Mind Over Matter

February 5, 2014

wildmind meditation newsMaggie Flynn. Philly.com: Stressed out? Think it out.

Mind over matter is a difficult state to achieve, but according to a new study, meditation might provide some help in getting there.

Research from Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, suggests that 30 minutes of daily meditation may help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, pain and depression.

This six-month study, led by Johns Hopkins assistant professor Dr. Madhav Goyal, found that those suffering symptoms of anxiety and depression saw “a small but consistent benefit” after an eight-week week training program in mindfulness meditation.

The research found that this type of meditation, which focuses precise attention to the …

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We need to take meditation more seriously as medicine

January 20, 2014

wildmind meditation newsJacoba Urist, Time: To be fair, I’m not sure how I would have responded had my surgeon suggested I meditate before or after surgery to ease my anxiety or post-operative pain. My guess is, like many women, I would have been skeptical: what exactly did sitting in half-lotus pose or breathing deeply have to do with the tumor in my right breast? And why was a doctor— whose job and training and every measure of success is rooted in science and clinical outcomes— prescribing a spiritual or religious method of therapy?

But a new review study, published last week in the Journal …

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Relax, you’re going to be criticized

September 25, 2013

RickHansonThe title of this practice is a little tongue-in-cheek. What I mean is, most of us – me included – spend time worrying about criticism: past, present, and even future. Yes, try hard, keep agreements, “don’t be evil,” etc. But sooner or later – usually sooner – someone is going to point out the error in your ways. Often in subtle versions that still have an implicit criticism, such as giving advice, helping or teaching when you don’t really need it, making corrections, comparing you negatively to others, or focusing on the one tile in the mosaic of your actions that’s problematic while staying mum about the 99 other good tiles.

In other words, criticism … Read more »

Can Byron Katie help our Buddhist practice?

August 1, 2013

Byron KatieI came across the work of American self help guru Byron Katie ten years ago. She has published a variety of books which offer a series of simple questions designed to challenge and overturn your perception of any situation you’re struggling with. The questions work by flooding your mind with the ‘fresh air’ of a new (often reversed) perspective.

It’s an appealing technique when you’re in pain. But her techniques always struck me as being like Paracetamol – a short term solution. My old views always came back, dragging their long tail of complicated emotional responses. What’s more, the persistence and tenacity of my habitual thought patterns endowed them, to my thinking, with truth.

Buddhist … Read more »

Day 15 of Wildmind’s 100 Day Meditation Challenge

January 15, 2013

100 day meditation challenge 015One of my meditation students, Janette, wrote saying that doing a body scan meditation had helped her with pain:

I have tried the body scan twice and love it ! I suffer a lot with arthritic pain and felt I was floating above all this during the scan. Really felt the breath flowing through the body and then there was only the breath and I was absolutely pain free and so at peace.

Sometimes when we have pain we focus on it in a rather “obsessed” way, so that it fills the whole of our experience. I suspect that what’s happening in your Janette’s is that she’s experiencing all the things that are “not pain” … Read more »

The Kindseat has arrived!

January 11, 2013
The Kindseat is available now, on Wildmind's online meditation supplies store.
The Kindseat is available now,
on Wildmind’s online meditation supplies store.

I wrote a few weeks ago about the Kindseat, which is a new design of meditation seat that allows for both cross-legged sitting and kneeling (seiza) positions. It’s undoubtedly the most comfortable meditation seat I’ve ever used, and I can’t imagine ever needing another meditation bench. I wish I had two: one for home, and another for the office, where I often sit.

I’ve been through a number of meditation seats in the last 30 years. I had a couple of home-made benches, but those were non-adjustable. For shorter periods of meditation, they would be fine, but on meditation retreats, when I was doing … Read more »

Science shows what meditation knows: pain is not suffering

December 19, 2012

kelly mcgonigalThe wonderful folks at Buddhist Geeks bring us this video from their 2012 conference. Here, researcher Kelly McGonigal shows us what happens in the brains of non-meditators, new meditators, and experienced meditators when they’re exposed to physical pain or emotionally distressing images. The findings are fascinating!

Meditators are well aware that pain is not suffering. Our most common reaction to pain is to want it to stop. And so we start up an inner monolog around the pain: “This is horrible! This is never going to end! Why me? Stop!!!” But meditators know that if you have physical pain this can be experienced simply as a physical sensation, albeit an unpleasant one.

The research McGonigal … Read more »

Connecting with Our ‘Soul Sadness’

December 14, 2012

hands holding heart-shaped leavesMarge, a woman in our meditation community, was in a painful standoff with her teenage son. At fifteen, Micky was in a downward spiral of skipping classes and using drugs, and had just been suspended for smoking marijuana on school grounds. While Marge blamed herself — she was the parent, after all — she was also furious at him.

The piercings she hadn’t approved, the lies, stale smell of cigarettes, and earphones that kept him in his own removed world — every interaction with Micky left her feeling powerless, angry, and afraid. The more she tried to take control with her criticism, with “groundings” and other ways of setting limits, the more withdrawn and defiant … Read more »

Meditation gets thumbs-up for pain, more muted support for stress

December 10, 2012

Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times: Meditation this week won the scientific stamp of approval from a federal panel as a means of reducing the severity of chronic and acute pain. The influential committee also concluded the practice of mindfulness has demonstrated effectiveness in reducing stress and anxiety, but it found the scientific evidence for that claim weaker and more inconsistent.

As a therapy to promote positive feelings, induce weight loss and improve attention and sleep, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality was less impressed with meditation. The group concluded there is currently an insufficient body of scientific evidence to conclude meditation is …

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Meditation changes experience of pain

November 16, 2012

Meditation can change the way a person experiences pain, according to a new study by University of Wisconsin-Madison neuroscientists.

The researchers found that during a pain experiment, expert meditators felt the discomfort as intensely as novice meditators, but the experience wasn’t as unpleasant for them.

Images of brain regions linked to pain and anxiety may explain why. Compared to novice meditators, experts had less activity in the anxiety regions.

Not only did the experts feel less anxiety immediately before pain stimulation, they also became accustomed to the pain more quickly after being exposed repeatedly to it.

The scientists, based at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds and the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior, … Read more »