Meditation and Media Attention Part II

September 7, 2010 at 10:55 am (Benefits of Meditation, Meditation Basics, Why do we meditate?)

More in the Newspaper

This article reports on another long article that I found in the newspaper from Dr. Oz and Dr. Roiden. It was titled “Got Meditation? Calming technique can ease pain, too.’

It was a long article and had a number of pieces of useful information so I will treat it in two blog posts. This first post will be the findings that they reported as reasons to practice meditation to control pain, and the second part will be the suggested techniques.

Your brain’s supwerpowers can help conquer the most stubborn of miseries in the pain department. Research at one university shows that people who meditate for just 20 minutes a day saw their pain tolerance increase in just 4 days.

Volunteers tested their pain threshholds to an electric shock, and after 4 days of practicing meditation, a shock that was considered ‘high pain’ earlier was now relatively mild. No such change was evidenced in the control group that did not meditate.

This is not to say that the pain that you experience is ‘all in your head.’ Pain, particularly chronic pain is all too real. Meditation changes how we understand pain, and how we deal with it.

The relaxation and calming associated with the practice of meditation allows you to change the way you feel about pain, reduce its effect on your mind and body and minimize or eliminate the debilitating effects it can have on your life.

In a different university study, one of the changes was to teach your mind to stop anticipating the pain, and thereby reduce the stress associated with the onset or anticipated onset of pain.

The act of anticipating the pain increases it intensity and its debilitating effects tremendously. Reducing stress and pain means better sleep, more alertness, more focus and a better and more productive day.

The best part of this message is that you can have these beneficial effects without expensive lessons, without wierd postures or long hours of practice in a cave on the mountain.

Simple meditation techniques you can do in you own room for a few minutes per day will give you the relief you need and open the door to a lifelong practice that will heal your body and calm and empower your mind.

In the next post I will outline the three suggestions that they gave for beginning your own simple meditation practice. In the meantime, if you can’t wait, go on over to www.thepowerofmeditation.com to learn right now,

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Meditation and Media Attention

September 1, 2010 at 2:50 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Meditation Basics, Why do we meditate?)

Media Attention

More and more frequently, I notice media articles and stories about meditation. Just recently I clipped an article about meditation and stress reduction in the USA Today weekend edition.

It was a short article about a book titled ‘Fully Present: The Sceince, Art and Practice of Mindfulness’ by Susan L. Smalley and Diana Winston.

The author of the newspaper article focused on a few things from the book and on the benefits of ‘paying attention with openness and curiosito to the present moment.’ She also reported on findings that mindfulness reduces stress, increases attention span, boosts creativity and strengthens the immune system.

I have not read this particular book, but I have read many like it and I am grateful that there is more research and discussion of meditation in all its forms and benefits.

What is ‘mindfulness?’

Mindfulness is a concentration on the present moment. Separate yourself from you busy thoughts and pay attention to everything around you. What colors do you see, what do you hear, what do you smell, right now? Exactly what are you feeling in your body?

Sense each physical feeling in your body without thinking about it. For example you could feel a breeze on your face without further thinking about the weather or your hair, or anything else.

You can notice the landscaping around you, the trees, bushes or grass and just fully look at them, taking in the color and shape of each one individually.

You might realize that there is a bird chirping nearby that you hadn’t noticed. Remember in the old ‘Kung-Fu’ series, the young Caine at the end of his training was asked by the master, ‘do you hear the grasshopper at your feet?’ 

Take you thoughts away from everything except the present moment. For example, what sensations are in your body, right now? Can you feel your feet in your shoes, or on the floor or can you sense the shirt or blouse on your shoulders and what does it feel like?

Taking time to do this, even for 3 minutes, and cleaning out all other thoughts will slow your heartbeat, lower your blood pressure and calm you mind. You will create a space around your heart that will give you time to breathe calmly inside.

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Meditation and Personal Peace

August 24, 2010 at 10:17 am (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

Morning Walks

I was out with the dogs this morning for their morning walk and it was pretty early as it usually is when I get up. I like to watch the sun come up and see the day come alive.

When I’m really ambitious I get up way before dawn and watch the sky get light and then the sun peek out, but it wasn’t quite so early today.

I was thinking about the turmoil of the world and the struggles of life that are all around all of us. Everybody has good days and bad days and everybody has good things in their lives and challenges.

The key to personal peace is to take time every single day to contemplate the good things in life. The joys and blessings that are all around us. If we even stop for a minute….

Count Your Blessings

What if you take a short time to list – even for just one minute – everything that you can think of that is good in your life? Things for which you are grateful, or which you would be sad to miss.

The start of such a list could be – the beautiful sunrise, eyes to see the colors, ears to hear the birds, strength to get up and move about, a purpose to the day, even if it is to do do hard work.

Such a list might also include a spouse, whether living or on the other side, children, grandchildren, friends to talk and share life with, knowledge about the purpose of life and the beauty of the Creator’s plan.

Also included might be sufficient money or means to live and eat, a healthy body, or at least one healthy enough to make this list and do other good things.

Why do this?

It should be obvious that even in thinking for one minute – the list is endless and you would be breathless to try to cover even the first few things in each category you could think of.

I find that such a reflection, when done regularly leave me feeling peaceful, calm and in balance with the world around me, my relationships and my purposes and expecially my challenges.

It reminds me that no matter the struggle of the day, there is a large backdrop and foundation of good and wonderful circumstance that supports my life and being.

The Path of Meditation

Meditation is a practice of regularly taking time to contemplate our inner feelings, circumstances and to return to equilibrium and peace internally.

This practice will bless your life and calm your heart.

Learn to make it a part of your day and you will be surprised at the beautiful effects on your life, in your relationships and your energy for the future.

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Meditation and Aging

July 27, 2010 at 10:05 am (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

The Fountain of Youth

There has always been a search for the fountain of youth. From Ponce de Leon to ancient cities lost in jungles to secret elixers known only to hidden societies we have always wanted a formula to roll back time.

We can’t really roll back time, at least yet, and time travel is still only a theoretical possibility or impossibility depending on which theorist you subscribe to.

There are, however some things that you can do to slow the advance of age and the effects on the body and mind. Some of these have to do with nutrition, exercise, smoking, drinking, drug use, sleep, how we choose to live our lives and the habits that we have.

This article will focus on the specific benefits of the practice of meditation and its relationship to the aging processes in both the body and in the mind. 

How does Meditation affect aging?

Meditation does not alter the passage of time. It doe not change the fabric of the spacetime in which we live nor does it allow us to wake up yesterday.

The effects of meditation on aging fall into two areas. Effects on the body and effects on the brain or mind.

Those who regularly meditate generally find improvements to blood pressure, blood flow, digestion, internal systems performance and degeneration, and this includes skin tone and overall health of the inner and outer body.

Specifically meditation can improve your appearance, i.e. your weight, your wrinkles, your facial lines and the health of your skin and the tone of your muscles. That means that if you regularly meditate, it is likely that your body and face will be more attractive, have a healthy glow and last longer than those who do not meditate. More or less, a couple of drops from the fountain of youth.

This is true because those who meditate have healthier circulation, cellular activity, move active healing systems, a more proactive immune system and a host of other similar benefits.

Those who meditate are less affected by stress and pressure, and therefore find their bodies more relaxed and healthy because the chemicals associated with stress are in far less supply.

Similare benefits occur in the brain. Research indicates that those who meditate concentrate better, remember more, learn faster, have more coherant brainwaves and are more creative, more socially aware and get along better in their relationships.

This means that the inner beauty is greater and longer lasting for those who meditate, just as the outer beauty is more obvious and more durable.

So while there is not fountain of youth in a bottle, you have a tool to dramatically influence how the passage of time affects your body and your mind.

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Meditation and TANSTAAFL

July 6, 2010 at 5:51 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

What is TANSTAAFL?

For this blog post, I have chosen this funny but true acronym as a starting point. This long acronym stands for ‘There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.’ Your first thought may be “What does that have to do with Meditation?’

The answer is easy. It has a lot to do with meditation. Like everything in our lives, particularly the best things, meditation takes our own effort and involvement to get it done.

We live in a ‘gimme a zip file, I’ll download it and look at it later while I’m watching tv’ kind of world. We expect everything to be compressed, fast, downloadable and take no time.

The truth about many good things is actually almost the opposite. Most good things take some time to develop. If you want to be great at a sport, you know how much effort that takes, expecially as we watch the world cup, the NBA finals, the tour de France or any other high powered sports event.

If I want a great song working in the studio, it takes planning, often dozens of takes and even after that perfect performance, you must make the song a complete package or that one great keyboard solo is interesting, but that’s about it.

If you want a deep and meaningful relationship with someone, then more than just casual attention is the ticket price for such a highly prized outcome.

If you want a major account to close and select you as the account manager, then time and effort spent with the client is the name of the game.

How Does That Work?

We all know that this is true, yet perhaps we don’t know how to get the most from our efforts. This is where the practice of meditation really shines. We all have only 24 hours in a day, but when I regularly meditate, all my days are better, more focused, I get more done, I forget less, I seem to know how to make people respond better, I seem to know what will make someone happy and the list goes on and on.

Regular meditation amps up my mental and physical capacity in a way that I can’t describe and certainly can’t ignore. I have repeatedly seen the effort I put into the meditation pay triple dividends in the achievement of outcomes in every area of my endeavors.

The books that you will find on the website give dozens of real life examples of how this works. Check them out!

I not only get my lunch, I get the dessert too.

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Meditation and Habit

June 21, 2010 at 12:51 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

This post is about habits. Much of what we do is by habit and they can help us make ourselves what we wish, or they can bind us down to patterns of behavior that we don’t want. It’s our choice.

What is a habit?

A habit, simply stated is a learned pattern of behavior or a conditioned response. For example, we have physical habits, like the way we sleep, or a certain way we walk. We have emotional habits, like certain things that make us angry, or phrases that make us smile. We have intellectual habits, like certain subjects that are interesting, or certain things we read or watch.

We reinforce a habit every time we follow that pattern of conditioned behavior. It becomes more and more ingrained in our neural and mental circuitry. Many, if not most of our habits are unconscious patterns that we don’t even recognize or realize that we do.

This thought can be a bit scary if you think that you don’t have control of what you think, say or do, but fortunately, there is a brighter picture when we realize that habits are of our own creation.

Who’s in charge here?

While habits may seem to control our behavior, we have to remember that we made them and we can change them. A habit is formed by repeatedly engagind in a physical, mental or emotional behavior. We order a piece of toast a certain way and it becomes a habit until we can hardly think of having it any other way.

Food preferences, clothing preferences, and all these kinds of things we allow to be controlled by habits, and this is not all bad. If we had to actively think about each thing we did or every move we made, we would be paralyzed. The issue is in identifying those habits that we have that we don’t want, and changing them.

I say changing them, because it is nearly impossible to simply get rid of a bad habit. Instead it is far more realiztic to substitute a new habit for and old one. That way, the old stimulus gets a new response. For example, let’s say you have an annoying habit of using a certain stop word, like ‘ya know….. If we just try to say to ourselves ‘no, I won’t say that old word we will find it impossible to think of anything else.

If instead we say, every time I catch myself saying that, instead I will say ‘I think that….. or some other more appropriate phrase, it will be much simpler to change our behavior.

Create your own habits.

The above discussion and examples are simple and routine, but the principles apply to every habit that we have. Getting angry at certain situations, smoking, overeating, yelling, procrastination, and on and on. Any habit we want to change is possible to change. We can replace it with a new habit.

Meditation is a Key

Meditation is a tool that will help us identify habits we want to change. It offers a perspective on life that helps you see things differently and more clearly. Meditation will also help you in the process of changing the habits you want to change. This is because meditation helps you access your mind in deeper states of consciousness and in a more powerful way than normal awareness.

However, learning to meditate is just like anything else we want to learn to do. We actually have to do it to learn how. So the first habit we need to establish is one of meditation. I invite all readers to comment on their own experiences of learning to meditate. How did you learn to meditate?

How did you establish your own meditation practice? Please share you thoughts in the comments section.

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Meditation and Fear

May 19, 2010 at 8:24 am (Benefits of Meditation, Visualization, Why do we meditate?)

What is Fear?

Fear is a unique combination of emotion and physical experience. Fear can be associated with a physical circumstance or it can be only in the mind.

While there are many ways to describe it, fear can be defined as the concern, worry or expectation of an unacceptable, damaging or harmful outcome to a present or future situation.

We as humans are unique among species in our ability to anticipate and fear the future or the worry about things that have not happened yet.

This unique ability presents both opportunities and challenges. Anticipation of llikely outcomes, problems and situations is a helpful and useful ability that lets us plan, prepare and enjoy greater success.

Excessive worry about potential problems, ‘boogeymen’ in the closet, all the bad things that might happen and possible failure or rejection is debilitating, hinders growth and stifles creativity and learning.

Is Fear a Bad Thing?

Fear is neither bad or good by itself. It is a natural emotion when we are faced with a real or imagined threat. How much we feel the fear, what we do with it and how much we allow it to control our thinking, planning and actions is the key to the answer to that question.

Fear can lead us to be cautions in a dangerous situation. It can lead to prudent precaution if you drive in the snow on an unfamiliar mountain road. It can lead to better preparation for an important work effort if one worries appropriately about the consequences of a failed presentation. It can lead to moderation in trying a new sport or skill if one has just a little fear of broken bones or injuries.

Generally the problem is not in having too little fear. Mostly we allow our fears control our efforts, weaken our resolve, derail our dreams and slow our progress in many areas.

We are afraid we will fail at losing weight, we don’t think we are good enough to get a promotions, we believe we can never learn to speak or present in public effectively, we are sure that no one will listen to our point of view, we feel small and worthless and so we just quit trying in so many situations.

In this and ten thousand similar ways we allow fear and needless worry to exert far too much control over our lives and success. 

OK, Now What?

In meditation we learn to look at emotions differently. We learn to understand them without their attendant physical effects and then learn to decide when and how much to allow any emotion, especially fear, to control or affect our lives and efforts.

Meditation will teach you to control your fear, to elimanate worry and to master your inner resolve and power. Meditation will give you the tools, courage and resources to destroy you demons and banish your big phobias and silly little worries.

Meditation will give you power to keep a calm assurance about your goals, dreams and daily walk so you have confidence, perspective and are able to live joyously, even on bad days when difficult things happen.

You do not need to be controlled or dominated by fear for one more day. Take the steps you need to free youself of this draining anxiety and controlling worry. Give yourself the power to control your life, feelings and heart. Explore the wonderful tool of Meditation.

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Meditation and Gratitude

May 11, 2010 at 10:20 am (Benefits of Meditation, Visualization, Why do we meditate?)

I read an article this morning in the March 2010  issue of the Ensign by Vaughn E. Worthen, a practicing psychologist, that was a great collection of thoughts on grtatitude, what it is and what it does for us. It has several good points and I wanted to share them along with some of my own experiences.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is an experience. It is a feeling that we have when something happens that blesses our lives in some way. It can be an emotional feeling and sometimes it is accompanied by a physical sensation.

Gratitude is an attitude. It is the point of view or outlook that is willing to realize and acknowledge good things that come to us either from others, or from circumstance or as blessings.

Gratitude is a also a habit, a cultivated response that guides how we look at things. It is a way of looking at things in a positive and grateful way instead of a focus on what is missing.

Gratitude is a coping mechanism. This is very important and perhaps the hardest to use effectively. When things happen to us that are unexpected or difficult, we can focus on the things we are grateful for. This serves not just a a momentary distraction, but as a real and tangible reminder that there are usually far more positive things than negative things in our lives.

To me this all means that gratitude is a choice. In each of these meanings, we have the ability to choose to experience the feeling, to have the attitude, to cultivate the habit and to employ the coping mechanism of gratitude. We are able to choose this tool to help our lives and feelings and to bless those around us.

Meditation and Gratitude

When we meditate, it is powerful medicine for the soul to experience and fully explore things that have blessed our lives. We can use the tranquility of meditation to fully understand and explore the things, experience or people that made us feel grateful, and then deeply ingrain those feelings, choices and attitudes in our lives.

 The cultivation of habits of recognizing and acting on opportunities to express gratitude, particularly to those who have provided the kindness is a refined and uplifiting approach to our daily experience.

When we go through our day with an intentional focus on seeing the good, being grateful for the blessings, and expressing gratitude with ‘thank yous’ and smiles to those around us, we are lifted from our troubles, we are filled with positive light and we can spread goodness to those around us.

We are then in a position to be the agent of other’s gratitude. We are better able to be of service and blessing to others so that they too can experience the feelings and cultivate the habits and experience the lifting and blessing power of gratitude.

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Meditation and Positive Aspects

May 4, 2010 at 11:39 am (Benefits of Meditation, Visualization)

This might seem like a bit of a strange title for a blog post, but let me explain. I have the good fortune of being associated with a good coach that is in the business of helping people become what they can be and improving all aspects of their lives.

Her name is Dawn Newman and she and I have been regularly visiting for months. She made a suggestion to me one day that has proved very useful and positive in helping focus my meditation sessions and I wanted to share it with you here.

Book of Positive Aspects

This is the title of the exercise that she suggested. It really consists of taking a sheet of paper, or better yet a small book that you can keep and dedicating a page to a single person.

On that page you write down everything that you can think of about that person that is a positive thing. For example, you might describe how it feels to be around them or you might list positive character traits that they have.

You might list how they positively affect others, or things that are uplifting that they might have said or done in your experiences and relationship with that person.

While this is an easy task with a person that you like or you consider a friend, you might also try it with a person who has mistreated you or with whom you are angry.

At first this might seem impossible or at least very difficult, but if you try for a few minutes, you will be surprised at how much you can remember that is positive and something that you feel good about.

Meditation and Positive Thinking

After completing such a list, you then have the opportunity to use the gift and power of meditation to focus more clearly on one or several of these attributes or circumstances.

I completed this exercise with someone in mind who has been extremely unkind and difficult for the past two years. It was a difficult test to say the least.

I can honestly report that it changed my outlook and completely softened my feelings toward that person, even though the situation has yet to change. It removed all anger, resentment and all feelings of having been treated poorly. 

I have not yet been able to remedy the situation but I can tell you that my heart is not stirred up or angry and I am completely at peace regarding the situation.

Better still, through regular meditation, I am completely sure that there will come a time that the situation will be remedied and return to a positive and uplifting circumstance as it once was.

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Meditation and Recovery

April 23, 2010 at 11:33 am (Benefits of Meditation, Why do we meditate?)

One Week Update

This is the final post about my surgery and recovery. Today is Friday, just 8 days after the surgery. I have practiced my meditation every day since the procedure and I feel like the recovery has been greatly enhanced by this practice.

The balance issues decreased rapidly, and they were gone completely in about 3 days. My hearing has been improving gradually, although I can feel the packing that was left in the ear that they operated on. They will remove the packing on my post-op visit on May 17.

I have been able to resume most of my normal acitvities, although I have to be careful about pressure in the ear from blowing my nose or sneezing. I am going to mow the lawn tomorrow and do all the regular yardwork, so I guess that will tell about outdoor work.

I have been taking long walks with the dogs in the morning, and yesterday I did my old 16 mile bike ride. I was about 10 minutes slower, but I felt great afterwards.

I can’t tell how much my hearing will improve yet, but that is supposed to take several weeks and even as long as 3-4 months to completely develop. I am happy and feel very blessed in every respect after this procedure.

What Does This Have to Do With Meditation?

What is the point of putting all this in a meditation blog?  The point is very simple.

Many people feel that meditation is basically a feel good exercise that has no real impact in the practical areas of life. This small example is strong evidence to the contrary. In preparation for the procedure I used meditation to remain calm and focused so that my body responded well.

During the procedure, meditation, even in the semi-conscious state was helpful in how I felt during and immediately after the procedure.

The first day afterwards, I was able to resume many activities far in advance of the normal time associated with short-term recovery.

Now a week later, my life is basically returned to normal, with my hearing improved, my heart light, and my prospects good. The recovery was faster, my heart and mind felt easy and clear and I am eagerly anticipating the full recovery of hearing and even the next procedure on the other ear in 6 months.

Learning and using meditation did not do the procedure for me. It did not repair the damage in the ear, but it facilitated every aspect of preparation and recovery from the surgery in a rapid and positive way. What a great blessing!!

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