Category Archives: meditation

Relaxation

I started engaging in relaxation tools as a teenage in the mid 1070’s when I first started practicing Hatha and Raja Yoga. After 38 years I can say with confidence that it works for me. Since 1983 amongst other things I have taught Hatha Yoga,  and relaxation techniques. feelings-40.jpg
In the past 30 years, there has been considerable interest in the relaxation response and how inducing this state may benefit health. Research has focused primarily on illness and conditions in which stress may play a role either as the cause of the condition or as a factor that can make the condition worse.

Currently, there is some scientific evidence that relaxation techniques may be an effective part of an overall treatment plan for some disorders, including:

  • Anxiety. Studies have suggested that relaxation may assist in the treatment of phobias or panic disorder. Relaxation techniques have also been used to relieve anxiety for people in stressful situations, such as when undergoing a medical procedure.
  • Depression. In 2008, a major review of the evidence for relaxation in the treatment of depression found that relaxation techniques were more effective than no treatment for depression, but not as effective as cognitive-behavioral therapy.
  • Headache. There is some evidence that biofeedback and other relaxation techniques may be helpful for relieving tension or migraine headaches. In some cases, these mind and body techniques were more effective than medications for reducing the frequency, intensity, and severity of headaches.
  • Pain. Some studies have shown that relaxation techniques may help reduce abdominal and surgery pain.

Relaxation involves practice and willingness to fully engage in the process of relaxing. Stay tuned for some great relaxing tools.

Opportunities 4 mindfulness

For most of us, a typical day begins when we get out of bed, wash, and then start our activities. At some point, we get a bite to eat, walk somewhere, and talk to someone. Often, by the end of the day we find ourselves stressed out and physically exhausted. It doesn’t have to be that way!

Everyday activities can be an opportunity for a meditation moments; bringing mindfulness, clarity, and peace into your day while energizing yourself and reducing stress.

A study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition found: “Brief meditation training reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.”

These brief mindfulness meditations can be done anywhere or anytime …well using common sense. Just like you should not text and drive I would not meditate and drive either.

Here are two examples of how to add meditation without taking time out of your schedule.

  1. When you get up in the morning, you usually wash. Let’s use washing your face for our first meditation opportunity. Feel the temperature of the water on your hands. Focus on the temperature as you add a little soap. Notice how the suds feel on your hand. When a thought comes in, think of it as someone else’s phone ringing. You hear it, but you don’t have to answer it. Next, feel your soapy hands or the washcloth on your face. Focus on that sensation as you wash your face. Next, feel the rinse water on your face — how does it feel? Is it too cold? Too hot? Just right? If your mind wanders, there is no need to judge, just go back to focusing on the feeling of the water on your face. As you towel off, feel the sensation of the air on your face. It’s that simple, you just meditated.
  2. As you go about your day, you are most likely waiting in line or in traffic, so take a moment to breathe. Everyone has to breathe, and there is no way the person in front of you in the coffee line will know you are meditating! Sense the breath coming in and out of your nose or mouth. Don’t worry about thoughts; you know what to do, think of your thoughts as someone else’s cellphone ringing. Some people like to label their thoughts as “thought” and then let them go. The important thing is returning to sensing your breath coming in and out of your body. You will feel your shoulders relax and your patience returning.

Meditation helps students

A study of students in California universities showed that those who practiced a bit of meditation in their personal lives performed better on tests. This applied to students who practice the art of Zen, as well as those who simply meditate for a few minutes before class.

The research, published in the journal Mindfulness, showed that meditation worked best for first year students, which led researchers to speculate that younger students tend to struggle with concentration more.

Professor Robert Youmans, of George Mason University in Virginia, co-lead the study with University of Illinois doctoral student Jared Ramsburg. According to Professor Youmans:

“One difficulty for researchers who study meditation is that the supposed benefits of meditation do not always replicate across different studies or populations, and so we have been trying to figure out why. This data from this study suggest that meditation may help students who might have trouble paying attention or focusing. Sadly, freshmen classes probably contain more of these types of students than senior courses because student populations who have difficulty self-regulating are also more likely to leave the university.”

The researchers said that coaching students on proper meditation could improve academic results. Ramsburg’s own personal experiences inspired him to undertake the study (he is a Buddhist).

“I think that if mindfulness can improve mental clarity, focus and self-discipline, then it might be useful in a variety of settings and for a variety of goals.”

For anyone uncomfortable with meditation (even though it is not necessarily a religious practice), Ramsburg says that taking long walks in the morning before you start your day could inspire the same outcome.

“Basically, becoming just a little bit more mindful about yourself and your place in the world might have a very important, practical benefit – in this case, doing better in college.”