Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Here's the best way to make friends when you're a grown-up

From Business Insider
by Drake Baer

"When I moved to New York three years ago I knew about six people.

One from my hometown, a few from school, and a few more from when I was living abroad.

So, as a contemplative weirdo tends to do, I became a regular at my friendly neighbourhood meditation center — Shambhala in Chelsea.

Among other amazing humans, I met Gustavo, an artist from Brazil, and Sarah, a yoga teacher from upstate New York.

We would run into each other at the same meditation classes. Still do.

They have become two of my best friends, the kind of people you turn to when going through a breakup or trying to sort out a career decision. When Gustavo had his son Theo, Sarah and I both joyously freaked out.

But I never would have met them through the social networks I came to New York with. I had to become a regular.

It turns out that my experience is backed up by the research.

For decades, sociologists have known that friendships develop when people have the right mixture of proximity, privacy, and unplanned interactions.

But those things are increasingly scarce in adulthood, what with everybody being so insanely busy..." more

Meditation gives us the opportunity to observe how repetitive and automatic much of our thinking is.

From The Boston Globe
by Kara Baskin

"...I say this with the arrogance of a week’s practice. During my first solo outings, I felt as though I’d invited all my gruesome fears to a cocktail party and needed to politely entertain each one. “Looming deadline? Yes, hello! How have you been? You’ll be handled by 5 p.m. No problem! Just one minute, I think I see my mortgage statement behind you, looking for some clam dip!” Then I’d open my eyes and rush to check my messages.

I felt as if I’d failed, but in Benson’s world, there’s no such thing. He even anticipates this anxiety. On his website, he reassures: “Do not worry about whether you are successful in achieving a deep level of relaxation . . . maintain a passive attitude and permit relaxation to occur at its own pace.”

But I’m only human, so of course I want to know whether I’m doing it right. Eager for validation, I call Brenda Rogers, who leads meditation groups throughout metro Boston. Rogers calls it the practice of bringing attention to one object, like breath, in order to calm the mind.

“Don’t get discouraged,” she reassures me. “Everyone’s mind is like a drunken bumble bee.” Over time, it becomes more natural to accept and shrug off needling thoughts.

More and more, I’m treating these pesky party guests like specimens in a case — latent worries to be inspected, observed, and passively acknowledged. The relaxation response is becoming a way to take mental stock with some measure of remove, as though I’m a bystander in my own mind.

Now, this sensation is beginning to build on itself. More than a week in, I find myself actually looking forward to taking a break, instead of feeling like an unfaithful spouse, cheating on my daily routine. With this permission, it’s actually somewhat interesting to sit quietly and see which pesky thoughts bubble to the surface without feeling tethered to them.

“Meditation gives us the opportunity to observe how repetitive and automatic much of our thinking is,” Rogers tells me. By going deeper within ourselves, we can become bigger than our thoughts alone. In the middle of a busy workweek, an escape from the mundane is just a few deep breaths away. It’s a pretty calming thought..." read it all

Mindfulness meditation is big business in London's Square Mile

From The Independent
by Siobhan Norton

Advocates say mindful meditation focuses the mind and boosts concentration, therefore boosting productivity. But it has been criticised for abandoning the spiritual premise behind it for secular gain, as Siobhan Norton reports:

"Here, have a raisin. No, not a handful, just the one. Wait, wait, wait, don't eat it. Feel its weight in your palm. Squeeze it gently between finger and thumb. Examine the glossy surface, the bumpy texture. OK, pop it in your mouth. Don't bite, not yet. Roll it on your tongue. How does it taste? Bite once. Can you feel the juices flowing to hit your taste buds? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Does it remind you of anything? You can keep chewing now. And swallow. Feel it move towards your stomach...

This is the much ridiculed lesson that you will probably come across if you embark on a mindfulness course. In a nutshell, it sums up the concept – taking your time, considering the now, experiencing the moment. While there are plenty that imagine a room filled with people sitting staring at raisins must contain more than a few fruitcakes, the reach of mindfulness now extends far beyond some remote Buddhist temples. Tech geniuses are walking the labyrinth in Silicon Valley, world leaders are jostling for a cross-legged sitting space at international conferences, and, even in the City, bankers are taking a pause.

It's a far cry from the classic lunch-is-for-wimps Gordon Gekko-esque idea we normally have of those in the financial sector. We hear more about people depending on cocaine and Red Bull than cognitive exercises. But it is becoming more mainstream, even encouraged, in top banking firms, with many offering mindfulness courses and retreats. Goldman Sachs, Barclays and JP Morgan are just some of the firms investing in the area.

It makes sense that the frantic corporate world should turn to mindfulness. There is a Zen proverb that says: "You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes every day – unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour..."   Full article 


Monday, 30 March 2015

Islam Now Trying to Hijack Buddhism

Buddha's sucessor - the 'Perfect Man'
From Frontpage Mag 
by Daniel Greenfield

"Islam famously claims to be the “true” successor to Judaism and Christianity. Mohammed proved that he was the true prophet by killing a whole bunch of Christians and Jews. Since then his followers have been making the same theological argument for over a thousand years.

What Islam really did was take the prophets of other religions, assemble them in a list and stick Mohammed at the end.

Now it’s trying to stick Buddha in there somewhere and claim that Buddha, like all the Moses and David and a whole bunch of other Jews they would kill if they were around today, was a Muslim.

The famous Muslim missionary Tareq Al-Suwaidan, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait is calling on Muslims to believe in Buddha as a messenger of Allah.

Al-Suwaidan was formerly the General Manager of Al-Resalah Satellite TV, the brainchild of Saudi businessman Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. In August 2013, Prince Talal fired Suwaidan for his role as the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood in Kuwait. Prince Talal wrote on his Twitter account that he sacked Tarek Al-Suwaidan “for admitting he belongs to the Brotherhood movement.”

Islam does this sort of thing routinely. The Satanic Verses in the Koran happened when Mohammed tried to claim some existing pagan dieties before backing off and claiming that the devil made him do it. (Literally.)

Of course the Muslim idea of Dawah by hijacking other people’s religious figures has some problems. Muslims believe that Jesus will come back and kill Christians. If Buddha is a Muslim, then he’ll also be expected to come back and kill Buddhists because Islam is to religion as arson is to construction. Its only big idea is smashing other people’s things.

Will this go anywhere? You would think it wouldn’t, but plenty of Jews and Christians insist that Muslims believe in the same god we do. If some Jews and Christians can be fooled, some Buddhists can probably be fooled."

See also Islam Will Destroy Buddhism

Is ‘attention’ the new scarce resource?

From Aeon Magazine
by Judy Wajcman

"If digital technology saves time, how come so many of us feel rushed and harried? Technological utopians once dreamt of the post-industrial society as one of leisure. Instead, we are more like characters in Alice in Wonderland, running ever faster and faster to stand still. Is digital technology at once the cause of time pressure and its solution? Is Sherry Turkle right when she argues in Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011) that social media has replaced communicating with connecting? Is Tim Wu, a leading authority on net neutrality, right when he says that ‘attention’ is the new scarce resource?

One solution is digital detox. The novelist Jonathan Franzen believes it is impossible to write serious fiction on a computer connected to the internet. He filled his laptop’s Ethernet port with superglue. Evgeny Morozov, an influential writer on digital technology, talks about having to lock up his phone in a safe in order to think, read and work. But digital detox is a piecemeal, privileged solution to a much bigger problem..." more

This Is the Year to Simplify the Workplace

From the Huffington Post
by Josh Bersin

"When you read an article in the NY Times Business Section about how the CEO of one of the country's largest healthcare providers is encouraging employees to take yoga and meditation classes, you know that there's something changing in the corporate lexicon.

"Mindfulness," as it is called, is all the rage in corporate circles at the moment. And it's not a shocker. In an era where we check our phones more than 150 times, send more than what seems like 100 billion emails on any given day, and are expected to be "on" pretty much 24/7, it's no surprise that corporate managers have come to realize that this non-stop nature of work eventually takes its toll on employee productivity, engagement, and morale.

However, the constant connectivity is only one part of the equation. The workplace is getting increasingly complex due to the increasing penetration of new technologies into the workplace, administrative compliance demands, as well as overly complex business processes.

In fact, Deloitte's Global Human Capital Trends 2015 report (a study of people-related issues in 3,300 global corporations across 106 countries), which was released last week, clearly documents the problem: 74 percent of HR and business leaders characterized their work environment as either "complex" or "highly complex."

If you think about the fact that a seemingly simple task of conducting performance reviews can take up to 1.8 million people hours , or that your compliance costs have tripled to $265 million in three years , you know that you have a problem on your hands.

As labor market conditions continue to improve at rates uncharacteristic of the past decade, and 2015 shapes up to be the year when most employees are likely to jump ship, mindfulness programs are only a fraction of the solution toward simplifying the workplace..." more

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Making Money from Mindfulness

From  Fox Business

by  Rieva Lesonsky
"The best trends are often the ones where you can “double-dip”—that is take advantage of them as a consumer and as an entrepreneur. Mindfulness is one of those trends—and everyone is buzzing about it right now.

If you’re wondering what it means, according to the new book, Mindfulness at Work For Dummies, mindfulness is about becoming “more aware of your thoughts, feelings and sensations in a way that suspends judgment and self-criticism.” Sounds very Zen, right?

It’s easy to mock, but actually being mindful can make your staff more productive, make you a better leader and improve the overall attitude and output at your small business. And it de-stresses everyone.

When you cut through some of the mumbo-jumbo, being mindful merely means being self-aware. Shamash Alidina and Juliet Adams, the authors of Mindfulness at Work For Dummies, say this gives you the ability to see what is happening in the moment, so you can immediately respond to business situations. Some studies have shown doing meditation and other similar exercises in the workplace can actually shift negative employee attitudes.

Global marketing communication giant JWT named mindfulness one of its Future 100: Trends and Change to Watch in 2015. According to the annual report, “Meditation and mindfulness are getting mass appreciation for benefits not just in well-being, but also in work success—and being embraced by young urban audiences from Silicon Valley to Manhattan.”  more

Hospital treats nursing stress with courses in ‘mindfulness’

From The Bulletin

By David Templeton / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH "Caring for patients can be “organized chaos,” nurses say. As the foot soldiers of health care, they function at the pressure point, the front lines of the war zone, where “you have to be flawless.”

“You can’t make one mistake,” said Daniel Griffiths, 47, of Greenfield, a nurse at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Montefiore. “It’s physically draining. You’re on your feet for a 12-hour shift.”

It helps explain why stress levels in nursing can lead to mental and physical exhaustion, burnout, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and sleep disorders. These occupational hazards, in turn, trespass onto one’s free time.

“When stress is high, it becomes difficult to make easy choices,” Griffiths said, noting his recent trouble deciding among loops, flakes or pops. “After work, if I go to get cereal at the grocery store, it’s hard to make a choice.”

Stress levels among its ranks have prompted the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing to sponsor training workshops in mindfulness meditation for regional nurses. About 50 participated in two daylong training sessions recently at a local facility.

Mindfulness, with roots in Buddhism, long has been accepted psychotherapy for stress, anxiety, pain and trauma. It allows a person to enter into the present moment by focusing on breathing and the senses, leading to insight and mindful action. The ultimate outcome can be acceptance and transformation of suffering..." more

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Failures of materialism: the long history of the Hard Problem

Consciousness myth
From  The Times Literary Supplement  
by Galen Strawson

“Many historians of philosophy, with all their intended praise, . . . attribute mere nonsense . . . to past philosophers”, as Kant pointed out in 1790. The history of ideas is a zoo – of myths about what happened and what people said. I used to think the mythologizing was a relatively slow process, because the passage of time was needed to blur the past. Twenty years ago, however, an instant myth was born: a myth about a dramatic resurgence of interest in the topic of consciousness in philosophy, in the mid-1990s, after long neglect.

It’s too late to uproot it now. It’s spread like Japanese kudzu or Russian ivy. Too many people have a stake in it, including those who believe that they lived through the resurgence (especially the graduate students of the time) and have a place, however modest, among its champions. It soared on a soaring internet whose massively accumulative character then fixed it in place. So it’s worth putting it on the record that it’s a myth.

In the case of psychology the story of resurgence has some truth. There are doubts about its timing. The distinguished psychologist of memory Endel Tulving places it in the 1980s. “Consciousness has recently again been declared to be the central problem of psychology”, he wrote in 1985, citing a number of other authors. The great dam of behaviouristic psychology was cracking and spouting. It was bursting. Even so, there was a further wave of liberation in psychology in the 1990s. Discussion of consciousness regained full respectability after seventy years of marginalization, although there were of course (and still are) a few holdouts.

In the case of philosophy, however, the story of resurgence is simply a myth. There was a small but fashionable group of philosophers of mind who in the 1970s and 80s focused particularly on questions about belief and “intentionality”, and had relatively little to say about consciousness. Their intensely parochial outlook may be one of the origins of the myth. But the problem of consciousness, the “hard problem”, remained central throughout those years. It never shifted from the heart of the discipline taken as a whole..."   Read it all

Nothing religious about meditation?

From The Huffington Post 

by David Gelles

"Bosses can transform their businesses and the happiness of their employees using meditation, author David Gelles has argued - and it's definitely no longer a religious practice.

Gelles, a New York Times reporter and author of the book Mindful Work, stressed that mindfulness meditation had moved away from its Buddhist origins and didn't have to involve "sitting for hours on end with our eyes closed".

He told an audience at The World Post Future of Work conference that there was a quiet revolution going on in businesses around the world - including in Britain.

After holding two meditation demos with the audience, Gelles said “there’s a lot of closet meditators out there. I’ve just outed you.”

He said mindfulness was “an innate human quality” but that he couldn’t “hide the ball” that it was originally a practice deep-rooted in Buddhism.

“But over the last 30 years, and I cannot emphasise this enough," he continued, "it has become a truly secular pursuit. Mindfulness has really been taken out of its religious trappings and presented in a purely secular form.

"There’s absolutely nothing religious about what the people of Goldman Sachs, and Facebook, and General Mills are doing... That is why big companies are embracing this and finding true value in it....”  more 


"Although most of the meditation techniques are based on Buddhist methods, they are usually presented in a secular manner.  The marketing ploy seems to be: ‘Although the Buddhists have by some accident discovered techniques for calming and healing mind and body, let’s forget about their theories and all that religious stuff, and just concentrate on the practical methods for the here and now’.

But can such secular meditation lead on to spiritual meditation? Can meditation for mundane purposes introduce people to the Buddhadharma?  Is this an opportunity for the growth of Buddhism in the West? more at  'Meditation - short term craze or long term opportunity for the growth of Buddhism? '

Friday, 27 March 2015

How To Meditate (And Get The Most Benefit Out Of It)

From  i09 
by George Dvorsky

"Neuroscientists and psychologists keep discovering more health benefits from mindfulness meditation. And luckily, it's a simple practice, that virtually anyone can do. But how do you get started, and how do you get the most rewards from the practice? Here's our quick and easy guide to meditating.

Mindfulness meditation, or focused attention, turns out to bring a surprising number of health benefits, including stress reduction, better attention and memory, and even increased creativity and feelings of compassion. It can also alleviate disturbed sleep, restructure our brains for the better (including developing more grey matter), and help you lose weight. It's also incredibly relaxing and reinvigorating.

There are many different ways to meditate, but for the purposes of this article, and because it's the most studied form, we're only going to consider mindfulness meditation. That's not to suggest other forms of meditation aren't likewise valid or beneficial.
An Ancient Practice, A Modern Need

Mindfulness meditation can trace its roots all the way back to the Theravada tradition of Buddhism. And in fact, it's often considered the first real attempt to study mental processes in a systematic way.

Developed over 2,500 years ago in what is now India, its basic purpose was to help practitioners perceive things as "they really are" and for them to gain enhanced control over their (often scattered) thought processes. Today, mindfulness is practiced both within and outside of the Buddhist context. You don't need to be spiritual or a Buddhist to reap the many benefits of focused attention.

The University of Massachusett's Colleen Camenisch discusses mindfulness at TEDxReno

Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to strengthen contextual awareness and our ability to stay "fixed" in the present moment. As a result, meditation can have a profound influence on the way we approach the minituae of our daily lives; studies have shown that meditators have an easier time sustaining voluntary attention.

"Mindfulness meditation is unique in that it is not directed toward getting us to be different from how we already are," says Dr. Karen Kissel Wegela of Naropa University. "Instead, it helps us become aware of what is already true moment by moment. We could say that it teaches us how to be unconditionally present; that is, it helps us be present with whatever is happening, no matter what it is."

It's never been more difficult to stay focused on the moment, or on a fixed concept or task. Modern technologies in particular have created an intensely distracting environment, and our attention spans have suffered accordingly. We dart from activity to activity, in an often futile effort to multitask. Mindfulness offers practitioners the opportunity to to stop this cycle and focus on one concrete thought..."  read it all

ON MENTAL ILLNESS: Cognitive Techniques Instead of Illicit Drugs

From The Berkeley Daily Planet
by Jack Bragen

"In this week's column I offer a comparison between meditation versus illicit drugs as avenues for relief from the suffering that may accompany a mental illness. I am offering this contrast because, in the case of mental illness, you might need something that offers at least the hope of feeling better. If stuck in pain in the absence of a way out, or even a hoped-for way out, it becomes a lot more of a temptation to use illicit drugs or to take medication not according to the directions.

If you feel okay, the above paragraph does not apply to you.

Cognitive techniques to help deal with mental illness might, by many people, be thought of as out of reach. Many therapists and other mental health professionals might not believe that persons with mental illness have the necessary insight to perform meditation.

Unfortunately, it seems that many people involved in the organized practice of meditation have the same incorrect skepticism. However, gaining an understanding of one's own mind and learning things about what makes it work or not work might be a big help with a lasting and genuine recovery. Additionally, meditation is possible for persons with mental illness. 

My studies of Buddhism date back to the early 1980's, a time when I sought a solution to the predicament of being mentally ill. I read books on the subject of meditation. In addition, I participated in two different meditation groups. 

My definition of "meditation" for purposes of this manuscript is a very loose definition, and can be seen as almost any type of looking inward in an attempt to resolve some of our problems. 

Some mental health consumers have resorted to illicit drugs in an attempt to escape the suffering associated with their illness. This decision probably led them down a less fortunate path. Marijuana, alcohol and other intoxicants might be fine for some people. However, if you are mentally ill, they compound problems created by a neurological vulnerability. 

When a narcotic becomes your primary source of gratification as well as relief, you have a problem. You might be better off not trying hard drugs in the first place, as opposed to becoming addicted and having an internal monstrosity to deal with. 

And yet, I have had my own forms of foolishness. I believed that if I meditated well enough I could cure my illness. I was wrong. Meditation does not fix a neurobiological, chemical imbalance in the brain. Meditation can work as a useful addition to treatment... " 
Read it all

Thursday, 26 March 2015

A peaceful pregnancy – meditation for mom and baby

From The Raw Food News
by Anne M

"....It turns out that meditation is good for baby, too! A 2014 study, “Prenatal meditation influences infant behaviors” published in “Infant Behavior and Development” concluded that there are positive effects of prenatal meditation on infant behaviors “and recommends that pregnancy care providers should provide prenatal meditation to pregnant women.”

Highlights from the study show that:

    Prenatal meditation has positive effect on newborn health.
    Prenatal meditation has positive effect on infant temperament.
    Pregnancy care providers should provide prenatal meditation to pregnant women..."

Read it all 


Triune Mind in Buddhism

From Lankaweb
by Prof. Suwanda H J Sugunasiri

"How many minds do you think you have?

Whaddaya mean? Of course, I have one body, one mind – if you don’t mind.

Dead on. Dead wrong! Let’s ask the Buddha.  He uses  three terms for mind: Citta, Mano and Viññāõa.  Says he in one place,  Whatever it may indeed be, oh Bhikkhus, it is called Citta,  it is called Mano, it is called Viññāõa”. Yet, elsewhere we find the terms used with distinctly different  meanings.      We have, e.g.,    samāhite citte     ‘Citta stilled’,   manopubbaügamā dhammā ‘Mind is of the nature of  forerunning’ and   cakkhuviññāõa  ‘eye-consciousness’.

Any surprise that this  has baffled  scholars, East and West?  Translations haven’t been helpful either. English, or any other Western language in particular,  has no  parallel concepts. So it was that I took  up the challenge of finding out just what is going on. So there it is. My latest article, Triune Mind in Buddhism: A Textual Exploration” in the Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies (2014), pp.7-48.

My first treading ground was the Abhidhamma in which we find a detailed analysis of the mind, meaning the five physical senses as also in Western Science – eye, ear, nose, tongue and body,   but going beyond,  the mind-sense.  None of  that   ESP (extra-sensory perception) nonsense  here!  Each sense is called a door (dvāra).

The Abhidhamma shows a  Stream of Consciousness  (viññāṇasota), as it is called by the Buddha,   in any given sense door, as having 17 mindmoments. With different functions.

So let’s then take a quick look at the ear sense, for example.  You have a cell phone in your hand, and then suddenly, you feel a vibration (calana).  This is what takes place when a sound (stimulus) sneaks up on you through the ear door. So  you pick up the cell   and keep it to  the ear (would you not count two mindmoments, one for each action?). Now,  still not knowing who the call is from, you listen. It’s me”,  you hear the words. This is the receiving part, taking up to 6 mindmoments.

You’re now listening to your friend and chatting away. But you know what?  Your mind has already decided whether the call is related  to Passion, Hatred or Delusion (rāga, dosa, moha).  Now careful there, will ya! This is where your this-life kamma is made, because it entails ‘intent’   and choice.  ‘Intent I say is kamma’, says the Buddha.  Decision made, the psychological message is sent on its way, taking about 9 mindmoments. All of this then is the judging part.

Next it is ‘registered’. Think of a hotel guest. You come in, look for a room, and then register. Taking 2 more mindmoments, the psychological message is now sent to a bank. I’m saying ‘psychological’ here because it is not just the verbal message you’re getting from your friend. It is also the psychological impact on you.

The threesome, then,  I call the ‘Triune mind’ – i.e., three-in-one mind.  Analyzed functionally, I label Mano  as R-Mind (Receiving-Mind), Citta as J-Mind (Judging-Mind) with   Viññāṇa  getting the badge E-mind, registering being an executive function... read it all

Meditating to psych up for championship swimming

From Swim Swam

by  Franco Pacheco


"This one is really what the top of the article touches on. Your mind, just like your body can be trained for any situation. Whether you have your own set of motivational speaking tapes, a set visualization process, or a routine of mediation, use it regularly leading up to the meet. There is something to be said for having a clear mind going into any competition and meditating is one the ways to get that done..."  read it all

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Meditation Literally Changes Your Brain

From CityWatch 
by Christian Cristiano

"You’re probably not surprised to hear that meditation begins with understanding your brain. The neo-cortex is divided into 4 lobes with the frontal lobes processing our most evolved human experiences such as morality, love, happiness, joy and intelligence. With the help of fMRI machines, neuroscientists have now proven that through meditation we actually create more neuronal activity in the frontal lobes and throughout the entire brain. What this means is that with a regular meditation practice, we can change the physiology of our brains and make the cortex thicker helping us to experience more serenity and love.

Another incredible byproduct of meditation is the slowing of cellular aging that occurs in the brain. What this translates into is proof that meditation actually slows down the aging process. As we age we lose grey matter in the brain, and studies have now proven that through meditation, we actually maintain more grey matter than non-meditators which stacks up to less grey matter loss and a younger brain. 

Through the help of technology, neuroscientists have also proven that the Default Mode Network or DMN in the brain is slowed through meditation. This is the part of the brain that is responsible for mind wandering and ruminating or worrying about ones self. It has been shown that if a meditator does end up drifting off into worry it is easier for them to refocus and come back to reality as opposed to their non-meditating counterparts..."  more  

It's hard not to believe everything you think

From The Record Courier 
by Bridgette DeBoer

 "Just because we have a thought does not make it real. In fact the only reality is in awareness and true awareness is free from thought. Sitting in meditation can help you to become aware of your thoughts. When the body sits still the thoughts tend to increase. Resting in a comfortable space either lying down or sitting, as long as your spine is straight and gently closing your eyes begins the practice of meditation. Next, with a closed mouth placing the tongue on the roof of the mouth and allowing your breath to come in and out through the nose. Now paying attention to the rise and fall of the belly with each breath allows the mind to begin to calm. This takes patience as our minds move pretty quickly in our Western culture. After a few minutes the mind will begin to slow and at this point you may begin the practice of noticing your thoughts.

Meditation is not about having absolutely no thoughts. It’s more about allowing your thoughts to slow to a point that when they arise you are able to notice it as thought and let it go rather than attaching to the thought as truth...  more

Saving Buddhism: A history of Buddhism in colonial Burma

From Myanmar Times
by Amaury Lorin

"Most academic research fails to attract much attention beyond a narrow circle of devotees, more’s the pity. But the interested reader will profit greatly from a fascinating work just published: Saving Buddhism: The Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma by American historian Alicia Turner. Turner is Associate Professor of Humanities and Religious Studies at York University in Toronto, Canada, and editor of The Journal of Burma Studies. Her synthesis, presented by the author on January 18 at Pansodan Scene in downtown Yangon, allows an in-depth understanding of the roots of today’s complex Myanmar..." more

How Meditation Made Me a Better Parent

From The Huffington Post
by Hilary Achauer

"...The difficulty with meditation is that it's hard to tell if anything is happening. You sit there, doing nothing, for longer and longer stretches of time. The inactivity is deceptive, of course. What's actually going on is a mighty struggle to control your thoughts.

The goal of meditation is to completely clear your mind, and to focus on sitting, or breathing. The goal is to quiet the rush of thoughts that flow through the mind at all times. It's incredibly difficult. When you're starting, you are lucky if you can achieve a quiet mind for a few minutes, or a few seconds.

Twenty minutes is a very long time to sit still. As a working mom of a 6-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, my mind is a constant ticker tape of to-do lists and appointments.

To make the experience even more difficult, at the beginning of the 20-minute sessions, Andy asked us to think about how our meditation would benefit those around us.


I was doing meditation for myself. I spend much of my time taking care of my family--why couldn't I have this for myself?

However, as a good rule-follower, I hastily thought, "I'd like meditation to help me be more patient with my kids. Then I put it out of my mind and tried to focus on my breathing..."

"...One of the most challenging times of the day for me is late afternoon and early evening. As soon as the kids get home from school, my mind is on the tasks to be completed by dinnertime: homework and making it to practice on time and dinner preparation..."

"...Then one Wednesday I wasn't able to start prepping dinner before my daughter's swim team practice. It was 6:15 and I was driving the kids home with no real plan for dinner. Normally this would have set me a tailspin of anxiety, but I found myself unable to get upset about it..."

"... It wasn't until after the kids went to bed that I realized what had been different about that afternoon. I never became anxious. I never snapped at the kids. I was able to flow from activity to activity without getting caught up everything that lay ahead.

Then I thought back to my meditation sessions. What kind of sneaky magic was this? I hadn't put any thought into changing my behavior..."Read it all

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

How Mindfulness Can Help the Stress of Your Twenties

From The Huffington Post 

by Blake Colaianne

"Living through your 20s is exhausting. Suddenly you are faced with big questions that seem to require as-soon-as-possible answers. As if it wasn't hard enough, social media has transformed this time of life into what seems like a sprint-to-the-finish-line marathon. We want to be happy for each other and be there to support the people close to us. But we are constantly flooded with posts/pictures/tags/tweets/snapchats of someone's new job, apartment, house, relationship, wedding, baby, vacation, and anything else that someone else has or has "better" than you. And sometimes it makes you want to throw up your dinner. A dinner that wasn't as fancy as the one your friend posted a picture of anyways.

Social media has done a great job of connecting us to each other. The problem is that the more you connect yourself to the world, the more you compare yourself to the world. And the moment you feel unmatched against members of your generation, you feel stressed..."  read it all  

Meditation cures panic attacks


From Chicago Now        
by YouKnowNeen

How a 40 day meditation practice can soothe your soul
"A consistent meditation practice, for me, has been the foundation to a sense of mental, physical and spiritual well being. Last November, after suffering the first time from a few mild panic attacks, I set out on a 40 day meditation practice of my own to help calm me down and figure out what the hell was going on with me. (Click here to read weekly blog posts of my 40 day journey.

Over the years, through therapy, reading spiritual texts, developing a meditation practice and surrounding myself and drinking red wine with wonderful, like minded souls, I've learned to manage my anxiety with the end goal being 1. a healthier me and 2. to stop the cycle of anxiety that runs deep in my family history.

I spoke with my meditation teacher at length and she advised me that circumstances do not cause our suffering. While circumstances can be sad, painful, trying - it is not these moments that cause anxiety - it is our lack of faith. A lack of faith. A lack of self. A LACK. Period. When we lose our faith, lose our Self, we forget that we have everything we need within us to manifest contentment in our life, regardless of what is going on in our outside world.

After 40 days of mediation and journaling, I learned a lot. I calmed down. The panic attacks stopped...." more

Chinese Scholars to Create a Four-Language Dictionary to Aid Buddhist Manuscript Research

From Yibada  
by Erika Miranda

Chinese scholars are set to create a four-language dictionary to understand centuries-old Buddhist manuscripts. (Photo : www.topchinatravel.com)

A Chinese political advisor and Tibetan scholar revealed to the Xinhua News Agency on Monday China’s plan to compile a polylingual dictionary on manuscripts in Buddhism this year.

According to National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference member Drongbu Tseringdorje, Chinese scholars need a Sanskrit-Chinese-Tibetan-English dictionary to understand the sutras as well as ancient and high-value records written in palm-leaf that they have collected.

Read more

School meditation club

From The Chicago Tribune

"With lighting provided only by a few candles and whatever sunlight filters its way through the windows, the scene seen twice a month in one Hinsdale Central classroom is not typical.

Participants spend much of their time during the after-school sessions lying down, with their eyes closed. And when the 45 minutes are over, everyone appears more relaxed.

It's all part of the first-year Meditation Club at Central, which was started by a few students who were provided a spark by club sponsor Stephanie Gose, a computer lab supervisor..."

"...Meditation is a stress reliever," Gose said. "School can be very stressful, and I want to make it as stress free as possible..."   Read it all

Monday, 23 March 2015

You no longer have to be weird to meditate

From The Huffington Post
by Dean Sluyter

"....Certainly, the image of meditation in the zeitgeist has shifted. Especially in these last few years, it seems to have reached some kind of critical mass of cultural acceptance. When I had books published in the past, I was happy if I could get a mention in Yoga Journal or Science of Mind. For my latest book, I've been interviewed by Prevention, InStyle, and... wait for it... Family Circle. Can you get more mainstream?

This dramatic change resembles the astonishing shift in attitudes toward gay rights, and I suspect that it's for a similar reason. A few years ago, the culture reached a tipping point where practically everyone realized they had a friend or neighbor or colleague or family member who was gay and who was a perfectly nice person, not a monster. Now we've reached another tipping point where practically everyone realizes they know someone who meditates and isn't a robe-wearing monk or a hippie weirdo... who, in fact, seems to have their act impressively together..."  read it all


You’re missing out on your experiences. A meditation expert explains how to live in the moment

From The Washington Post
By Brigid Schulte

Sometimes in the crazy swirl of life, it feels like there’s no time to stop. But that’s just what Sharon Salzberg teaches people to do. Salzberg is a New York Times best selling author, a teacher of meditation and mindfulness and one of the co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society at Barre, Massachusetts. She explains how best to practice mindfulness here:

Q: OK, mindfulness seems to be all the rage right now, but why do it? Why meditate? Why be mindful? What does that do for us?

Salzberg: Mindfulness has a lot of benefits. One is simply connecting with our lives as we live them. If you drink your coffee while reading your paper, and checking your emails, with the TV on, that can lead to you feeling perpetually disconnected and unfulfilled. You may think, you need to get different coffee, or grind it differently, and that would make you feel more satisfied, instead of realizing, ‘Maybe the first step is really actually inhabiting our life and really connecting to it every once in awhile.’ Sometimes, just drink the cup of coffee and experience it fully.

Mindfulness is simply the perception of what’s fully happening in the moment not distorted by bias, playing old stories, usually that have something to do with regret, over and over and over, or anticipating future events that most likely will never happen.

Mindfulness helps relieve anxiety and can give us a real sense of connection and fulfillment, as well as insight and understanding. The idea is, by developing a different relationship with our experience, we get to see it differently. If an emotion comes up, and we start fighting it, there’s not a lot of learning going on. If we fall into it and become overwhelmed, there’s not a lot of learning going on. Mindfulness helps us develop a different, kinder relationship with ourselves, to see much more deeply into all of our experience..." Read it all

‘Fashionable’ Buddhism has distorted the Buddha’s key message.

From The News Hub 
by Sam Jones

In recent times Buddhism has grown in popularity throughout the West. With this surge has come fashion trends linked to Buddhism including tattoos and paintings. But do ‘fashionable’ Buddhist tattoos and ornaments distort the Buddha’s fundamental message of non-attachment?

Read it all

Maintaining Mental Agility with Meditation

From The Star

"According to a new study, meditation could keep your brain forever young.

Preserving the brain’s most important tissue – the neuron-rich grey matter – could be accomplished through meditation, according to a new study at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), United States.

As early as the mid-to-late 20s, the brain starts to show the effects of ageing, as its volume and weight start to dwindle.

Previous research has suggested that those who practise meditation have less age-related degradation in their white matter, so the UCLA team, whose study was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, sought to build on these findings.

“We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating,” says co-author Dr Florian Kurth, a postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center. “Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain...”   Read it all

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Delhi plays Buddhist card in Lanka to send signal to China

From The Indian Express
by Sushant Singh

"Moving to deepen its engagement with Colombo and counter Beijing’s influence in the region, New Delhi is hosting a dialogue on vinaya (code of conduct) between high-ranking Theravada monks from Sri Lanka and counterparts of the Nalanda tradition — the first dialogue at this level between the two Buddhist traditions.

In another first, the Dalai Lama will be meeting the Sri Lankan monks Thursday and they plan to invite him to their country. A formal invitation is likely to be extended after President Maithripala Sirisena wraps up his first official visit to Beijing later this month.

Later Thursday, the two delegations will meet again over tea at the official residence of Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju. Samdhong Rinpoche, former prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, is also attending the dialogue as a member of the Nalanda delegation.

This engagement comes days after the change of government in Colombo and the visit last week to Sri Lanka by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Sri Lankan and Nalanda monks met Tuesday for a dialogue on vinaya. It has been organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), a two-year-old NGO recognised as a “cultural organisation with national presence” by the Indian government.

Jangchup Choeden, who heads the Gaden Shartse monastery, told The Indian Express that the last such interaction had been organised by Emperor Harshavardhana in the 7th century AD..."  more

Why your office needs mindfulness

From CITY A. M. 
by Graham Doke

"Use it to replace personal negativity, team in-fighting or the feared office manager approach.
In the modern office environment of instant information, immediate reaction, and 24/7 availability, it can be difficult to achieve any kind of mental balance – to deal with tricky situations or to tune out distractions. 

But there is something that could help. Mindfulness is the practice of deliberately focusing on the here and now – placing yourself in the present moment to increase awareness and clarity. In the UK, the NHS and Transport for London are just two organisations that have already introduced mindfulness meditation in the workplace. Here are three ways a focus on mindfulness can impact the corporate environment.

Office politics will always be an issue for most management teams. Rivalry, competitiveness and jealousy can have a major impact.

When executed properly, mindfulness training can increase awareness of your emotions and those of other people. This, in turn, can have a positive effect on behaviour and atmosphere in the workplace – not in a sixth sense way, but simply through the acknowledgement that comes from higher emotional awareness..." more

Should schools teach kids to meditate?

From  The Atlantic
by Amanda Machado

"Each year, meditation becomes more of a trend. Celebrities like Jerry Seinfeld and Goldie Hawn, businessmen like Bill George of Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil, and News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, have publicly discussed practicing it. Techies and others in the corporate world have begun using mindfulness, a type of meditation, to combat the stress and overstimulation of their jobs. Even the Marines have used it to “improve mental performance under the stress and strain from war.”

At the same time, more and more studies are showing direct links between meditation and health benefits. A study led by researchers at John Hopkins found that just eight weeks of meditation training was as effective as medication in treating depression, anxiety, and pain. At Harvard, scientists using neuro-imaging technology showed how meditation positively affected the brain activity of the chronically stressed, a condition that the Benson-Henry Institute reports is related to more than 60 percent of all doctor’s visits.

Schools have also begun experimenting with the practice and discovering that its techniques can help its students. When a school in New Haven, Connecticut, required yoga and meditation classes three times a week for its incoming freshman, studies found that after each class, students had significantly reduced levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, in their bodies. In San Francisco, schools that participated in Quiet Time, a Transcendental Meditation program, had twice as many students score proficient in English on the California Achievement Test than in similar schools where the program didn’t exist. Visitacion Valley Middle School specifically reduced suspensions by 45 percent during the program’s first year. Attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, grade point averages improved, and the school recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco on the annual California Healthy Kids Survey. Other studies have shown that mindfulness education programs improved students’ self-control, attentiveness and respect for other classmates, enhanced the school climate, and improved teachers’ moods.

These results did not surprise me. As a former teacher who now practices meditation myself, I’ve often wondered how I could have used the practice in my own classroom. The stress level of teaching seemed to bring out my already-existing anxiety in the worst kind of ways. I slept poorly, unable to stop rehearsing my lessons in my head. I got irritable with loved ones. I felt obsessed with saving time when there was so much to do and so much to teach to students who I feared were behind. My students noticed, too. On a survey, one wrote, “It seems like you’re really tense”; another, “You can get easily frustrated with yourself.”

Meanwhile, my students seemed just as anxious as I was. My advisory group complained of the immense pressure of balancing school with their lives at home. Students constantly booked appointments with the school counselor to talk through their personal struggles with a professional. A common response from students on their semester reflections was “I’m overwhelmed...”  Read it all


Benefits of childhood meditation

From Shambala Kids

"Meditation helps children in a variety of ways. It helps reduce stress, strengthens the immune system, can improve relationships at home & at school , decreases aggressiveness and anxieties, improves behavior and attitude, improves focus, memory & concentration and promotes inner peace.

Kids' meditation has also proven effective in helping kids release negative thoughts and behaviors and in building self-confidence. We all want our children to be stress free. Mindfulness and meditation are fantastic tools that kids can learn at an early age which will help them throughout their lives.

Because of the wonderful benefits of meditation, more parents are deciding to try guided meditation with their children and finding that it really does help their children become more peaceful. Not only that, but because of the rise in self-esteem, children who meditate also are connecting with their inner self easier and listening to that wise inner wizard.

When kids are able to do this, they truly start to feel their rightful place in the world, relationships improve, peer pressure is much less of an issue and kids are learning the value of experience without being overwhelmed by it..."   Read it all

Saturday, 21 March 2015

2015 Summer Festival website now live!

July 24 – 29 : Treasure Vase of Kadam Lamrim
July 30 – Aug 8: Heruka Body Mandala and Vajrayogini Empowerments & Commentary

This Summer we have a very precious opportunity to receive Empowerments, Teachings, and to engage in retreat, on the very essence of Buddha’s Sutra and Tantra teachings.

In week 1, Gen-la Kelsang Kunsang will encourage us to take the precious jewels of wisdom and compassion from the treasure vase of Kadam Dharma, the inner wealth of spiritual realisations that never deceive us and bring the peace and happiness we desire. This experience of Kadam Lamrim is the perfect preparation to receive Highest Yoga Tantra empowerments.

In week 2, Gen-la Kelsang Dekyong will grant the empowerments of Heruka Body Mandala and Vajrayogini, The teachings of Tantra are the rarest and most precious of all Buddha’s teachings, the path by which we can attain actual Buddhahood. Following the empowerments, Gen-la Dekyong will give practical teachings on how to enter and make progress on this blissful, quick path to enlightenment.

More information about the Festival including programme, fees and accommodation is now available online.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A happy and contented childhood

From Meditation for our children

"...At the Kadampa Primary School Derbyshire we offer our children the chance to learn how to create genuine inner peace and contentment, and to learn the values of respect, compassion and consideration for others. We believe meditation is a cornerstone to this learning. Every day our children and staff engage in short meditations in which they learn, through a series of guided visualisations, step by step how to cultivate inner peace and deal with their negative feelings. Through guided meditation the children learn how to hold a feeling of happiness within their mind. When things get difficult in the playground or in the world outside, they can, through practice, recall similar situations that arose in the guided meditations; this will remind them of the happy, compassionate mind they held which dissolved their anger, hurt or pain...."  Full article

Meditation for relief of migraine

From the L A Times
by Lisa Mulcahy 

"Speaking of relaxation, meditation may just be the ticket when it comes to minimizing a migraine's effect, according to researchers at Wake Forest Baptist University in Winston-Salem, S.C. "Those in our study who took a two-hour instructive class in mindful meditation for eight weeks and meditated on their own five days a week for 35 to 40 minutes experienced migraines that were less severe and shorter," said lead study author Dr. Rebecca Erwin Wells. Chronic migraine sufferers also reported 1.4 fewer migraines per month on average..." more

Meditation, one simple way to down shift for a longer life, fend off cognitive decline

From Naples Daily News
by Kelly Farrell

NAPLES, Fla. - Editor’s note: 

"The Power 9 principles were created from a study by National Geographic researchers who identified cultures with the longest-lived people in the world and dubbed them Blue Zones. This coverage is part of a 10-year community initiative to become the next Blue Zone..."

"...If traffic has you frustrated during Southwest Florida’s February tourism spike, downshifting might help you live longer.

Reducing stress isn’t something to be done just in tourist time or just when you feel overwhelmed; rather, the regular and consistent practice of downshifting is a Blue Zones’ Power 9 principle.

While changes might be needed to make downshifting easier, Southwest Floridians can downshift almost immediately, said Allen Weiss, president of NCH Healthcare System. Weiss said all we have to do is enjoy our natural surroundings by seeing a sunset, walking on the beach or just getting outside more.

“We live in a rare year-round outdoor climate. We have to take advantage of that. Slow down a bit, take some time away from the Internet and cellphone,” Weiss said of obtainable ways to downshift for a longer life.

Recent research indicates meditation and mindfulness techniques not only have an immediate effect on the symptoms related to stress but also might lead to increasing cognitive function long-term by slowing the loss of gray matter, decreasing age-related brain atrophy and other factors related to Alzheimer’s disease.

Meanwhile, stepping away from electronics periodically also looks to have short- and long-term health effects, according to research authors.

“Simultaneously using mobile phones, laptops and other media devices could be changing the structure of our brains. People who frequently use several media devices at the same time have lower gray-matter density in one particular region of the brain compared to those who use just one device occasionally,” as stated in the research summary released by the University of Sussex in September... more

Prime Minister Modi emphasises India's and Sri Lanka's shared Buddhist heritage

From Eurasia Review   
By Smruti S. Pattanaik

"...Modi’s choice of places to visit in Sri Lanka is important both from the political and cultural perspectives. His visit to Anuradhapura, which is, in a way, the cultural capital of Sri Lanka, is quite significant here. It is not only the ancient capital of Sri Lanka, but also the place where Arahat Mahinda, son of Ashoka the Great, arrived to spread Buddhism in the 3rd century BCE (Before the Common Era). It is well-known that the cultural linkages between the two countries have continued in spite of political and diplomatic reverses over time. For Sri Lankans, India remains a major place for pilgrimage. Buddhism spread to Sri Lanka from India and remains a main source of religion and culture for a majority of its people. Modi’s symbolic visit to Anuradhapura is therefore a very welcome idea.

It is appropriate to mention here that India has made use of cultural diplomacy with Sri Lanka in the past. The decision to lend the Kapilavastu relics to be displayed in Sri Lanka for the second time in 2011 was received well there and large numbers of devotees rushed to have a look at them. This decision was taken in spite of the earlier directives not to allow the display of sacred relics outside India due to their inestimable value and delicate nature and the huge logistics and planning required for their exhibition. Sri Lanka is also one of the countries involved in establishing the international Buddhist University in Sanchi and is part of the Buddhist circuit that India is developing in the subcontinent.

Modi’s visit to Anuradhapura and the Mahabodhi society in Colombo, which are part of the two countries’ common cultural heritage and strong historical connection, will definitely be a huge step forward in public diplomacy. Both countries have already agreed to undertake joint activities to commemorate the 2600th year of Buddha attaining Enlightenment and the PM’s reiteration in this regard will go down well with the majority Sinhala audience..." more

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Mindfulness Meditation Reaches U.S Schools to Boost Student Performance

From iSchoolguide  
by Hanna Sanchez

"Mindfulness meditation has become increasingly popular among professionals. Recently, this form of meditation has made its way into the education sector as psychologists and educators wonder if this could benefit students as well. According to Kristin Decarr of Education News, this practice is believed to help people stay balanced, focused, and stress free.

Emily Holland of The Wall Street Journal said mindfulness meditation focuses entirely on the present time. This allows participants to recognize and accept their situation without judgement. Its goal is to give an individual a sound mind and increased awareness.

"Studies show that grade-school-aged children who learn mindfulness and meditation are more focused and resilient," said Sarah McKay, a freelance science writer who specializes in the brain and mind. "It helps settle them down and improves concentration, particularly if done before school or after lunch breaks."

Advocates of the practice are bringing the movement into schools nationwide, believing this form of meditation can sharpen the students' focus, increase school performance, and reduce their stress levels..."  more

Information Overload - Taking time out to go tech-free

From Management Today
by Faisal Butt

"Talk of meditation, mindfulness classes and workplace massages still causes a raised eyebrow or two in many quarters of the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds, where there is little tolerance for about anything that might be perceived as new age or ‘spiritual’.

Particularly in the start-up environment I inhabit, there is still a prevailing belief that we need to work constantly to succeed, that regular 16-hour days are vital to success and that our digital devices have to be fully charged and accessible 24/7.

But in an era of ubiquitous and all-pervasive technology and media, the concept of needing a little headspace – or even reconfiguring our sometimes hostile work environments – is quickly gaining traction. Many no longer see it as an airy-fairy indulgence, but a business necessity.

As somebody who grew up in South Asia, moved to Silicon Valley, and now live in London, I have witnessed contrasting attitudes to ‘detoxing’ from work and I think London can learn a little from other cultural approaches.

Steve Jobs and counter-culture

The traditionally cynical, all-hours work culture of the UK is now adopting practices from the ‘hippy dippy’ counter-culture of California, where, for the last half-century, increasing importance has been placed on finding ones inner self amid the noise of modern life..."   Read more

Mindfulness Meditation Weekend for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer Communities

From American Buddhist Perspectives

by Justin Whitaker

"...There are very few opportunities for the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, and Queer) community to practice mindfulness meditation together. Historically, my 2015 Garrison LGBTIQ Retreat co-teacher Eric Kolvig along with lesbian dharma teacher Arinna Weisman pioneered LGBT (the “I” was no yet a part of the acronym) retreats over 20 years ago. A large LGBTQ retreat has been held at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA for many years since. 

Three years ago, my mentor Larry Yang along with Madeline Klyne offered the first large east coast LGBTIQ retreat at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY, and now the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA has begun offering an annual LGBTIQ retreat there. The aspiration of such retreats is to create a safe, compassionate, and nurturing space for LGBTIQ yogis to deepen their practice in an environment where who they are and their experiences are reflected by the retreat teachers and where they are surrounded by others who may share similar and diverse experiences of being LGBTIQ in this culture..."

Read more


Exercise, music and meditation: How to rebuild your brain after a stroke

From The Express
by Rachel Carlyle

"...Practising mindfulness (where you live in each moment and accept your thoughts as they come and go rather than try to change them) and meditation have been shown to change the structure of the brain. Research has proved that two of the four areas of the pre-frontal cortex (the “thinking” part of the brain behind the forehead) thicken and strengthen. Meditation also calms and stabilises the mind, which helps with the brain-training exercises.

David started with barely 10 minutes of meditation every morning in a shed in his garden. “It was so hard to focus on anything at first, but gradually I built it up to 30 minutes a session. I also try to practise mindfulness throughout the day – so if I’m doing something as mundane as brushing my teeth, I’m trying to be aware of only the brushing, not the 10 things I need to do afterwards.

It’s a slowing down. I’m impressed with how I can now watch my own thoughts and feelings come and go without getting irritated or annoyed, just accepting them. The evidence is pretty clear, even in an eight-week programme, that it changes your brain structure long-term and gets better the more you practise...”  full article

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

How Children Benefit from Meditation

From the EOC institute 

"...At its most basic, meditation gives young children the feeling of being quiet and still. It gives them time to breathe and imagine, and lets them know that it is okay to have feelings. In fact, through meditation children learn that it is okay to be whoever they are and feel whatever they feel.

After UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center introduced a meditation program to preschoolers, researchers found that mindfulness increased the children’s memory as well as their ability to plan and organize

It’s a myth that childhood is a carefree time. The fact is that children experience many fears: fear of the dark, fear of monsters, fear of abandonment, fear of the future, fear of not being good enough, etc. etc. By training young people to focus on one thought, sound, or breath at a time, meditation teaches them how to stay in the moment, where they are safe. Meditation can carry children away from whatever makes them afraid to a place where they have power and control over their lives.

Meditation helps teenagers deal with the turmoil of adolescence by helping them balance conflicting emotions and manage stress. Meditation strengthens self-acceptance, builds confidence, and enhances the feeling of empowerment. Teens report that they are better able to deal with peer pressure–a powerful force for adolescents–as a result of their meditation practice.

  • In addition, meditation helps children:
  • Fall asleep, especially when practiced before bedtime;
  • Deal with grief and other difficult emotions;
  • Fight disease;
  • Release negative thoughts and behaviors; and
  • Get along better with others.
  • Meditation and Performance in School...

Full article 

Making workplace meditation work

from HRE Daily 
by Kristen Frasch

"Mindfulness appears to be alive and well in Fort Collins, Colo. Or at the Fort Collins Housing Authority anyway.

Just before the holidays, I came across this release about the FCHA completing a month-long mindfulness program for its staff.  Seems the organization’s top leaders took its annual wellness survey seriously when a common complaint came back suggesting improvements in work/life balance and health and general well-being were needed.

In the words of FCHA Chief Executive Officer Julie Brewen: “We are committed to implementing new programs for the health and well-being of our staff.”

In an industry that deals with tough issues such as poverty, homelessness and families in crisis, she says, the program was a step in the right direction. The program consisted of daily, hour-long sessions during work hours that blended presentations, group discussion and meditation practice.

The results? According to Brewen, lowered stress and depression, and an increase in work/life balance..." more