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 Giving

April 26, 2010 at 10:17 am (Meditation Basics, Visualization)

This is a bit of a difficult post to write. I have a certain feeling or idea in mind, but I am not completely able to articulate it as well as I would like. I think it is important, so I will try anyway.

What is Giving?

Giving is a word that has many meanings in our language. We can give physical items such as objects or money, we can give mental energy such as concentration or attention or we can give emotional energy, such as friendship, hatred, empathy or love.

Why and how we ‘give’ any of these items varies with the individual and circumstances. Sometimes we give concsiously, as when we donate to a charity. We may unconsciously give off signals about our feeligs when we’re frustrated or distracted.

Live and give with intention

What if we thought about eveything we give? What if we intentionally gave every feeling or action to those around us or to the fabric of the universe? What if we lived more intentionally instead of accidentally?

One aspect of meditation is learning to live in the moment. To live fully conscious of the sensations, emotions, nuances and activities of the present moment of where we are, what we are doing and thinking and with whom we are interacting.

Research has demonstrated that we actually don’t multitask very well. The studies demonstrate that the best that happens is that both items in our multitasking window receive poor attention and reduced quality. What if, instead, we focused entirely on the most important thing that was at hand in each moment of our lives.

One Thing at a Time

If we are working on a project, we do it fully, completely and with every fiber of our mind focused on the task at hand with the intention of doing it the best we are able.

If we are feeling an emotion or expressing a feeling, we completely understand the emotion and its nuances in our minds and hearts and pay it full attention. We express if freely and fully without reservation. 

If we are with someone, we are completely with them and every thought and idea is centered on the relationship, the conversation, the feelings and the moments as they pass one at a time.

Meditation will show you that when you do this, the number of moments that you have do not increase. But instead, your life will be much more intense, more full of meaning and more powerful because each moment is so much more meaningful, focused and full of the intention and energy that make up that moment.

Give youself fully to your life. Every moment, every thought. Focus on the seconds of the day as they pass and fill each with purposeful thought and action. Live Fully, Love Freely, Act Boldly.

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Meditation and Peace

March 10, 2010 at 2:52 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Meditation Basics, Why do we meditate?)

This post is a continuation of the series on the relationship between meditation and various feeling that we experience as we live our lives.

What is Peace?

If we think about the word peace, several different definitions come to mind. If we were just viewing the news about a war or conflict somewhere in the world. we my associate peace with the absence of violence, or a state where the war is ended.

In the middle of the night if a barking dog has awakened you, you may first think of peace a a synonym of quiet – so you can get the sleep that you so desparately want.

If you have been in a heated discussion with someone and the situation was unresolved, you may think of peace as a resolution to a tense or explosive emotional situation.

If you have some deep emotional pain from a situation in your life with a loved one, or a personal issue that torments you, then peace is purely an internal feeling that you might define as the way you want your heart or mind to feel.

The common theme in all these situations is one of conflict. In each situation there is a conflict between what you want to have or feel and what the reality actually is.

In that light, peace could be defined as the ‘absence of conflict,’ whether or not the conflict is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

That would be a definition that works on the superficial levels, but a few moments of reflection will clearly show that the absence of conflict is necessary but not sufficient to have peace.

True Peace and Superficial Peace

True peace is an upward lifting emotion. To be sure, there is an absence of conflict, but there is also an aspiration upward. Peace is a gentle feeling of reaching for, achieving and enjoying that which is good.

True physical peace, mental peace, emotional peace and spiritual peace all depend on a clear heart, a true intent and a desire for that which is best in us. It comes as we are true to the things that we know to be right.

Meditation Can Help Bring Peace

Meditation is a wonderful tool to help us achieve true peace in our hearts. Meditation will help you sort our feelings and thoughts in a way that drives action for thigs that can be changed or improved and gentle acceptance of those that cannot.

Regular meditation practice gives a perspective that brings peace, even amid the sometimes chaotic pace of life and being. It will give you a longer perspective, a greater measure of patience and a larger understanding of  the human condition.

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Is your house stressing you out?

February 19, 2010 at 12:16 pm (Benefits of Meditation, Meditation Basics)

I was reading an article a couple days ago that struck me as interesting. It was talking about the effects of our environment, especially our living space, on our heart, health, feelings and the effectiveness of our lives.

Clear up your space

Be it big or small, we all live somewhere. We generally have a significant degree of control over how the place we live feels and looks. One thing that we may not think about often is how much our living space affects our lives.

We sometimes get to a point where we freak out and say ‘enough of the clutter.’ We then may go on a rampage and clean overything up for a minute or a day or a week.

There are actually many more acpects to this than just cleaning up junk. There is a great deal of evidence that clutter causes stress and reduces our ability to work and think effectively. This is an obvious relationship.

Less obvious is how we can improve our mental, physical and spiritual health and our attitude towards life by how we maintain our living environment. For example:

Simple things to do

Do we have pictures and images that are uplifting and remind us of positive things?

Do we arrange our furniture and tables and chairs in a way that is both useful and pleasing, or do we have things that we keep meaning to change but just don’t quite get to it?

Do we use a vision board or other visual reminder of goals and desires that we want to accomplish?

Do we have a space where we can effectively meditate and have the quiet and uninterrupted time, even for a few minutes, that allows us to clear our thoughts and hearts and connect  again with who and what we really are?

Do we assertively maintian our space and surroundings or do we let others invade it to the point that we get ‘lost’ in the noise?

When you come home, is the feeling one of welcome and refuge or one of sterility and even worse, revulsion (I would rather be anywhere but here?)

Is home a place where you live, or just where you eat and sleep?

Is it clean enough to enjoy or are you constantly afraid of getting something on your clothes when you sit down?

Paying attention to these seemingly little things can make the difference between a living space that is energizing and gives you power and one that is a drain on your heart and mind.

Take the time to make your living place one of power and peace. Meditation is a practice that can help you both identify changes you can make to increase the beauty and power of your living space and give you the energy and desire to carry it out.

Take the time, your peace is worth every effort.

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Mindfullness Meditation

January 25, 2010 at 1:25 pm (Meditation Basics, Why do we meditate?)

Mindfullness meditation is a beautiful and gentle method of meditation.

In the course on meditation we talk about different styles of meditation. One of the styles that we describe is called mindfullness meditation. The word mindfullness is often used to describe different things. I will explain the different uses of the word in the meditation context.

The first meaning of mindfullness is as a technique or aid to effective meditation, the second meaning of mindfullness meditation is a state of awareness during meditation that has a much deeper meaning and is often described as being fully ‘in the moment.’

In the first and simplest sense, mindfullness means to be mindful, or aware of the feelings that you experience when you meditate. These thoughts and feelings may be of several types.

  1. First there are the bodily sensations and feelings. Heat, cold, hunger, something touching the skin, etc.
  2. Second, there are emotions that we feel that may surface during meditation. For example, we feel hurt at a recent verbal exchange, or we are angry at someone for an unmet expectation or because they said something unkind.
  3. Third, there are thoughts that we may have that come up during meditation. For example we may think about what we’re going to do tonight, or what we had for lunch, or an important meeting that is coming up.

All of these take the attention of the mind when meditating. Mindfullness is the act of being aware of the thought or feeling that is pressing itself into your consciousness and then observing the thought or feeling in a detached way. For example, if you are hungry and that feeling suddenly presses into your consciousness, your response in meditation would be to name the feeling. “I am feeling hungry, hungry, hungry.” After acknowledging the feeling, or thought, you simply allow it to have a bit of space, and you don’t engage by thinking about what you could eat, or what you will eat later, or what you shouldn’t eat. You simply understand the feeling, give it space and a name and then allow it to gently go off the stage of your mind.

You repeat this process with all the feelings, sensations and thoughts that come into your mind as you meditate. Each time, you simply return to your concentration on the breath, and allow the thought to drift away as you mindfully acknowledge it, allow it a space and then without engaging in any dialogue, allow it to be replaced with your focus on the breath.

This is the first and simple definition of mindfullness meditation.

The second and deeper meaning of mindfullness meditation is a state during meditation where you become fully occupied with the present second of existence. You are not distracted by anything outside. You do not feel any other intruding feeling and do not sense any bodily awareness. You simply exist in the present second, without thought and without distraction.

Sometimes this goes even further and you become completely unaware of all surroundings or the passage of time. You become fully connected with the great expanse of energy and being and seem to loose your self-awareness for a time. This is described as being ‘in the moment.’

A beneficial by-product of mindfullness meditation is the habit you cultivate even during your non-meditate time – of focusing on the present without dwelling on the future or the past. For example, this would mean if you are walking the dog, you focus completely on the act of walking the dog and the connection with the dog and the air and sunlight of the present second. You are not thinking about what you need do afterwards, whether or not you will be late for work or any other thought not in the present second of reality.

The habit of fully participating in each present second that you have and not using your mind to be ‘somewhere else’ as we so often do, will increase your enjoyment and understanding of the present, and help you avoid the trap “I’ll be happy when….”

If we learn to enjoy the present second for all that it has to offer and be in our lives, then we truly become more grateful, understanding and kind creatures.

Learn more about Mindfullness Meditation.

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