Technology-assisted meditation

November 7, 2014

www.choosemuse.comHopefully I’ll soon be trying out a demo model of the Muse headband, which according to the makers is like a heart rate monitor for your mind. In other words it gives you real-time feedback by detecting your brain signals during meditation, the same way you might use a gadget to monitor your heart rate during physical exercise.

Apparently this can help us to train the brain to be more focused, attentive, and calm. I’ll let you know how I get on. (In the meantime we’ve joined Muse’s affiliate program so you’ll see ads promoting it in our sidebars.)

At the recent Buddhist Geeks conference, where I gave a presentation, there were several other … Read more »

How to Stop Beating Yourself Up: New York Insight Meditation Center

October 20, 2014

bodhiBodhipaksa will be in New York City on Nov 22, 2014. He’s leading a self-compassion workshop at the New York Insight Meditation Center: “How to Stop Beating Yourself Up.”

In this workshop Bodhipaksa will introduce a step-by-step guide to the core skills of self-compassion. As well as drawing on models from Buddhist psychology, we’ll take a look at insights from neuroscience, and explore Buddhist compassion and lovingkindness meditation so that we can learn to regard ourselves — and our pain — with compassion and kindness.

Click here for more information

Meditation changes your brain

October 17, 2014

wildmind meditation newsMaria Isabel Garcia, Rappler: ‘Meditation’ used to be the exclusive province of robed and hooded men enacting an ancient tradition. Now, science has joined them.

This could be one of the most powerful ways to change your brain and yet, all you have to do is be still. It will help you focus, be keenly observant but not obsessive, and essentially, be a kinder human being.

Meditation. We all have the basic equipment – the 3-pound matter inside our skulls – yet, we generally think that it is only for the religious or for our odd relatives and friends who dress funny.

Two …

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The art of self-forgiveness

October 10, 2014

self-forgivenessEveryone messes up. Me, you, the neighbors, Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, King David, the Buddha, everybody.

It’s important to acknowledge mistakes, feel appropriate remorse, and learn from them so they don’t happen again. But most people keep beating themselves up way past the point of usefulness: they’re unfairly self-critical.

Inside the mind are many sub-personalities. For example, one part of me might set the alarm clock for 6 am to get up and exercise . . . and then when it goes off, another part of me could grumble: “Who set the darn clock?” More broadly, there is a kind of inner critic and inner protector inside each of us. For most people, that inner … Read more »

Don’t believe the hype

October 9, 2014

wildmind meditation newsLinda Heuman, Tricycle: Neuroscientist Catherine Kerr is concerned about how mindfulness meditation research is being portrayed in the media.

Last May, an article about mindfulness on a popular mainstream news website finally spurred neuroscientist and meditation researcher Catherine Kerr to act. The article cited 20 benefits of meditation, from “reducing loneliness” to “increasing grey matter” to “helping sleep,” and painted a picture of meditation as a kind of golden elixir for modern life. Kerr posted the article on her Facebook page. “It is not like any of this is grossly inaccurate,” she wrote in her post. “It is just that the studies are too …

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Your brain on meditation

September 26, 2014

wildmind meditation newsBrittany Dingler, The Skidmore News: Generally, meditation is a mindfulness-based practice in which an individual sits quietly, focuses on breathing, and tries to clear their mind of any distracting thoughts or worries. Some meditators even choose to supplement their meditation practice with repeated mantras (think “ohmmm…”) or visualization (“imagine you’re a stick, floating down the river of zen”). Though often viewed as a wacky, spiritual practice reserved only for yogis, hippies, and monks, meditation is a critical tool that has recently gained more support as a source of daily restoration for CEOs and doctors as well as an effective, supplemental treatment for chronic …

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Can you meditate with your eyes wide open?

September 24, 2014

wildmind meditation newsRose Caiola, Huffington Post: I’ve been a dedicated meditation practitioner for more than a decade and I always keep my eyes open for new techniques. Now keeping my “eyes open” can be taken literally–because I’ve learned about the benefits of meditating without closing them.

This was a big departure for me. I had always thought of meditation as a way to keep the external world out of the picture during quiet contemplation. And even though I am very receptive to the benefits of different practices–I’ve tried everything from yogic, mindfulness, and Tibetan mantra meditations to ecstatic dancing and walking a labyrinth–I had assumed …

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Sam Harris’s Vanishing Self

September 8, 2014

wildmind meditation newsGary Gutting, New York Times: Sam Harris is a neuroscientist and prominent “new atheist,” who along with others like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett and Christopher Hitchens helped put criticism of religion at the forefront of public debate in recent years. In two previous books, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation,” Harris argued that theistic religion has no place in a world of science. In his latest book, “Waking Up,” his thought takes a new direction. While still rejecting theism, Harris nonetheless makes a case for the value of “spirituality,” which he bases on his experiences in meditation. I interviewed …

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Emotional hijacking

September 2, 2014

Young woman cryingIn light of the machinery of survival-based, emotional reactivity, let’s look more narrowly at what Daniel Goleman has called “emotional hijacking.”

The emotional circuits of your brain – which are relatively primitive from an evolutionary standpoint, originally developed when dinosaurs ruled the earth – exert great influence over the more modern layers of the brain in the cerebral cortex. They do this in large part by continually “packaging” incoming sensory information in two hugely influential ways:

  • Labeling it with a subjective feeling tone: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral. This is primarily accomplished by the amygdala, in close concert with the hippocampus; this circuit is probably the specific structure of the brain responsible for the feeling
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Ancient meditation technique sharpens cognitive skills

August 14, 2014

wildmind meditation newsLiat Clark, Wired: Different types of meditation illicit different types of physiological response, and can vastly improve cognitive skills.

A team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) explored four types of meditation practiced by Buddhists, from two main branches of the tradition, Vajrayana (Deity and Rig-pa) and Theravada (Shamatha and Vipassana). From each tradition, one style of meditation was designed to relax and another to arouse the senses.

The Singapore team points out in a paper published in PLOS ONE that prior research has focused on Theravada meditation mainly, and its ability to induce relaxation and heighten alertness. Coauthors Maria Kozhevnikov and …

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