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Battling A Sense Of Lost Time – the importance of being in nature

Battling A Sense Of Lost Time

by MARCELO GLEISER

December 11, 2013 2:43 PM

The first word that comes to mind when I think about modern life is “overload.” The second is “dispersion.”

We are the targets of an ongoing war for our attention: the Web, new technologies, food, clothing, music. We feel the constant need to be connected; TV and radio are just not enough. We need to link to social media outlets, know what’s going on or else be out; each instant of time is taken by a screen, small or large; information pours down in torrents.

If we forget our cell phone at home, we feel like a body part is missing; we are the phones, the phones are us. We are addicted to it, as we can see when a plane lands after a 45-minute flight and hundreds of passengers turn on their phones as if their lives depended on information that just came out. We are addicted to linkage and I am guilty as charged.

We no longer allow time for contemplation.

People feel time is passing faster because we have less and less control over it. To do nothing feels like a huge waste of time. Any open window of time must be filled with tweets, Facebook updates, email, YouTube videos, podcasts. If no one is talking about us, let’s make sure that they do.

One of the victims of this “race to linkage” is our connection to nature. We can call it the new missing link.

We hardly look up to the sky or the at the life around us. To most people nature is a concept, something that exists out there, that we see in YouTube videos or magazines, on BBC and Animal Planet specials. To recover a sense of control over time we need to return to nature; we need to create space to observe other forms of life; we need to reconnect with the night sky, far from the city lights. At least this is what I do to slow down.

To me, entering a trail for a hike or run is like entering a temple. And as with any temple, I go in search of a connection, trying to restore a sense of identity as I surround myself with green and blue.


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Why Google, Facebook and Twitter Execs Are Meeting With a Monk

In an age when we’re constantly being distracted, being able to focus is the golden goose.

We may thank technology platforms like Twitter and Facebook for shrinking our attention spans down to nanoseconds, but the executives of those selfsame companies know that to grow their businesses, they need to put a priority on focus.

 

At the Wisdom 2.0 conference being hosted in San Francisco next month, a group of tech heavyweights will come together with yoga practitioners, mindfulness specialists and even a Benedictine monk to learn how to work and live within the demands of technology more effectively.

Related: 10 Trends for 2014: We Seek Imperfect, Human Moments. With Our Smartphones at the Ready.

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh and Huffington Post CEO Arianna Huffington are on the roster of speakers along with top executives from Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram and LinkedIn. Also on the 2014 speaker rundown is Eckhart Tolle, the spiritual teacher and author of New York Times best seller The Power of Now.

The annual conference, which attracted 350 attendees when it was first held five years ago, is expected to attract 2,000 attendees this year. The conference runs February 14 through 17 and tickets range from $500 to $1,500 depending on how early you reserve a spot.

Related: Let Go, Keep it Simple, Move Quickly: Secrets to Being a Productive Entrepreneur (Infographic)

The growing interest in the conference mirrors a growing trend in our relationship with technology: As we become increasingly dependent on mobile devices and social networks, we struggle to not feel controlled by them. These questions and struggles pervade both our personal and professional lives, but business leaders and executives at the Wisdom 2.0 conference will specifically address how to perform more efficiently in the workplace.

For example, last year, Gopi Kallayil, the chief evangelist for Google+, talked about how to integrate the fundamentals of a yoga-practice to be a more productive professional. Kallayil, who was born in India and grew up practicing yoga, has five fundamental rituals that he implements in every single day: focus on the essential, do one thing at a time, take time to listen to your own body’s needs, make at least one minute for mindfulness each day and set appointments for the activities that will help you stay mindful.

 

Buddhist practises with monks have become key feature of employee training in most cos – Economic Times

(The vision behind wisdom…)

The un informed visitor at Googleplex may find himself perplexed when he sees the presentation room filled with techies perched in half-lotus position, meditating. His confusion is justified since it is hard to imagine that the corporation that prides itself in thinking ahead of tomorrow is now looking back at centuries-old traditions to bring out the best in its employees.

Google is embracing Buddhist meditative practices in a big way. Zen masters and monks routinely tour the campus, the company has instituted self-awareness courses like Search Inside Yourself, Neural Self-Hacking and Managing Your Energy, designed to teach people to manage their emotions through meditation, and Googlers are signing up for these classes in droves.

No, Google isn’t renouncing its worldly searches. Quiet contemplation is the new buzzword in Silicon Valley, with the region’s heavyweights like Twitter and Facebook jumping aboard the neo-spiritual bandwagon.

Contemplative practices and meditation sessions has become key features of employee training in most firms. As in all things in the Valley, the centuries-old practices has been innovated to suit the Valley’s goal-oriented culture. Forget Nirvana, the not-so-lofty aim of these endeavours is all about training the brain to unleash productivity.

Research suggests that meditation can rewire the brain’s response to stress and helps improve memory and executive functions. Exercises in ‘ mindfulness’ – paying close, nonjudgmental attention – help understand a coworkers’ motivations and cultivate emotional intelligence. In the hyper-kinetic Silicon Valley, these self-regulation practices strengthen emotional resilience, and is a better coping mechanism than fast-food therapy.

Chade-Meng Tan, a Google employee and creator of the Search Inside Yourself programme, defines it as the Zen of Google. The course is a series of meditation exercises wrapped in the package of emotional intelligence. “The other-centricity that meditation breeds can boost your trajectory,” says Meng ,who believes that in a place like Google, where there is no dearth of high intelligence quotient, the differentiating factor that sets you apart from the rest is having high emotional intelligence.

Frustrated by his divorce, work stress and twitter addiction, Soren Gordhamer wrote a book – Wisdom 2.0: Ancient Secrets for the Creative and Constantly Connected. The book was no bestseller, but its message of living mindfully, wisely and compassionately in the digital age set off ripples of introspection in the tech community that culminated in the launch of the annual conference Wisdom 2.0.

The event serves as a connector of the technology and contemplative communities. The vision behind wisdom being, tapping our inner wisdom even as we integrate more and more technology into our lives, and keep them from taking over.

Wisdom 2013 drew huge crowds and the attendees included headliners like Jeff Weiner, Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, and, Arianna Huffington, who describes the event as her version of Disneyland.

Meditation therapy is growing deep roots in the Valley which is no stranger to New Age fad cycles. The tech biz is taking periodic pauses in the rat race, trying to connect the dots between spirituality and technology, to find the bigger picture.

Global India Newswire

via Buddhist practises with monks have become key feature of employee training in most cos – Economic Times.

How Athletes Can Benefit From Meditation – Press Release – Digital Journal

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.

Anne Germain Looks At How Athletes Can Benefit From Meditation – Press Release – Digital Journal.

Robert Piper: 6 Reasons Why Everyone in Corporate America Should Meditate

Let’s face it — we all want to lounge in the sun all day on a beach in Hawaii. But we just can’t, we have to go to work and go head to head with stressors that follow the daily grind coming from corporate America.

A survey done by the American Psychological Association found that one-third of employees experience chronic stress related to work.

Meditation is leading the way as a potent tool that could potentially help out. It’s becoming a legitimate pushup for the brain. I don’t care if you call it meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing, or chillin’ time. It works — the scientific evidence is here.

Some of the brightest minds from Harvard, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, and Yale are coming to the conclusion that meditation is an incredible tool for your health.

Here are six reasons why the practice should be embraced in corporate America.

1. It’s been shown to help people stay focused in high-stress environments.

When we get stressed, it attacks are focus, we can’t concentrate. If we can’t concentrate, we can’t get things done. This happens to everyone who experiences stress — why not give meditation a try?

2. It could lower stress.

A little stress is good for us, too much and it becomes are enemy. It’s currently wreaking havoc on corporate America — it is estimated that American business lose up to $300 billion a year because of stress, according to the American Psychological Association. There’s evidence to suggest that meditation may help lower the stress hormone cortisol.

3. It works, even when you’re not meditating.

Similar to working out at the gym, there’s evidence to suggest that meditation works even when you’re not meditating. Why not do some meditation right before you go to work? This will help you have a balanced and clear mind throughout the day.

4. It lets us know our blind spots.

We all have internal blind spots that we could work on to help improve the quality of our lives. A study published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science showed how mindfulness helped people to look internally at their true selves. We can use mindfulness in a productive way to manage our emotional states.

5. It could help you become more compassionate.

Wouldn’t it be better to start your day off by working on cultivating a positive attitude? What if you went to work wishing for the people around you to be happy? This would influence not only your work life, but every area of your life. Meditation has been shown to make people more compassionate.

6. It may improve sleep quality.

A lot of times the reason we are unproductive at the workplace is because we didn’t sleep well. One meditation study is showing that it may improve our quality of sleep. Why not do some during your lunch break?

Meditation is the new American pushup for the brain, it’s a tool that helps us check in with ourselves throughout the day. It’s a practice that should be embraced by all American corporations as a way to stay calm, focused, and productive through the day.

Follow Robert Piper on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RobertGPiper

via Robert Piper: 6 Reasons Why Everyone in Corporate America Should Meditate.

Robert Piper: America’s New Workout for the Brain

Half of America exercises at least three or more times a week. I’m not sure why at least half of Americans don’t do meditation, considering the benefits. America is one of the most resilient countries in the world; the DNA of this country is made up of people that took risks and came from all over the world. I think Americans need to adopt a practice that’s been shown to increase resilience and compassion.

Why is everyone in America not using a tool that may make you more compassionate, resilient, kind, and happy?

One thing I noticed enormously from the time I started meditation is that the practice has made me a happier and more compassionate person. I’m not perfect, and I’m sure there are people out there who think I’m not compassionate at all, and they are entitled to their opinion. But the reality is it’s something I consciously work on because of meditation.

I grew up in a culture where most of my guy friends are alpha males who love sports, and work in corporate America. They like to joke around and greet each other with a series of insults. Anyone who observes this would think that it is a comedy show. Now this is not good or bad, this is just a part of the subculture. If you ever go into a locker room of football players in the NFL, you might see a similar subculture.

If you would have heard the jokes that were made about me doing meditation, then you would understand where I’m coming from. Outside of the mindfulness and yoga communities in America, meditation is still not mainstream.

I admire Dr. Richard Davidson for his pioneering research in the area of meditation. I think programs like the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at University of Wisconsin-Madison are causing a ripple effect on bringing meditation to the masses. Or the work that Congressman Tim Ryan is doing with promoting the positive effects of meditation.

I think the millions of Americans who exercise should be meditating before and after they jump on the treadmill. Why is this not possible? They adopted an iPod into their workout. They should be meditating before work, and they should be doing some meditation during their lunch break to stay focused.

Ten years from now, this practice is going to be seen as just like doing a push-up.

Here are four ways to make the practice a part of your life:

1. At Work

Come up with various ways to incorporate meditation into your work schedule, whether it’s before, during, or after work. Try to bring your attention to your breathing whenever you feel stressed out, this can be done at any time throughout the day. Another option would be do it at your lunch break.

2. Before You Exercise

I find meditation to be immensely beneficial to be used before exercising. If you’re a runner, try to do at least 10 to 15 minutes of meditation right before you run. Then you can make your run a moving meditation.

3. Right When You Wake Up

If you do meditation right when you wake up in the morning, it will impact every area of your life. Try to do a few minutes of meditation every morning before you start your day.

4. Schedule a Five-Day Challenge

Make a commitment today that you are going to do meditation every day for the next five days straight. Meditation is like anything else — once you get over the initial difficulties, like trying to focus your mind, it becomes easy.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

Follow Robert Piper on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rgpiper

via Robert Piper: America’s New Workout for the Brain.

 

Karen Gifford: Meditation Saved My Job and Changed My Life

I began meditating when I was a litigator in the enforcement section of the New York Fed’s legal department. I led investigations into misconduct in the banking industry and brought civil enforcement actions based on what I found. My cases involved activity like embezzlement, loan fraud and misconduct on the trading desks that were new at banks at the time.

I loved my work. It was fascinating and I was lucky to have brilliant colleagues. I also believed — and still do- that what I was doing made the financial system run better and more fairly.

At the same time, my job came with obvious stresses. Cases that can result in significant fines, injunctions and bans from the industry are extremely contentious, to say the least. The bankers I brought cases against thought I was ruining their lives and took my enforcement actions personally. Shouting and swearing were very much part of my day; my opponents were often best lawyers in the country who could outspend me by many multiples.

While I was managing this challenging but rewarding legal practice, I was raising young children with a spouse who traveled four days a week. We were lucky to have a wonderful nanny; still, the demands were intense. Many nights I fell asleep on the floor of my children’s room, so exhausted I didn’t realize what happened until I woke up hours later with creases from the rug on my face.

At first I saw meditation as a way to cope with the demands of my work situation. I could see I needed to do something to make my life function better, and I really didn’t want to give up my job. I’d heard meditation helped with stress, so I began trying to meditate every day.

After my experience, I’m amused when business people tell me they can’t meditate. A good meditation practice just requires some discipline, concentration, and the ability to set goals and work towards them. These traits are the common currency of most professionals, and ones that I used when I began meditating.

The hardest part for me was getting started. I had many reasons to be motivated, but sitting still and watching my thoughts didn’t come naturally to a “do-er” like me. At first I sat for just two minutes a day — and that was hard! Eventually though, I found my way, and meditation became one of the pillars of my day. I learned that no matter how crazy things were at work or at home, I could go inside and find a place of deep calm, sweetness, silence and even joy.

So meditation helped me stay at my job and I was happy. I didn’t realize, though, that the calm I felt was just the beginning. Meditation is a transformational practice, not simply a means of stress reduction. Far from tamping down my nervous system so I could endure the difficult parts of my life, meditating made me more aware, present and open to change — and many changes ensued.

For one thing, meditation changed my home life. I enjoyed the time I had with my kids and spouse more fully, without being so pulled into work problems, or worse, stressing out over how little time we had together. Of course, sometimes I was more aware of things that weren’t working at home, but even that became more productive than upsetting. After a while, everyone at home was happier. This is a beautiful surprise of meditation — the changes it brought seemed so simple, but had a profound impact.

More surprising was what happened at work. As I got to know my mind a little better, I began to realize that my thoughts weren’t me, and I didn’t always have to believe them. I could decide whether the opposing counsel screaming at me over the phone was actually a terrible person out to torment me, or just another human being having a bad day. I began to feel more comfortable questioning my preconceptions than always trying to defend them.

This shift had a radical effect on my experience of work. I started to view work difficulties not as something to push away, but as opportunities to engage with my own mental constructs. And believe me, I had lots of opportunities! If you want to see your own patterns and assumptions, a demanding job will bring them to the fore. My office became a place for deepening self knowledge, not just somewhere I got things done.

Ironically, all this inner work made me more effective at my job. Watching stressful feelings come and go during meditation gave me tools I put to use in many situations: I was less reactive in negotiations, less intimidated by the “big guns” opposing me, worried less about outcomes and therefore was more able to do my best work. I was more myself in court, and I believe that made me more persuasive.

Did meditation turn me into the most invincible lawyer ever? Probably not. But it helped me become the best lawyer I was capable of being. Meditation certainly helped me keep a job I loved for years longer than I would have otherwise. Later, it created the mental space to question the all-work-at-all-costs ethos that dominates the legal profession, and find a way to practice part-time. And eventually, when I decided it was time to move on, meditation helped make the move out of legal practice — a notoriously fraught transition — pass relatively smoothly.

So if you work in the professional world, don’t think that meditation isn’t for you. You have the skills you need to build a strong meditation practice. If you take the plunge and start sitting, I can’t predict all the ways meditation will affect your personal and professional life. What I can promise is that it will, and how it does will surprise you. And I’m happy to say the surprises just keep coming.

Follow Karen Gifford on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BroadsBlog

Karen Gifford: Meditation Saved My Job and Changed My Life.

Robert Piper: Why Every CEO in America Should Be Encouraging Meditation in the Work Place

Ingrained into the fabric of America is the idea that we have to be the best. There’s nothing wrong with that idea; this is a country that gave birth to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and even put a man on the moon.

However, stress is beating us up really badly. It’s just destroying us. The World Health Organization estimates that stress is costing America businesses up to $300 billion a year. Benjamin Franklin once said, “A small leak can sink a great ship.”

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to suggest that meditation is needed in the workplace. We have the stats; we have decades of research from some of the brightest minds in America behind it. If you’re a CEO of a company you need to, “Make it happen.”

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that there are over 3,000 studies on the positive benefits of meditation. Meditation is legitimately America’s next push-up; it builds emotional resilience, happiness, and a positive outlook on life. Why isn’t every CEO in America encouraging this in the work place?

I think some of the road blocks to the wide-spread acceptance of meditation in America has to do with some of the myths attached to it. There are a lot of myths — like you need a meditation space, a meditation pillow, certain beliefs, etc. You might have read about Buddhist monks that have done over 10,000 hours of meditation; well I’ve also done well over 10,000 hours of meditation.

I do several hours of meditation a day; I consider it a positive marathon exercise for the mind. I do it because I think it’s a great tool for happiness and a resilient mind. And I can tell you that you don’t need to purchase a fancy meditation cushion to reap the benefits of meditation.

I’m a former frat boy who used a pillow as a meditation cushion for years; I purchased it for a few dollars at a convenient store during my college days. I still go out on the weekends, watch sports on TV, and listen to Bloomberg radio. My meditation space is my family room and consists of a 47 inch flat screen TV (I wanted to get a 57 inch put it wouldn’t fit), two couches and a picture of John F. Kennedy on the wall. I have never burned incense in my meditation space.

From my own experience, I can tell you that meditation has actually made me want to engage in positive conversations with as many people as possible. I actually try to seek out conversations with different types of people because it makes me happier. It also makes you totally resilient because you’re able to separate from your emotions.

Physical exercise has been a major staple of American culture, and it has been shown to reduce stress. I do cardio several times a week, but I can sometimes understand we don’t have the time. Meditation is something that can easily fit into our busy schedules.

Most importantly, meditation can be done right in your office chair. Here’s a simple meditation:

1. Sit in your office chair and bring your attention inward to your breathing.
2. Trying to focus your attention on your heartbeat.
3. Take a deep inhale.
4. Exhale out.
5. Repeat the steps above and try to keep this calm mind with you for the rest of the day.
6. You can come back to this practice at any time throughout the day.

America is one of the greatest countries in the world because we take what works the best and disregard the rest. I think we should take a few minutes a day to pause, reflect and do some meditation in our office chair.

For more by Robert Piper, click here.

For more on meditation, click here.

Follow Robert Piper on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rgpiper

Robert Piper: Why Every CEO in America Should Be Encouraging Meditation in the Work Place.

 

Metro – Use meditation to sleep better in 2013

Talking in your sleep? There’s an app for that

The city that never sleeps

MARY ANN GEORGANTOPOULOS

NEW YORK

What are some reasons people don’t sleep well?

One of the things that people complain about is thinking too much when they are in bed. Thinking of all the things that can go wrong tomorrow does not help.

Another common complaint is waking up at 3 in the morning. It’s worse if you get irritated and start obsessing about not being able to go back to sleep. The best policy is don’t try. Just get up and do something that is on your to-do list. In about an hour you can go back to bed and find that now you can sleep

How can meditation help you sleep better?

Mindfulness meditation brings the mind and the body together. Your body may be in a comfortable bed, in a quiet, dark room. But where is your mind? Whatever the mind is doing, the body follows. So, quieting the mind by getting it to focus on our breathing is helpful.

Are there different types of meditation?

Yes, meditation means different things in different traditions. The type of meditation that I is called mindfulness meditation. It is the practice of bringing the wandering mind back to the body so that body and mind can be united instead of in different places. “Be here now” is a kind of mantra you can use, as well as “Breathing in, breathing out.”

How can we incorporate meditation during the day – for example, at work?

The more mindfulness becomes a part of your life, the easier it is to use it — to sleep better, to decrease your stress level, or even to lose weight by eating mindfully. You need to remember to take time out–or rather, time in–during the day.

Tip:

Download a mindfulness bell to ring at intervals you choose. When the bell goes off, stop for about 20 seconds, take a deep breath and tune in to yourself. You can use the occasion to get in touch with your breath and see if you are holding tension anywhere in your body.

Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant

via Metro – Use meditation to sleep better in 2013.