Hastily responding to every cell phone beep, email alert ding and news feed notification bing are the familiar ways a lot of us spend our waking hours every day, whether we are at work, or worse, at home spending some down time with family.
“The speed at which information is coming at us can get overwhelming,” says Google’s Gopi Kallayil, a marketing manager for Google+. Kallayil, also a yoga teacher, says she sees more people in Silicon Valley, the heart of the high-tech industry, turning toward yoga and meditation as a way to find a centering reprieve from the stressful blitz of the fast-paced digital world.
With the physical and mental health of these computer-habituated people at risk, many high-tech industries have adopted wellness programs that go beyond a gym membership and a monthly massage. Recognizing the hyperactive tendencies of those caught in the whirlpool of tweets, status posts and microblogs, companies such as Google and Twitter have incorporated “urban-wellness” programs that include yoga and meditation specifically designed to allow people the time to unwind, unclutter, and most importantly, unplug.
“Twitter is really into this,” says Deborah Burkman, meditation teacher for Twitter. “There is a whole mindfulness program they’re trying to build there. Like a lot of companies, they’re concerned about the well-being of their employees and they’re big believers in trying to have people be consciously connected.”
While the mortality rate of women with breast cancer is decreasing, the incidence of depression in women who have undergone treatment for breast cancer is on the rise. As many as 50% of all women who are affected with the disease will experience some kind of post-recovery melancholy. Thankfully, researchers from the Sinclair School of Nursing at the University of Missouri have brought to our attention a specific meditation technique, and suggest how it can help breast cancer survivors revive their zest for life.
Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a type of mindfulness training that uses the mind to combat anxiety and bring about a sense of wellbeing. It includes mental practices that heighten physical awareness, as well as yoga and time spent in quiet, reflective meditation. Developed by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, MBSR helps people foster their own mind-body connection, as well as create a deeper awareness of how thoughts and feelings can affect physical and emotional health.
The MBSR program consists of eight to ten week group sessions including practice in meditation skills, stress response and coping techniques. The University of Missouri’s team of researchers gathered data from the participants during and after the group sessions. Measurements of blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate were recorded. Not surprisingly, the participants’ physical responses to MBSR were favorable. Blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate all decreased, suggesting a lowered stress response. In addition, the subjects said their mood improved and their level of mindfulness increased.
The results of an experiment conducted by a team of researchers at UC San Francisco suggest mindful eating and meditation are factors in helping people control their junk food cravings and lose weight. “By recognizing what you are feeling before you act [eat] you have a greater chance of making a wiser decision,” claims researcher Jennifer Daubenmier.
Dr. Catherine Kerr, a meditation expert at Brown University responded to the findings of this study by saying it was consistent with several other brain studies that suggest mindfulness brings about changes to the part of the brain responsible for food cravings. She further explained that mindful eating and meditation actually rewire the brain to tune into the body in a healthier way.
If you are skeptical because you find it hard to believe that just sitting quietly in meditation is going to melt the pounds from your hips, why don’t you give it a try?
Before a meal, take at least 10 minutes to sit in a comfortable position, free from distractions like the computer or telephone. Close your eyes and pay attention to sensations throughout your body. Perhaps you are very hungry, and you feel your stomach growling as it pines for nourishment. Be present with the sensations that you are feeling and resist the temptation to give in to any one of them. If you find yourself craving a heaping bowl of mashed potatoes and gravy, instead of going for it, get familiar with how it feels to crave them, without trying to change those feelings. Accepting how you feel without resistance is very important. This will help you avoid succumbing to your cravings so you can realize your weight loss goals.
As part of the Soul Power Series, a new release by New York Times Bestselling author Dr. and Master Zhi Gang Sha, “Tao Song and Tao Dance” hit stores today and offers a continued study of Dr. Sha’s extraordinary healing techniques and concepts.
Dr. Sha is a conventional medical doctor as well as a doctor of Chinese medicine. Demonstrating his humanitarian efforts, for which he was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Commission, Dr. Sha founded the Institute of Soul Healing and Enlightenment and the Love Peace Harmony Movement. He is also a master of Eastern disciplines such as tai chi, qigong, feng shui and kung fu. Named Qigong Master of the Year at the Fifth World Congress on Qigong, Dr. Sha’s Soul Power Series reveal his secrets, wisdom, knowledge and practical techniques to transform every aspect of life. As a soul leader, healer and divine servant, Dr. Sha claims that we should “Heal and transform the soul first; then healing and transformation of every aspect of life will follow.” (more…)
It is estimated that at least 6 out of 100 people suffer from some type of light deficient depression during the dark days of winter, but turning your clock back an hour doesn’t have to leave you in the dark. If sunshine on your shoulders makes you happy and being starved for daylight puts you in a funk, imagining the sun can be the next best thing to keep your spirits up this winter.
Your imagination is very effective since your mind and body sometimes don’t know the difference between whether your brain is just thinking something or if you are actually experiencing something. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have associated the use of guided imagery techniques with positive outcomes such as reduced anxiety and depression. So, whenever you need to bask in some radiant sunshine, whether you are inside or out, this simple guided imagery can help.
Practice the following sequence as often as necessary and start to feel brighter, more cheerful and full of positive energy.
Compassion meditation is a type of practice that can actually physically remodel the brain. The results of several studies confirm how practicing meditation can change your brain patterns to make you a nicer, happier person.
At the University of Madison Wisconsin, researchers tested the electrical activity of Buddhist monks during meditation compared with just sitting and doing nothing. The electrical brain waves of the meditators were off the charts, suggesting meditation has an impact on neurological occupation, versus just vegging out.
In another study at Emory University, a group of people meditated 30 minutes a day for two weeks. Results indicated key areas of the subjects’ brains had changed in addition to making them more generous. Researchers hooked up microphones and recorded the subjects at random times during the day and found they were saying nicer things to people.
I have a confession to make, one that I really didn’t know until a few weeks ago. I can be an emotional eater. Since I’m not in a priest’s confessional booth, I won’t go into details, but life has been a little crazy over the last few months and I’ve found that I’ve been burning the candle at both ends.
Subconsciously, I’ve been dealing with that stress by snacking more than I should (it doesn’t help that I work from home). While I’ve been writing about diet and fitness for a decade, I’m by no means an angel or have the resolve of a nutritionist or fitness instructor. That means, if I’m not careful, I can find myself having difficulty buttoning my favorite pair of jeans.
What this all means is that maybe I can benefit just as much as you can from the advice I’m about to dispense. Here are some great ways to stave off stress eating: (more…)
If you are feeling overwhelmed by your impending holiday agenda, read on.
Whether it’s a calendar full of parties, hosting responsibilities, or kids’ activities that have you running around like a chicken without a head, do yourself a favor and take just five minutes of your time to practice this guided meditation and refresh, restore and replenish your peace of mind. It will not only help you, it will help those around you. People will gravitate toward you because you will radiate with pure, inner tranquility, and that will look better on you than any facial treatment I know of. Can you think of a more perfect way to be this holiday season?
Sit in a comfortable position away from external distractions such as the telephone, radio or television. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths, breathing in and out through your nose. Draw your awareness inward by tuning in to physical sensations throughout your body. Resist the temptation to judge these sensations, just notice them from an unbiased point of view. If you feel tension, fatigue or tightness anywhere in your body, just be aware for now. Try not to force changes.
Next, focus your attention on the base of your spine. Visualize a tiny flame there, flickering with a gentle glowing light. Feel a warm and soothing sensation emitting from this flame. Notice your hips, legs and feet relax completely.
A brief background plus an overview of the first three chakras was outlined in part one of the Beginner’s Guide to the Chakras. The following is a continuation of the guide that explains the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh chakras and what you can do to keep them open and in balance.
Sanskrit name: Anahata
English name: meaning “unstruck”
Location: middle of the chest
Associated body parts: heart, lungs and arms
Sound vibration: YA
- Governs sense of unconditional love, heart-felt gratitude and the ability to share.
- When your fourth chakra is out of balance you may have difficulty giving and receiving unconditional love for yourself and others. You might also have a weak heart, suffer from arrhythmia, heart palpitations or certain breathing problems.
- Yoga poses such as camel, bow and cobra help to open and balance the heart chakra.
It is no wonder people get sick, feel depressed, gain weight or have little energy throughout the holiday season. A change in your diet and exercise program, plus frenzied trips to the shopping mall can zap your vitality and well being faster than you can say, “Happy holidays.”
It is important to take care of yourself in order to maintain your health (and sanity) through this busy time of year. Eating right, exercising and getting enough rest are the obvious ways to combat stress. In addition, adding a few moments in your day to have absolutely no agenda other than to relax and practice the following gentle yoga poses will be an added bonus to further help you reduce holiday stress.