Why meditate? For one, to clear a cloudy mind. Find out other reasons to meditate from ‘Mind Man’ Andy Puddicombe in the video via Motivational Video, Headspace: What Are The Benefits Of Meditation? (WATCH).
Want to do well on that upcoming test? Consider a little meditation, a new study in the journal Mindfulness suggests.
Researchers from George Mason University and the University of Illinois conducted their study on college students in a psychology class. Some of the students were shown how to meditate before listening to a lecture, while others didn’t meditate before the lecture. Then, after the lecture, they all took a quiz — and those who meditated did better on the quiz than those who didn’t.
Specifically, one of the experiments conducted in the study showed that meditation had such a strong impact on the quiz scores, it was even able to predict students’ passing or failing the quiz.Interestingly, researchers found that the meditation’s effect was even more pronounced in freshmen classes.”Personally, I have found meditation to be helpful for mental clarity, focus and self-discipline,” study researcher Jared Rambsurg, who is a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, said in a statement. ”
I think that if mindfulness can improve mental clarity, focus and self-discipline, then it might be useful in a variety of settings and for a variety of goals.”This is certainly not the first time mindfulness has been shown in a study to help with academics. A study published last month in the journal Psychological Science showed that mindfulness helped students’ memory and reading comprehension before taking the verbal reasoning portion of the GRE.”
Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with wide reaching consequences,” the researchers of that study, from the University of California, Santa Barbara, wrote.
Teaching Loving Kindness to kids by Christine Carter, Phd of Greater Good Parents:
The Heart Math Institute has a phenomenal body of research on the measurable impacts of the resonance of our beating hearts, both physiologically and emotionally. Learn more on the Meditation Resources page.
To practice working on increasing your own personal heart coherence, you can work with this Meditation from the Unwind your Mind CD:
Below you will find a fascinating video about the global impacts of joining in our personal heart coherence by the Heart Math Institute.
The Spiritual Heart — is in a way a little like a smart phone, invisibly connecting us to a large network of information. It is through an unseen energy that the heart emits that humans are profoundly connected to all living things. The energy of the heart literally links us to each other. Every person’s heart contributes to a ‘collective field environment.’ This short video explains the importance of this connection and how we each add to this collective energy field. The energetic field of the heart even connects us with the earth itself.
The Institute of HeartMath (http://www.heartmath.org) is helping provide a more comprehensive picture of this connection between all living things through a special science-based project called the Global Coherence Initiative (http:///www.glcoherence.org.) They hope to help explain the mysteries of this connection between people and the earth…and even the sun.
Scientists at the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) have already conducted extensive research on the power of heart, the heart/brain connection, heart intelligence and practical intuition.
Whether personal relationships, social connections, or even the global community – we are all connected through a field of electromagnetic energy. Increasing individual awareness of what we bring to this field environment could be the key to creating a sustainable future, a future that we can be proud to have helped create. Learn more about this research, http://www.heartmath.org/heart-intell…, scroll to bottom of the page.
Oh mindfulness meditation, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways.
Even though the academic research on mindfulness meditation isn’t as robust as, say, nutrition or exercise, there is a reason why it’s been around for literally thousands of years. And we’re starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions.
With that in mind, here are 20 reasons why you might want to consider incorporating mindfulness meditation into your daily life. And for our full coverage on the topic, click over to our Mindfulness Meditation page.
1. It lowers stress — literally. Research published just last month in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it’s also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
2. It lets us get to know our true selves. Mindfulness can help us see beyond those rose-colored glasses when we need to really objectively analyze ourselves. A study in the journal Psychological Science shows that mindfulness can help us conquer common “blind spots,” which can amplify or diminish our own flaws beyond reality.
3. It can make your grades better. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who were trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE, and also experienced improvements in their working memory. “Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with widereaching consequences,” the researchers wrote in the Psychological Science study.
4. It could help our troops. The U.S. Marine Corps is in the process of seeing how mindfulness meditation training can improve troops’ performance and ability to handle — and recover from — stress.
5. It could help people with arthritis better handle stress. A 2011 study in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease shows that even though mindfulness training may not help to lessen pain for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it could help to lower their stress and fatigue.
6. It changes the brain in a protective way. University of Oregon researchers found that integrative body-mind training — which is a meditation technique — can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness. The meditation practice was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain, something called axonal density, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin) around the axons in the anterior cingulate brain region.
7. It works as the brain’s “volume knob.” Ever wondered why mindfulness meditation can make you feel more focused and zen? It’s because it helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotions, specifically through the control of cortical alpha rhythms (which play a role in what senses our minds are attentive to), according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.
8. It makes music sound better. Mindfulness meditation improves our focused engagement in music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we’re listening to, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Music.
9. It helps us even when we’re not actively practicing it. You don’t have to actually be meditating for it to still benefit your brain’s emotional processing. That’s the finding of a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which shows that the amygdala brain region’s response to emotional stimuli is changed by meditation, and this effect occurs even when a person isn’t actively meditating.
10. It has four elements that help us in different ways. The health benefits of mindfulness can be boiled down to four elements, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention.
11. It could help your doctor be better at his/her job. Doctors, listen up: Mindfulness meditation could help you better care for your patients. Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that doctors who are trained in mindfulness meditation are less judgmental, more self-aware and better listeners when it comes to interacting with patients.
12. It makes you a better person. Sure, we love all the things meditation does for us. But it could also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, “do-good” behavior.
13. It could make going through cancer just a little less stressful. Research from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine shows that mindfulness coupled with art therapy can successfully decrease stress symptoms among women with breast cancer. And not only that, but imaging tests show that it is actually linked with brain changes related to stress, emotions and reward.
14. It could help the elderly feel less lonely. Loneliness among seniors can be dangerous, in that it’s known to raise risks for a number of health conditions. But researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that mindfulness meditation helped to decrease these feelings of loneliness among the elderly, and boost their health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.
15. It could make your health care bill a little lower. Not only will your health benefit from mindfulness meditation training, but your wallet might, too. Research in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that practicing Transcendental Meditation is linked with lower yearly doctor costs, compared with people who don’t practice the meditation technique.
16. It comes in handy during cold season. Aside from practicing good hygiene, mindfulness meditation and exercise could lessen the nasty effects of colds. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that people who engage in the practices miss fewer days of work from acute respiratory infections, and also experience a shortened duration and severity of symptoms.
17. It lowers depression risk among pregnant women. As many as one in five pregnant women will experience depression, but those who are at especially high risk for depression may benefit from some mindfulness yoga. “Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” study researcher Dr. Maria Muzik, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”
18. It also lowers depression risk among teens. Teaching teens how to practice mindfulness through school programs could help them experience less stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study from the University of Leuven.
19. It supports your weight-loss goals. Trying to shed a few pounds to get to a healthier weight? Mindfulness could be your best friend, according to a survey of psychologists conducted by Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association. Mindfulness training was considered an “excellent” or “good” strategy for weight loss by seven out of 10 psychologists in the survey.
20. It helps you sleep better. We saved the best for last! A University of Utah study found that mindfulness training can not only help us better control our emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress,” study researcher Holly Rau said in a statement.
Can’t get enough reasons to love meditation? Fine, fine — here are seven more:
Mindful meditation could help you get through the madness
By Mary MacVean
April 16, 2013, 3:59 p.m.
Mark Coleman has been practicing meditation for 30 years. In a conversation with the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday morning, he offers some thoughts and advice about how to get started. If you’ve ever been intrigued by the idea of mindful meditation, he provides all you need to get started — and the entry bar is low: just five minutes a day.
Mindfulness is being used in prisons, public schools, corporations and the military to help people focus and improve their reactions. It can even help make the traffic more bearable. But as Coleman discusses, mindfulness is a serious pursuit that can help people respond to the happy and difficult things we inevitably confront.
In this video I teach a Kundalini meditation called “Purify the Subtle Body.” The subtle body is the part of us that calls in opportunities, brings us good news and attracts positivity toward us. This meditation strengthens your energy field so that you become a magnet for miracles. Practicing this meditation will make you shine bright and deepen your connection to the universe.
In the video I break down the meditation and guide you along with the music. For further clarification, please see the instructions below. If you have a shoulder issue and cannot lift your arms overhead, simply envision yourself doing the exercise and you’ll receive the same benefit from the meditation. Feel free to leave questions or remarks in the comments below.
Mudra: Sitting in easy pose (cross-legged) with a straight spine, place the arms down by the sides, backs of the palms on the ground next to the sides of the body.
Movement: As you inhale, raise the arms over the head, until the two palms overlap a few inches above the your head (known as the tenth gate). The right hand will be a few inches above the head. The left palm will lie flat on top of the back of the right hand. The thumbs do NOT touch. (Note: Yogi Bhajan very specifically keeps the thumbs separated when the hands overlap over the top of the head.)
Breath: Make your mouth into an “O.” Inhale through the “O” as you raise the arms over the head, and exhale through the “O” as you lower the hands back down to the ground.
Chant: The “Tantric Har” music, which is played in the video. On the first “Har” raise your arms up. On the second “Har” your arms go down. Continue in this rhythmic movement. Pull in on the navel and the diaphragm as you do the movement.
Time: If you’re new to Kundalini meditation, begin with three minutes. If you want to go big, then practice this meditation for 11 minutes a day.
End: Inhale deeply. Immediately interlace the hands over the head, elbows straight, and begin to deeply stretch the body right to left, and left to right, without letting go of the hands.
Continue as you hold the breath for 15 seconds. Exhale. Repeat three times total. Relax.
Entering a more ‘zen’ mindset could be as easy as taking a walk in the park, according to a small new study.
New research from scientists at Heriot-Watt University in the U.K. conducted mobile brain electrical activity testing on volunteers to find that the brain enters a meditative state when going through green spaces.
The findings have “implications for promoting urban green space as a mood-enhancing environment for walking or for other forms of physical or reflective activity,” they wrote in the study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study included 12 healthy adults who walked through three kinds of environments in Edinburgh while being hooked up to mobile electroencephalography devices (which tracked their emotions). They took a 25-minute walk through a city shopping street, through a green space, and on a street in a busy business area. The mobile electroencephalography tracked emotions including frustration, meditation, short-term and long-term excitement, and engagement.
Researchers found that feelings of meditation were the highest when the study participants were going through the green space, as well as less frustration, long-term excitement and engagement.
The New York Times reported that the findings don’t mean the green space triggered spacing out — rather, the engagement required to walk through a green space is more “effortless,” study researcher Jenny Roe told the publication.
“It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection,” Roe told the Times.
And taking a walk in the park or a hike outdoors is good for our brains in more ways than one — the University of Washington reports that spending time in nature helps to conquer mental fatigue and even boost cognitive functioning.
For more benefits of being outdoors, click through the slideshow:
In the video below, Dr. Joe Parisi leads a six-minute mindfulness meditation that will help you de-stress and unwind. In the meditation you will be prompted to use your breath to become more present. Follow along, then let us know in the comments how you feel once you’ve finished this soothing exercise.
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