Review: ‘Free the Mind’ documentary finds hope in meditation

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times: There’s something healing about simply watching “Free the Mind,” Danish filmmaker Phie Ambo’s gentle, compassionate documentary spotlighting the use of such drug-free options as meditation and mindfulness to treat anxiety and trauma.

Writer-director Ambo focuses on three main subjects: Will, an endearing 5-year-old with ADHD and a fear of elevators; Steve, an Afghanistan war veteran haunted by his stint as a military intelligence soldier and interrogator; and Rich, a former battalion leader in Iraq wracked by guilt and horrific memories of combat. Fueled by the subtle parallels between young Will and the adult Steve and Rich, the movie…

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Meditation increasingly popular to reduce stress

April 12, 2013

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times: If meditation sounds intriguing, you can try it out — in as few as 10 minutes a day — without leaving your office.

“I’d say there’s quite a range [of styles],” says Mark Coleman, a longtime teacher. “Sitting. Stillness. Movement. Yoga, tai chi, chi gong. Ones that cultivate the heart, mind and awareness and clarity. Concentration meditations — mantras. Various New Age meditations that focus on energy. Once you choose, you have to give it some period of time to evaluate.”

There are many free or low-cost downloads available and classes at meditation centres, universities and sites such as…

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Dear meditation diary: from doubtful to mindful

April 1, 2013

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times:
Day 1–My anxiety grows as I get to Larkspur, several hours into my drive to Spirit Rock. I stop for a snack, worried the food will be hippie-style brown rice casseroles. When I pull into the parking lot, I’m told I can carry my bags up the hill or put them in a pickup. I heft them, worried it’s too indulgent to do otherwise. Later, walking to dinner, people talk tentatively; it’s our last chance to speak to one another, and rather than motivating a full-on chat stream, that makes me pretty uninterested in small talk…

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Vocabulary refresher course in the language of mindfulness meditation

March 30, 2013

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times: The vocabulary of meditation can be a barrier for people who feel that they’re entering a strange world, experts say. Here are some common words.

Buddha: meaning one who is awake, in Sanskrit. The Buddha was a person, not a god, who lived more than 2,000 years ago; from a privileged family, he became a seeker of truth and eventually became enlightened.

Dharma: often used to mean the teachings of Buddhism and meditation.

Mantra: a word — “om” being perhaps the most famous — repeated as a way to keep the mind focused on one spot during meditation.

Metta: loving kindness…

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Mindfulness meditation: It may be essential, but, boy, it isn’t easy

March 29, 2013

Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times: On the third day of silence and meditation, I said just 14 words, all of them in the course of chopping vegetables for dinner.

Days two, four and five were not much different.

I’m not the quiet type. But this was my idea. So earlier this year, I drove most of a day to reach Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Marin County to immerse myself in the practice of mindful meditation. To be still, clear of worry over career, my teenage sons’ futures, the renovations of our old house. To see whether I could stop — just stop — for…

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