emotions

What is mindfulness and should we be doing it?

wildmind meditation newsRosie Hopegood, The Mirror: Everyone from Oprah Winfrey to Goldie Hawn has been dropping the buzzword ‘mindfulness’ lately.

But while celebs are only just cottoning on to the technique, it’s actually been practised for thousands of years, and is now popping up in all sorts of unlikely places – big banking and tech firms are paying for their employees to take classes in order to reduce stress and anxiety at work.

And according to mindfulness expert Will Williams, anyone can benefit from the practice. “It can be particularly helpful for middle aged women, because hormonal imbalances during or approaching the menopause can be can be helped by regularly doing this kind of meditation,” he says.

It’s a technique that encourages focusing your awareness on the present, rather than mulling over the past, or fretting about the future.

It’s a form of meditation with all religious elements stripped away. There are many classes, books and apps available, but one of the most popular is Headspace (a website and app), which has been downloaded by over three million people, including celebrity fans Emma Watson and Gwyneth Paltrow.

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How mindfulness can stop the spinning

wildmind meditation newsDavid Mochel, Huffington Post: As human beings we have a tremendous capacity to respond positively and purposefully in the face of challenge. We have the ability to act on our goals and commitments even when we don’t feel like it. As a society, we have an unprecedented capacity to feed, clothe, educate, provide healthcare, and share useful information. Why then, despite our most sincere efforts, do we get stuck in repeated patterns and fail to follow through on our best intentions? Why does life sometimes feel like a struggle even when we have everything we need? The answer to these questions lies in …

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How being mindful in class has made me a more effective & reflective teacher

wildmind meditation newsThe Mindfulness Pedagogy: What we do, think, say and feel as teacher is embedded in social structures that most often are invisible but no less real. The social structures of schools and classrooms are complex, layered with aspects of power, and usually taken for granted. Mindfulness is a fruitful way to unpack or come to see these structures more clearly, thereby coming to know your pupils, way of teaching, social interactions more fully.

Being in a school environment where mindfulness is encouraged can open opportunities for learning & reflecting. Focusing on critical incidents within your day in a state of mindfulness creates space …

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Cultivating mindfulness beneficial, proponents say

wildmind meditation newsKimberly Marselas, LancasterOnline: A dozen tattooed and cross-armed teenage boys shuffle into the nondescript chapel at the Lancaster County Youth Intervention Center.

Operating against a backdrop of two-way radio chatter and fluorescent lighting but speaking in hushed tones, Wynne Kinder and Christen Coscia greet each by name.

The instructors with Wellness Works in Schools aim to encourage troubled and neglected kids to open their minds, let go of their pain, and start making better choices. Though they may not tell them this, they want to help the teens develop internal tools they might use to regulate emotions.

And the instructors likely won’t refer …

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How to mind your feelings

wildmind meditation newsDaniel Goleman, Lion’s Roar: While we can’t control when we feel anger or fear—or how strongly—we can gain some control over what we do while in their grip. If we can develop inner radar for emotional danger, we gain a choice point the Dalai Lama urges us to master.

When I asked the Dalai Lama how to find this inner choice point, he suggested one method: questioning destructive mental habits. Even though there may be a bit of legitimacy to our griev­ances, are the disturbing emotions we feel way out of proportion? Are such feelings familiar, recurring again and again? If so, we …

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How can mindfulness help with chronic pain?

wildmind meditation newsStephanie Weaver, Huffington Post: More than 100 million adults in the U.S. deal with chronic pain. After reading an article by Dr. Christiane Wolf, I reached out to her to learn more.

You say that chronic pain is a malfunctioning side of evolution. What do you mean by that?

This is my theory as I’ve considered chronic pain. Acute pain is important; it alerts the brain that there is danger. But for chronic pain, there is no separate system. It continually alerts the brain that there is something wrong, and yet it doesn’t stop. There is no way to calm it down.

Does mindfulness …

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Mindful awareness of what addiction is

Eight Step Recovery

Before we can move onto step 6, “Placing Positives Values at the Center of Our Lives,” we really need to come into “Mindful Awareness of What Addiction is.” It’s easy to delude ourselves when the scientists define 10 types of addictions, and our particular one does not come up on their list.

  1. Alcohol
  2. Tobacco
  3. Caffeine
  4. Marijuana
  5. Solvents
  6. Opiates ( like pain killers, heroine, morphine, ketamine)
  7. Anti Anxiety Sedatives
  8. Psycho Stimulants (like speed or cocaine)
  9. Amphetamine (like ecstasy)
  10. Hallucinogens (like LSD)

If you only want to believe what the scientists say then how about reflecting on this: Scientists state that for something to be an addiction it must have the following characteristics…

  • It must be a repeated behaviour that results in distress or negative impact
  • You continue to repeat the behaviour despite the fact it will cause distress
  • You have a state of physiological need such that physiological signs occur when you stop taking them, and these physiological signs also includes depression, anxiety disorder, anger
  • You experience stress when you try to stop
  • You exhibit behaviours of lying, or concealing behaviours (whenever you participate in the addictive behaviour and do not want others to see that you are concealing something)
  • You behaviour is persistent, and you have not been able to cut back or stop
  • You may be able to stop the behaviour but relapse

Scientists also claim that before something can be considered addicting it must have the characteristic of a brain disorder. And because addiction is classified as a brain disorder, addiction can be cured.

While gambling has been added to the scientists’ list of addiction, we still have some way to go to have sugar, food, sex, internet, shopping and many other things included. Meanwhile these categories may not have been scientifically proved to be an addiction, but don’t kid yourselves—they can produce the above characteristics.

The Eight Steps

Addiction or not, what we can agree on that mindfulness has a lot to contribute to dis-ease. Statistics have proved that drug addiction and alcoholism has a profound impact on the frontal cortex in the brain, which is responsible for behaviour, shrinking it to the same size as that of someone with schizophrenia. And scientific evidence also proves that mindfulness has a profound impact on the frontal cortex. MRI scans on a brain that has been exposed to an 8 week mindfulness course show that the amygdala shrinks, which impacts the pre frontal cortex that is responsible for decision making, concentration and awareness.

The reality is that addiction is all the same, there is just different labels for them. The initial trigger that prompted us to turn towards a substance, was about us turning away from our present experience wether it be a negative or positive one.

Admittedly certain behaviours can be harmful, but not addictive. However if we repeat them over and over again, and act out some of the characteristics above, I think we have to accept that we do have an addiction that needs paying Mindful Awareness too.

Especially if it is at the center of your life. What I mean by that is;

  • What do you spend most of your time thinking about?
  • What thoughts frequent your mind?
  • What do you spend a lot of your time doing?
  • What do you spend your money on?

There is not one cure for substance abuse, substance misuse and I include sugar, food, sex, internet as substances. In fact it’s claimed that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. And it has as many harmful impacts like, diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.

However I invite you to place Mindfulness at the center of your thoughts and be open to see what happens. Those of you who have had addictive behaviours, know very well what has been the material of your thoughts, what has occupied your mind.

What would it mean to put the breath at the center of your thoughts?
What would it mean to disappear into your breath rather than disappearing into your thoughts?

More on placing positive qualities at the center of your life next month.

For a free sample of the book study and 21 meditations of Eight Step Recovery – Using The Buddha’s Teachings To Overcome Addiction please email: eightstepsrecovery@gmail.com

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What is mindfulness?

Closeup an eyeConsidering that I’ve been practicing meditation for over 30 years, I’m rather embarrassed about how hard I find it to define mindfulness.

I’ve described it elsewhere as “the gentle effort to be continuously present with experience.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s has described it as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”

The other day I thought of a useful way to describe or define mindfulness:

“Mindfulness is when we observe our experience rather than merely participate in our experience.”

Unmindfulness is an almost hypnotic state. We’ve lost our perspective on our experience, and we’re swept along by it. We may be caught up in an angry rant, or in some compulsive activity like binge-watching TV, but we’re not standing back and observing our experience. We’re participants in the stories and fantasies we create.

In mindfulness we observe our experience rather than merely participate in it. When there’s anger present, we notice the feelings and thoughts that constitute the experience. Part of us is still caught up as a participant, but we’re observing that taking place. When there’s a compulsive activity going on, we stand back and recognize that this is happening. We may not yet be able to stop our compulsion, but we’re at least making a move in that direction.

Another way to put this is that when you’re unmindful, you’re entirely inside your experience. When you’re mindful, you’re partly inside it but there’s a significant part of you that’s looking at the experience from the outside. In neuroscience terms this probably means that you can have your limbic system active (that’s where your emotions and drives operates) or you can have your neocortex (your higher centers) monitoring what the limbic system is up to. That’s the part of you that’s standing outside your experience. That’s the part of you that’s observing, rather than merely participating.

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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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Running the 20s marathon: how mindfulness can help the stress of your twenties

wildmind meditation news

Blake Colaianne, Huffington Post: Living through your 20s is exhausting. Suddenly you are faced with big questions that seem to require as-soon-as-possible answers. As if it wasn’t hard enough, social media has transformed this time of life into what seems like a sprint-to-the-finish-line marathon. We want to be happy for each other and be there to support the people close to us. But we are constantly flooded with posts/pictures/tags/tweets/snapchats of someone’s new job, apartment, house, relationship, wedding, baby, vacation, and anything else that someone else has or has “better” than you. And …

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