Winding down after a demanding day often means turning on the television, pouring a drink, or breaking into a pint of ice cream. A more productive, healthy way to chase away tension, anxiety, and the daily blahs is meditation. Here’s a meditation designed to help you quiet mind chatter, focus inward, and explore the limitless realm of your heart and soul.
Bodywork as a meditative discipline may at first seem rather peculiar. Certainly, many seasoned bodyworkers meditate, rightly believing that regular practice of any of a wealth of meditative modalities will promote an increased sense of mental clarity and calmness and may potentially enhance the experience of everyday life, as well as the quality and depth of their work.
The early 1990s was a difficult time to be living in Washington, D.C.
Drive-by shootings, overwhelmingly high crime rates, and ruthless gang activity ruled the streets in this political town.
It was 1994, and as principal of the Fletcher-Johnson Educational Center, George Rutherford was searching for ways to keep his students safe.
“We were in competition with the drug dealers,” says Rutherford, who continues today as principal of D.C.’s Ideal Academy Public Charter School. “We were fighting for the kids. They wanted them and I wanted them.”
According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, practicing meditation may increase brain activity involved in attention, memory, learning, and happiness. Researchers studied eight Buddhist monks who had practicing at least 10,000 hours of compassion meditation (promoting kindness toward all beings) by tracing brain waves.
What if there was a single pill you could take to reduce blood pressure, ease anxiety, improve concentration, and make you happier — all with no side effects? Chances are, everyone would be clamoring for it. While not in pill form, mindfulness meditation — the act of sitting quietly for 20 to 30 minutes once or twice a day and emptying your mind — appears to initiate these significant results.
Mindfulness meditation can help control eating binges and may help reduce obesity, according to recent studies conducted by researchers at Indiana State University (ISU). In a pilot study five years ago, Jean Kristeller, professor of psychology and director of ISU’s Center for the Study of Health, Religion, and Spirituality, observed 18 women who regularly overate. After incorporating meditation techniques, weekly binges were reduced from four to one-and-a-half. These findings were corroborated recently in another Kristeller study of 100 obese men and women.
A new edition of The New Harvard Guide to Women’s Health was released last spring with some significant changes than the original, published ten years ago. These rewrites underscore some of the principles holistic healthcare practitioners have been recommending for years. Some of the highlights:
Kids who meditate are happier, have higher self-esteem, get along better with other students and cope with stress more effectively than students who don’t meditate, suggests Rita Benn, Ph.D., a researcher at the University of Michigan. Aged 10 to 14, the Detroit students of Nataki Talibah Schoolhouse practice non-religious transcendental meditation (TM) for 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the afternoon to reduce stress — a growing concern for parents and child psychologists who note that kids are dealing with more pressure than ever.
Turns out, those monks really are on to something. Meditation has a biological effect on the body, easing anxiety and boosting immunity, according to a recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine. Using a technique called “mindfulness” meditation, researchers at the University of Wisconsin enrolled 41 subjects, 21 of whom attended a weekly meditation class and one seven-hour meditation retreat during the study; the remaining 20 served as the control group and did not participate in any meditation. All subjects were given a flu shot at the start of the study to measure immune response.
If you think meditation means a dark room filled with long-haired gurus sporting love beads, think again. The concept of meditation has come a long way since its cultural introduction in the 1970s.