mindfulness in daily life

Meditation was the most unexpected tool in my addiction recovery

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Britni de la Cretaz, SheKnows: When I arrived at rehab for my alcohol and cocaine addiction, one of the first things I was handed was a schedule with the day’s activities on it. It included groups and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings I would need to attend, as well as meal times — all the usual things you’d expect to find on a daily rehab schedule.

But I was a little taken aback to see that the first thing on the agenda every morning — from 8 to 8:10 — was meditation. The idea of having to meditate for 10 minutes every day was baffling to me. I immediately chalked it up to hooey or some woo-woo crap.

I skipped as many mornings as I could. When I did participate, I did anything but focus on my breath for the 10 minutes. How could I? My brain had too many other things to think about, and I was pretty sure those things were far more interesting and important than sitting quietly and counting in breaths and out breaths.

I thought about how stupid it was that I had to sit quietly for 10 minutes. I thought about how badly I wanted to peek at the clock so I could see how much time I had left. I thought about how I would probably most definitely drink again when I left treatment. I thought about the fact that I absolutely would not move into a sober house after rehab. And maybe once, maybe twice, over the course of those 10 minutes, I’d focus on my breathing.

While I was sitting there thinking about all the things that were much more interesting and important than meditation, something funny happened. Progressively, I had fewer and fewer thoughts that seemed all that important. Slowly, my brain began to quiet. Instead of focusing on one or two breaths over the course of the 10 minutes, I found myself coming back to that breath every 30 seconds or so. Four months later, when it was time to leave treatment, meditation had become like a sigh of relief for my brain. It became something I looked forward to every morning instead of something I dreaded.

Meditation, it turned out, was something I could carry with me into my day. When I first arrived at rehab, my mind was always racing. It jumped ahead to three Thursdays from now. It played an endless stream of what-ifs. That, in turn, caused a great deal of anxiety because I can’t control the future. I don’t know what will happen in an hour, let alone tomorrow or next week. Inevitably, that stress and uncertainty led to me to pick up alcohol and drugs to quiet my mind.

Meditation gave me the ability to stay present, to find the here and now. It taught me how not to get ahead of myself. To sit with my emotions and my discomfort instead of running from them or numbing them with substances. By learning to sit through uncomfortable feelings, I also got to learn that those feelings — all feelings, in fact, both good and bad — would pass. Candice Rasa, clinical director of Beach House Center for Recovery, says that my experience is a common one.

“During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress,” Rasa explains. “This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.” For me, that looked like an overall calmness and a decrease in my anxiety levels. I also began to explore different kinds of meditation — guided meditations using phone apps, practicing yoga, and repeating a mantra over and over again. Each of these forms of meditation provided something different.

Yoga allowed me to connect my meditation practice to my physical body. As a trauma survivor who often drank and used drugs to cope with my post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, I wasn’t used to feeling present in my body. Yoga and progressive muscle relaxation — a form of meditation where you systematically relax every muscle in your body — helped me learn to be present in my body again and to really feel it.

Rasa says that this benefit of meditation, of keeping people in the present, is very important for those of us who are recovering from addiction because “it allows for greater self-awareness… and reduces negative emotions, which leads to [fewer] destructive behaviors, such as picking up drugs and alcohol.”

The most helpful thing anyone ever told me is something that Rasa stresses, too: There is no wrong way to meditate. During those first few weeks when I was thinking about anything other than my breathing, someone told me that if I had focused on my breath even once during those 10 minutes, then I had meditated. Meditation, like anything else, is a practice. The more you do it, the better you get at it.

Ultimately, meditation became just one of many tools that I use in my recovery. It’s something that I can use at any time, in any place, and I can tailor it to my needs. It’s given me the ability to quiet my brain and find the time to just breathe, which helps bring me back to center — and makes it less likely that I’ll need drugs or alcohol to cope with how I’m feeling. And that, truly, is a gift.

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Three ways meditation improves relationships – backed by science

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Emma M. Seppälä, Psychology Today: Meditation can seem like a lonely activity, even a slightly selfish one —after all, you’re doing something, on your own, for yourself – or so it seems. Even if you’re meditating in a group, your eyes are closed and you’re focused on yourself. Doesn’t seem like something that would improve your relationships. But research shows it does. Here’s how.

1) It Curbs Your Stress & Gives You Perspective

Most people experience stress during the day. Worse yet, they bring their stress home. As a consequence, their partner gets the brunt of it: a short fuse, bad moods, lack of affection. Over time, this kind of pattern can create distance between partners. By helping you regulate your emotions (like stress or anger), meditation can help you keep a positive perspective. What we found in research with a population that has a tremendous amount of stress—veterans returning from war—is that by using a simple breathing-based meditation (sudarshan kriya), anxiety and stress reduced tremendously. If you can take responsibility for curbing your stress through meditation, you’re also taking a big step towards preserving and honoring your relationship.

A really strong reason to meditate is its impact on your perspective. You’re more likely to see the big picture rather than sweating the small stuff – as a result, you feel more grateful for what you. Gratitude is a powerful predictor of long-term love. Research shows us that, over time, we get used to the things we have and people we are with and can start to take them for granted. That’s the point where people may start to focus on what’s wrong with their partner or forget why they fell in love in the first place. Grateful people are more satisfied in their relationships and feel closer to one another. When you are grateful, you stay focused and appreciative of your partner’s good qualities. Your partner, in turn, feels appreciated, and your bond strengthens…

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Set up a rock-solid daily meditation habit!

blogOur 14 Day Mindfulness Meditation Challenge (May 1-14) is an introductory 14 day meditation event. It is an opportunity to experience the benefits that come from setting up a rock-solid daily meditation habit. We’ll be exploring the practice of mindfulness.

Signing up for this 14-day event gives you access to:

  • Daily emails with practice suggestions
  • Four guided meditations
  • Support, encouragement, and connecting with like-minded people in our online community

This event is suitable for people of all levels of experience, including complete beginners.

Register today to begin the daily habit!

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Is mindfulness another task on your to-do list?

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Kathy Walsh, Huffington Post: Is mindfulness just another thing on your to-do list? Or is it woven into your day, like a beautiful golden thread through your tapestry. Are you rushing through your mindful activity? Or are you doing it with joy? Does it come from your heart and soul or your mind?

Today, I have to

1) Do Laundry

2) Buy Groceries

3) Drive Carpool to Practice

4) Call Babysitter

5) Be Positive

6) Write in a Gratitude Journal

7) Meditate

Is mindfulness just another thing on your to-do list? Or is it woven into your day, like a beautiful golden thread through your tapestry. Are you rushing through your mindful activity? Or are you doing it with joy? Does it come from your heart and soul or your mind?

I began mindful parenting 28 years ago when I was pregnant with my first daughter. I meditated to dolphin music, wrote my thoughts and feelings in a journal, and sent positive, loving thoughts to the…

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How to practice mindfulness throughout your work day

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Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter, Greater Good Science Center: You probably know the feeling all too well: You arrive at the office with a clear plan for the day and then, in what feels like just a moment, you find yourself on your way back home. Nine or ten hours have passed but you’ve accomplished only a few of your priorities. And, most likely, you can’t even remember exactly what you did all day. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Research shows that people spend almost 47 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing. In other words, many of us operate on autopilot.

Add to this that we have entered what many people are calling the “attention economy.” In the attention economy, the ability to maintain focus and concentration is every bit as important as technical or management skills. And because leaders need to absorb and synthesize a growing flood of information in order to make good decisions, they’re hit particularly hard by this emerging trend.

The good news is you can train your brain to focus better by incorporating mindfulness exercises throughout your day. Based on our experience with thousands of leaders in over 250 organizations, here are some guidelines for becoming a more…

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Schools combine meditation and brain science to help combat discipline problems

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Shaina Cavazos, Chalkbeat Indiana: It was the Friday morning before spring break, and Deanna Nibarger’s fifth-graders were noisily chatting and enjoying their breakfast of milk, granola bars and raisins when a woman’s voice crackled over the school intercom:

“Sit up straight and close your eyes,” the woman on the intercom said.

The room immediately went silent as the woman’s command was followed by a series of short, high-pitched “dings,” as if someone were hitting a key on a metal xylophone and letting the sound reverberate.

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A trance settled over the class for nearly a minute. Then, the daily morning announcements resumed, and the class sprang back to life as everyone stood to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

Rarely do such moments of calm appear in elementary school classrooms, but it’s exactly this kind of focus that Crooked Creek Elementary School in Washington Township is looking to build in its students. The dings over the intercom are one example of ways teachers at the school have armed students with meditation-like practices to help increase focus and attention.

It might sound strange, but in a fast-paced classroom, teachers at Crooked Creek say just having their students close their eyes and listen for a minute can help them improve their ability to focus. It’s part of the school’s efforts to incorporate the tenets of the growing academic field known as “educational neuroscience” into the classroom…

The field of educational neuroscience is at the intersection of cognitive psychology, education and neuroscience, and some of its teachings suggest findings from brain research can be applied to classroom management and discipline techniques.

Some trend toward the area of “mindfulness,” such as attempting to sharpen students’ focus through meditation. Other facets of the field that Crooked Creek teachers employ in the classroom include taking short breaks from instruction to ward off boredom and teaching children explicitly about parts of the brain and how they respond to stress.

Crooked Creek has been working with teacher and college professor Lori Desautels to help infuse elements of educational neuroscience into the classroom.

Desautels isn’t just teaching brain science to the teachers. She’s also helping children understand how their own brains work to in an effort to help them learn to change their behavior.

The educational neuroscience field is in flux, and some of its teachings — especially ones that directly tie student learning outcomes to brain science — still leave neuroscientists skeptical. But that’s not at the core of what Desautels is doing in Indianapolis schools. Rather, it’s about using what experts know about the brain to build stronger relationships and classroom culture.

“We are in a new time in education,” said Desautels, who works with teachers and students in several Indianapolis schools. “We hear about reform every day in the paper. We read it, we hear it in the news, but what’s really at the crux of all of this is educational neuroscience. Students are learning about their own neuroanatomy, and they are loving it.”

A growing field

Researchers have been exploring how brain science and education work together for about 50 years, but Desautels said the field has recently morphed into something new that is taking off across the country and outside the U.S.

“It’s a brand-new discipline that is catching on fire right now,” Desautels said.

The idea is to introduce both teachers and students to a basic understanding of how the brain works. If teachers have an idea of what’s going on behind the bad behavior, they can more effectively reach their students because they know it might not just be a child choosing to be defiant or difficult. When students know how parts of their brains work, they might better understand why they might feel frustrated or aggressive. That can help them develop strategies to lower stress so they can work to improve behavior in the future.

“Neuroanatomy knowledge eases their stress because they know they are not alone and can have control over that,” Desautels said.

The exact relationship between the how the brain works and how kids learn — and how teachers should teach — isn’t fully fleshed out, said Lise Eliot, a neuroscience professor from Chicago Medical School and Rosalind Franklin University.

“The so-called ‘neuroscience of education”… it’s not ready for prime time yet,” Eliot said. “There are a lot of very good neuroscientists who are interested in translating our understanding to how our brain learns to better educational practices, but I would say that at this point, improvements in educational practice have come only from the behavioral level.”

And that’s mainly where Desautel’s work lies — in using new strategies and information to improve behavior. The methods are especially relevant as schools look to correct disparities in instances of school discipline. Indiana, like many places across the country, has acknowledged racial differences in the way that suspensions, expulsions and other punishments are meted out.

Nibarger, the fifth-grade teacher from Crooked Creek, had a background in special education and behavior management before she ever met Desautels. The year she came to Washington Township just happened to be the first year Desautels piloted her approach with the Crooked Creek fifth-graders.

Since she started working with Desautels three years ago, she’s seen school culture begin to change, and she’s more sure of her own teaching. The very first year of the pilot, no students were suspended, and school office referrals decreased, she said.

Understanding what her kids’ brains might be going through during moments of stress or frustration has helped Nibarger make sense of a lot of disparate classroom management concepts she’d already learned.

“It has kind of affirmed a lot of what I already knew to be best practice,” she said. “When people asked me what I was doing for behavior, I didn’t have research or knowledge to do that. Now I know why I do what I do.”

Educational neuroscience, Desautels said, is the intersection of cognitive psychology, education and neuroscience. The element of it that encourages building relationships through better understanding of how emotions and stress impact the brain informs some of the philosophies behind discipline strategies becoming popular in the U.S, she said.

At Crooked Creek, Nibarger has taken the lessons to heart and uses them on a daily basis.

“If you were to come to room 18, we talk a lot about emotions being contagious.” Nibarger said. “We do morning meetings, and we talk through conflict. I teach the kids about neuroplasticity; their brains being able to change because of their experiences in life.”

Using brain knowledge to better behavior

One of the first things Desautels teaches students and teachers is “the 90-second rule,” which admittedly has a much larger following in psychological circles than neuroscientific ones.

“Our body rinses clear and clean of negative emotion in 90 seconds,” she said. “Why do we stay irritated for so long? We keep thinking about it, replaying it and generating more negative emotions.”

The premise is championed by Harvard-educated brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor, who essentially says the chemicals that course through the brain during a stressful experience dissipate after 90 seconds. Eliot said she wasn’t familiar with the concept. But while emotional recovery time is likely different from person to person, the point, Desautels said, is to let kids know they can have a hand in controlling their emotions.

Things don’t always run smoothly in classrooms, between teachers and students or between kids themselves — conflict is inevitable. But rather than focusing on just being reactive, Desautels said, teachers and students can arm themselves with strategies early on so moments of stress don’t turn into meltdowns.

There are three key ways to de-escalate a conflict that are known to reduce stress as well: movement, time and breathing.

When kids can release energy by moving around, take some time away from the stressful moment or just breathe, Desautels said, they can calm down and actually think about what’s going on around them. Otherwise, they stay stressed out and might lash out more, she said.

The same goes for teachers — those strategies can ease their tension so they can respond constructively to a student. Desautels recommends asking these questions: What do you need? How can I help? What can we do to make this better?

“Consequences don’t need to be immediate,” Desautels said. “That, neurobiologically, is the worst thing we can do.”

When the brain is under stress, Desautels said, the part that controls problem-solving, logic, planning and organizing — known as the “prefrontal cortex” — isn’t getting enough blood and oxygen. Instead, all the blood is heading to the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for emotion. That’s why feeling upset might make a child yell or hit before it makes them sit back and talk a problem through. Plus, the prefrontal cortex is one of the last parts of the brain to develop, so children are already more likely to respond emotionally to stress than adults.

“We have to prime the brain for discipline and learning before we can do anything else,” Desautels said. “Unless we teach the behaviors that we want to see, many times emotional regulation, which is what negative behavior is all about, it’s not there. And we just assume everybody is born having great ability to emotionally regulate.”

Teaching neuroscience to kids isn’t quite as hard as it sounds — First, they’ll start with model that lets them learn each part of the brain and what it does.

In Nibarger’s class, it’s clear the teaching has taken hold. Her students use words and phrases like “neurons” and “brain trauma” in regular classroom conversation. On the day before spring break, she asked them to tell her what happens when you have “hidden anger.”

Almost immediately, one boy piped up. He said a lack of sleep can cause trauma in the brain that blocks synapses from firing, which mean the brain works more slowly. Another girl said keeping anger to yourself means you can’t connect well to your friends.

“If you don’t talk about it and get it out of your system, you get frustrated and isolated,” she said.

Aside from the three basic strategies of movement, time and breathing, Desautels encourages teachers to use “brain breaks” to keep kids from drifting off during class.

“The brain pays attention to novelty,” Desautels said. “It’s a good way to change up because the brain is lulled to sleep with routine.”

A brain break could be almost anything — kids can get up and balance on one foot or play coordination games that ask them to hold out both hands and switch between making an “L” with one hand and a Sign Language “I” with the other. Or, it can be chimes on the intercom to give children a moment of calm in the morning.

Using the brain breaks and attention exercises throughout the school day not only helps kids shake things up if they need to refocus, but they are strategies they can turn to in times of stress.

The approach isn’t magic — managing behavior can still be slow-going, Desautels said, especially if kids become aggressive and don’t yet trust their teachers.

One third-grade class she’s working in this year at Washington Township’s Greenbriar Elementary School is particularly challenging — many of the students come from low-income families, and some have parents in jail.

Sometimes, they’ll yell or swear or even knock over a desk. Desautels said that can be typical for students constantly living in a state of stress, but the class is making progress. She encourages teachers to carve out areas of their classrooms where kids can go to take a break and calm down. Teachers at the school are partnered with each other so they have extra hands if one needs to the leave the classroom with the student or contact a parent.

How to deal with frequently disruptive, or even violent, students is a question common to most all classroom management or discipline techniques. There isn’t an easy answer Desautels said — it takes time for teachers and students to build trust. Incorporating aspects of educational neuroscience can help ensure that when confrontation does happen, frustration and rash decisions aren’t king.

“For teachers who say it’s too gentle, I say absolutely not,” Desautels said. “What we have to do is set up those procedures and transitions and boundaries, and the hardest part is we have to stay connected emotionally to those students during the worst of conflicts.

And regardless of the particular field you’re in, Eliot said, that connection piece is paramount to success in the classroom.

“What we know about human brain function is that it can’t be divorced from social environment,” Eliot said. “The more teachers appreciate how crucial that is to have healthy positive, nurturing relationships and extensive bonding and connecting and mentoring of their students, the more successful they’ll be, the healthier their students will be and the better they’ll learn.”

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Why should you meditate?

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Jeena Cho, Huffington Post: Meditation has been gaining incredible momentum in recent years. Perhaps you’ve been wanting to try meditation but feel hesitant. This is understandable considering the fact that we place so much emphasis on producing more, and working more. We often hear from people comments such as, “I’d love to try meditation but I just can’t find the time.”

You are the only one who knows whether meditation is right for you or why you are interested in trying it. Still, it’s interesting to hear why someone might begin a meditation practice.

Some common reasons include:

Stress or anxiety management — Many people begin meditation as a means of managing stress or anxiety, and perhaps this is an even greater motivator for lawyers than for others, since stress is such a defining aspect of our professional lives. It’s telling that both of us, the authors of this book, began meditating to manage stress-related issues. If stress is the reason for your beginning your meditation practice, welcome! You’re in good company.

• Increasing focus and productivity — Our computers, laptops, phones, iPads, e-readers, and myriad other devices can make us more productive, but they also enable continual interruptions. These never-ending sources of distraction can leave us frayed and even undermine our fundamental ability to pay attention. Many professionals take up meditation as an antidote, to help navigate the disruption that is part of the modern working world without sacrificing their effectiveness…

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Mindfulness meditation improves chronic low back pain

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Thomas G. Ciccone, Practical Pain Management: Mindfulness meditation may offer the drug-free key to pain-free living for patients aged 65 and older, according to the results of new research. The study, recently published in JAMA,1 found when patients meditated for 90 minutes a week over the course of 8 weeks, their pain symptoms, including their most severe pain, decreased significantly—a robust trend that continued for up to 6 months.

“Preserving physical function with aging is critical to maintaining independence, because loss of independence is arguably one of the most feared consequences of aging,” the authors wrote.

The primary aim of the study was to determine the effectiveness of the mind-body program at increasing function and reducing pain in adults 65 years or older with chronic LBP.”

Mindfulness meditation is a relatively popular alternative form of medicine in the U.S. Some 18 million Americans tried meditation in 2012, alone.² A recent meta-analysis has found the practice can have moderate benefits for a number of symptoms, including pain, anxiety, and depression.³ However, up to this point, it appeared meditation’s pain-relieving benefits related to an analgesic effect on visceral pain, not necessarily musculoskeletal—a notion that could be challenged, now.

The Study

In the study, 282 community-dwelling adult patients (mean [SD] age, 74.5 [6.6] years), who were recruited from the metropolitan Pittsburgh area, either enrolled in a mindfulness meditation program (n=140) or an education program on healthy aging (n=142).

Patients in the meditation group convened for weekly sessions modeled on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Program (MBSR),⁴ which is designed to cultivate a better awareness of the body and mind in order to reduce stress, recognize negative cognitions, and positively influence autonomic physiological processes, including blood pressure and overall reactivity.⁵

The control group of patients instead received an education course on the “10 Keys” to Healthy Ageing, a prevention program on key health topics like hypertension management.⁶ Interestingly, one particular chair exercise introduced in the control group also was utilized in the meditation program. However, the control group’s program did not include information on pain management.

Meditation Provides Short-term Pain Benefits

Patients that practiced meditation significantly improved their current and most severe Numeric Pain Rating Scale (NRS) scores, showing additional -1.8 and -1.0 improvements over the control group, respectively. A noticeably higher percentage of patients doing meditation (56.8%) were able to achieve a 2.5-point clinically significant improvement after the 8-week course, compared to the control group (44.9%).

In fact, compared to the control group, noticeably more patients in the MBSR program were able to achieve a clinically meaningful 30% improvement both in NRS pain scores for current (54 of 132 [40.9%] vs 34 of 138 [24.6%]; P = 0.004) and most severe pain (48 of 132 [36.4%] vs 30 of 138 [21.7%]; P = 0.008). Even when evaluating patients for a more stringent 50% improvement, the meditation group also outperformed the control group for average (21 of 132 [15.9%] vs 14 of 138 [10.1%]; P = 0.16), current (43 of 132 [32.6%] vs 22 of 138 [15.9%]; P = 0.001), and most severe (21 of 132 [15.9%] vs 12 of 138 [8.7%]; P = 0.07) pain.

Caveats to Consider

However, other outcome measurements did not show robust differences between the groups, particularly at the 6-month follow-up. Pain self-efficacy, pain catastrophizing, depressive symptoms, quality of life, and even self-reported mindfulness—while any noticeable benefits for the meditation group were recorded at the 8-week mark, they were nullified after 6 months. Furthermore, significant differences in functional improvements were not sustained at 6 months, either.

This suggests the meditation, while not a game-changer in functional improvements over a longer period, may have significantly helped patients perceive improvements in their pain. Regardless of unremarkable differences in self-efficacy or catastrophizing scores, meditation patients reported more improvement in their back pain symptoms than control participants (P < .001), with a majority (80.3%) of meditation patients reporting at least minimal improvement at 8 weeks compared to the control group (37.0%).

Not only did this difference persist up to the 6-month mark, but a greater number of patients in the control group began reporting worsening symptoms, by contrast.

Limitations to Consider

The improvements in pain that mindfulness meditation appeared to offer patients was consistent with a patient-centered view of successful pain relief,⁷ something that other therapies are not able to achieve, the authors noted. The short term benefits of increased self-efficacy also can help decrease impairment, distress, pain severity for patients in pain,⁸ and while the difference in self-efficacy improvement between the study groups was not maintained at 6 months, there may be some limitations of the study to consider.

At baseline, patients already showed robust psychological profiles, with low occurrence of depressive symptoms. This could be explained by the fact the researchers excluded patients that had reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms in the past. Past studies have shown meditation to improve psychological disorders, like depression and anxiety.³

And even though the researchers excluded patients who were familiar with mindfulness meditation programs, baseline mindfulness scores for all participating subjects noticeably were strong. So despite the fact that qualitative reports showed patients experience increased mindfulness upon learning how to meditate, the quantitative scores did not reflect this. Also, participation rates were not very high for the 6 monthly booster sessions following the initial 8-week course, which may have dulled the measurements, as well.

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Seven ways to bring lovingkindness into daily life

Two boys sitting at a window. The large boy has his arm around the other boy's shoulders, offering him comfort.

My experience has been that although mindfulness meditation helps me to feel more joyful, an equivalent amount of lovingkindness meditation has an even greater effect on my sense of well-being.

Imbuing the mind with kindness insulates us from negativity, so that unskillful thoughts and emotions can’t easily take hold. It improves our emotional resiliency, so that challenging circumstances are less likely to drag us down. And it also helps us to feel greater contentment and happiness.

It’s not just formal sitting meditation practice that has this effect, though. Many other activities in daily life can become opportunities to cultivate metta. Here are a few suggestions to help you increase the amount of kindness in your life.

1. Mirror Meditation
As you’re looking in the mirror in the morning—while shaving or putting on makeup or fixing your hair—wish yourself well. Look at the face you see before you, and recognize that here is a being who wants to be happy, and who often finds happiness elusive. Repeat the metta phrases of your choice. Something like, “May I be well. May I be happy. May I find peace.”

2. Eating and Drinking
Practice gratitude. As you’re eating or drinking, recall that other beings made it possible for you to do this. The coffee you’re drinking or the cereal you’re eating have been grown, harvested, transported, and processed by many, many thousands of beings. The machinery used to do that growing, harvesting, transporting, and processing also involved many tens of thousands of beings. When you start to consider things like the clothing, the road systems, the housing, the electricity, etc., needed for those people, then you realize that you’re literally being served your breakfast by millions of people. So say “thank you,” and wish those beings well.

3. Driving or Walking
Whether you’re driving, walking, or taking public transport, any traveling you do is an ideal opportunity to wish others well. You can simply repeat “May all beings be well” as you see travelers and pedestrians passing by. But you could try giving up your seat on the bus, or letting someone merge into traffic, and notice how that makes you feel.

4. Working
Remember that every being you meet at work wants to be happy, but generally isn’t very skilled at finding happiness. This being human is a difficult thing. See if you can at least not make it harder for others to be happy, and perhaps make it just a little easier. Try telling yourself, “This person is doing the best they can with the resources available to them,” and notice how it changes your feelings about them.

5. Shopping
While cruising the aisles of your local supermarket, send salvos of metta towards other shoppers. When you’re in the line for the checkout, keep up a constant stream of well-wishing: “May you be well. May you be happy. May you be kind to yourself and others.”

6. Watching the News
There are people on the news who are suffering, and they’re the obvious recipients of your lovingkindness. The same applies for those who have done positive things. But there will also be people you might normally feel angered by—politicians from rival parties, criminals, people waging war—and it’s important to wish that they become kinder. Our harboring ill will toward them doesn’t affect their lives at all, but diminishes our own sense of wellbeing.

7. Hitting the Hay
Traditionally, the practice of lovingkindness is said to help promote good sleep and prevent insomnia. Lying in bed is a lovely time to wish yourself and others well. Wish yourself well, with particular focus on anything you have to rejoice about that day. Then wish yourself well with a focus on anything painful and unresolved from your day. Send lovingkindness to any feelings that come up. And wish others well. You can send kind and loving thoughts to family, to friends, and to people you’ve encountered during the day.

Slipping these extra minutes of lovingkindness practice into your daily life will bring you closer to an emotional tipping point where you feel unusual amounts of joy and wellbeing.

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How meditation went mainstream

wildmind meditation news

Ashley Ross, Time: The idea of meditation seems simple: Sit still, focus on breath, reflect. But the practice of meditating is rooted in a deep cultural history that has seen the practice grow from a religious idea to something that can now seem more stylish than spiritual.

Though plenty of people still meditate for religious reasons, these days, the practice has joined yoga as a secular and chic trend, as dedicated meditation studios open in cities like New York and Los Angeles. Even Equinox, a fitness company with gyms across North America and in London, is launching a class called HeadStrong in April, which will combine high intensity interval training with meditation. The trend has also caught up with technology, with apps like Headpsace and OMG. I Can Meditate!, both of which have partnered with airlines (Virgin Atlantic and Delta, respectively) to offer in-flight meditation options. Headspace also debuted specially designed meditation pods that co-founder Rich Pierson says hopes people will use “like Superman used phonebooths, only instead of emerging in tights intent on fighting crime, they’ll come out with a clearer, calmer outlook.”

“It used to be that if you wanted to try Tibetan Buddhism and meditation, you had to travel all the way to Tibet, and if you wanted to try Korean meditation, you had to travel all the way to Korea. But now you can go to neighborhoods in New York and do both in an hour,” says Lodro Rinzler, author and ‘Chief Spiritual Officer’ at the Manhattan studio MNDFL, which opened in late 2015. “All of a sudden people are saying this can help you, but Buddhists have been saying…

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