meditation for anxiety

Is mindfulness good medicine?

wildmind meditation newsHal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld, Scientific American: Mindfulness meditation can help alleviate depression and possibly anxiety.

In a typical mindfulness meditation session, a person sits on the floor, eyes closed, back straight and legs crossed, his body positioned to facilitate his inner experiences. For 10 to 15 minutes, he observes his thoughts as if he were an outsider looking in. He pays particular attention to his breathing, and when his mind wanders to other thoughts, he brings his attention back to his breath. As he practices, his mind empties of thoughts, and he becomes calmer and more peaceful.

Meditation has long been used for …

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Mindfulness is all about self-help. It does nothing to change an unjust world

wildmind meditation newsSuzanne Moore, The Guardian: Why are we trying to think less when we need to think more? The neutered, apolitical approach of mindfulness ignores the structural difficulties we live with.

Most of what is wrong in the modern world can be cured by not thinking too much. From psoriasis to depression to giving yourself a “competitive advantage” in the workplace, the answer touted everywhere right now is mindfulness. Just let go for few minutes a day, breathe, observe your thoughts as ripples across a pond, feel every sensation around you. Stop your mind whirring and, lo, miraculously, everything will improve “at a cellular …

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Making mindfulness work at work

wildmind meditation newsAndrew May, The Sydney Morning Herald: Over the past few months I’ve constantly been asked by companies we consult to about mindfulness and specifically, how leaders and entire organisations can harness the benefits. Mindfulness has become the plat du jour in corporate performance.

Nearly every one of the above conversations, where we talk at length about creating sharper attention and more creative thinking, a calmer approach to work and life, reduced levels of stress and anxiety plus increased levels of wellbeing, is followed up with something like “yeah, yeah, that all sounds great – but surely there must be a quick-fix?”.

There is, and …

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Bringing mindfulness to the school curriculum

wildmind meditation newsKate Lunau, Maclean’s: Aliza Naqvi, a 14-year-old student at Dr. Norman Bethune Collegiate Institute in Toronto, carries a key chain strung with seven coloured beads. When she’s feeling stressed or anxious, she can pull it out as a reminder: The first bead, which is blue, stands for “breathe.” The second, red, cues her to reflect on her thoughts; yellow is to consider her emotions, and so on. “At any school, there’s a lot of stress involved,” Naqvi says. “The expectations are really high.” This small token, which fits in her pocket or handbag, reminds her to “take a mindful breath, and to be …

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The dark knight of the soul

wildmind meditation news

Tomas Rocha, The Atlantic: For some, meditation has become more curse than cure. Willoughby Britton wants to know why.

Set back on quiet College Hill in Providence, Rhode Island, sits a dignified, four story, 19th-century house that belongs to Dr. Willoughby Britton. Inside, it is warm, spacious, and organized. The shelves are stocked with organic foods. A solid wood dining room table seats up to 12. Plants are ubiquitous. Comfortable pillows are never far from reach. The basement—with its own bed, living space, and private bathroom—often hosts a rotating cast of yogis and meditation teachers. Britton’s own living space and office are on the …

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Mindfulness can avert bodily responses to emotional stress

wildmind meditation newsTom Jacobs, Pacific Standard: New research finds acceptance of moment-to-moment thoughts and feelings can greatly reduce the impact of stress on your health.

Emotional stress is undeniably uncomfortable. But the real danger it poses is the damage it can do to our bodies, causing or exacerbating health problems ranging from headaches to high blood pressure.

If we could experience emotional pressure strictly on an intellectual and emotional level, rather than a physical one, we’d certainly be better off. Newly published research suggests there’s a secret to doing just that: Mindfulness.

Confirming previous research, a study finds that “strong identification with, or judgment of, …

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Mindfulness training program may help olympic athletes reach peak performance

wildmind meditation newsChristina Johnson, Imperial Valley News: Research suggests that meditation may help U.S. military personnel cope with the stresses of combat more effectively. Now, UC San Diego researchers are looking at whether strengthening the mental muscle of Olympic athletes could confer a competitive edge in the world of sports, too.

The early results, though not definitive, are promising: The first group of athletes to complete a mindfulness training program developed at UC San Diego won first, second and third place at the 2014 USA Cycling Elite BMX National Championships.

Though the podium sweep is not being directly attributed to the mind-focusing benefits of meditation, the …

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New brain-based understanding of mindfulness & meditation strategies for addiction treatment

wildmind meditation newsPRWeb: Mindfulness and meditation have been shown to aid addiction recovery, but which strategy is best? Here Constance Scharff, PhD, Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, describes our evolving understanding of the brain-based effects of meditation and mindfulness.

When included in addiction treatment and relapse prevention programs, mindfulness and meditation strategies have been shown to reduce anxiety and help to prevent relapse. But mindfulness and meditation are separate practices and even within meditation, not all styles produce the same results. Which is best?

“Anxiety is universal to the human condition, but addicts experience it to an extreme because they have real problems. Meditation and mindfulness practices can help an addict stop worrying about the past, stop fussing about the future, and can help keep an addict from being caught up in racing thoughts about things they can’t control,” says Constance Scharff, PhD, Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center.

The more stress and anxiety your brain experiences, the more prone you are to addiction. The same is true of trauma – people who have experienced traumatic events are more likely to abuse substances than people without trauma histories. It’s these two challenges – stress and the influence of traumatic memories – that meditation or mindfulness training are thought to heal in people undergoing addiction treatment.

Scharff describes mindfulness as awareness of the present moment. Within meditation practices, there are two major schools – concentrative meditation in which a person focuses on a thought, a sound or on breathing, and nondirective meditation in which a person gently unfocuses his or her mind and lets thoughts wander.

“What we’re learning is that these practices physically change the way the brain works,” Scharff says.

For example, a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience used fMRI imaging to look inside the brains of 14 experienced meditators. First, the researchers had people chant a sound while focusing their minds on the meditation syllables. Then researchers had people meditate again, but this time letting their minds wander. They also compared both meditation strategies to rest.

The group from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology found that unfocused meditation led to the most activation of brain areas that deal with the processing of memories and emotions. In fact, unfocused mediation far outperformed both focused meditation and rest in its activation of these areas essential for stress reduction and the successful processing of traumatic experiences.

The authors write that, “These techniques are thought to facilitate mental processing of emotional experiences, thereby contributing to wellness and stress management.”

Likewise, a host of studies show long-term changes in brain structures due to mindfulness and meditation practices, including increased gray matter density, increased neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to create new synapses), increased activation in brain areas that control attention, and even temperature changes in the brain. New research at the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center and elsewhere shows these visible, physical changes are sculpted by the practice of meditation – the more you meditate, the more your brain is changed.

“In addition to long-term changes in the mechanics of the brain, at Cliffside we see another, more short-term benefit – we see addicts making an effort to focus on the things that are happening right now and there’s a calm from making that effort,” Scharff says.

Even outside the ways in which meditation changes the brain, and outside the effects of mindfulness practice on focusing attention on the present, the process of learning to the skill itself may provide a valuable forum in which to practice self change.

“For me, the important part is learning to be non-judgmental,” Scharff says. “A person may only go three seconds before a thought intrudes, and that’s OK. It’s the process of accepting current limitations and learning to fail safely without self-judgment that is beneficial.”

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Meditation training may help reduce stress disorders among US military personnel

wildmind meditation newsMedical Xpress: Researchers from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Naval Health Research Center have found that mindfulness training – a combination of meditation and body awareness exercises – can help U.S. Marine Corps personnel prepare for and recover from stressful combat situations.

The study, published in the May 16, 2014 online issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that incorporating meditative practices into pre-deployment training might be a way to help the U.S. military reduce rising rates of stress-related health conditions, including PTSD, depression and anxiety, within its ranks.

“Mindfulness training won’t make combat easier,” said Martin Paulus, MD, …

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Japanese study shows positive effects of meditation, helps with depression and anxiety

wildmind meditation newsJohn Hofilena, Japan Daily Press: Hiroaki Kumano, professor at Japan’s Waseda University, has recently publicized his study on how meditation affects blood flow to the brain and, over the long-term, improve brain function. The assumption is that changes in the brain can lead to changes in the body as well. It has been somewhat proven that positive changes in the brain can cause improvement with illnesses, including the use of psychotherapeutic drugs to help improve a patient’s mood or reduce unhealthy behavior.

Professor Kumano is exploring the effects of a type of meditation called “mindfulness” – a cognitive therapy technique used to treat …

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