Category Archives: Meditation

Mindfulness Can Improve Heart Health

Research suggests a regular meditation practice could protect against heart disease.

What’s good for the mind also tends to be good for the heart:-

The mind-calming practice of meditation may play a role in reducing your risk of heart disease, according to a scientific statement published in the Sept. 28, 2017, Journal of the American Heart Association.

Experts reviewed dozens of studies published over the past two decades and found that meditation may improve a host of factors linked with heart disease — making it worth including in an overall program for ongoing heart care.

“Not only can meditation improve how your heart functions, but a regular practice can enhance your outlook on life and motivate you to maintain many heart-healthy behaviors, like following a proper diet, getting adequate sleep, and keeping up regular exercise,” says Dr. John Denninger, director of research at the Harvard-affiliated Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Moving meditations:-
Sitting and being still isn’t the only way to practice meditation. Mind-body activities like yoga and tai chi are similar to meditation in that they emphasize slow movements, controlled breathing, and mental focus. Even exercises that emphasize steady, repetitive movements, such as riding a bike, swimming laps, or walking can be a form of meditation, if you focus your brain on the task at hand.

The heart of meditation:-
Meditation involves sitting comfortably with closed eyes and focusing on your breathing, a mental image, or repetition of a single positive word or phrase. The goal is to keep your mind focused on the present and away from stressful or distracting thoughts. As your mind becomes calm, so does your body.

A meditation practice supports your heart in many ways — from changing how you cope with stress to lowering high blood pressure.

Research has found that meditation can positively affect a measure of heart health known as heart rate variability (HRV). HRV reflects how quickly your heart makes small changes in the time interval between each heartbeat. A high HRV is a sign of healthier heart. A 2013 study found that low HRV is associated with a 32% to 45% increased risk of heart attack or stroke among people without cardiovascular disease.

With regular meditation, you may be able to raise your HRV. A 2013 study found that people who did five minutes of meditation daily for 10 days had a better HRV compared with those who didn’t meditate.

A number of high-quality studies also show that meditation can modestly lower blood pressure, according to a 2013 American Heart Association scientific statement published in Hypertension. One analysis pooled results from nine studies and found that, on average, meditation lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number in a reading) by 4.7 milligrams of mercury (mm Hg) and diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) by 3.2 mm Hg.

Take a seat:-
There are many different styles and approaches to meditation, but here is a simple routine to begin with.

* Sit quietly and close your eyes. Breathe slowly.

* Relax all of your muscles, beginning with your feet, legs, and thighs.

* Shrug your shoulders and roll your neck to the left and then right.

* On each exhalation, say the word “peace” out loud or to yourself.

When your thoughts wander (and they will), don’t get discouraged. Simply go back to repeating the pattern.

Continue for five to 10 minutes.

Thinking about a practice:-
As with any new endeavor, it takes time to learn meditation and build confidence in your ability. Dr. Denninger recommends that you begin small and give yourself space to progress at your own speed.

For example, devote just five minutes a few days per week to meditation, and then gradually increase the time and frequency until you can do it daily for up to 20 minutes. “Doing some meditation, no matter how brief, is always better than nothing,” says Dr. Denninger.

Set up a schedule to help establish a routine. Try to meditate at the same time each day, says Dr. Denninger. If you have trouble sticking to a set time, plan to do your meditation after a regular activity like brushing your teeth. “If you miss a day or two, don’t feel you have lost any progress and have to start over,” says Dr. Denninger. “Simply pick up where you left off and keep going.”

Some people find that learning and practicing meditation with a group is helpful, so you could inquire about meditation classes at yoga studios and community centers, or even follow meditation exercises online. Dr. Ronald Siegel, an assistant clinical professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, offers free meditation exercises at www.mindfulness-solution.com.

Meditation can be yet another way to improve heart health and at the same time help ease your mind.

Resources: Harvard Health Publishing

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Pyramid Meditation

In today’s world of stress and tension, there are many South Mumbaiites who turn to meditation to help them keep their cool.
But, Shreyans and Pinky Daga of Breach Candy believe that pyramid meditation that is practising meditation under a specially-built pyramid greatly enhances its benefits.

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28-year-old Shreyans says, “It’s a scientific fact that the geometric structure of the pyramid collects and radiates energy. So, when one meditates under a pyramid, the energy power of the practitioner increases. Not just that, things kept under a pyramid similarly get energised and their freshness remains for a long time.”

Shreyans and Pinky Daga claim to be the only teachers of this technique in downtown. They have been teaching pyramid meditation from their residence since the last five years. Shreyans is also the founder-president of the Mumbai Pyramid Spiritual Society.

It has recently started the construction of a pyramid in a village near Thane. Pinky delves into the history of pyramid meditation.

“In Greek, pyramid means ‘in the middle of fire’ (pyro= fire, amid= in the middle). Of all the four elements, fire represents universal energy and power. About 10,000 years ago, the Egyptians built the Great Pyramids at Gizeh as store houses of universal energy. The power of the pyramid was obtained through a blending of the radiated cosmic energy with that of the gravitational force of the earth,” she explains.

The Dagas add, “Many believe that the Great Pyramids at Gizeh, one of the seven wonders of the world, was originally built to balance the energies of the earth. It’s located at the exact centre of the earth’s land mass. Scholars have also confirmed that the pyramid was built as an instrument of initiation into altered and higher states of consciousness.”

Today, that same ancient wisdom and science is creating modern-day store houses of energy. “Many people have built pyramids which fit the size of their homes and offices, for meditation purposes. Pyramid meditation has revealed manifold benefits. It’s been proven that it preserves fruits, milk and other perishables. An apple kept under a pyramid will not rot even after 10 days. Used razors and knives get sharpened. Many people have reported using the same blade for over a year when stored under a small pyramid. Pyramid meditation is also supposed to have healing properties. By practising this technique, wounds, boils, and bruises heal quicker; it ensures weight loss, and increases resistance to diseases. It has been known to cure asthma, toothaches, migraine, common cold, high blood pressure, arthritis, epilepsy and insomnia. Drinking pyramid energised water cures conjunctivitis, helps digestion, and gives the skin a healthy glow.

“By meditating under a pyramid, our whole being is revitalised; the mental, intellectual capacities are increased, and the energy centres gets activated easily,” says Pinky.

Pyramid meditation and usage of pyramid power is becoming increasingly common in many places. The Pyramid Spiritual Society has built close to 14 pyramids nationwide, with the largest 1,000-person capacity pyramid being built in Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh.

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Source:The  Times Of India.Dec.4.’09

Compassion Meditation: A Great Stress Buster

Individuals who engage in compassion meditation may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to psychological stress, a new Compassion  study has found.
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“While much attention has been paid to meditation practices that emphasize calming the mind, improving focused attention or developing mindfulness, less is known about meditation practices designed to specifically foster compassion,” says Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, who designed and taught the meditation program used in the study.

Negi is senior lecturer in the Department of Religion, the co-director of Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies and president and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc.

The study focused on the effect of compassion meditation on inflammatory, neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress, and evaluated the degree to which engagement in meditation practice influenced stress reactivity.

“Our findings suggest that meditation practices designed to foster compassion may impact physiological pathways that are modulated by stress and are relevant to disease,” said Charles L. Raison, MD, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program, Emory University”s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory School of Medicine, and a lead author on the study.

Sixty-one healthy college students between the ages of 17 and19 participated in the study. Half the participants were randomized to receive six weeks of compassion meditation training and half were randomized to a health discussion control group. Although secular in presentation, the compassion meditation program was based on a thousand-year-old Tibetan Buddhist mind-training practice called “lojong” in Tibetan.

A variety of student participation activities were employed such as mock debates and role-playing. Both groups were required to participate in 12 hours of classes across the study period. Meditators were provided with a meditation compact disc for practice at home. Homework for the control group was a weekly self-improvement paper.

After the study interventions were finished, the students participated in a laboratory stress test designed to investigate how the body”s inflammatory and neuroendocrine systems respond to psychosocial stress.

No differences were seen between students randomized to compassion meditation and the control group, but within the meditation group there was a strong relationship between the time spent practicing meditation and reductions in inflammation and emotional distress in response to the stressor.

Consistent with this, when the meditation group was divided into high and low practice groups, participants in the high practice group showed reductions in inflammation and distress in response to the stressor when compared to the low practice group and the control group.

You may click to see:->

Buddhist Compassion Meditation Techniques
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Source: The Times Of India

Meditate Your Pain Away

Zen meditation – a centuries-old practice that helps people gain mental, physical and emotional balance – can keep pain at bay

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Universite de Montreal researchers.

According to a Psychosomatic Medicine study, Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity both in and out of a meditative state compared to non-meditators. Along with Pierre Rainville, a professor and researcher at the Université de Montréal, Joshua A. Grant, a doctoral student in the Department of Physiology co-authored the paper.

The main aim of the study was to examine whether trained meditators perceived pain differently than non-meditators. “While previous studies have shown that teaching chronic pain patients to meditate is beneficial, very few studies have looked at pain processing in healthy, highly trained meditators. This study was a first step in determining how or why meditation might influence pain perception,” says Grant.

To reach the conclusion, the scientists recruited 13 Zen meditators with a minimum of 1,000 hours of practice to undergo a pain test and contrasted their reaction with 13 non-meditators. Subjects included 10 women and 16 men between the ages of 22 to 56.

The administered pain test was simple: A thermal heat source, a computer controlled heating plate, was pressed against the calves of subjects intermittently at varying temperatures. Heat levels began at 43 degrees Celsius and went to a maximum of 53 degrees Celsius depending on each participant’s sensitivity. While quite a few of the meditators tolerated the maximum temperature, all control subjects were well below 53 degrees Celsius.

Grant and Rainville noticed a marked difference in how their two test groups reacted to pain testing – Zen meditators had much lower pain sensitivity (even without meditating) compared to non-meditators. During the meditation-like conditions it appeared meditators further reduced their pain partly through slower breathing: 12 breaths per minute versus an average of 15 breaths for non-meditators.

“Slower breathing certainly coincided with reduced pain and may influence pain by keeping the body in a relaxed state. While previous studies have found that the emotional aspects of pain are influenced by meditation, we found that the sensation itself, as well as the emotional response, is different in meditators,” Grant said.

The ultimate result was that Zen meditators experienced an 18 per cent reduction in pain intensity.

Source:The Times Of India

Walking Can be a Fine Form of Meditation

He talks the walk. Guest Editor Thich Nhat Hanh believes in the practice of mindful walking, and will lead a meditative walk in the Capital today.
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Walking can be a fine form of  Meditation
“Each step you take is in the here and the now. Combine your breath with your step, see the blue of the sky, the green of the grass, appreciate the colours of the flowers and hear the sweet birdsong… acknowledge and enjoy the miracle that is nature,” says the 82-year-old monk.

He adds that walking can be a fine form of meditation. “Leave the past behind with every step you take forward. You are no longer a victim of sorrow and regret or fear and uncertainty. Walk confidently in the present without worrying about being stuck in the past or sucked into the future,” suggests Thay.

The practice of walking silently is about freedom and solidity. “We are present with each step. And, when we wish to talk, we stop our movement and give full attention to the other person, to our words and to listening.” But, before you think walking together for peace is a protest or a demonstration, Thay explains, “The collective energy of a group ensures each step is solid and free. There is no protest here, no banners… just a powerful, noble silence that urges you to rejoice at the miracle of life. Every step on this earth is a miracle, every step in meditation leads to health and happiness. And when people of different faiths enjoy the process of walking together without any agenda, that, in itself, is a great offering.”

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Source: The Times Of India