Posts by Wildmind Meditation News

Meditation, mindfulness may affect way your genes behave

Ben Locwin, Genetic Literacy Project: In the world of psychotherapy and biopsychology, mindfulness has experienced a tremendous amount of attention recently — mostly because in many of the challenges of the mind it is put up against, mindfulness has fared very well — performing as well as (or better than) drug therapies in some cases.

Mindfulness is endorsed by the American Heart Association (AHA) as a preventive therapy for cardiovascular disease and they also recommend mindfulness as a strategy for overeating.

However, for physicians and patients to fully unlock …

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Mindfulness: the craze sweeping through schools is now at a university near you

Harriet Swain, The Guardian: Slowly take a raisin and examine every wrinkle and fold of its surface. Feel its texture with your fingers. Inhale its scent. Squeeze it and hear how it sounds. Raise it to your lips, place it in your mouth, explore it with your tongue. Prepare to chew. As you bite into it, notice the bursts of taste and how these change, and be aware of when you feel ready to swallow. Finally, feel the raisin travel into your body.

This is a common introductory exercise in mindfulness – a practice derived from Buddhist meditation that involves paying attention to the …

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Brain study reveals mindfulness could help prevent obesity in children

EurekAlert: Mindfulness, described as paying attention on purpose and being in the present moment with acceptance, could be an effective way to help children avoid obesity. New research published in the journal Heliyon suggests that the balance in brain networks in children who are obese is different compared to healthy-weight children, making them more prone to over-eating.

Long-lasting weight loss is difficult; this may be because it requires changes in how the brain functions in addition to changes in diet and exercise. The authors of the study, from Vanderbilt University, say identifying children at risk for obesity early on and using mindfulness approaches to control eating may be one way to approach weight management.

Mindfulness has been shown to increase inhibition and decrease impulsivity. Since obesity and unhealthy eating behaviors may be associated with an imbalance between the connections in the brain that control inhibition and impulse, the researchers say mindfulness could help treat or prevent childhood obesity.

“We know the brain plays a big role in obesity in adults, but what we understand about the neurological connections associated with obesity might not apply to children,” explained lead author BettyAnn Chodkowski, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “We wanted to look at the way children’s brains function in more detail so we can better understand what is happening neurologically in children who are obese.”

Chodkowski and her mentors, Ronald Cowan and Kevin Niswender, defined three areas of the brain that may be associated with weight and eating habits: the inferior parietal lobe, which is associated with inhibition, the ability to override an automatic response (in this case eating); the frontal pole, which is associated with impulsivity; and the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with reward.

They used data collected by the Enhanced Nathan Kline Institute – Rockland Sample from 38 children aged 8-13. Five of the children were classified as obese, and six were overweight. Data included children’s weights and their answers to the Child Eating Behaviour Questionnaire, which describes the children’s eating habits. The researchers also used MRI scans that showed the function of the three regions of the brain they wanted to study.

The results revealed a preliminary link between weight, eating behavior and balance in brain function. In children who behave in ways that make them eat more, the part of the brain associated with being impulsive appears to be more strongly connected than the part of the brain associated with inhibition.

Conversely, in children who behave in ways that help them avoid food, the part of the brain associated with inhibition is more strongly connected compared to the part of the brain associated with being impulsive.

“Adults, and especially children, are primed towards eating more,” said Dr. Niswender, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “This is great from an evolutionary perspective – they need food to grow and survive. But in today’s world, full of readily available, highly advertised, energy dense foods, it is putting children at risk of obesity.”

“We think mindfulness could recalibrate the imbalance in the brain connections associated with childhood obesity,” said Dr. Cowan, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “Mindfulness has produced mixed results in adults, but so far there have been few studies showing its effectiveness for weight loss in children.”

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How meditation helped this guy ditch dating apps — and get more dates

Jordi Lippe-McGraw, Yahoo Health: Last year, Andy Glickman decided he’d had enough. The now-24-year-old realized that his love life essentially consisted of a string of people just looking for superficial or physical relations, with no interest in connecting on an emotional level. He was meeting people online and through apps, and would frequently receive unsolicited nude pictures from people more than twice his age. And he was tired of it.

So Glickman, who also happens to be a sought-after yoga instructor and meditation coach in Philadelphia, decided to apply his expertise in meditation to his love life.

How? Meditation …

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Can’t Sleep? Try meditation

Sharon Salzberg, Huffington Post: Throughout my years as a meditation teacher, I’ve encountered many students who come to meditation from a place of acute anxiety. Meditation, and mindfulness practices in general, are scientifically proven antidotes to anxiety and stress, as they are about focusing the mind on what is rather than allowing the anxiety or stress itself to take over, and lead the mind into labyrinths of self-judgment, comparison, regret and other rumination.

Contrary to popular belief, meditation doesn’t always feel relaxing in real time. When I first came to meditation when I was 18, I was experiencing a lot …

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A meditation on meditation: learning it, hating it, needing it

Rachel Machacek, RVANews: When I first started learning the practice of meditation, I was on a far-flung beach in Mexico, there for yoga teacher training. Every day, I got up before sunrise for a 30-minute meditation. I sat in a circle with the other 13 would-be instructors on a wooden platform, ocean waves crashing nearby, eyes closed, incense swirling. Sounds like bliss was just an OM away, doesn’t it?

Not to burst the bubble, but no. During these sessions, my eyes darted around inside my head and I would shift uncomfortably at least 50 times, and usually ended up on my …

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Meditation matters for special education students

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Jeremy Loudenback, Chronicle of Social Change: While meditation has expanded in recent years from a zen-seeker’s path to higher consciousness to a best practice for hard-charging CEOs, it’s now gaining a foothold at a school in Southern California serving students with serious emotional and behavioral issues.

Administrators at the Five Acres School in Altadena, Calif., are testing whether meditation and mindfulness can help students succeed in the classroom. A new mindfulness program implemented there in two semesters over the past year has helped pupils stay in the classroom and minimize emotional outbursts that can derail the learning process, according …

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The joy of imperfection: how not to drive yourself and others nuts

Mona Shah Joshi, Fulfillment Daily: Every year we come up with new year’s resolutions. Maybe to lose weight, to procrastinate less, to write that book or get a promotion. We want to become more “perfect” in some way. And how often have we let ourselves down in the process?

You know what to do, but so often manage to do the opposite. You know you should go to sleep. But instead of picking your body up from the couch, you pick up the television remote. You have work to get done, but spend 20 minutes surfing online for stuff you’ll never buy. You know what to say, but somehow your brain fails to communicate with your mouth and the words come out wrong.

In a perpetually chaotic world, perfectionism appears to allow us some semblance of order and control. As a teen, I couldn’t control my emotions, but I could paint tricolor stripes on my nails to coordinate with my yellow, red and green outfit that day. While I couldn’t control my own mind, I could enhance its development by reading books on self-improvement. I would become a better human being who would one day marry the perfect man and raise perfect children (unlike my parents whose parenting mistakes I fully planned to correct with my own kids).

wildmind meditation newsCutting-edge research shows that there is, in fact, a fine line between striving for improvement, and striving relentlessly for perfection. How do you know if you’ve crossed it? Is your perfectionism doing more harm than good?
Imperfectly Perfect

Perfectionists pride themselves on their integrity and commitment to hard work; they make sure everything is the best it can be down to the last detail. As a society, we admire people who push themselves and others to produce masterful achievements—Steve Jobs, David Cameron and Beyonce among numerous others.

We laugh at the neurotic foibles of perfectionists on television like Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation who interrupts her boyfriend’s proposal twice to savor the moment and lets him know, “I need to remember every little thing about how perfect my life is right now.”

But real perfectionism goes beyond arranging your towels in eleven different sections aka Friends’ Monica Geller. According to a study published in a journal of the American Psychological Association, perfectionism can be devastatingly crippling, leading to anxiety, depression and an increased risk for suicide.

Gordon Flett has been researching perfectionism for the last 25 years. “Perfectionists tend to be under chronic stress, in part due to the pressure that is on them,” he observed with me in an interview.

Flett identifies two main types of perfectionism.

1) Self-Oriented Perfectionism where expectations to be perfect come from another person such as a parent, spouse or teacher.

2) Socially-Prescribed Perfectionism where people respond to external societal pressure by trying to appear perfect. These people tend to promote their strength and accomplishments, while hiding mistakes and flaws so others have a favorable impression of them. Meanwhile, inside they feel inadequate “like an imposter.”

Sure, our perfectionism allows us to stretch and create beyond imagined capabilities, but it also handicaps our happiness. The outcome is so important that we forget to empower others by truly letting go (assuming, of course, that we’re able to even delegate). We become experts at faultfinding—a sure fire way to lose friends and diminish influence. Moreover, we get so caught up in the producing the end result that we forget to have fun along the way.
Self-Compassion as an Antidote

Kristen Neff, pioneering researcher and author of Self-Compassion, considers self-compassion the perfect antidote to perfectionism. “Perfectionism creates a sense of isolation, leading to self-criticism. Imperfection is the human experience,” she shared with me. “Self-compassion helps us feel safe, secure, loved and reduces the feeling of being threatened.”

Self-compassion isn’t letting yourself off the hook (akin to not being accountable) so much as giving yourself a break (realizing that imperfections are normal).

Can you imagine how unbearable it would be to live with someone who was totally perfect? This perpetual Pollyanna would turn her pert nose down on your pitiful shortcomings. It’s our mistakes that make us humble. Imagine how intolerable we’d be if we never made a mistake. We would probably be more judgmental, and less empathetic and compassionate. It’s our screw ups that make us endearing, approachable and lovable.
Leave Room for Imperfection

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual leader and creator of the Happiness Program, gently reminds us to “Leave some room for imperfection. It is love for perfection that makes one angry at imperfection. Just like a clean house has a small space for garbage in the bin, keep some space in your mind to accept imperfections.”

We get so agitated thinking about other’s imperfections. You do realize that their imperfections are their problem to handle, right? We already have a full-time job managing our own mind and it’s nuttiness.

Practices such as yoga, meditation and breathing exercises help us keep our center and develop some perspective into our perfectionism. These practices bring the mind back to the present, instead of sticking to the past or worrying incessantly about future results. A meditative mind tempers our tendency to go perfection crazy. It enables us to relax and realize that while your hair may be frizzier than a shih tzu, you’re still grateful because, “heck, any day with hair is still a good hair day.”

When we get upset at others’ mistakes, we’re no better than the person who made the mistake. But when we have acceptance and compassion for others, we simultaneously develop acceptance and love for ourselves as well. When you’re fretting that the mashed potatoes are lumpy or the salad isn’t up to snuff, ask yourself if it’s worth losing your smile over.

This new year, instead of resolving to become a more perfect version of yourself, why not unwind and accept? Inner perfection comes naturally when we leave room for imperfection.


Mona is a freelance writer and motivational speaker based in Atlanta. Since 1996, she has facilitated more than 50,000 hours of programs in mind body wellness as a personal development expert and meditation instructor for the Art of Living Foundation and the International Association for Human Values (IAHV). Mona believes that meditation and conscious acts of kindness are key to uplifting human values in society. For more information about the Art of Living meditation and yoga, visit www.artofliving.org. Check out her blog at http://monashahjoshi.com.

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Want to reduce anxiety, and increase cognitive ability and memory? Try meditation

Nicole Tsong, Seattle Times: Meditation can help your brain become more mindful and conscious, creating stability, clarity and emotional balance.

Like a workout, meditation has its good days and its tough ones. Some days when I meditate, I spend much of the time making lists, hoping desperately I’ll remember them by the end of my 15 to 20 minutes. Sometimes, I can barely sit still. Some days, I feel calm. I spend more time focusing on my breath than distractions.

Like a physical workout, no matter how it felt during the activity, I always feel better afterward.

Meditation is a training …

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Five mindfulness blessings for 2016

Aubrey Nagle, Philly Voice: As we begin 2016, may you make an ever-increasingly courageous dedication to embody the energy of love. There is no healing power greater than this force on earth. It takes only a cursory read of headline news to see how the absence of love creates profound suffering. May you work to cultivate connection, compassion, and empathy. In the process not only do you transform, but so does the world.

If you enjoy reflecting on the intersection of philosophical musings about love and neurobiology, consider reading “A General Theory of Love” by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini …

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