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Have just discovered this site  Sounds True, Inc. that offers a plethora (about 600 titles) of sound, images and printed material developed to  ‘inspire, support, and serve personal transformation and spiritual awakening‘ . It is a marvelous site for anyone interested in meditation research and of course their own spiritual growth and peace.

Sounds True embraces the world’s major spiritual traditions,  arts and humanities disseminated by some of the leading teachers and artists of our time including Pema Chodron and Eckhart Tolle.

‘The mission of Sounds True is to find teachers and artists who serve as a gateway to spiritual awakening and to produce, publish, and distribute their work with beauty, intelligence, and integrity. We treat our authors, vendors, and partners in the same way we would want to be treated. We work flexibly and efficiently together to create a cooperative, loving environment that honors respectful authenticity and individual growth. We maintain a healthy level of profitability so that we are an independent and sustainable employee-owned organization.’

The site offers many different multimedia programs on a wide variety of subjects including meditation and creativity. There is a  multi-media program to suit everyone: Audio Learning Courses, Books, Interactive Learning Kits, Music and Instructional DVDs. It is a very rich site.

Sounds True offers two free gifts on subscription and free weekly teachings.

I have subscribed. You can read more here: Sounds True

According to researchers at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and colleagues meditation can increase our ability to reach parts of our brain normally outside our conscious awareness.

Although the brain registers subliminal messages we are often unable to recall them consciously. The researchers recruited  34 experienced practitioners of Zen meditation and randomly assigned them to either a meditation group or a control group. Each group was given subliminal messages and the research showed that the meditation group could more easily recall the subliminal messages indicating that meditators have greater access to hidden recesses of the brain.

I wonder if this means that meditators would have increases sensitivity to those subtle messages we receive from those around us.  cover page of New Scientist

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Two Buddhist monks on temple stepsMeditation research can take us to many places and most of us are curious about the lives of our Gurus. How do they maintain their sense of equilibrium, active spirituality, mindfulness and compassion – especially when they have achieved fame and success in the western world. Deepak Chopra, author of 65 books, is at the forefront of spiritual teaching in our times. Now Deepak Chopra’s son, Gotham Chopra, has made a film about his father’s life, work and times – Decoding Deepak.  It has recently been screened at the the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles.

In an interivew Gotham speaks about how the film attempts to reconcile the spiritual icon his father has become with “who he is really and what he is interested in and where he is going and who he is as a person I grew up around and my sister grew up around. ” To him the film becomes an exploration of awareness – what spirituality is about.

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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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Here is another post about Vipassana meditation, which means to see things as they really are. This is a Buddhist practice and is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills, an Art of Living.

The ABC has recorded an interview with the Queensland area teacher conducted at the Vipassana Centre at Pomona. This interview is available on the link below and provides a sound basic description of the Vipassana technique.

During each of the 10 day ‘sits’ I have undertaken I have had very deep experiences that have shifted some block inside my emotional self enabling me to see things ‘the way they are’ and not ‘as they appear to be’. It can be a painful process but is ultimately very rewarding and certainly promotes an awareness of the moment. That is all there is.

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Woman meditating on a mountain

It does not come as a surprise to me that a comprehensive scientific study shows that deep relaxation which can be produced through meditation changes our bodies on a genetic level. Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered that far more “disease-fighting genes” are active in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, compared to those who practise no form of relaxation.

This meditation research found that genes protecting us from  pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were ‘switched on’ as a result of meditation. As the article states, we all know at some level that ‘relaxation  is good for us’. I believe that the benefits may be much greater than we think.

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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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There is a world of interest in meditation research and practice. The Medical News website reported in February that a study by Massachusetts General Hospital on meditation was the ninth most-viewed release on its website in the previous 12 months.

Brain Image‘It showed that regularly practicing meditation not only makes people feel better, but it also physically alters parts brain that control stress, memory, self-awareness, and learning.

‘The article’s first author, Britta H-lzel, Ph.D., said, “It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life.”’

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Mantra based meditation has been found to assist older people with mild memory loss in various ways.  This recent study showed that meditation resulted in increased blood flow to the brain and improved cognitive function. Those participating found that meditation decreased anxiety and fatigue and led to an improvement in mood, eg less depressed, less prone to anger. The research group included individuals with memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s disease.

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