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Have you ever put your head on the pillow expecting to go to sleep, only to find that your thoughts seem to increase or speed up? It's a common experience and many people struggle to get to sleep with an over-active mind. But extensive scientific research has shown that when it comes to insomnia, mindfulness is a powerful and effective tool. This simple three-step mindfulness exercise from Headspace will show you how you can unwind the mind late at night - or any other time of day you fancy a snooze.
P eople who meditate grow bigger brains than those who don’t. Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input. In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That’s intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age.
Jan. 21, 2011 — Participating in an 8-week mindfulness meditation program appears to make measurable changes in brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. In a study that will appear in the January 30 issue of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) researchers report the results of their study, the first to document meditation-produced changes over time in the brain's grey matter. "Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day," says Sara Lazar, PhD, of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program, the study's senior author. "This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing."
A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion – Alan Watts Have you ever driven your car or bicycle and suddenly you wake up somewhere down the road and can’t remember how you got there? What happened in those few minutes? When you put some effort in it you probably remember some of the thoughts you had.
Bodhipaksa Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action. In walking meditation we use the experience of walking as our focus.
Zen Habits blogger Leo Babuta hits on perhaps the most important aspect of making meditation a centering tool for your hectic life: forming the habit. Don't buy a mat or pillow, or focus on 15-minute sits—not yet. Just sit for 2 minutes, every single day. Babuta's post is a great primer for those who feel like there's just no way to fit meditation into their schedule, or, maybe more so, those who have tried and fallen off. Just two minutes, and the self-discipline of an unbroken streak, are all you need, Babuta writes:
Believe it or not, you can improve your concentration and slow down your day-to-day life with meditation without ever uttering the word "chakra." Incense, yoga pants, and annoying dinner conversation are also optional. All you need is your breath.
Meditation means a lot of different things, but at its heart is a quieting of the mind, which can boost your focus and general health. Audio Dharma offers six free recorded classes that introduce concepts and help you through some early sits. Photo by Theresa in MS . Instructor Gil Fronsdal is a former Buddhist monk, but his meditation courses are taught as a secular introduction to the posture, breathing, and thinking (or lack thereof) that gets your mind and body into a relaxed state.
Android/iOS: If you've thought about meditating to relieve stress but didn't know how to get started, Buddhify is a new app for iOS and Android phones that teaches you in short, easy steps, how to relax, be present, and be mindful of the moment so you can think clearly and let go of your stress. Buddhify works best in the relative quiet or calm of your home, but the app is interesting because it also has ways you can relax and meditate when you're traveling on the train or bus, walking from place to place, or working out at the gym with your headphones in. It lets you select from four different meditation styles and the text size you want on-screen, and then the app will walk you through and audio and visual meditation session, best suited for where you are at the time.
Yoga offers a host of health benefits, including stress relief and mental clarity, but many people don't think it's for them. There are, however, so many approaches to yoga—Ashtanga is a fast-paced flowing style while Kripalu combines gentle movements with a philosophy of compassion and mindfulness—that if you are interested, you should be able to find a yoga style that fits your needs and reap these great benefits. Here's how to get started (or continue) on your individual yoga path. What Is Yoga? Yoga means "union" in Sanskrit and refers to the original purpose of the practice: connecting mind and body so you can experience your pure, true self and find enlightenment. Many yoga classes in the West emphasize Hatha yoga—a general term describing the physical foundation of yoga.
It seems everyone is interested in meditation...talking about the wonderful benefits, recommending classes and discussing the different ways to "do it". But, for a beginner, just what is "it"? And how do you do "it"? Our busy, hectic, lifestyles may seem to prohibit this peaceful practice, or provide a convenient "excuse" not to begin, or continue, to meditate...but, the happy news is, you CAN successfully benefit even if you practice for short periods. With the simple technique described below, you will begin and incredible journey.
If you haven't given meditation a try yet, despite the many advantages we've already seen (including chronic pain and stress relief , reducing information overload , and building a better brain ), here's one more argument for trying the practice: meditation may help you get more done at work. A recent study by University of Washington researchers (PDF) found that meditation training helped workers concentrate better, remember more of their work details, and stay energized and experience less negative moods. In the study, three groups each of 12 to 15 human resource managers were given 8-week training courses in 1) mindfulness meditation, 2) body relaxation, or 3) the mindfulness mediation after being on a wait list for eight weeks (the waitlist control group).
Meditation is the practice Buddhists know very well. The meaning of meditation or bhavana means “cultivation of the mind” . It is therefore an activity that is determined to increase their understanding and wisdom that are essential for the eradication of ” dukkha “. There are many different Buddhist meditation techniques depending on the tradition and school, for example in the Theravada Visuddhimagga there are listed up to 40 meditation methods . All of them are based on two components called Samatha (calm abiding, peace of mind) and Vipassana (direct knowledge, intuition).
Editor’s note : This is a guest post from Todd Goldfarb at the We The Change blog. Meditation is the art of focusing 100% of your attention in one area. The practice comes with a myriad of well-publicized health benefits including increased concentration, decreased anxiety, and a general feeling of happiness. Although a great number of people try meditation at some point in their lives, a small percentage actually stick with it for the long-term. This is unfortunate, and a possible reason is that many beginners do not begin with a mindset needed to make the practice sustainable. The purpose of this article is to provide 20 practical recommendations to help beginners get past the initial hurdles and integrate meditation over the long term: