benefits of meditation

Can you cheat at mindfulness and self compassion?

Kellie Edwards, Psych Central: I have a client who laughingly says she loves to “cheat the system” — find a short cut, an easier way, a faster route and get “more bang for her buck.”

She remembers doing it as a child at school. When she was supposed to be learning how to touch type she got so frustrated with how slow it was she peeked under the hand-guard and typed faster by looking at the keys.

When she was studying and working in …

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Meditation brought us back together, say couple who traded in corporate lives to meditate

Sarah Catherall, Stuff: They gave the impression of having it all but Sally Lewis and Greg Hopkinson were stressed and cynical. When they broke up, they felt as though something was missing, both in their lives and in their relationship.

Today, they radiate happiness, frequently breaking into laughter. Lewis reaches over and touches her partner’s arm lovingly as her face beams.

Sitting in a Wellington cafe, they attribute one thing to their joyous connection. “Meditation saved our relationship,” smiles 57-year-old Lewis.

A decade ago, Hopkinson was a stressed out businessman who ran the Animates pet store …

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Finding peace in every moment

53682718_mHere is the first email from our Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness event which starts Tuesday, Nov 1!

Often people assume that as a meditation teacher I must be immune to stress. But life can be challenging for anyone! In the last four or five years I’ve gone through a number of very stressful experiences, including the discovery that my tax accountant had covered up the fact that she hadn’t submitted my business tax returns two years in a row, leading to the Internal Revenue Service pursuing me for tens of thousands of dollars in penalties (which I ended up not having to pay any of, fortunately), a painful divorce, moving house several times, surgery for cancer (I’m fine, by the way!), and financial problems caused by my health insurance not covering all of the subsequent medical bills.

One time I told a friend that I felt like I was walking up the “down” escalator while someone was hurling bowling balls down the stairs!

Although my meditation practice was helpful, challenges like these showed me that my existing practice wasn’t enough. I was pushed to go deeper and to develop new and more effective tools for managing the difficulties I was going through. It’s those approaches that I’m going to share with you over the 28 days of this course.

My approach to stress reduction is based on the fact that there are two distinct, but related, forms of stress.

There is the primary stress that results from having an experience that your mind interprets as a threat — such as being pursued for tax penalties, having your home life disrupted and dislocated by divorce and moving house, becoming ill, or experiencing loss. These give rise to unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, confusion, and grief.

Then there is the secondary stress caused by our reacting to primary stress in ways that create further unpleasant feelings. For example, sometimes we assume that in being stressed we’re failing in some way, and so we criticize ourselves. This creates more distress. Sometimes we overeat, overindulge in alcohol, or take out our frustrations in others, and these actions ultimately lead to even more stress being created. In fact, much of our stress results when our chronic attempts to solve or avoid unpleasant feelings themselves cause unpleasant feelings.

With primary stress, it’s the ability to offer ourselves empathy, kindness, compassion, and reassurance that’s most important. We need to learn to be gentle and kind to ourselves. We need to learn to soothe and comfort ourselves in the same way that we would a dear friend, or even a child or animal, that was experiencing stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness is of great benefit in dealing with secondary stress. It helps us to let go of unhelpful mental patterns of having aversion to unpleasant experiences and of using craving to try to bury or avoid those same experiences. We’ll explore a number of mindfulness practices that will help us to identify and let go of stress-inducing habits.

Those, then, are some of the skills we’ll be cultivating over the next four weeks. To help you, there will be readings every day, which I’m going to try to keep relatively brief so that I don’t end up adding to your stress!

There will also be around a dozen guided meditations. Some will be very brief, and others will be a little longer. You can listen to the first of them here. It’s a short meditation that helps us set the intention to be kind and patient with ourselves as we cultivate mindfulness and self-compassion.

Here is Meditation #1, a 5-minute guided meditation to help us arrive and to set our intentions for the course.

Register here to learn more about reducing stress in your life!

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New study shows how mindfulness could help women who are feeling sexually disconnected

Eric W. Dolan, PsyPost: New research suggests that mindfulness-based psychotherapy could help women who are feeling “sexually disconnected.”

The study of 79 women, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, found mindfulness skills increased the ability to detect physical sensations related to sex. Women who underwent four sessions of mindfulness-based sex therapy reported improved agreement between their self-reported sexual arousal and their psychophysiological sexual response. The therapy combined psychoeducation, sex therapy, and mindfulness training…

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Mindfulness can help combat test anxiety

Dr. Caryn Richfield, Montgomery News: With the school year well under way, many high school students are feeling overwhelmed by the prospect of tests looming on the horizon. Some teens are taking AP courses as early as ninth grade and many are simultaneously taking an intense load of rigorous classes, which can make test preparation quite daunting.

These academic demands are compounded by the additional stress of preparing for standardized tests, such as the SAT, SAT subject tests and the ACT. Our teens are constantly having to study and retrieve information under pressure, over and …

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Meditation helps tame the brain’s emotional response

Alice G. Walton, Forbes: Of all the reasons people have for trying meditation, being less emotionally reactive is usually pretty high up. “Being mindful,” or “being zen,” is synonymous these days with rolling with the punches, and being non-reactive (or less reactive). And there’s definitely something to it: Neuroscience is starting to back up the subjective emotional changes we notice by illustrating what’s going on in the brain when people are confronted with stressors. A new study in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience finds that people who naturally lack mindfulness can achieve at …

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My doubts about Deepak Chopra and the monetization of meditation

John Horgan, Scientific American: A key to Deepak Chopra’s success has been his monetization of spiritual practices and promotion of their health benefits. But has he crossed an ethical line by suggesting that meditation and other mind-practices can “heal” cancer?

My first morning at “Sages & Scientists,” I walked into a cavernous ballroom as Deepak Chopra, on a stage, brilliantly illuminated, assured the audience that “consciousness is reality.”

He looked weird, almost too real. Then I realized I was seeing not Chopra himself, the spirituality and holistic-health mogul and host of the meeting, but an …

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Replacing detention with meditation

James Gaines, Upworthy: Imagine you’re working at a school and one of the kids is starting to act up. What do you do?

Traditionally, the answer would be to give the unruly kid detention or suspension.

But in my memory, detention tended to involve staring at walls, bored out of my mind, trying to either surreptitiously talk to the kids around me without getting caught or trying to read a book. If it was designed to make me think about my actions, it didn’t really work. It just made everything feel stupid and unfair.

But …

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When does craving become addiction?

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Joan Duncan Oliver, Tricycle: Only two things have I ever craved as much as life itself: drink and a man. To save my life, I had to give up the drink. To give up the drink, I had to give up the man.

My desire for both was total, visceral: passion seeking its own DNA. The bond was physical, emotional, spiritual, chemical—drink, man, and I locked in a menage a trois.

It began, however, as a folie á deux. Alcohol was my first love: a constant, if feckless …

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Why is meditation good for team building

Sven, Mindful Teams: After Yoga, mindfulness is becoming the new fast-growing trend. Leaders around the world would confirm the positive impact of meditation on work. Though mindfulness is becoming very popular, we are just at the beginning of its business application. At Mindful Teams we do think mindfulness at work is important for both individuals and team. Today we will focus on the benefits of meditation on teams.

1. Develop Team Harmony

Mindfulness practice and group meditation helps people to be closer and in harmony. By practicing together team members develop a …

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