Meditation

Need a 2014 Resolution? Take This “Think Clearly” Pledge with Bruce Kasanoff

The “Think Clearly” Pledge From Linked In Influencer Bruce Kasanoff

Yesterday I skied 10″ of fresh powder in Vermont, and as I neared my house at the end of the day, I simply took off my skis and lay down in the snow. After about 20 minutes of doing nothing but let snowflakes fall on my face, an idea occurred to me and I took this photo.

Here’s the idea: every day in 2014, I’m going to take at least 10 minutes to do what I did yesterday: stop, empty my mind, and do nothing at all.

In return, I hope to think more clearly the rest of the time.

Over the years, I’ve meditated off and on, and have often exercised or simply walked to clear my head. I’ve also observed that my best professional ideas come in the days right after a vacation. But I’ve never pledged to spend ten minutes in silent inaction every single day for a year.

Will you take the pledge with me?

I ask you this in the spirit of enlightened self-interest. The more people who take the pledge with me, the more likely I am to abide by it. But also the more people who abide by the pledge, the more people it will help.

Look around you, and you will see countless people who live in a fog. They don’t listen to what you say, they don’t understand what others are trying to communicate to them, and they don’t understand reality; instead, they operate within their own distorted sense of reality. As a result, they make a lot of bad decisions, and they miss numerous opportunities.

Here’s the really bad news: the same is true for you and me. We live in a fog, too.

Truth is, I’m not sure that ten minutes a day is enough to free either one of us from the fog, but this is a step in the right direction, and it is a modest enough commitment that – with the help of others – we can actually stick to it for this entire year.

To help both of us stick to the Pledge, I just created the Think Clearly group on LinkedIn. If you are taking the Pledge, please join the group.

Update, 3:45 p.m. Friday: Went back to the same spot today. This is the view. The temperature outside was -7 fahrenheit, but I still enjoyed the break. 425 people have already joined me to take the Pledge…

Related Post: https://karahpino.me/the-sacred-shadow-self/the-zen-of-going-to-the-rest-room/

Responding to A Call to Wholeness with Attentive Awareness: an Homage to SN Goenka

I had the opportunity to sit in Vipassana meditation last month over Thanksgiving.  It had been three years since my last course which was during my pregnancy.  Motherhood has been an amazing challenge and finding ways to meditate throughout the day has been difficult, so I was thrilled at the opportunity to revitalize my practice again.

These are the notes I made in the clarity after 3 days of meditating 12 hours a day, observing my breath, observing my physical sensations and observing all the roiling thoughts in my mind that were taking my attention from the present moment.

You are lost in thought again: your thoughts, the thoughts of others, thoughts started in the distant past, thoughts unfinished.  Thoughts re-crafted over and over of what you might have done or what you didn’t do.  Thoughts of the future, the distant future, the immediate future, thoughts of a possible future if only you act now.  Thoughts of people, of circumstances of dreams and expectations.  Thoughts of passion, of regret, of emptiness, thoughts of what might have happened if only you had done or said something different than what  had happened.

These thoughts boil and churn, tumbling over one another again and again, perhaps with slight variations as you reinforce them with your creative mind.  If only, of only, of only…..

These thoughts grip your mind, freezing it in a static stasis of immobility.  If only, if only, if only.  But…but…but…

Resist the temptation to reinforce the past you are trying to correct, it is impossible.  Practice being aware of these thoughts without engaging them.  Observe how they rise.  Observe yourself engage them.  Observe how your physical structure reacts to this process.  And then observe yourself observing all this.

Be still.  Observe awhile and eventually you will see the spaces between thoughts.  Continue observing with attentive awareness and those spaces of clarity will expand.  As you observe, you will see how thoughts arise into the spaces and you will observe yourself engaging those thoughts for awhile before letting them go and watching them fade away.  Do not become elated at this fading away.  Do not expect the momentary peaceful clarity to last.  For, certainly, another thought will arise again.

We are not able to change our thinking by eliminating the thinking process.  We can learn to not react to thoughts and by not reacting to them.  It is inevitable that they will fade away as part of the nature of life which is always and unavoidably ever-changing.  The law of nature is that all is ever changing.

In the first hours of Noble Speech once silence has been broken this past vipassana course, something that always comes up is the question of how it is that we have all come to vipassana as students.  Despite the wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences, it is always interesting to learn that we each came to vipassana in response to an inner call to wholeness.  My story is similar to many others:  A friend was talking about her experience at her first vipassana course.  Her description of the meditation schedule, though rigorous, struck me as exactly what I needed at the time.

My practice has waxed and waned of the subsequent 10 years through graduate school, business and child-rearing.  At times the discipline was strong and I was able to weather intense times of change with easy breaths.  At other times the responsibility to others overwhelmed me and I did not make time to practice and the challenges of life became intense struggles.  But always the same call to wholeness resounded and I returned to find the lessons of attentive awareness once again.

After this past course, I noticed the difference between myself as an older student and the expectations of the newer students that I once shared.  As an older student, now, I no longer expect to have a sudden change of life that will enable me to maintain this clarity.  I don’t expect that I will be able to instantly be able to fulfill the directive to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening.  And I can accept that without judgement.  I will do what I can do with gratitude for the moments of clarity that come as life keeps changing, changing, changing, ever-changing.

Karah Pino in meditation

Karah Pino in meditation

Vipassana Courses are offered around the world through the teaching of SN Goenka who transcended life this past September.  His recorded lessons teaching the technique and offering guidance to meditation ring true to new students and old students, young and old of all backgrounds and cultures.  Vipassana Courses are offered freely and donation of funds, time or other service are accepted but not expected.  To learn more, visit www.dhamma.org may all beings be happy.

Mindfulness Meditation for a Stress-Less Mind

Mindfulness Meditation for a Stress-Less Mind

We were listening to a radio interview we did recently, talking about the profound benefits of meditation. Deb had said, “Mindfulness meditation is revolutionary because it changes us simply by being fully present, completely aware of just this moment.” Which is absolutely true, but being in the present moment can be slippery, elusive — we want to be in Hawaii, start planning a Christmas shopping list, relive a disagreement with our partner, get distracted by the sound of the mailman outside or an aching knee. The possibilities are endless — all the many ways the mind can do something, anything, other than being present.

On average, we spend our time either living in what-could-have-been, what-might-have-been, or if-only, or in the expectation of what-could-be or what-might-be. But the truth is no matter how much we try, plan, plot, arrange, have things to do, leave the house at the same time each day, arrive at the office at the same time, pick up the kids on time, we can still never know what will happen in the next moment.

We used to live next to a glorious river in Devon, England and walked beside it each day. It was beautiful, but as much as it looked like the same river, even the same water, it was constantly changing — the water was never the same as even a second ago. Likewise, we may look the same but the cells in our body are forever forming, growing and dying; we are continually changing and renewing in every minute, we just aren’t aware of it.

Realizing the past is already gone and can never be relived, while the future is always ahead of us and consistently unknown, the only logical way to deal with this awareness is to be present with what is, whatever it is, as it is. Contrary to common belief, it can be immensely liberating to actually have nothing going on, to discover that the entire universe is contained in this very moment, to realize that nothing more is required than to just be aware and present. Imagine, what a relief! Finally, we can live without expectation, prejudice or longing, or the desire for things to be different than they are.

Being present invites a deep sense of completion, that there really is nowhere else we need to be or go. It’s impossible to think of somewhere else as being better, for the grass is vividly green exactly where we are. At a seminar someone once asked Ed if he had ever experienced another dimension. Ed replied, “Have you experienced this one?”

Right now, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. As you breath out, notice how your body feels, the chair you are sitting on, and the room you are in. That’s all. It only takes an instant to be present. Or, as a way of reminding yourself, put Post-its in strategic places around your home (on your bathroom mirror, the fridge, the inside of the front door, etc.) that say things like: NOW is the greatest moment, Be Here Now; Stop, smile and Breathe; Only this Moment Exists; There Is Just This, NOW!

It’s also essential that, as neuroscientist Brian Jones teaches, you tune down your sympathetic nervous system (the flight and fight response) and tune into your parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and relaxation response). You can do this through breathing and mindfulness techniques and can learn more atrevolutionarymindfulness.com

Mindfully Meditating In the Moment 
Mindfully meditating on the flow of the breath naturally brings us into the present while bringing our awareness inward, rather than being focused outward. The breath is just breathing, and yet it is never the same, each breath is completely different to the last one. You can simultaneously silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”

Practice: Being and Breathing Meditation
Sit comfortably with your back straight, hands are in your lap, eyes are closed. Spend a few minutes settling your body, being aware of the room around you and the chair you are sitting on.

Now bring your focus to your breathing, just watch the natural movement of air as you breathe in and out. Silently repeat, “Breathing in, breathing out.”

Stay with watching your breath. If your mind starts to drift just see your thoughts as birds in the sky and watch them fly away. Then come back to the breath.

Anytime you get distracted, bored, or lost in thinking, just come back to the breath, to this moment now. Silently repeat, “I am here, I am now, I am present! I am here, I am now, I am present!”

You can do this for a few minutes or as long as you like. When you are ready, take a deep breath and let it go, open your eyes, and move gently.

What keeps you from being mindfully here and now? Do comment below. You can receive notice of our blogs by checking Become a Fan at the top.

Ed and Deb are the co-founders, with Brian Jones, of RevolutionaryMindfulness.com. Join to get our newsletter, free meditation downloads, community support, and learn to balance your nervous system. They are the authors of award winning Be The Change, How Meditation can Transform You and the World. See more at RevolutionaryMindfulness.comand EdandDebShapiro.com.

Can Meditation Affect Your Genes?

By Marc Lallanilla, Assistant Editor   |   December 10, 2013 03:32pm ET

There’s a large and growing body of evidence that psychological stress — the kind experienced by war orphans, caretakers of people with dementia, and men and women with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — can cause genetic damage.

But if psychological stress can cause genetic damage, can stress-relieving activities such as meditation and mindfulness training help reduce genetic damage?

Perhaps: A recent study seems to suggest that a period of meditation might alter the expression of genes that are linked to inflammation and promote a faster recovery from a stressful situation.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison took blood samples from 40 volunteers — 19 of whom were long-term meditators — before and after an eight-hour session. The group of experienced meditators spent the session in guided and unguided meditation; the other group watched documentaries, read and played computer games.

The role of inflammation

There was no significant difference in genetic markers between the two groups at the start of the eight-hour test period. However, at the end of the day, researchers found reduced expression of certain histone deacetylase (HDAC) genes and of the genes RIPK2 and COX2 — all of which are linked to inflammation.

These findings are important because of the role inflammation plays in the progress and treatment of disease. Recent research has found that chronic inflammation may be at the core of diseases such asrheumatoid arthritis, asthma, heart disease, lupus, cancer, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.

“The changes were observed in genes that are the current targets of anti-inflammatory and analgesic [pain-relief] drugs,” Perla Kaliman, lead author of the article (published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology) and a researcher at the Institute of Biomedical Research of Barcelona, Spain, said in a statement.

Improved stress management

In a stress test, the volunteers were forced into an impromptu public-speaking role involving mental arithmetic performed in front of two judges and a video camera. Levels of cortisol — a hormone associated with high stress levels — were measured before and after the stress test.

Among both groups of volunteers, those participants with the lowest levels of RIPK2 and HDAC-2 genes had the quickest return to normal, pre-stress test levels of cortisol.

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper that shows rapid alterations in gene expression within subjects associated with mindfulness meditation practice,” study co-author Richard J. Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in the statement.

Lifestyle and genetics

This recent study supports other research that seems to indicate there’s real, measurable benefit to lifestyle modifications like stress reduction.

A 2013 study from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found that men who ate a better diet, exercised moderately and led a less-stressful lifestyle for a few years had an increase in the length of their telomeres — the caps at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from deterioration.

And a study from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh found that adults with shorter telomeres were at an increased risk of catching thecommon cold compared with people with longer telomeres.

Though some may find the proposed link between meditation and genetics a bit far-fetched, a growing number of experts believe the association is real. “It is well established that chronic stress and acute stress are associated with both greater inflammatory proteins as well as gene expression of inflammatory pathways,” said Elissa Epel, professor of psychiatry at UCSF.

“Inflammation is thought of as ‘inflam-aging,’ since it is a major factor regulating cellular aging and many chronic diseases,” Epel said. “It’s crucial to find behavioral factors that can prevent the rising tide of inflammation as we age. Meditation and mindfulness training in daily life should be high on the list of promising anti-aging interventions.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison study was funded by grants from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Fetzer Institute, the John Templeton Foundation and an anonymous donor.

Follow Marc Lallanilla on Twitter and Google+. Follow us @livescience,Facebook & Google+. Original article on LiveScience.

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Meditation: Going beyond positive thinking

Beyond Positive thinking

There is an old adage in yoga psychology which is at the heart of the phenomenon of positive thinking.

‘The mind takes the shape of its object’.

When you pour water into a container, it will take the shape of the container. Our mind stuff, that most subtle of all substances, acts in a similar way. If you think of a camel then there is a portion of your mind that takes the shape of a camel, which is another way of saying that the mind forms an image of a camel. Now as we learned earlier, each and every expression of the universe is vibrational in character. A thought is a mental wave composed of psychic energy or mind-stuff. Because it is vibrational in character that mental wave has a particular wavelength. The wavelength of the thought-image of a camel will not be the same as the wavelength of the thought of a vast ocean or a feeling of compassion. Some thoughts are subtle in character and some are less so. Subtle or expansive thoughts, as you might suspect, have a long, steady wavelength while crude thoughts have a much shorter, erratic wavelength. Our mind as a whole has its own characteristic wavelength which is the composite of all the waves active in the mind at any one time. While our mind’s wavelength is constantly changing as different thought-waves rise and fall in our mental ocean, it never changes very much because we each have our own habitual style of thinking, our personality, which determines the nature of those recurring individual waves.

Now what happens in nature when two interact? There is a clash between the two waves and each is influenced to some extent by the other. The stronger the wave is, the greater the influence it exerts, and the less it is affected by the other wave. When two waves are similar in character then there is very little clash. They vibrate sympathetically. On the practical level we experience this as a natural affinity or dislike for the people and things we come into contact with. Our feeling of like or dislike depends on the degree of sympathetic or non-sympathetic vibration between our mental wavelength and that of the object we come in contact with. ‘Good vibes’ is exactly that, the good vibrations that come when we experience a parallelism between the wavelength of our mind and that of the person or object or environment we are in contact with.

As the mind stuff gathers to take the shape of the mental object the wavelength of that thought-form is going to affect the overall character of mind. To some small degree it will influence or alter the characteristic wavelength of that mind. If the thought object is very subtle then the mind will be benefited. If the wavelength of the thought is cruder than the mind is accustomed to then the mind will be affected for the worse. Over time the constant repetition of a thought of either a crude or subtle nature will either degrade or elevate the mind. It is for this reason that the yogis teach that excessive preoccupation with crude physical objects such as money gradually crudifies the mind. Our mental power diminishes, and our capacity for happiness, enjoyment of life, and Self-expression is decreased. But if we fill our minds with expansive, more subtle ideas, it will stretch and expand and grow to accommodate these new lofty ideas.

Changing the mind from crude to subtle is the task of meditation. In order to accomplish this we think about the subtlest object possible, consciousness, with the help of the mantra. By raising subtler and subtler waves in the mind through the constant and concentrated repetition of mantra, the mind gradually expands and becomes more subtle. It gains the capacity to transmit and perceive subtler vibrations. The regular practice of meditation opens the mind up the higher realms of experience — the awakening of intuition, a deep appreciation for art and aesthetics, profound emotions of love and compassion, feelings of sympathy and oneness with nature, and a yearning to realise the inner Self. The world around you changes from a world of fixed and immovable boundaries to one of infinite possibility.

Looking at it from this perspective underscores once again the importance of what we meditate on. History is full of examples of individuals who developed psychic powers through the practice of concentration techniques, but who eventually became degraded by that same practice because they allowed their minds to become crudified.

 

Source : Ananda Marga Ra’ja’dhira’ja Yoga

Mediation, for people who can’t meditate

Mediation, for people who can’t meditate

By: Nitin Agarwal on Oct 18, 2013 | 218 Views | 5 Responses

The author is deeply influenced by ‘A Course in Miracles’, ‘The Power of Now’ and ‘Tripura Rahasya’, and gives various suggestions keeping in the mind the learning received from these books.

 

I am unable to meditate. When I sit to meditate, my mind wonders more wildly. I have tried it all but found no benefit. What do I do now?

 

Mediation is a great tool to enlightenment, but it’s not the only one.

 

What are the other ways?

 

If meditation has not worked for you, don’t worry. Try other means to switch off your mind.

Play, dance, sing, run, walk in the woods, eat, take a bath, enjoy sex, work, do anything that you would normally do, but with little caution.

Do what you are doing, but make a conscious effort to be fully involved in the doing.

 

I don’t understand this..

 

Observe your mind. See how it wonders uselessly. The mind will always tell you that what you are thinking is of extreme importance. Most of the time it will tell you that something has gone wrong in the past and you will have to face the consequence in future or get it right in future.

 

Is that not the right way? Should we not be introspecting and take necessary steps to improve our future?

 

All you are thinking about is the past or the future. Introspection is fine, but just see how much time is required for the same.

Constantly thinking about the past or the future, you miss the present.

Focus on the present, and do what you are doing. This is a 24 hour meditative state. You won’t need to sit and close your eyes and try to meditate.

 

Is it as good as meditation?

 

In meditation, you give a certain dedicated time. Being in the present, is taking benefits of meditation, while doing all your daily activities.

 

Will there be any spiritual progress?                     

 

God resides in a quiet mind. Meditation is a way to achieve a quiet mind. Being in the present is another way of keeping your mind quiet.

OCD Expert Who Recommends Meditation as Therapy Is the Focus of New eBook

OCD Expert Who Recommends Meditation as Therapy Is the Focus of New eBook

by

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.

Characteristics of Mantra by Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

Characteristics of Mantra: Ananda Marga Founder Shrii Shrii Anandamurtijii

The third characteristic of a mantra is that it is rhythmic. What this means on the practical level is that it has to be able to align itself with our breathing and hence all mantras for meditation consist of two syllables.

Our breathing exerts a great influence over our thinking. The more rapid and irregular our breathing is, the more difficult it becomes to concentrate or to think deeply. When our breathing slows, our capacity to think deeply increases. For example, take a person who has just finished some hard physical exercise and is breathing very heavily. If you ask them a question that requires some concentration you are bound to get an answer like: Hang on a minute while I catch my breath. Conversely, whenever you are deeply concentrated on any subject you will notice that your breathing has become very slow and regular.

The alignment of the mantra with our breathing has two principle benefits. First of all, it helps to naturally regulate and slow our breathing, which in turn deepens our concentration. Secondly, we develop an association between our breathing and the repetition of mantra which helps us to remember the mantra. When a meditator becomes accomplished in the practice of mantra they start finding the mantra going on with their breath even when they are not formally meditating. Their mind remains in a meditative state even while performing its daily activities. When they sit for meditation they find it easy to remain concentrated because the mantra is rising and falling with the breath. Almost no effort is required.

Now that we have some theoretical understanding of why mantras are so effective as an object for meditation let us look at how the daily practice of mantra affects our day-to-day thinking.

Your Mental Object.

Thinking, as we normally understand it, is an activity which involves a subject and an object. We can take it one step further, however, and distinguish between one’s mental object, the image you have in your mind of something external to you, and the object itself (bear in mind that concepts, such as fame or good health, are also mental objects). The thing your mental object refers to (that new car, your name in all the fashionable magazines) may not exist yet in reality. It may never exist. But the thought exists. Your mental object is quite real. This is indicative of what we talked about earlier, that thoughts are real, significant events involving movements of powerful energy. When the human mind, the mind which has invented and which controls nuclear weapons and space shuttles, thinks something, it is a tangible expression of the most powerful machine in the universe.

Mental Objects tend to become a reality.

According to yoga psychology, mental objects tend to become expressed in the external world. What we think about tends to happen.

If you think you’ll succeed, you’ll succeed. If you think you    will fail, you will fail. Either way, you are right.                                                                         — Yogananda

Indeed, nowadays there are few people who will deny the significant effects on our lives of a positive Self-image and a positive mental attitude, or the crippling effects of negative thinking. By thinking we are happy, healthy and successful, we tend to become happy, healthy and successful, and the reverse is just as true.

Coincidence? Or incidence?

You were thinking of someone when the phone rang and guess who was on the other end. You want to go to a concert but can’t get a place; suddenly a friend tells you he or she has an extra ticket to the show and wonders if you would like it. Has anything like this ever happened to you? Were these coincidences or were they rather small examples of the powerful connection between thought and physical reality? Meditators everywhere notice a startling increase in the number of such ‘coincidences’ in their lives after they start meditating. Whether it so happens that meditation speeds up the process by which thoughts are translated into physical reality, or whether it just makes us more aware of our thoughts and how they shape our lives, this phenomena points directly to tendency of our mental objects to find expression in the external world.

Let us examine more closely the pathways a thought takes to find expression in the external world. Suppose a desire arises in your mind. That desire activates your imagination. Your mind paints a picture for you of the desired object and, consciously or unconsciously, you visualise yourself achieving it. Spurred on by that power of that thought-wave, you apply your will power and determination towards the materialisation of your desire. This is the driving force — desire, imagination and will — which enables you to translate a thought into reality, though often most or all of this process is unconscious to you and you are only aware of your sense of surprise when you find your desire materialised.

Our desires can fail to find material expression for many reasons, but perhaps the most common is that the negative side of our imagination gets in the way, sabotaging our fondest desires. Our imagination has tremendous power and when this power combines with fear, or its counterparts — doubt, anxiety, worry, insecurity, anger, resentment — it can quash all positive expressions of the will. It is somewhat like driving with the handbrake on. Part of you pushes you forward while another part restrains you, and the result is a trip to the mechanic.

Meditation teaches us a style of thinking which is conducive to the synchronisation of our imagination and our will. We raise a positive wave (or mental object) in our mind and then exercise our will to move towards it. Whenever negative thought-patterns arise and threaten to pull us in a different direction we redirect our mind back to that positive wave, thereby training it to overcome the distracting or inhibiting influence of such thought-patterns. Through regular practice this style of thinking becomes habituated and starts reflecting in other areas of our lives, hence the common experience of regular meditators that they start finding their desires quickly and easily materialised in the external world. Of course, this is not always a positive experience, as everyone soon discovers. Often what we desire is not what is best for our growth, and meditators soon learn that they must exercise control over their desires for the simple reason that they so often come true.

This aspect of meditative practice has much in common with traditional and more modern schools of positive thinking, but with several critical exceptions. Rather than utilising numerous mental objects (for example, different affirmations) and thereby diffusing the mind, we meditate on one object and one object alone, which enables us to develop the full power of the mind. And that object is the subtlest object available, consciousness itself, which leads us to the greatest possible growth and expansion of mind. By a dedicated program of positive thinking we may develop a strong, positive self-image and a sense of well-being. We may even become rich or influential, if that is what we tell ourselves we will be, but we may not realise our inner Self.

Running as Moving meditation

Vinluan: Moving meditation (Part 2)

By Bobby Vinluan

Sports Psychology

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

THERE are usually distinctive stages in running and the need to listen to your body is recommended.

If running doesn’t feel good in 30 minutes, you may want to stop or you may ask what am I doing here?

Mild feeling of euphoria may also start in 30 minutes of running, tensions may drain away, and the rhythm between your steps and breathing may lull you, and ideas flash in and out of your mind from the periphery of your consciousness.

There are many offbeat ways of relaxing and getting into a meditative mood for running. Joe Henderson, author of the Long-Run Solutions, suggests five steps, which are general rules for running as well as for reaching a meditative state.

“First,” he says, “start your run without an end in sight. It will take 20-30 minutes to pick up the flow, and by then you’ll know how much you can do, if the run goes badly stop and try again tomorrow. Any running is better than none at all. Even a tickle of running add to the pool of fitness. Third, let the pace find itself. You will usually run along the edge between comfort and discomfort. Fourth, run for yourself. Don’t look ahead or behind. And fifth, run for today, don’t compete with yesterday or tomorrow, take pleasure in less than being your best.”

However, even the best runners will miss occasionally a desired and expected outcome. That is because certain things inhibit to facilitate “penetration into one’s inner world” while running. By avoiding these circumstances, i.e. competition, or the obsession with running kilometers, surroundings which focus your attention outside your body, rather than within, or the yakketty-yakking in group runs, and conversation, with someone or yourself, will misdirect your concentration.

Avoiding these circumstances during a run, and by running steady, in a non-tiring pace, and letting your mind spin free, with ideas flowing like water in a stream can make you encourage the meditative state. If we are to understand more the relationship between running and meditation, believe that a sense of euphoria comes with three types of runs, the meditative high from running alone at a reflective pace; the competition high of running fast at the edge of our physical limits; and the “high” of running with friends and fellowship. Try it if running is part of your life.

Technique incorporating meditation and yoga lowers high blood pressure

Technique incorporating meditation and yoga lowers high blood pressure

Last Updated: Wednesday, October 16, 2013, 17:58

Washington: A new study has revealed that technique incorporating meditation and yoga can benefit patients with high blood pressure or `prehypertension`.

The study by Joel W. Hughes , PhD, of Kent State (Ohio) University included 56 women and men diagnosed with prehypertension.

One group of patients was assigned to a program of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR): eight group sessions of 2 and a half hours per week. Led by an experienced instructor, the sessions included three main types of mindfulness skills: body scan exercises, sitting meditation, and yoga exercises.

The other “comparison” group received lifestyle advice plus a muscle-relaxation activity. This “active control” treatment group was not expected to have lasting effects on blood pressure.
Researchers found that patients in the mindfulness-based intervention group had significant reductions in clinic-based blood pressure measurements. Systolic blood pressure (the first, higher number) decreased by an average of nearly 5 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg), compared to less than 1 mm Hg with in the control group who did not receive the mindfulness intervention.

Diastolic blood pressure (the second, lower number) was also lower in the mindfulness-based intervention group: a reduction of nearly 2 mm Hg, compared to an increase of 1 mm Hg in the control group.

“Mindfulness-based stress reduction is an increasingly popular practice that has been purported to alleviate stress, treat depression and anxiety, and treat certain health conditions,” Dr Hughes said.

The study is published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine.