Benefits of Meditation: 10 Science-Based Reasons To Start Meditating Today INFOGRAPHIC – Emma Seppälä, Ph.D.

For the last 10 years, I have been involved in researching the impact of meditation on health and well-being. This infographic summarized some of the key findings about the benefits of meditation.

When my colleagues at Stanford and at other universities started researching meditation, most of us expected that meditation would help with stress levels. However, what many of us did not anticipate was the extent of the benefits the data ended up showing.

Hundreds of studies suggest that meditation doesn’t just decrease stress levels but that it also has tangible health benefits such as improved immunity, lower inflammation and decreased pain. Additionally, brain-imaging studies show that meditation sharpens attention and memory. Perhaps most importantly, it has been linked to increased happiness and greater compassion.

Inspired to share these findings, I recently wrote a post on the science of meditation that summarizes much of this data. After it went viral on Twitter & Facebook, I thought I’d create this infographic to help readers visualize the data and inspire would-be or regular meditators to keep up with their practice! Hope you enjoy it!
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How Meditation helped Save the Lives of the 12 Thai Boys.

Meditation proved to be a key tool in the rescue of the 12 boys trapped in a cave in Thailand.

Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year-old Thai coach of the Wild Boars soccer team, was a Buddhist monk before turning his career to soccer.

When Chanthawong and his team of 12 boys found themselves stranded in a cave, the coach turned to his meditation practice for help. During the two weeks that they spent in the cave before being rescued (including 10 days with no access to food or water), Chanthawong led the boys through meditation practice to calm them down.

In a situation as stressful and dangerous as theirs, staying calm was crucial to the team’s survival. Oxygen levels were a concern both in the cave and on the long journey back to safety. In navigating these dangers, the rescue team had concerns that panic would have the dual effect of increasing the likelihood of a fatal accident and causing hyperventilation, which would put the boys at serious risk of running out of oxygen.

The psychological relief provided by their meditation practice helped them through their frightening time in the cave and as they navigated their way to safety with the guidance of an expert rescue team.

Meditation is a practice extending back thousands of years into human history. It is used by many of the world’s religions and by countless practitioners around the globe.

In 2014, a study performed by Johns Hopkins University found that mindfulness meditation was effective in reducing stress, anxiety, and the pains that often accompany them. Countless other studies have also supported the use of meditation as a tool for relieving anxiety.

Though it is rare that we encounter a situation on the scale of the Thailand cave rescue, these 12 boys and their coach are an excellent reminder of the benefits of meditation in times of crisis. If they can lead themselves through such terrifying circumstances using meditation, surely we can all find ways to mindfully navigate through any stress we may face.

Find guided meditation videos from Waylon Lewis, Pema Chödrön, & Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche below. 

Bonus: Guided meditations from Chögyam Trungpa & Pema Chödrön.

Double bonus: A 2-minute meditation to do right now.

Two-Minute Meditation for Crazy-Busy People With Waylon Lewis.

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Psychologists Explain How “Adult Coloring” Is The Best Alternative to Meditation

With the world growing more hectic and fast-paced, many people have turned to mindfulness to maintain their sanity and peace of mind. Mindfulness simply means being in the moment without distractions, and one of the best ways to do that comes from meditating. According to an article from the American Psychological Association, meditation offers the following benefits:

Other health benefits to meditation include decreasing depression, generating kindness, decreasing blood pressure and pain, improving sleep, and helping overcome addiction. These are only some of the many benefits of mindfulness meditation, but we have to stop here because we could literally write a book about how this type of meditation can change lives.

At the end of this article,   we would like to go over the basics of meditation for those who prefer this method of attaining mindfulness instead. Now that we’ve talked about the benefits of mindfulness and how you can begin your own practice, we’ll go over a new alternative to meditation: coloring.

How Adult Coloring Books Can Replace Meditation

Yes, you read that correctly. “Adult” coloring books have become popular in recent years, maybe because people secretly want to feel like kids again, or maybe because it gives them a relaxing escape from daily stresses. Mandala coloring books, specifically, have gotten popular, along with nature and animal themes.

Coloring Welcomes Mindfulness

Coloring might help people with mindfulness because their minds must focus on one task. Additionally, coloring doesn’t require a lot of critical thinking. It gives the brain a break because it induces a “flow” state, where you lose track of time and simply enjoy the moment.

For people who don’t like meditation, coloring books can provide the same benefits in a totally different way. Before we get into the studies about adult coloring books, let’s talk about what a mandala is and why it seems to offer such healing properties.

The mandala is a symbol for the universe in Buddhism and Hinduism. Its various designs in adult coloring books allow the artist to venture to new worlds and universes. The designs are made differently so adults can remain stimulated enough with the activity to keep at it for at least a little while.

Coloring Reduces Stress

Anxiety and stress are at all-time highs, as people feel the effects of modern life with growing intensity. Coloring offers an escape to all the stress and responsibilities of adult life without having to spend a lot of money or time on the activity. Adults deserve to be kids for a little while, don’t we? Even if you only have 30 minutes to spare each day, carving out the time for this quiet activity can make a big difference in your mindset.

A few studies have proven the benefits of adult coloring books. First of all, coloring helps us detach from our worries temporarily and instead focus on the task at hand. The studies also showed an increase in mindfulness and decrease in anxiety, which is the whole point of the exercise. Psychologist Gloria Martínez Ayala explains what happens in our brains while coloring:

“The action involves both logic, by which we color forms, and creativity, when mixing and matching colors. This incorporates the areas of the cerebral cortex involved in vision and fine motor skills [coordination necessary to make small, precise movements]. The relaxation that it provides lowers the activity of the amygdala, a basic part of our brain involved in controlling emotion that is affected by stress.”

Adult Coloring Allows you to be a Child Again

As we get older, we have more to stress about. So often, it seems that the carefree days of childhood are long behind us. Children generally don’t have much to worry about, which means their fight-or-flight response isn’t as active. Becoming an adult requires taking on a lot of responsibilities, and sometimes, it can get pretty overwhelming. Luckily, many people are finding enjoyment and relaxation in the simple activity that we used to spend hours on as children.

“Adult coloring” allows you to get back to that carefree state of mind and immerse yourself in the creative experience. A lot of us have lost touch with our creative side, but coloring allows you to tap into that once again. You can choose from thousands of different designs either in stores or online, which means you’ll never run out of options for coloring.

A Few Tips for Adult Coloring

When you color, make the environment as peaceful and inviting as possible, because this is truly a meditative experience that can transform your life.

We get so caught up in our chores and worries that we make little time to just enjoy life. Don’t worry about work, school, the kids, or anything else for the time being. Allow your mind to wander and daydream, because you deserve to disconnect for a bit so you can reconnect with yourself.

Here are three important steps to beginning your (traditional) meditation practice:

“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Find a comfortable place.

The ideal time to meditate is in the early morning hours or just before bed. Try to find a peaceful, quiet spot in your room or in a corner of the house where you can create a haven of sorts. You can sit on the floor or in a chair, but avoid meditating in your bed since you might fall asleep during your practice.

Cross your legs if you’re on the floor. If you’re in a chair, keep your back straight and posture upright. Turn your focus to the chair supporting you or the floor beneath your body. Focus on the sensations you feel throughout your body. Bring your awareness to your feet, then your legs, and so on until you reach your head.

Part of this practice involves getting back in touch with your body, as most of us have grown very disconnected from ourselves due to lack of awareness.

Practice positive thinking.

While a clear mind is ideal for meditation, this will not happen for some time as it takes a while to learn the art of unthinking. To start, you want to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, as this will help you form a better relationship with yourself and avoid rumination.

Many people who are learning how to meditate find that repeating a mantra in their head helps them maintain focus throughout their practice.

Here are a few positive mantras you can recite to yourself, either aloud or in your head:

Focus on your breathing.

Breathing exercises while you meditate will help decrease anxiety and allow you to clear your mind. Breathe in and out slowly, and hold your breath for a few counts so you can practice deep breathing.

One great breathing technique to try is the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Here’s how to do it:

Sit up straight and place the tip of your tongue against the back of your upper two front teeth. Keep your tongue here for the entire exercise, and breathe out near where your tongue is placed. You can purse your lips if this feels more comfortable.

Then, exhale through your mouth while making a whooshing sound. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose until you get to four. Hold your breath for seven counts, then exhale through your mouth to a count of eight. This counts as one breath. Repeat this three more times.

When you meditate, it’s important to be patient with yourself. As we said before, you won’t be able to have a clear mind when you first start practicing. In the beginning, focusing on self-awareness and getting back in touch with your mind and body is much more important.

Final thoughts on How Adult Coloring is a Great Alternative to Meditation

Adult coloring books are a wonderful option to help you relax, learn mindfulness, and create beautiful art at the same time. You can do this activity alone or with your family. Either way, make sure to reduce distractions and create a peaceful environment. People all over the world have turned to coloring in order to reclaim their childhood and avoid “adulting” for a little bit. Try it out and see what you think; you might have found a fun new hobby for yourself!

Survive the festive period with this 10 minute meditation

Clairvoyant Monique takes time out to share her secret to relaxing your mind in an increasingly crazy and busy world

IN OUR OWN LITTLE WORLDS

I often look around and see people bent over, engrossed in their smartphones, tablets and laptops, or talking on their devices, headphones on, totally oblivious to their surroundings! With social media being such an important part of all our lives now, ‘me time’ has become an opportunity to browse through the internet and catch up on what other people are doing, robotically scrolling through, not really communicating, but passively participating.”

GETTING BACK TO BASICS

Hands up! I can be as guilty of mindlessly looking at my phone as the next person, before realising just how much of my precious time has been taken up looking at… well, not very much really. It was during one of these ‘AHA!’ moments, that I realised we need to spend more quality ‘me time’ to truly cleanse and refresh our minds. We spend time looking after our bodies – exercising and eating well, but how much effort do we put into looking after our minds and souls?”

IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK!

For me, after three or four readings, I just need some time to sit back and clear my mind and re-energise myself and my favourite thing to do, is give myself a guided-meditation. Here’s how…”

MY 10 MINUTE MEDITATION TO SOOTHE YOUR MIND

Sit for a moment and write down a few things:”

What you would like to be sitting on.

Imagine a scent or smell that you love.

And finally, what the weather would be.

Now sit back and take yourself to that place. My favourite place is usually a cosy living room, sitting in a big armchair that almost cuddles me, the smell of a warm log fire crackling away and the sound of the rain falling outside. I’Il lose myself in the atmosphere, and totally relax.”

SIMPLE AS THAT! 

It really is, but it’s also extremely effective. You can choose different questions to suit your personality or mood – just see how you feel at the time. This type of self-guided meditation has also enabled Spirit to connect with me, but ultimately, I use it to recycle any kind of stress or negative thoughts that I may be harbouring, or taking it away from other people whom I have read for.”

GIVE IT A GO NOW!

So, if you have a spare ten minutes, do yourself a favour – close that laptop, put your phone on silent and give your mind a proper break that is actually about you. Maybe once in a while we should stand back from all of our electronic devices. You never know, what we are searching for may actually be standing right in front of us!”

You can find Monique at psychiclight.com with the pin 2321

Meditation kept the Thai boys trapped in a cave astonishingly calm

The story of the Thai boys soccer team trapped in a cave for two weeks has captivated millions of people around the world. Lost since June 23rd, the group spent ten days without any contact with the outside world. It was finally discovered on July 2nd and rescued on July 10th.

It turned out that Ekapol Chanthawong, the 25-year-old coach of the 12-player Wild Boars soccer team, is a former Buddhist monk. He spent a decade living as a monk and is a practitioner of meditation. It is that skill that has been credited with keeping the boys calm during this ordeal. In fact, when the British divers discovered them after ten days, the group was meditating.

Aisha Wiboonrungrueng, the mother of the 11-year-old Chanin, who was trapped in the cave, thinks the coach’s background definitely helped in this situation. Watching the video of the moment the boys were found, she thought it was very noteworthy how calm they were.

“Look at how calm they were sitting there waiting,” she said. ”No one was crying or anything. It was astonishing.”

Leah Weiss, a Standford expert taught by the Dalai Lama, told CNBC that meditating played a key role in keeping the group alive. It’s a kind of mental training that improves focus and compassion, according to the expert.

“For Buddhists, meditation is a go-to when distressed or in danger,” Weiss said. “Cognitive resources that would otherwise be hijacked by the threat can be accessed once again, meaning that problem-solving capacities increase.”

In particular, she pointed out that “given that insufficient air and food was a major issue for the trapped boys, meditation is actually a very practical response to both of these concerns.”

Meditation creates a calming effect by slowing down the heart rate, breathing and metabolism, said Weiss. It also lowers the levels of cortisol and oxygen utilization. A meditating person would also emit less carbon dioxide.

More details about how the boys got trapped in the cave in the first place are to be uncovered, but it looks to be a very dramatic real-world demonstration of the power of meditation. The incident confirms a steadily growing body of research that shows how meditation and mindfulness practices lead to lower stress levels, improved positivity, and creativity as well as clearer focus and protection from depression.

Conservative Christian group launches campaign against “Buddhist meditation” in public schools – Lion’s Roar

A representative from the organization says mindfulness practices “are clearly antithetical to the Christian religion.”

ID 49207136 © Wavebreakmedia Ltd | Dreamstime.com

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), a conservative Christian watchdog group, has launched a legal campaign to fight what it calls “Buddhist meditation” in American public schools. The group takes issue with the secular mindfulness programs that have been implemented in some schools, in which audio recordings guide students through stress-reduction practices. The organization says that mindfulness practices “equate to Buddhism.”

The ACLJ is a Christian conservative watchdog group founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, who in the past has compared Buddhism to a disease. Jay Sekulow, the organization’s chief counsel, is on President Trump’s legal team. One of the ACLJ’s main activities is the promotion of Christian prayer in public schools.

“We’re launching a multifaceted legal campaign including representing parents of these students, sending demand letters, state FOIA requests, and if necessary, litigation,” reads a petition on the organization’s website. “Indoctrinating young kids in public schools with Buddhist meditation is outright unconstitutional.”

In November, representatives from the ACLJ reportedly attended a school board meeting in Colorado to oppose mindfulness programs in schools.

According to the ACLJ, the practices are meant to help students handle stress, calm down, and concentrate on school work. Representatives from the ACLJ say students are asked to sit at their desk and find goodness inside of themselves or connect with nature.

On Sekulow’s radio show, Jay Sekulow Live, one commentator called the programs “aggressive Buddhist teaching.” Abbey Southerland, the ACLJ’s senior counsel, said the programs tell students to “’look inside yourself,’ ‘find the goodness within yourself’ — things that are clearly antithetical to the Christian religion.”

A blog post on the ACLJ website raises fears around the program, writing:

Imagine your elementary school child coming home one night and explaining the actions that their teacher asked them to do that day—to close their eyes and obey an audio recording that tells them to clear their minds, to watch their memories and emotions float away on clouds, and to feel the love and warmth from their connection to the universe. How would you react if this same audio recording is telling your child to look inside themselves to reach inner-goodness and peace?

Said one caller on Sekulow’s radio program, “This is toxic ideology. This goes beyond just bad education. This could be corrupting our children’s eternal souls. I have two small children, and I don’t want them sitting around just thinking about creation and goodness and peace. I mean, if my two angels, who are innocent, are gonna be learning about explorers, they should be learning about Jesus or Trump.”

Sekulow called on listeners to help with a “multi-pronged attack,” starting with finding out if mindfulness programs are offered in their children’s schools. “We’ve got millions of people listening to this broadcast,” said Sekulow. “Find out what’s going on in your kids’ schools… We will contact the school board on your behalf, dispatch lawyers as necessary.”

The ACLJ argues that the programs constitute Buddhist indoctrination because the mindfulness practices appear to be similar to Buddhist religious practices. Sekulow also argues that the programs are Buddhist because one of the programs offered in some schools, MindUP, was founded by Goldie Hawn, who is a Buddhist.

Proponents of secular mindfulness say mindfulness is not a Buddhist practice; it is a contemplative practice used in religious traditions around the world by many different names. Most programs in schools today are based scientifically-validated programs developed by clinicians.

Football Coach Kept Thai Boys Trapped In Cave Calm By Meditation

Football Coach Kept Thai Boys Trapped In Cave Calm By Meditation PA 37371389PA

It’s hard to imagine what it’d be like should ever find ourselves trapped in the most claustrophobic of caves in the pitch black.

 

But for a group of 12 Thai boys and their coach, they went through just that for two weeks, in the most horrendous conditions.

The huge effort to rescue the youth football team has since been successful thanks to help of humanity’s greatest.

 

A team, which consisted of divers and aid workers, had been working tirelessly to ensure the kids and their coach made it out of the cave in Tham Luang Nang Non, which is located in the northern Thailand province of Chiang Rai.

 

When they were discovered they were apparently meditating, all thanks to coach Ekapol Chanthawong. He was orphaned at age 10 before training to be a monk. However, he left the monastery to care for his grandmother and became a manager for a new football team.

His aunt, Umporn Sriwichai, said of him, as reported by news.com.au:

I always believed that Chanthawong would help them keep calm and optimistic, and he loved us very much.

Because he had experienced the pain of losing loved ones since he was very young … we cannot stand such tragedies anymore.

It was Chanthawong who taught the boys to meditate in order to preserve their energy and maintain calm.

 

In a letter sent through to divers, he wrote:

Right now the kids are all fine, the crew are taking good care. I promise I will care for the kids as best as possible.

I want to say thanks for all the support and I want to apologise to the parents.

Chanthawong is now suffering from malnutrition after giving too much of the food in the cave to the boys.

Football Coach Kept Thai Boys Trapped In Cave Calm By Meditation thaicave1PA

The first of the boys were rescued two days ago (July 8) while the ongoing rescue mission saw eight of the footballers out by the end of the second day. Today, (July 10), it was announced the final four boys and their 25-year-old coach have now emerged from the cave.

 

Nineteen divers went into the cave system around 10.08am local time and authorities were confident of getting the remaining five all out at the same time. They also expected the mission to take a few hours less than it had the previous two days.

The first four boys to have emerged from the cave have seen their parents with the others expected to see their families for the first time in weeks in the coming days – once health checks have taken place.

Two of the boys have minor lung infections while all others remain healthy. All the boys are being shielded from TV and media in order to protect their mental health.

Football Coach Kept Thai Boys Trapped In Cave Calm By Meditation Screen Shot 2018 07 05 at 17.36.07PA

What a remarkable yet sad story. Ekapol and the rescue team’s efforts – and eventual victory i- s something we should never forget.

The world may seem pretty ugly at the minute, but there’s always going to be the good guys.

Our thoughts are with the family friends of everyone involved.

If you have a story you want to tell, contact UNILAD at [email protected]

Aboriginal women create mindfulness app in language, bringing outback meditation to the world

Aboriginal women create mindfulness app in language, bringing outback meditation to the world

On a warm Alice Springs morning, Wanatjura Lewis closes her eyes, puts in some headphones and gets ready to relax and meditate.

Key points:

She is listening to an ancient language that is being put to a very modern use.

Teaming up with the producers behind mindfulness app Smiling Mind, women from Central Australia’s NPY Women’s Council have helped create recorded meditations in Kriol, Ngaanyatjarra and Pitjantjiatjara languages.

The aim is to help combat mental health and trauma issues in Aboriginal communities, particularly among young people.

“This is for them, our families, to learn about all of these things that will help them look after themselves and keep them healthy in body and mind,” the council’s Nyumiti Burton said through an interpreter.

“We made this for our children, so their thinking could become clearer.”

The meditations have already been downloaded thousands of times and are also being trialled in schools across the APY lands in remote South Australia.

Mixing the new with the old

The app features singing, meditation and breathing exercises.

It’s the latest project created through the council’s Uti Kulintjaku wellbeing and mental health program — the title translates to “to think and understand clearly”.

It combines the skills of ngangkari, or traditional healers, with interpreters and western mental health professionals to improve mental health literacy and wellbeing.

“We realised that we didn’t know any of the ways that western medicine thinks about a lot of things,” Ms Burton said.

“We were working with doctors who started to explain terms like mental health, and they talked to us about trauma, and we had no understanding of that in the way that they did.”

Ms Burton said the program has helped develop her understanding of those concepts and allowed her to share them with others when they are dealing with conflict or stress.

“Now I say to [family members] ‘I think maybe you’re getting upset about something that’s in the past, it happened ages ago and there’s different ways to deal with it’,” she said.

“I explain some of the things I understand now to them and it seems to help people think about things in a different way.”

Bringing traditional healing to millions

Fellow NPY council member Rene Kulitja from Mutitjulu said transferring the physical healing process into a compact app was not as difficult as it might seem.

“We know a lot about how to deal with things when they might seem hard,” Ms Kulitja said.

The Smiling Mind user base numbers around three million people.

Chief executive Addie Wootten said the collaboration with the NPY Women’s Council had been smooth and inspiring.

“I was really excited to work with the ngangkari, the women in the program, to really try and understand how mindfulness could be translated into their language in a culturally appropriate way,” said Dr Wootten.

She said the company had been contacted by other communities wanting to do something similar.

Ganga Waters Meditation : Bathing in the Sounds of Ganga | The LivingWise Project

I recently spent some time in the holy town of Rishikesh. What a blessing to be in Ma Ganga’s presence and feel her intimate connection with humanity.

As the holiest river of India, Ganga has been the refuge and inspiration of innumerable yogis and saints over many millennia. The ghats (banks) of Mother Ganga have borne witness to scenes from the humblest rituals to the profoundest meditations. For thousands of years, some have come for peace, some for good fortune and some to know what the sages knew.

In this audio/visual offering, you can sit back, relax and bathe in Ganga’s pure waters without leaving your home. Your own meditation on Ganga’s ghats.

Enjoy these beautiful sounds that are ancient but never stale.

 

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Meditation: Let the Music Take You There

Experience the beauty and power of meditation: ‘Music for Inner Peace’, a free concert this Saturday in Dublin city centre

Meditation is a tricky business.  As soon as you sit still, you realise just how crazy-busy the mind can be.  You are not alone.  Down the sweep of centuries, peace seekers have tried to master the art of stilling the mind.  In today’s world more than ever, we need the calm poise and focus that meditation bestows.  Through mantric music, we can bypass the mind and elevate our consciousness to experience the vastness of the soul.

Mantric music and chanting belong to the practice known as ‘bhakti’ yoga.  Like every form of yoga, it is a path to self-realisation, to a feeling of oneness with everything.  For many of us at first, yoga is a just a workout.  But more and more people are discovering the sweetness and power of mantric music to generate positive feelings, boost mood and feel a sense of connection to oneself and others.  As a form of meditation, it is often more accessible than simply trying to sit still and control the thoughts.

Soulful music and mantric sounds lead to positive mental and emotional states that are rooted in the psyche and not dependent on outer circumstances.  Musician, composer and meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy spoke of how mantric music can uplift and transform our consciousness: ‘Music is the universal language.  Soulful music is next to meditation.  It carries the beauty and fragrance of silence, the message of the inner and higher worlds’.

Join us this Saturday for a journey into the beauty, power and vastness of Sri Chinmoy’s musical compositions.  You will experience the resonance of mantric music, arranged for Eastern and Western instruments.  Performed by a group of musicians come from various European countries, with a wide range of instruments including the Indian harmonium, guitar, wooden and concert flutes, santur and glockenspiel.  The music is soulful and ethereal, blending angelic voices with acoustic instrumental arrangements of Sri Chinmoy’s music to sublime effect.

Entry is Free but registration is required. Please call 085 1450880 to register or find out more about our meditation classes.

Music for Inner Peace Concert

7pm, Saturday 29th October 2016

Dublin Unitarian Church

112 St. Stephen’s Green West

Dublin 2

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