of my favorites and will even publish your sessions to Facebook and Twitter, if you want to share.
- Now, close your eyes and focus on your breathe. Inhale deeply into your diaphragm and slowly exhale. Don’t force the breathe, but just let it flow naturally as your allow your attention to draw there. Don’t worry if thoughts come while you are meditating. That is going to happen, especially if you’re new to it. Just try to observe the thoughts without judgment.
- Continue this until your timer lets you know the session is up. Don’t quit early!! Completing your full session time is going to help you build the discipline needed for an ongoing meditation practice.
If you stick with it daily and increase your session length over time, you’ll soon notice some positive changes in your life. Try journaling afterwards to log any major insights or an especially great feeling. When I get in my 30 minutes a day, I feel so wonderfully grounded, peaceful, and ready to conquer the world!
Have more questions, or want to share your own experience? Come join my Facebook page or message me privately. I always love to hear from you guys!
For more by Dawn Gluskin, click here.
For more on meditation, click here.
Learning how to center yourself and slow down the mind is an invaluable aspect of health. Meditation is an excellent tool for learning how to be present. There are many benefits to learning how to meditate: It helps to decrease tension, lower blood pressure and improve emotional balance. It is also known to change the brain, by improving parts of the brain associated to memory and learning and decreasing matter of the brain associated to stress and anxiety.
If you’re interested in meditation and how to get started, watch this three-minute video introduction. It also includes a six-minute guided video link.
Take a deep breath, relax your body and fully receive this moment, as if it is the first moment you’ve ever experienced.
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Meditation is not something that you do; meditation is something that you become. Meditation is not an act; it is a certain quality that you grow into. Why is there a need to become meditative, first of all?
When you were born, you were so small. And now, you have grown your body. Obviously, the body is something that you gathered; it is an accumulation. Similarly, the mind is also an accumulation. The body is an accumulation of food; the mind is an accumulation of impressions. Whatever you accumulate can be yours, but it can never be you, because the very fact that you accumulate means you gather something from somewhere else. Let us say you gathered a 150-pound body; if you are determined, in a few days, you could make it 140 pounds. Where did these 10 pounds of body go? You would not go looking for them, because they are an accumulation.
Once you get identified with things that you have gathered from the outside, your perception has completely gone haywire; you cannot perceive life the way it is. The moment you experience the body as “myself,” and the moment you experience the impressions that you have in your mind as “myself,” you cannot perceive life the way it is. You can only perceive life the way it is necessary for your survival. For a human being, survival is very important, but it is not enough. For any other creature on this planet, when the stomach is full, life is settled. But for a human being, life does not end with the survival process. Actually, for a human being, life begins only after survival is fulfilled.
Meditation means giving you an experience, an inner state, where what is you and what is yours is separate. It brings an absolute clarity of perception; you see life just the way it is. Right now, your ability to go through this world is only to the extent that you clearly see it. For example, for thousands of years, people went on arguing about whether the planet is round or flat. Leave all the textbooks that you have read aside, take a walk and see — in your experience, is this planet round or flat? In your experience, it is still flat. This argument could have continued forever, but man started flying. We went up and looked down and it was very clear that the planet was round. We even went to the moon and looked down, and it was 100 percent clear. Only when we removed ourselves from this earth and looked down was there no more argument about it. Otherwise, we would still be arguing.
The same is true for your own body and mind; unless there is a little distance, you don’t see it the way it is, because you are in it. Meditation is a simple process that gives you a little distance from your own mind and your own body. You have probably heard of the word “Buddha.” Bu means “buddhi,” or the intellect. Dha means “dada,” or one who is above. One who is above his intellect is a Buddha. A Buddha has clear perception of the nature of his mind. One who is in the intellect is a nonstop suffering human being.
Look at this sincerely. Whatever you experience as moments of happiness and peacefulness are just those moments where you are able to leave anxiety, tension and stress behind. But if you turn back, they will be sitting right there, because once you are in your intellect, stress, anxiety and tension are very normal. But if you are above the intellect, it is the end of suffering. Being a Buddha means there is no question of suffering, because suffering has either come through your body or through your mind. Do you know any other kind of suffering other than physical and mental suffering? Once there is a distance from your physical body and your mental structure, that is the end of suffering.
Meditation is the first and the last freedom, because it gives you a gallery view of your own body and your own mind. There can be no suffering once this distance is established.
Article from Huffington Post: Sadhguru: Meditation: The End of Suffering.
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