Meditation helps kids pay attention, leading researcher says

February 17, 2012

Gordon Hoekstra, PostMedia News: Simple meditation techniques, backed up with modern scientific knowledge of the brain, are helping kids hard-wire themselves to be able to better pay attention and become kinder, says neuroscientist Richard Davidson.

Davidson — who will speak Friday at the University of British Columbia on his new co-authored book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain — has put his research into practice at elementary schools in Madison, Wis.

About 200 students at four elementary schools have used breathing techniques to hard-wire their brains to improve their ability to focus on their work.

"It’s so widely popular and successful, the district wants …

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New books for new thinking in a new year

January 9, 2012

I thought to write about books to ring in the New Year last Sunday, but my column was due almost a week ahead and I was still enjoying all the wonderful holiday treats hanging around my home. Not to mention the parties, the bowl games and champagne.

But now that the New Year is here and I’m in diet/resolution mode, I’m ready to share my collection of, shall we say, new thinking books, the ones we hope will shape us up physically and mentally.

Let’s start with a master. The Dalai Lama continues his dialogue with scientists and experts with the Mind and Life …

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“Now I Know That Silly Hopes and Fears Will Just Make Wrinkles on My Face” by Sally Devorsine

November 23, 2011

This lovely children’s book has been test-driven by my five-year-old daughter, and found to be engaging and illuminating. In my amateur estimation it would be suitable for children considerably older — at least up to the age of eight or nine.

Now I Know (the full title is “Now I Know That Silly Hopes and Fears Will Just Make Wrinkles on My Face”) is the first of a series, also called Now I Know, described as a “Collection of Retro Cool Wisdom for Kids.” This series of children’s books is written and illustrated by Sally Devorsine, who lives in Bhutan, where she teaches a western school curriculum to young monks.

Title: Now I

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Dalai Lama questions wisdom of self-immolations

November 19, 2011

BBC News: The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he is very worried about the growing number of monks and nuns setting themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

He told the BBC he was not encouraging such actions – saying there was no doubt they required courage, but questioning how effective they were.

There have been 11 cases of self-immolation so far this year.

Most have resulted in death – the latest a 35-year-old nun two weeks ago.

The BBC has obtained graphic footage of the moment she set herself alight, prompting horrified cries from onlookers. Later, Chinese security forces flooded …

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Another Tibetan nun dies by self-immolation in China

November 5, 2011

Andrew Jacobs: A Buddhist nun in southwest Sichuan Province died Thursday after setting herself on fire, becoming the 11th Tibetan to embrace a grisly protest against Chinese rule and at least the sixth to die doing so.

The death of the nun, Qiu Xiang, 35, was reported by Xinhua, the official news agency, and confirmed by exile groups, who gave her Tibetan name as Palden Choetso. She was the second nun in the predominantly Tibetan region to take her own life by self-immolation.

Like two previous cases, the most recent suicide took place in Ganzi Prefecture, known as Kardze in Tibetan, which is the site …

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South Africa denies visa to Dalai Lama

October 4, 2011

The government of South Africa has refused to issue a visa to the Dalai Lama, who has been forced to cancel a trip there to celebrate the 80th birthday of fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu. The Tibetan leader was supposed to be visiting South Africa this Thursday.

According to the Dalai Lama’s office, visa applications were submitted to the South African High Commission in New Delhi at the end of August and original passports were submitted on 20th September, but nothing was subsequently heard.

According to the New York Times, Cosatu, a powerful coalition of trade unions, criticized the South African government for allowing China to influence South Africa’s foreign … Read more »

Re-Wiring your brain for happiness: Research shows how meditation can physically change the brain

July 28, 2011

Dan Harris & Erin Brady (ABC News): A quiet explosion of new research indicating that meditation can physically change the brain in astonishing ways has started to push into mainstream.

Several studies suggest that these changes through meditation can make you happier, less stressed — even nicer to other people. It can help you control your eating habits and even reduce chronic pain, all the while without taking prescription medication.

Meditation is an intimate and intense exercise that can be done solo or in a group, and one study showed that 20 million Americans say they practice meditation. It has been used to help treat addictions, to clear psoriasis and even to treat men with … Read more »

Is meditation a religion?

July 17, 2011

With 100,000 people in Washington this week for a major meditative Buddhist ceremony, a question arises: Is meditation a religion?

As On Faith explored last week, millions in the West, including many Kalachakra participants, have adapted Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, meditation or study of the Dalai Lama’s teachings, without taking on the full trappings of orthodox Tibetan Buddhism.

And meditation is booming in this country. The National Institutes of Health’s most recent data shows 9.4 percent of Americans meditated in the last year. That’s up from 7.6 percent five years earlier.

One of the region’s biggest meditation groups, the Insight Meditation…

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His Holiness the Dalai Lama meets with President Obama

July 16, 2011

President Barack Obama meets with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House, Saturday, July 16, 2011.

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Tibet’s quiet revolution

March 20, 2011

It’s been startling to witness mass demonstrations in countries across the Middle East for freedom from autocracy, while, in the Tibetan community, a die-hard champion of “people power” tries to dethrone himself and his people keep asking him to stay on. Again and again the Dalai Lama (who tends to be more radical and less romantic than most of his followers) has sought to find ways to give up power, and his community has sought to find ways to ensure he can’t. It could be said that almost the only time Tibetans don’t listen to the Dalai Lama is when he tells them they shouldn’t listen to him. Now, on the eve of an important … Read more »