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kassem23

Proven Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

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If you are not using the strongest tool currently availaible in terms of cognitive enhancement, stress reduction and overall health improvement, you're missing out.

 

http://deconstructingyourself.com/proven-benefits-of-mindfulness-meditation.html

 

Full texts are directly linked in the referenced links on the website.

 

I sure wish I had bitten the bullet earlier, but here I am, happy as ever.

 

I've experienced a massive change in overall mentality, cognitive clarity and ability.

 

If you don't think meditation is powerful or can help you, please explain why. I'm genuinely interested.
 

A lot of people, when asked, simply exclaim: "I cannot meditate! It's impossible for me."

This is a cop-out. Belief is a strong thing. Change your beliefs - change yourself.

 

NB: Here's the truth about early/beginner meditation training: It isn't about having no thoughts or THINKING ABOUT NOTHING as many people claim. No, it's about passively observing the thoughts you have, not judging them, and gently pushing your attention back on your breathing whenever you stray.

 

For beginners, I can recommend: http://calm.com/ to get started. Choose the guided meditation sessions. As you progress, you can try without calm.com in complete quiet. Make sure to record all your experiences (preferably in 3rd person.).

 

Best wishes,


 

Edited by kassem23

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I'll check these out. Thanks for posting.

 

Although I'm not consistent, I feel like the mindfulness meditation result does help me out when I stick with it. I'm going to try to do it regularly again.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5, probably while pooping.

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I'll check these out. Thanks for posting.

 

Although I'm not consistent, I feel like the mindfulness meditation result does help me out when I stick with it. I'm going to try to do it regularly again.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5, probably while pooping.

 

You're very welcome.

 

I am glad to hear that you've experienced some benefits from it.

 

It's really about (at least for me) taking 10-20 minutes (for beginners) out of your day, preferably in the morning, and sitting still, only with your breath.

 

The feel of the entire day changes for me, and the mindfulness (or meditative state) flows into everything I do.

 

Let me know if you have any questions. :)

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I was going to say, I had read somewhere else that meditating on thoughts was a more advanced skill, and that it was best to start out with breathing meditation. Interesting how this suggests a different form of meditation. 

 

It took me a few tries but I actually got the breathing meditation down. After each experience, I was always fascinated by how it seemed that my head would get louder and louder the more I focused before suddenly all my thoughts would calm down and eventually dissipate. 

 

For those of us who engage in powerlifting type activities or actual physical sport competition (be it powerlifting, tennis, football, basketball, whatever), meditation is a great way to attenuate sympathetic nervous system activation and help you recover better from your activity(-ies).

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One thing that I think people wrestle with is how thoughts pop in their head during meditation. Often people will fight against it. You really just need to be aware of it when it happens (because it will happen), and bring your mind "back to center" when it does.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5, probably while pooping.

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Agreed with the above. Meditation helps me out a lot on keeping my head calm and avoiding being a cranky chap.

 

I too have found it to improve my lifts better than any stims etc although IME meditation followed by visualisation / hypnosis preWO has helped my intensity the most.

 

J

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It saddens me a lot to see such an opinion.

 

There will always be people that fight against things they find difficult, it's the nature runnings its course.

 

If you think that meditation is about not thinking, then you've completely missed the point altogether.

 

Additionally, I'll have to say that the article, funnily enough, lacks mindfulness.

 

Exhibit: Living in the moment, non-judgmentally, being more self-aware, it's all good. But, actually, more and more people are switching themselves off. They cannot even watch the news because they feel so powerless to do anything about it.

 

Avoiding the news (because you judge it as negative or harmful) is not a result of mindfulness, rather the opposite.

 

I also found this, which makes some nice points about the article that I agree with: http://sujato.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/mindfulness-is-what-it-is/

 

------------------------

 

Are you interested in meditation? I might be able to find you a good beginners book that details what it is actually about. [EDIT: Posted in a later submission.]

 

In my perspective it's about connecting with yourself on a higher level, to explore realms within yourself that you may not have known existed. It is about being aware.

 

This can bring a lot of negative things with it. You know, if you're sitting there just focusing on your breath, you may find that thoughts about your relationships, your financial situation, so on and so forth come up. Psychological research clearly indicates that when we are attached to the personal problem we're trying to solve, we do it less well - hence why we can easily give personal advice to others, but we cannot really speak truthfully to ourselves about our own issues. There's psychological research indicating that even talking to oneself in 3rd person, e.g. "Michael is experiencing anxiety in X and Y. I think action Z could appropriate for him.", instead of associating yourself with your problem, is helpful.

 

Here's a study by the journal Science, which describes the problem (http://www.sciencemag.org/content/345/6192/75):

 

 

Don't leave me alone with my thoughts

Nowadays, we enjoy any number of inexpensive and readily accessible stimuli, be they books, videos, or social media. We need never be alone, with no one to talk to and nothing to do. Wilson et al. explored the state of being alone with one's thoughts and found that it appears to be an unpleasant experience. In fact, many of the people studied, particularly the men, chose to give themselves a mild electric shock rather than be deprived of external sensory stimuli.

 

In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative.

 

 

Nothing to do but think.

 

It really says it all.

 

We've become so attached to the constant influx of sensory information, that we are unable to sit still with our THOUGHTS, with ourselves.

 

If we can not spend more than 15 minutes in a room by ourselves, can we really say that we know ourselves?

 

Know thyself wasn't just a catch-phrase of Matrix, it's a truth that has been utterred for thousands of years. 

Edited by kassem23

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One thing that I think people wrestle with is how thoughts pop in their head during meditation. Often people will fight against it. You really just need to be aware of it when it happens (because it will happen), and bring your mind "back to center" when it does.

 

Sent from my Nexus 5, probably while pooping.

 

Exactly. The most important thing is to not be judgemental of your thoughts. Bringing back the focus on the breath and simply letting the thoughts vanish like clouds in the sky is the way to go, as you aptly describe.

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I am not a fan. I'm one of the people that would have fit with the contrarian opinion in that study. Sitting in place, doing nothing, seems like a waste to me.

 

That said, I don't disbelieve in the advantages and benefits of meditation. I just don't know what I'd do with myself for 10 minutes, even.

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I am not a fan. I'm one of the people that would have fit with the contrarian opinion in that study. Sitting in place, doing nothing, seems like a waste to me.

 

That said, I don't disbelieve in the advantages and benefits of meditation. I just don't know what I'd do with myself for 10 minutes, even.

 

Then I must say, again, two things:

 

(1) You've never really tried to do it, properly and with dedication (at least 1 month of daily practice), and

(2) You don't really understand what meditation is about (if you think it's a waste)

 

But to each their own. Dedicating time to reflection, contemplation and meditation isn't an easy thing to do in modern life for most people.

 

Something one realises after a while, is that one can only be a shining star of inspiration for others - change always has to come from within. 

Edited by kassem23

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I am not a fan. I'm one of the people that would have fit with the contrarian opinion in that study. Sitting in place, doing nothing, seems like a waste to me.

 

That said, I don't disbelieve in the advantages and benefits of meditation. I just don't know what I'd do with myself for 10 minutes, even.

In Buddhism there are other forms of meditation including walking meditation.

 

Meditation is about the thought processes rather than the environment or activities although both of these IME can make it harder or easier to meditate.

 

J

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Good to see you back, Kassem

 

 

+1.

You bring a different perspective to the collective. One that I appreciate.

J

 

Thank you both.

 

It warms my heart that my presence is appreciated. :)

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I think it's not so much the act of meditation, so much as generally people don't think about what or why they think the things they do.  And that's what the mindfullness does, forces you to take time and look not at what you think or feel, but the processes and mental algorithms that are the thinking itself.  I think it lowers stress so much for some, because when you are aware of how your thinking works, you are in control of yourself, as opposed to the standard human going through life never understanding why they have to feel or think the things they do.  And once you see how you work, other people are less of a mystery, and less stressful to interact with, because you can see the workings of their mind.

 

imagine owning a car for thirty years, driving it every day.  It's wearing out, but you don't have the first clue about how a car works.  That is horribly stressful, not having any idea what that knock coming from the front could be, how expensive it'll be to fix, what if it breaks down in the middle of nowhere.  That's how I see most people going through their lives.  And most people never even think about their thoughts at all.

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Mindfulness therapy comes at a high price for some, say experts

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/aug/25/mental-health-meditation?CMP=twt_gu

 

Read: "The Dark Night of the Soul"

 

What you just read is not very common, but it does happen. But does it happen right away? No, it does not.

 

Has a lot of crap accummulated in one's unconscious mind? You bet.

 

When you've been alienated from your unconscious mind your entire life, you're sure going to react when you start having regular encounters with it.

 

Some people - especially those that do not have teachers and practice vigorously - can end up getting hurt. But this is like overtraining your mental muscles after heavy workouts.

Know your limit.

 

This is also one of the reasons that e.g. Vipassanna retreats ask about your personal psychiatric history.

 

You don't want to start out by overstraining, it does no good.

 

Start slowly, work your way up.

 

 

Mindful people less affected by positive feedback

http://news.utoronto.ca/mindful-people-less-affected-positive-feedback

This is a very good thing. The title of the article can be a bit misleading :)

 

 

â€These findings suggest that mindful individuals may be less affected by immediate rewards and fits well with the idea that mindful individuals are typically less impulsive†says Teper.

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This may be an interesting read for any one of you interested in meditation (and are afraid of all the hokus-pokus, ha!)

 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/chapter-one

 

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/taming-the-mind

 

http://www.amazon.com/Waking-Up-Spirituality-Without-Religion/dp/1451636016/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409902791&sr=8-1&keywords=waking+up+sam+harris

Edited by kassem23

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The Yogi masters were right -- meditation and breathing exercises can sharpen your mind
New research explains link between breath-focused meditation and attention and brain health
Science News
May 10, 2018

It has long been claimed by Yogis and Buddhists that meditation and ancient breath-focused practices, such as pranayama, strengthen our ability to focus on tasks. A new study by researchers at Trinity College Dublin explains for the first time the neurophysiological link between breathing and attention.

 

Breath-focused meditation and yogic breathing practices have numerous known cognitive benefits, including increased ability to focus, decreased mind wandering, improved arousal levels, more positive emotions, decreased emotional reactivity, along with many others. To date, however, no direct neurophysiological link between respiration and cognition has been suggested.

 

The research shows for the first time that breathing -- a key element of meditation and mindfulness practices -- directly affects the levels of a natural chemical messenger in the brain called noradrenaline. This chemical messenger is released when we are challenged, curious, exercised, focused or emotionally aroused, and, if produced at the right levels, helps the brain grow new connections, like a brain fertiliser. The way we breathe, in other words, directly affects the chemistry of our brains in a way that can enhance our attention and improve our brain health.

 

The study, carried out by researchers at Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity, found that participants who focused well while undertaking a task that demanded a lot of attention had greater synchronisation between their breathing patterns and their attention, than those who had poor focus. The authors believe that it may be possible to use breath-control practices to stabilise attention and boost brain health.

 

Michael Melnychuk, PhD candidate at the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity, and lead author of the study, explained: "Practitioners of yoga have claimed for some 2,500 years, that respiration influences the mind. In our study we looked for a neurophysiological link that could help explain these claims by measuring breathing, reaction time, and brain activity in a small area in the brainstem called the locus coeruleus, where noradrenaline is made. Noradrenaline is an all-purpose action system in the brain. When we are stressed we produce too much noradrenaline and we can't focus. When we feel sluggish, we produce too little and again, we can't focus. There is a sweet spot of noradrenaline in which our emotions, thinking and memory are much clearer."

 

"This study has shown that as you breathe in locus coeruleus activity is increasing slightly, and as you breathe out it decreases. Put simply this means that our attention is influenced by our breath and that it rises and falls with the cycle of respiration. It is possible that by focusing on and regulating your breathing you can optimise your attention level and likewise, by focusing on your attention level, your breathing becomes more synchronised."

 

The research provides deeper scientific understanding of the neurophysiological mechanisms which underlie ancient meditation practices. The findings were recently published in a paper entitled 'Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama' in the journal Psychophysiology. Further research could help with the development of non-pharmacological therapies for people with attention compromised conditions such as ADHD and traumatic brain injury and in supporting cognition in older people.

 

There are traditionally two types of breath-focused practices -- those that emphasise focus on breathing (mindfulness), and those that require breathing to be controlled (deep breathing practices such as pranayama). In cases when a person's attention is compromised, practices which emphasise concentration and focus, such as mindfulness, where the individual focuses on feeling the sensations of respiration but make no effort to control them, could possibly be most beneficial. In cases where a person's level of arousal is the cause of poor attention, for example drowsiness while driving, a pounding heart during an exam, or during a panic attack, it should be possible to alter the level of arousal in the body by controlling breathing. Both of these techniques have been shown to be effective in both the short and the long term.

 

Ian Robertson, Co-Director of the Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity and Principal Investigator of the study added: "Yogis and Buddhist practitioners have long considered the breath an especially suitable object for meditation. It is believed that by observing the breath, and regulating it in precise ways -- a practice known as pranayama -- changes in arousal, attention, and emotional control that can be of great benefit to the meditator are realised. Our research finds that there is evidence to support the view that there is a strong connection between breath-centred practices and a steadiness of mind. Our findings could have particular implications for research into brain ageing. Brains typically lose mass as they age, but less so in the brains of long term meditators. More 'youthful' brains have a reduced risk of dementia and mindfulness meditation techniques actually strengthen brain networks. Our research offers one possible reason for this -- using our breath to control one of the brain's natural chemical messengers, noradrenaline, which in the right 'dose' helps the brain grow new connections between cells. This study provides one more reason for everyone to boost the health of their brain using a whole range of activities ranging from aerobic exercise to mindfulness meditation."

 

 

Journal Reference:

Michael Christopher Melnychuk, Paul M. Dockree, Redmond G. O'Connell, Peter R. Murphy, Joshua H. Balsters, Ian H. Robertson. Coupling of respiration and attention via the locus coeruleus: Effects of meditation and pranayama. Psychophysiology, 2018; e13091 DOI: 10.1111/psyp.13091

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I can probably answer almost any question around meditation and mindfulness.  Mindfulness in the western sense is a bit washed down from the eastern teachings.  That said, there is no way I would have progressed without it.  It's often a two steps forward and one step back where you hit or become more aware of what triggers you.  You need to be able to get through those periods as symptoms can get worse when you have break throughs.  

 

Some of these poeple also walk into a class expecting the world, I do a lot of readying and my own experimentation in meditation to find what works for me.  The first time I did a body scan I wanted to shoot myself.  I can meditate for an hour know if I want although sometimes it can take a guided session to get me "in the zone".  

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I have been doing my chore meditation regularly, and I have noticed a definite improvement in my ability to focus on a task without letting my mind wander (it still happens, but I recognize it and bring my mind back to center pretty quickly). I find that it's a great way to practice, because you have to do chores at some point.

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Posted (edited)

Excellent. 

 

Still going strong here. 

 

After a certain point, meditation becomes your natural state. Very peaceful. 

 

My favorite type of meditation is the "Do Nothing" approach, ala Dzogchen or Ch'an. 

Edited by kassem23

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