mindfulness in daily life

Meditation aids stroke victim

wildmind meditation newsMarissa Harshman, The Columbian: Thirteen months ago, Dobson suffered an embolic stroke caused by a blood clot. The stroke left Dobson unable to move his arm, hand, leg or foot on the left side of his body. His left hand was frozen into a claw shape, and the left side of his face was numb. His vision was distorted, his hearing muffled.

In the days and months that followed, Dobson used mindfulness meditation to help him focus on his recovery and healing. And now, more than a year after the stroke, Dobson has made significant strides, according to his physicians.

“From Dr. Milfred’s …

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Mindful presence: Open space mindfulness

In Part Three we did a little mindfulness meditation to “tune-up” our mindfulness and concentration skills.

Now we are going to distill that mindfulness meditation down to its very essence: abiding as awareness primarily, with little involvement with or even sense of the contents of awareness, almost indifferent to them. The focus is on the open space of awareness itself – which is the name often used in Tibetan Buddhism for this sort of meditation.

By the way, profound forms of this meditation go very very far, and are sometimes associated with the viewpoint that the primordial essence of awareness is “Buddhanature,” “stainless and pure and unconditioned,” and perhaps even mysteriously Transcendental.

Mindful Presence Series

  1. What is “Mindful presence”?
  2. Why develop mindful presence?
  3. Mindful presence: A mindfulness tune-up.
  4. Mindful presence: Open space mindfulness.

We are not aiming so high here – instead pursuing the everyday skill of being aware of awareness itself, and being able at will to rest – for at least seconds at a time – in such a way that awareness is the bulk of what one is experiencing, rather than its contents.

A few seconds spent abiding primarily as awareness are great! In the beginning, it is normal for that sense to “crumble” and for the field of experience to become dominated, as it usually is, by various thoughts and feelings, desires and plans, etc. With practice, the duration of your abiding as awareness will lengthen, but for tonight it’s just fine to go into and out of it.

You’ll also note that I keep using the word “resting.” Abiding as awareness is rooted in a deeply rested feeling – which is of course the epitome of the experience of the parasympathetic nervous system, whose motto is “rest and digest.” (Even more fitting, perhaps, is the motto of the Turtle Club: “Start slow and taper off.”)

In fact, a traditional instruction for open awareness meditation is to imagine how you would feel at the end of a long day of good work, and you come home and just sit down and rest. That sense of abandoning yourself to resting deeply, with a related feeling that it is healthy to do so, is a doorway to abiding as awareness.

Since you are taking your home in awareness itself, the contents of mind don’t matter much. This includes perceptions such as sights and sounds. That is why people are encouraged, as they become more practiced with this mode of meditation – actually, this mode of being – to do it with their eyes open.

Since sight is such a central sense – literally about a third of the cerebral cortex is devoted to visual processing – if you can become relatively disengaged from what you see through being deeply invested in awareness itself, then you’ve come a real way. You can experiment with this yourself during the brief meditations we are about to do, and try them sometimes with eyes open and other times with your eyes closed.

A couple more tips, and then we’ll try it:

  • Some people find that it helps to bring to mind the spacious or luminous quality of awareness, though sometimes the effort to sense spaciousness or luminousness simply turns them into more contents of mind, when in fact you want to disengage from contents.
  • You may find that when you are resting in awareness, that thoughts and feelings come and go almost out of sight, as it were. That’s fine. To quote Mingyar Rinpoche again: “The real point of meditation is to rest in bare awareness whether anything occurs or not. Whatever comes up for you, just be open and present to it, and let it go. And if nothing occurs, or if thoughts and so on vanish before you can notice them, just rest in that natural clarity. How much simpler could the process of meditation be?” The Joy of Living, p. 131
  • Don’t worry if it seems hard at first. Awareness is completely natural: you’re aware right now, right? In open awareness meditation, you’re simply abandoning involvement with everything except awareness itself. Since awareness is your natural home base, your natural resting state, Mother Nature is on your side as you settle more and more into simple awareness.
    But keep in mind that resting in awareness is a skill like any other, and therefore takes time to practice. Try not to be frustrated or angry with yourself if this doesn’t come easily for you. If you bump into difficulties, there will still be benefits, since you will be gaining a good deal of insight into the activities of mind that carry you away from simple awareness.

Instructions
Let’s try this for a few minutes at a time.

To repeat, get a sense of resting deeply, not trying to do anything at all, with your body deeply relaxed – especially the trunk of it – and simply have most of who you are in the moment be just awareness.

OK, here we go.

[Take a minute to focus on the meditation]

How was that? Let’s try it for three minutes.

[Focus on the meditation]

OK, how did that go? Now let’s try it again for a few minutes, but this time, how about trying it standing up with your eyes open?

[Maintain your concentration]

Alright, how was that? Were you able to maintain your mindful awareness?

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this series on developing a more mindful presence.

Try to be as mindful as you can in daily life, and see what that’s like. Try to take your sense of mindful presence from exercises like those in this series, or from your meditations, and bring that out into the world. Enjoy!

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The Arthritis Foundation has provided some meditation techniques to ease arthritis pain

wildmind meditation newsPress release: Meditation has long been used by many people from around the world to reduce stress, soul search and improve overall physical and mental health. However, it seems that arthritis patients can also get some benefits in practicing the healthy activity.

The Arthritis Foundation has provided some meditation techniques to ease arthritis pain. According to experts, meditation is not like running a race, but it does require time and patience. Those who do not have either or both can still meditate.

According to experts, there are four meditation techniques that can help patients get started. First is to make the session brief. This is very helpful to individuals who do not have an hour to allocate for meditation.

Mark Thornton, author of “Meditation in a New York Minute: Super Calm for the Super Busy” and New York City-based meditation teacher, suggested that people should strive to meditate for at least one hour every day. He also added that doing it for a few minutes throughout the whole day can be as effective as meditating for one full hour.

“Experts also suggest that patients should ensure they are consistent in meditating, and this means doing it like working out at the gym,” said VitaBreeze Supplements spokesperson, Michelle O’Sullivan.

Thornton added that daily practice of meditation is highly recommended. However, patients can start meditating every other day if doing it on a daily basis seems overwhelming. They should make sure that they set a type of meditation schedule that they can maintain on a long-term basis.

Experts also suggest active meditation. Patients do not have to meditate in a dark room alone and sitting in the lotus position. They can actually do it in the shower, while washing dishes or even when standing in line at the grocery store. They can start doing active meditation by taking slow deep breaths. They need to tune into their surroundings such as the water flowing from the faucet or the smell of fresh lemons in the kitchen.

“It is also imperative that sufferers are able to adjust their focus. Patients will see whether or not they are doing it right when they notice their attention wandering, and they are able to get their focus back,” added O’Sullivan.

Meditation has been used by many people, especially those suffering from arthritis, to achieve pain relief. It is a natural treatment method and is not just believed to be effective, but also safe too.

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Mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots, and it may not be doing you good

wildmind meditation newsMiguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, The Conversation: Mindfulness as a psychological aid is very much in fashion. Recent reports on the latest finding suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in preventing the relapse of recurrent depression.

While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that (contrary to their hypothesis) mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.

Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhism where one tries to notice present thoughts, feeling and sensations without judgement. The …

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Being mindful of mindfulness

wildmind meditation newsCathy Thomas Brownfield, Salem News: In this fast-paced world in which we live there is so little time to think about anything in depth. But that is not in anyone’s best interests. Rushing from home to work to school to home to dance classes, sports practice, Scout meetings, Lions Club Meetings, Book Club you name it. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for everyone to do all the things they would like to do or feel they have to do. This can lead to a few “issues,” not the least of which is burn-out.

What’s the first thing you think of …

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Science shows what meditation really does to your brain

wildmind meditation newsJon Levine, Science.Mic: Meditation, according to its spiritual gurus, is a universal panacea. Enthusiasts have long preached its benefits, which include its ability to lower anxiety, improve concentration, help treat those with HIV and even extend one’s life expectancy.

While it’s undeniable meditation contributes to a sense of inner piece, its physiological benefits remain less certain. That is, until a team of researchers confirmed them. What they uncovered is more than surprising.

“We found several brain regions that had changed,” Sara Lazar, an associate research scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, told Mic. Lazar conducted a major study on meditation in 2011 and was one …

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Meditation as an antidote to stress

wildmind meditation newsJaime T. Licauco, Philippine Daily Inquirer: There are many books and articles that have been written about the effects of stress on health.

Such modern ailments as ulcers, high blood pressure, gastritis, insomnia, asthma, cardiovascular problems,have been attributed to stress, or at least aggravated by it.

In the 1950s, experimental psychologist Robert Ader, for example, discovered that “rats that were restrained at the peaks of their activity cycles, and so presumably felt more frustrated by the restraint, were significantly more likely to develop gastric erosions.”

Because many human diseases have been associated with stress, many programs or techniques have been developed to control …

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The power of presence: 3 simple ways to harness mindfulness

wildmind meditation newsShakti Sutriasa, Huffington Post: We hear a lot about being mindful – not just within spiritual circles – but more and more in the work place.

What exactly is mindfulness?

Simply, mindfulness is awareness of the present or the ability to be present in all aspects of our lives. It’s a honing of the mind to focus on what is happening right now.

Since the 1970s, there’s been a growing recognition and movement towards embracing mindfulness in the United States. This is due in large part to the many Buddhists teachers who have come here as well as the American practitioner …

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Mindfulness: let’s be mindful of its limitations

wildmind meditation newsTayana Simons, Huffington Post: The ancient practice of mindfulness meditation has received a lot of hype over the past few years. Tens of thousands of people are signing up for courses all over the country, therapists are using it as a core part of their treatment for depression and anxiety, and millions have downloaded an app called ‘Headspace’ allowing them ‘meditation on the go’. Even Emma Watson calls it ‘genius’.

The funny thing is, its not like it’s a new discovery. Besides the fact that the basis of mindfulness is a form …

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Mindfulness and chronic pain: every moment is a new chance

Pain always seems worse at night. Something about the silence amplifies the suffering. Even after you’ve taken the maximum dose of painkillers, the aching soon returns with a vengeance. You want to do something, anything, to stop the pain, but whatever you try seems to fail. Moving hurts. Doing nothing hurts. Ignoring it hurts. But it’s not just the pain that hurts; your mind can start to suffer as you desperately try to find a way of escaping. Pointed and bitter questions can begin nagging at your soul: What will happen if I don’t recover? What if it gets worse? I can’t cope with this. Please, I just want it to stop. . . .

You Are Not Your Pain Vidyamala BurchWe wrote this book to help you cope with pain, illness, and stress in times such as these. It will teach you how to reduce your suffering progressively, so that you can begin living life to the fullest once again. It may not completely eliminate your suffering, but it will ensure that it no longer dominates your life. You’ll discover that it is possible to be at peace, even if illness and pain are unavoidable, and to enjoy a fulfilling life.

We know this to be true because we have both experienced terrible injuries and used an ancient form of meditation known as mindfulness to ease our suffering. The techniques in this book have been proven to work by doctors and scientists in universities around the world. Mindfulness is so effective that doctors and specialist pain clinics now refer their patients to our Breathworks center in Manchester, UK, and to courses run by our affiliated trainers around the world. Every day we help people find peace amid their suffering.

This book and the accompanying CD reveal a series of simple practices that you can incorporate into daily life to significantly reduce your pain, anguish, and stress. They are built on Mindfulness-Based Pain Management (MBPM), which has its roots in the groundbreaking work of Dr. Jon  Kabat- Zinn of the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. The MBPM program itself was developed by Vidyamala Burch (coauthor of this book) as a means of coping with the after effects of two serious accidents. Although originally designed to reduce physical pain and suffering, it has proven to be an effective stress-reduction technique as well. The core mindfulness meditation techniques have been shown in many clinical trials to be at least as effective as drugs or counseling for relieving anxiety, stress, and depression.

When it comes to pain, clinical trials show that mindfulness can be as effective as the most commonly prescribed painkillers, and some studies have shown it to be as powerful as morphine. Imaging studies show that it soothes the brain patterns underlying pain, and over time, these changes take root and alter the structure of the brain itself so that you no longer feel pain with the same intensity. And when it does arise, the pain no longer dominates your life. Many people report that their pain declines to such a degree that they barely notice it at all.

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