Jul 11, 2016

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Meditation is everywhere. Angelina Jolie meditates. Ellen DeGeneres meditates. Dr. Oz meditates! Oprah and Deepak Chopra present live webcasts to more than half a million people from around the world in their 21-day meditation challenges. Even Clint Eastwood meditates!

In America, more than ten million adults have a daily meditation practice, and those are just the ones that participated in the poll. Meanwhile, many more of us are quietly meditating in our homes and offices.

Furthermore, scientific studies are showing, by testing yogis, meditators, and mystics of every kind, what has been long been known: meditation really works. It strengthens the immune system, lessens the effects of depression, and lowers blood pressure, just to name a few benefits. Meditating even improves the way we age.

Meditation is being used in every kind of setting, from hospitals to prisons. It is being used to help alleviate the effects of stress and chronic pain. Meditation is even being used to help people through the process of dying. Schools are using meditation to assist children with hyperactivity and keep them off drugs. It is being used worldwide by groups numbering in the millions to purposefully raise humanity’s consciousness to a new level. Meditation is sweeping the Western world!

So what is meditation?

Most of us imagine someone sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop in India. But for most, meditation doesn’t fit this stereotypical image. It is rather a simple daily practice, done at home sitting on the couch, or at the office on lunch break. We do it to keep our balance, to find our center, and to stay present – even when things are difficult – especially when things are difficult.

Life can be so overwhelming. We can get distracted, distraught, confused and overwhelmed by the sheer volume of life. We are bombarded with information and stimulation. There’s so much to do. We are trying so hard to make money, raise kids, to be a good person. We get over-stimulated, over-amped, and finally overwhelmed.

There’s never been a time in history where ADHD and all kinds of other nervous disorders and immune system diseases have been more rampant. We eat too much; we work too hard. We swing from gung-ho exercise programs and massive dieting, to total lethargy and Big Macs. We are a bi-polar nation. We are desperately looking for meaning and simplicity.

We are looking for a way to get back to ourselves – to that part of us that is sacred . . . and it’s been right there all along.

Meditation reconnects us to that simplicity and meaning. It awakens that part of ourselves that is always already connected. When we meditate we have the actual experience of inner peace and a deep inner calm. It’s like the feeling after having returned from a long vacation; you return rested with a greater sense of well being, but also a broader perspective of your life, and for a while we have a whole new outlook. With a meditation practice, you can have that experience every day.

People by the thousands are turning to meditation every single day, because we’re just plain overwhelmed. We’re stressed out and pissed off. We feel powerless, worried, unworthy, or worse, apathetic. All of these states are conditions of being disconnected – which creates pain. We are in pain because we are disconnected.

Meditation helps us to reconnect to our higher knowing. And the really good news is that it’s easy. It’s simple to do and as normal as breathing. Meditation gives you back your most true and authentic self. When we meditate we begin to feel more and more calm, more sure, and guided in every moment. Meditation takes you where you are, accepts you, and gently, lovingly, and in perfect timing, takes you back to yourself.

So, don’t be surprised if you find out your accountant meditates or your next door neighbor does. Wouldn’t you love to know that the nurse that is caring for you meditates? Or your lawyer? The more conscious we all are, the better this world will become. Where there is consciousness, there is compassion.

Meditation is a return to love. It is a return to your deepest inner knowing and that place within yourself you have always been seeking. Meditation literally makes yourworld a better place, and therefor, this world a better place.

Meditation will take you home. It creates a clear path to real peace and happiness. The place to start is exactly where you are, and the time is now.

Diana Lang is a spiritual teacher and author of
OPENING TO MEDITATION – http://www.DianaLang.com

Remaining cool and calm is one of the biggest challenges during summer. The soaring temperatures and general discomfort leads to stress, aggression, anxiety and other forms of mental dissonance.

To help counter this, meditation — commonly known as the “mental gym” — is becoming popular among UAE residents.

Pierre Ravan, a trainer at Heartfulness centre, calls himself a lifestyle instructor and thinks spirituality is for everybody. Talking about how he encourages young people to practice meditation by conducting ‘healthy parties’ for them, he said: “We try to make people happy and alive through our sessions at centres across all over UAE. We have a prominent presence in many countries, including US, UK, Europe, India, and Africa.”

What does meditation do for the mind and body? As food creates energy and provides nutrition to the body, mediation powers the mind and soul. It relaxes and cleanses the mind without controlling it, and results in better powers of concentration for the individual.

Vidya, an HR professional, said: “I started mediating because I was suffering in my mind. Fear and anxiety made me a nervous person; I couldn’t concentrate on anything. Then a friend introduced me to this beautiful practice. I am a changed person now, full of positivity and willingness to accept things the way they are.”

Theta Healing for a Healthy Mind

The unique technique of Theta healing helps transform deep rooted negative beliefs and boosts the power to deal with setbacks in life. This particular meditation method was founded by Vianna Stibal, and it promotes physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

“ThetaHealing has not just changed my perspective on life, but also my relationships with people. I have seen magnificent shifts occur in people, mentally and physically, when they truly realise that waking up to life is a beautiful experience. I focus on the belief that we are here to live, not to survive. Just practicing this mediation everyday for a few minutes lets you transcend to a happy state,” stated Roshni Pillai, who was conducting a workshop.

Smart Meditation at Labour Accommodations

The ‘Smart Meditation’ initiative by SmartLife NGO organises mediation classes at various labour accommodations in Dubai. ‘Smart Meditation’ focuses on uplifting the mental fitness of the blue collar workers. Each workshop accommodates approximately 30 blue collar men or women.

Manjula Ramakrishnan, spokesperson from SmartLife, informed: “We have 3-day workshops scheduled from July 21 to 23, to be held for Al Ahmediya Contracting employees. Earlier, two workshops were conducted exclusively for women from Chicago Ladies Camp in Al Quoz.”

Nanjoba Winfred from Uganada, who attended the ladies workshop, says: “Complete relaxation is what I learnt and experienced from the session, and this comes from regular practice. My inner peace has multiplied with the help of meditation.”

Mohan Bandela, manager of Al Ahmediyah labour accommodation, adds: “Many people are aware of the huge benefits of yoga and meditation, but do not know how to go about it. Hence, we look forward to this workshop and hope to make it a daily practice”.

ankita@khaleejtimes.com

 

How to start the meditation practice

Expert Speak (Harpreet Kalra, trainer @ Heartfulness)

· Wake up early

· Meditate for 30-45 Minutes a day

· Eat light

· Develop acceptance

· Stop blaming others

· Be aware of your thoughts and reaction patterns

· Try not to attending to unnecessary thoughts and reactions

· Try to tune into your heart

http://www.khaleejtimes.com/summer-mental-cool-with-meditation-theta-healing

There’s just so much we aren’t aware of.

06/29/2016 02:24 pm 14:24:28 | Updated Jun 30, 2016

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“People can vary in how much access they have to the unconscious events happening in their brain,” says psychologist Peter Lush, whose new study suggests that meditation gives us better access to those unconscious states.

Imagine being in a dark room holding a flashlight. You can only see where you’re pointing the light, and only what the light reaches. This room is your mind, and what the flashlight reveals is your limited awareness of it.

But a new study suggests that people who practice meditation may extend the boundaries of how aware they are of their unconscious intentions. In other words, they might have a bigger flashlight.

As scientists are increasingly realizing, our conscious awareness is only the tip of the iceberg — a lot of brain processes for which we take credit are in fact happening under the hood of our awareness. Some of this was shown in classical experiments in the 1980s carried out by psychologist Benjamin Libet: In those experiments, people were instructed to press a button at their leisure and watch the clock as they did it, then report the exact timing of their decision to press the button. However, electrodes placed on their scalps picked up on brain activity in areas controlling physical movement starting to ramp up a couple of hundred millisecondsbefore the time participants reported as the time of making the decision to move.

This finding sparked a series of follow-up experiments and raised big questions. If the unconscious brain has already made the choice to move the finger, is our sense of agency only the story we tell ourselves after the fact? Do we have any say in the matter, or are we merely puppets?

There’s no clear-cut answer to that question. But in the debates that followed, many researchers have argued that those experiments didn’t really measure free will. Instead, they measured how much high-level awareness we have when it comes to small things happening in our minds, such as intending to move a humble finger.

Does high-level awareness ring a bell? Mindfulness meditation is supposed to increase exactly that — our awareness of internal processes, or “metacognition.” A meditator practices control over what to attend to (the breath, for example) and decides what other experiences are irrelevant and have to be let go (such as thoughts that pop up).

“Mindfulness meditation is thus intrinsically an exercise in the (metacognitive) control and monitoring of mental processes,” psychologist Peter Lush and his colleagues at the University of Sussex in Brighton, U.K., wrote in their study, which was published on June 21 in the journal Neuroscience of Consciousness.

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Lush and his team decided to test experienced meditators using a version of Libet’s experiments (minus the brain electrodes). They recruited 11 long-term meditators with at least three years of meditation practice and 36 undergraduate students without significant meditation practice.

It turned out that experienced meditators seemed to be quicker in picking up on their intention to move the finger, reporting their intention to move about 150 milliseconds before the physical movement. Other participants reported their intention about 70 milliseconds before the movement.

“We interpret this as meditators having an earlier access to their unconscious states,” Lush told The Huffington Post. “An intention can be unconscious. It’s only when you have a thought about that unconscious intention that it becomes conscious. And people can vary in how much access they have to the unconscious events happening in their brain.”

The team also tested the degree to which the non-meditator participants were prone to hypnosis. While it’s not clear how exactly hypnosis works or even whether it’s a real phenomenon, researchers believe that it is possible for some people to enter a mental state in which they intentionally and voluntarily let go of their sense of agency.

There are standard tests to figure out the level of this ability in people. Generally, about 10 percent of the population is categorized as highly hypnotizable. Another 10 percent is categorized as very hard to hypnotize. Everybody else is somewhere in the middle.

The researchers found that those who could be easily hypnotized reported the timing of their intention to move later than those who were hard to hypnotize. In other words, people with high hypnotizability didn’t have early access to their unconscious intentions.

Lush emphasized that these results don’t mean that meditators have more “free will” or that hypnotizable people have less. Rather, the findings suggest “that highly hypnotizable people on the one hand, and meditators on the other, lie at two ends of a spectrum of metacognition.”

The study suggests that meditation can provide earlier access to our unconscious states, the researchers said. But to be certain that meditators didn’t start out with more aware brains in the first place, the team is conducting another study in which amateurs are trained in meditation, to see if that changes their performance.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/meditation-awareness_us_5773fe84e4b0352fed3ea9a4

 m10 meditation

Hugh Jackman, Katy Perry, Oprah Winfrey, U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and many other celebrities swear by it.

We’re talking meditation — a practice that’s usually done daily and involves sitting quietly for 20 to 30 minutes to calm and observe the mind.

But for what purpose?

“To intentionally cultivate mindfulness — to approach life with nonjudgment and compassion, to improve concentration, openheartedness and clarity,” says Tara Brach, author of “Radical Acceptance” and co-founder of Insight Meditation Community of Washington in Washington, D.C.

In other words, there is a whole lot to like.

Brach continues: “It’s the answer not just to stress and emotional issues but also helps improve self-esteem and address depression.”

But how and where do you get started? What are the different types of meditation? And how do you know what type will suit you best?

Getting started

One popular way to get started is to use online resources for “guided meditation,” in which a meditation teacher will give the practitioner (you) cues on everything you need to know, whether it be observing your breath or visualizing your ideal future, says Tris Thorp, a life coach and meditation teacher who trained under Deepak Chopra and teaches at the Chopra Center in Carlsbad, Calif.

But don’t expect improvement overnight, Thorp says.

“Give it time. I would say a minimum of 30 days and at least 20 minutes per meditation. It usually takes at least 10 minutes to get out of your day and get settled to where you can stop swearing at yourself for not being able to focus.”

Part of getting settled — and this can sound very basic but isn’t necessarily easy — is to find a comfortable seated position.

Danuta Otfinowski, a Washington photographer and daily meditator for the past eight years, says it took her a year to figure out how to sit.

“You want to find a position where you’re comfortable, where your legs don’t fall asleep and you’re not fidgeting,” says Otfinowski, who now has a dedicated meditation space in her rowhouse. The space, on her sleeping porch, consists of the cushions she comfortably sits on, Buddhist prayer flags and the ashes of her parents.

She usually sits in meditation, which she says helps reduce stress and increase self-compassion and inner confidence, for about 20 minutes every afternoon.

Which raises the question: Is there an ideal time of day for meditation?

Early morning, Thorp says.

“Do it right away. Get up, pee and then sit down to practice. You’re getting your day started with silence and peace.”

This silence and peace can help create a buffer against small and big irritations and challenges that face you later in the day, she says.

“It’s an awareness that allows you to choose how to respond and not fall into reactivity.”

Like letting other drivers into your lane rather than cutting them off? Yup, that kind of thing, she says.

Group support

What if just sitting there makes you feel restless, and all you can think of is a thousand reasons meditating is a waste of time?

Otfinowski says joining a meditation group in 2008 was key for her sticking to the practice.

“You have a community, and you feel more accountable,” she says.

It also made it feel more manageable: Other people with busy lives took time out of their day to practice, which encouraged her to do the same. “I didn’t have to put life on hold to figure it out,” she says.

Brach agrees that joining a group can be a good way to start. Sometimes having a peer meditation circle is enough. She compares it to having a running partner.

“Especially in the beginning, it can be very beneficial to put together a group, and then you can use a guided meditation [recording] by a trained teacher,” says Brach, whose website has dozens of audio recordings of meditations. Brach also hosts meditations through Insight Meditation Community in Bethesda, Md., and other locations.

Thorp says that meditation circles are trending right now. “I think people are joining meditation groups to be part of a like-minded community, for the accountability of it and for the hugs and fresh-pressed juices afterward,” she says.

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Getting started, though, also means figuring out what type of meditation might suit you best. How to approach that one?

“I suggest experimenting with different classes online to see what resonates with you,” Brach says.

There are two basic categories of meditation — and to perhaps muddy the waters a bit, many meditation teachers use a combination of the two. One is mindfulness meditation, and the other is various forms of concentration (Thorp calls it “intention”) practices.

Mindfulness meditation focuses on being present and observing the mind and body without judgment, Brach says. It’s a shift from thinking to being in the body, she says.

Mindfulness meditations often revolve around breath awareness – in other words, paying attention to your breathing. This is simple and accessible, Thorp says, but sometimes not engaging enough.

“Some people will get bored with this one,” she says.

Concentration practices center on directing your attention toward something, maybe by visualizing goals that you want to attain (visualization), focusing on showing and feeling kindness to others and yourself (loving-kindness meditation) or repeating phrases (mantras).

Thorp says you have to try the various types to know what fits you best, but if you know yourself to be restless, then maybe a guided meditation is preferable to, say, a mantra meditation. (The repetition might get on your nerves.)

A loving-kindness meditation might fit someone who is religious, Thorp says, “since it’s kind of like a prayer.”

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In the end, one of the main goals of meditation is learning how to pause and observe the mind to the point of controlling or channeling the fight-or-flight reaction into a more thoughtful, mindful and compassionate response toward others (read: those who cut you off in traffic) and ourselves (negative self-talk and disappointment in ourselves).

“Meditation helps me disengage from the story line of me – my defaults, like negative self-talk,” says Otfinowski, who has brought her practice to the Washington, D.C. jail, where she guides inmates in meditation.

“When you can disengage from the thoughts of the mind and instead observe the mind, there is an element of freedom.”

http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/life/feeling-at-om-a-beginner-s-guide-to-meditation/article_514ba040-505e-11e6-ad8f-9f3f819d1350.html