There is a difference between mindfulness meditation and simple mindfulness. The latter isn’t a practice separate from everyday life. Mindfulness just means becoming more conscious of what you’re feeling, more intentional about your behaviors and more attentive to your impact on others.
Kat Tansey's insight:
Learning to meditate can be daunting. Why not just spend a few minutes focusing on something in your mind's eye, or a few minutes watching your thoughts go by? Take a few breaths and become aware of your body.
Anyone can do this. It takes little time, no special environment required, no training needed. Just sit for a few minutes, breathe, observe your thoughts, or focus on one image. That's it.
Doing this whenever you can will increase your ability to be mindful throughout the day. For me, that has always been the goal of my meditation practice -- not what happens during my sitting; rather, how I deal with real life . . .
As I write this I am eating my breakfast and checking back to the Busy Signal article to see if there is a quote I want to use. I live in two worlds -- the world of multitasking and the world of meditation. When I don't spend enough time in meditation, I feel myself unraveling, doing more and more with less and less true connection and insight.
There have been studies and articles about the value or possible harm of multitasking from both sides, pro and con. I tend to be in the middle, because that is where I live. But if I were to choose I would have to side with cons, simply because I see so many people who do not have some sort of meditation or quieting the mind practice, and when we discuss the benefits of such a practice they invariably say something like "I just can't sit still long enough to meditate" or "My mind races too much to mediate." And yet, if they were to be still and look at their lives as an observer rather than a participant, they might be able to see that they are in a speed race to nowhere.
This article is written by Andrew Olendzki, Ph.D., who is the executive director and senior scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, in Barre, Massachussetts. Unlike many of the studies about multitasking, he looks at the issue from the perspective of the Buddha's teaching. Enjoy!
I know from 20 years of personal experience that meditation has changed and continues to change my brain. Now a new study from Yale University gives scientists a window into the meditating mind, providing evidence that the practice appears to change the way the brain works.
Meditation does not mean sitting in a perfect state of peace while having no thoughts. Big misconception! Instead, meditation is about establishing a different relationship with your thoughts, just for a little while.
Instead, meditation is about establishing a different relationship with your thoughts, just for a little while. Instead of attention being drawn off by whatever thought happens to present itself, in meditation, you watch your thoughts from a different, more stabilized perspective. You're training yourself to place your attention where and when you want. This is very powerful. It gives you the ability to direct your thoughts (and mood) in more productive and peaceful directions.
(This is an excellent article by New York Times best-selling author Susan Piver.)
Meditation improves the immune system, reduces blood pressure and even sharpens the mind, according to research.
The authors identify four key components of "mindfulness" - the state of meditation - that may account for its effects: attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and sense of self. Together, these help us deal with the effects of stress.
Meditators know that a daily practice reduces stress and helps them function better. Now MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history show how meditation produces massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter.
Participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day for 8 weeks practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress.
Over the past nine years, more than 2 million American soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As many as several hundred thousand may now suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, experts say.
Kat Tansey's insight:
Living with constant stress takes it toll. This excellent article highlights the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Fifteen minutes a day can change your brain and your life.
Jerome Stone is a man on a mission. He wrote Minding the Bedside to help nurses learn about and practice meditation -- to help them be present for their patients. He knows how important this is as he has been a practicing nurse for many years.
I see great leverage in Jerome's work -- every nurse who learns to meditate will be able to be there for his or her patients, no matter how stressed (and I am sure their lives are very stressed) they are in any particular moment.
Take a look at Jerome's website, download his free materials -- and consider giving his book as a gift to any nurse you care about.
We have the power to can help Jerome Stone make a difference, one nurse at a time.
I haven’t studied enough. I’m going to fail the test. My mom’s going to be mad. Maybe I’ll skip class.
Thoughts like these can quickly gallop out of control in kids’ minds, but what if there was a way they could clear them away? Enter the three-minute breathing meditation, which can be done anywhere, whether it’s on the bus or in a school hallway.
MIT and Harvard neuroscientists explain why the practice of meditation helps tune out distractions and relieve pain. In a study published in the journal Brain Research Bulletin, researchers found that people trained to meditate over an eight-week period were better able to control a specific type of brain waves called alpha rhythms.
The subjects trained in meditation also reported that they felt less stress than the non-meditators. “Their objective condition might not have changed, but they’re not as reactive to their situation,” Kerr says. “They’re more able to handle stress.”
Did you know that mindfulness practice is showing a reduction in the fear center of the brain (amygdala) and an increase in the rational brain (prefrontal cortex), so as you practice you literally rewire a steadier mind?
In this article, Elisha Goldstein, author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, provides a brief free video instruction of his STOP exercise to help you get present and reduce stress. This is an excellent acronym and exercise -- try it today!
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