Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation is one of the oldest recorded forms of meditation. It is the meditation described by the Buddha after he attained enlightenment.

Richard Schiffman the Huffington Post on  film,  Room to Breath, by director Russell Long was filmed in a public school in San Francisco. The chosen school was one of the largest in the area,  and had the highest suspension rate in the city. Schiffman, who has worked as a Teachers Aid realises just how hard it is for kids to learn and concentrate in a world filled with video, computer games, texting and websites. He also knows how difficult it is for teachers to teach when much of their time is given just to ‘keeping the peace”.

The film opens with chaotic scenes of pencil throwing, squabbling kids and follows one of the classes as they are introduced to a new program called “mindfulness”, described as ‘bare-bones meditation in which attention is focused on bodily sensations’ commencing with the breath.  The program is being introduced into many other schools nationwide and aims ‘to give students “tools and skills” to tame the disorder within their own minds.’

The film recorded some very positive results. Schiffman points out that the kids who are calm and happy are the ones who will learn.

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Yoga group practice on matsThis is a very interesting article about how the corporate world is beginning to encourage meditation and yoga practice for employees. One such organisation employing about 3000 people on one site, General Mills, has meditation and yoga rooms in every building. Employees can take advantage of a few quiet minutes between meetings to settle their minds and bodies as well as take part in group meditation and yoga practice.

The program has been running for seven years and its purpose is to bring ‘mindfulness’ into the workplace. People are encouraged to train their minds to be more focused, clear and creative and to be connected to the whole. Compassion for oneself and others is central to this Buddhist based practice.

If you would like to read more and perhaps integrate some aspect into your own workplace just click on the link below.

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This post is not strictly about meditation research but having spent some time on the beautiful and spiritual island of Bali this article has caught my attention. I believe it can be easier to become more mindful in such a place. Each day as part of every day life, prayers, fresh flowers and incense are offered to the gods and ancestors. Life itself incorporates a meditative quality.  Just watch the procession of elegant women carrying their offerings in silver baskets on their heads in a single line through the rice fields. It is a meditative experience.  This article by Chloe Park is about teaching meditation in Bali. I like it very much because it talks about harnessing that wild mind just for a few minutes and gradually extending the time. Its about learning to meditate, to be still and incorporating that stillness into your everyday life. I wonder if the feel of that warm air on the skin and the smell of incense in the wind helps to deepen the experience and resolve. Woman meditating by the sea

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teachers meditatingEveryday one reads articles about the usefulness of meditation in our everyday lives.  Recent meditation research followed a 42-hour, eight-week meditation training program for school teachers.  The practice focused on concentration, mindfulness  and directive practices. Researchers found that teachers were able to handle difficult situations calmly, with increased patience and greater compassion.

The lead author of the study  said,  “The findings suggest that increased awareness of mental processes can influence emotional behavior. The study is particularly important because opportunities for reflection and contemplation seem to be fading in our fast-paced, technology-driven culture”.

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Buddha imageVipassana is a form of meditation focusing on the observation of bodily sensations. Participants learn not to react to either painful or pleasurable sensations, but just to observe these sensations as they arise and pass away.  This technique encourages mindfulness and awareness and has a growing reputation for helping addicts. Vipassana meditators claim that through practice they can become permanently free of all negative behaviors—addiction included.

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A new study by a group of scientists has shown that Mindfulness Meditation can reduce the intensity and unpleasantness of pain.

The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure response to pain in fifteen volunteers. A pain rating scale was used to determine the level of pain reduction.

The volunteers underwent two MRI sessions — one before a four day mindfulness training and another afterwards. Adverse response to pain was significantly reduced while meditating, and this was confirmed by the subjective observations of the participants and also by observed changes in brain activity revealed by the MRI scans.

The pain was induced by applying a heat probe to volunteers legs. While meditating, there was an average 40% reduction in level of pain experienced, plus a 57% reduction in the unpleasantness of applied pain. This was also reflecting in MRI brain activity.

After analysis of test results, the scientists concluded that “meditation engages multiple brain mechanisms that alter the construction of the subjectively available pain experience”

Dhawal Panda


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