Meditation beats dance for harmonizing body and mind

February 24, 2011

The body is a dancer’s instrument, but is it attuned to the mind? A new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that professional ballet and modern dancers are not as emotionally in sync with their bodies as are people who regularly practice meditation.

UC Berkeley researchers tracked how closely the emotions of seasoned meditators and professional dancers followed bodily changes such as breathing and heart rates.

They found that dancers who devote enormous time and effort to developing awareness of and precise control over their muscles – a theme coincidentally raised in the new ballet movie “Black Swan” – do not have a stronger mind-body connection than do most other people.

By contrast, … Read more »

“Your Breathing Body” by Reginald A. Ray

May 23, 2009

Your Breathing BodyWhen Reginald Ray speaks of “touching enlightenment with the body”, he isn’t just saying that we can touch enlightenment with our bodies. What he really means is that there is no other way to do so. Sunada just finished her first pass through his 20-disc meditation CD series, Your Breathing Body, and gives it her ringing endorsement.

I first encountered Reginald Ray’s approach to meditation when I read his most recent book, Touching Enlightenment (excerpted elsewhere on this site), and attended one of his retreats on the same subject. As a yoga practitioner and a kinesthetic learner, I immediately took to it like a fish to water. And so I decided to … Read more »

A stroke of insight

May 27, 2008

Jill Bolte TaylorJill Bolte Taylor was suddenly struck by an awareness of a deep connectedness with the world, a profound spiritual realization that her body blended with the world around her, that she was a being composed of energy, connected to other beings composed of energy. “The energy of my spirit seemed to flow like a great whale gliding through a sea of silent euphoria,” she later wrote.

And this all happened because of a stroke.

Taylor was well-placed to observe the changes taking place in her brain as a blood-vessel ruptured in her left cerebral hemisphere, because she was a neuroscientist working at Harvard’s brain research center. Her first thought upon realizing that she was having … Read more »

Unweaving pain’s tapestry

May 21, 2008

smokeThere are three main approaches that can help make meditation enjoyable and sustainable when meditating with pain.

1. Learning to deal with resistance

The first hurdle is actually getting down to meditation. Even after meditating for 20 years I almost always have to overcome resistance — and I’m not alone. This tendency is especially pronounced if you’re living with pain. When you meditate you turn towards your experience in an honest and open way, including your pain. That takes courage, but often I don’t feel so brave and when I contemplate meditating suddenly I find many other things that need doing instead. I’ll make that phone call, I’ll have another cup of tea, I’ll check Read more »

Exploring the face

May 15, 2008

Sitting BearWhen I lead people through a body relaxation, I tend to spend a lot of time on the face. I am not sure why I started to do this, I just found myself talking more and more about softening and relaxing in the face. Perhaps it is because this is where we often see tension. It is the most public area of our bodies, where we are on display to the world.

We have a lot of control over our faces. We try to present a certain face to the world, and we are careful in case our facial expression gives us away. It is not only poker players who learn to control their faces.… Read more »

The body’s call to return

May 13, 2008

touching enlightenmentFor some of us meditators, our disembodiment reaches excruciatingly painful and completely unacceptable proportions. It is almost as if our practice itself and the sensitivity it develops have brought us to a level of awareness in relation to our somatic situation that is unbearable.

We feel out of touch with our body, our emotions, our sense perceptions, even the basic experience of being alive. Perhaps this awareness has been slowly growing over many years; perhaps it happens upon us one day, rather abruptly. We realize that we are not really living our life, not really going through our relationships and our experiences in anything but a numb and mechanical way.

Although everything may seem fine … Read more »

“Gesture of Awareness,” by Charles Genoud

April 26, 2008

Gesture of Awareness, by Charles GenoudHow useful can books be in stimulating spiritual realization, when such realization must be grounded in experience? Paramananda takes a skeptical — yet appreciative — look at a new book attempting to pointing the way to non-duality.

It seems a little ironic that I find myself in two minds about Genoud’s book — ironic because this slim volume is all about “being” in one mind. It is not that I in any way disagree with what Genoud is trying to point the reader towards, which is the essential non-dual nature of reality. It is more that I am just a little skeptical that such “pointings” are of much use when they appear in a generalized … Read more »

Ask Auntie Suvanna: the Buddhist approach to excess body hair

April 25, 2008

Auntie SuvannaEver despair at how to cultivate lovingkindness for Dick Cheney, or ponder the effect of anti-depressants on Buddha Nature? If so, check out Auntie Suvanna, who applies her unique wisdom and wit to your queries about life, meditation, Dharma, family and relationship issues, or anything else that comes up. Why not write to her and tell her your troubles?

Dear Auntie,
I can’t stand my boyfriend’s ear hair anymore. He has little pointy gray hairs growing out of the tops of his ears. He isn’t concerned about it, he says he’s had it since he was in his 20’s. I wonder if one day he will look like a werewolf. Or maybe one day the … Read more »