As more adults turn to mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation to combat mounting stress in their own lives (91 percent of Americans experienced stress in the month of March, according to a Huffington Post survey), they're also experimenting with alternative practices to teach their kids to relax.
Unfortunately, little ones aren't immune to the damaging effects of stress -- but they may benefit from stress-relieving practices meant to calm the mind and release physical tension. Boston dad Andre Kelly told ABC News that he practices mindfulness meditation with his 10-year-old son Hayden every morning before school. Mindfulness -- the focused awareness on the present moment, generally cultivated through a meditation practice -- can help to curb kids' impulsivity, and research has also shown school mindfulness programs to be effective in reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety among adolescents.
With a growing body of research supporting the health benefits of mindfulness training, for the past few years, advocates have been hoping to see these programs become more prominent in school curricula. But the health benefits of mindfulness meditation for adults are far-reaching, and many of these positive benefits may extend to child practitioners as well. The educational benefits of relaxation practices are also significant: Mindfulness meditation can improve focus and increase test scores. Some parents have also found that maintaining their own meditation practices can help them to be more patient, compassionate mothers and fathers. Parents interested in practicing meditation with their kids can start with a few basic tips for teaching children mindfulness practices -- and try a present moment awareness exercise and "belly breathing" relaxation practice.
And for stressed-out kids who have a hard time sitting still and being quiet, physical activity can also have a calming effect. The Eagle Pose can be particularly beneficial for quieting the mind and bringing the attention to the body. What the Teachers Say About Doggie Dharma: Did Buddha Teach That Dogs and Cats Have Buddha Nature?
Science: Research Proves Vajrayana Meditation Techniques Involving Deity Visualization Improve Cognitive Performance and May Be Promising For Degenerative Brain DisordersScience, and in particular the medical profession, has long accepted the positive benefits of all forms or meditation. Drumming for mindfulness and healing: a simple way to calm the mind, remove stress and heal. Zasep Tulku Rinpoche discusses decades of teaching, advice for beginner students and funny stories of his teachers.PART 1 OF A 3-PART FEATURE INTERVIEW WITH VENERABLE ZASEP TULKU RINPOCHE.
Every day I find a little time for mindfulness sitting meditation, and as often as possible I practice mindfulness while walking, performing chores—taking out the garbage, shovelling snow, Tai Chi.
There are manifold benefits to practice, not least of which are abandoning the clinging to the past and the worry about the future, both of which are the path of suffering. Personally, I find mindfulness practice has many other benefits beyond the main purpose of practice. Meditation with a mala on Buddhis Mantras is healthy, not only for the spiritual being, but for the body. The most commonly mentioned benefit of mindfulness training—the very reason it is studied at every major medical university and used in psychiatry practice—is the known link between mindfulness and benefits to health through reduction of stress.
Apparently, it goes beyond all these already extraordinary benefits, by benefiting us in terms of bodily and neurological health.
Many studies support the supposition—based on extensive evidence—that there are substantive health benefits associated with mindfulness meditation. Other studies have shown that mindfulness meditation improves immune system function, can eliminate food cravings and binge eating, reduce stress and improve cardio-vascular health. At it’s simplest, mindfulness is about keeping us in the present, allowing us to shed the clinging to the past and the worries of the future. The key skill, that develops over time—apparently because we are actually altering our neural pathways and brain function, according to these studies—is to allow stray thoughts to happen, observe them, but then refocus on the single-minded focus point. This tai chi training was a tranformational experience, breaking through one's sense of expectations, releasing stagnant areas in the body, mind and spirit. Help support a living spiritual tradition by providing clothing, shelter, food and education. Our connecting with God and practicing ways to be contemplative aren’t limited to prayer, meditation and writing. Have you ever stopped to think of simple things you do – Preparing a meal, walking your dog, painting, gardening, cleaning your house or apartment, sitting in the presence of a loved one and not speaking, fishing – almost any kind of hobby?  All of these activities lend themselves to putting your whole heart into it. I put house cleaning on the list because it seems so odd, right?  Cleaning doesn’t require thought.
Stop and consider what simple, “mindless” activities can translate to adding “meaningful” peace and joy to your life. Lightening Your LoadThese word of wisdom today come from Luminita Saviuc - The Purpose Ferry about lightening your load.
Fourteen Verses on MeditationThese Fourteen Verses on Meditation were written by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and translated from Vietnamese by ChanCo, Maple Village May 2016. Mindful Advocacy for Mother EarthMindful Advocacy for Mother Earth was the topic of the workshop on the evening after Sister Mai Nghiem's dharma talk on Nurturing Practices.
Teaching kids mindfulness can go a long way in helping them boost awareness and control their moods, according to Kelly, who started a meditation program for children, Boston Buddha, to bring mindfulness programs into elementary schools. In a 2010 blog, Susan Kaiser Greenland, author of The Mindful Child, argued for nothing short of a "mindful revolution in education," saying mindfulness programs can aid kids in developing good habits that will help make them happier and more compassionate. An Ohio elementary school's mindfulness program was recently shut down due to parent complaints about the practice's ties to Eastern religions, and this week, a lawsuit went to trial over yoga classes at Encinitas Union School District in California.

Research has linked the practice of cultivating a nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, greater emotional stability and improved sleep quality, heightened feelings of compassion and greater success achieving weight-loss goals, among a number of other advantages.
A University of California study published this year found that undergraduates who participated in a two-week mindfulness training program demonstrated heightened working memory and improved reading-comprehension scores on the GRE. A recent European study found that higher levels of physical activity in children were associated with lower stress reactivity. Born in Alberta, Canada — now residing in Nevada — Sean Walking Bear is a full Cree, trained by the Medicine Men of his community. Inevitably, arthritis pains subsides in my case, and I’ve avoided most of the colds and flus that go around my business meetings— knock on wood.
Many studies across decades of research have proven meditation is simply good for the body—and your health.
But, if that annual doctor’s visit brings dreaded news, a diagnosis of a serious disease or condition, your doctor will probably refer to a specialist.
Studies show drum meditation supports treatments of cancer, Parkinsons and depression.Psychology and science have identified both drumming and mindfulness meditation as helpful therapy for everything from stress to memory loss to supportive cancer care. The spiritual head of many temples and meditation centres in Canada, United States, and Australia, the eminent guru will make his semi-annual teaching round in Toronto, Canada in April 2016. Mindfulness is an important practice in virtually all schools of Buddhist thought, and in one form or another, most Buddhists practice it.
Daily practice, inexorably takes us to a place where lofty ideas like enlightened thinking is actually possible.
A May 2011 study in Neuroimage, which has been making the rounds of lofty publications and the science community, indicates that mindfulness physically changes the brain for the better. More importantly, from a Buddhist point of view, the research specifically points to an actual alteration of brain function and also body function at a fundamental level.
While I promote prayer, meditation and journaling as powerful tools, there are many simple ways to feel the love and presence of God every day.  By incorporating mindfulness of the presence of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or all three, through simple acts we perform, we can bring a sense of peace, wholeness and clarity into our daily living. It is in a moment like cleaning where you can focus thoughts on gratitude for having a place to call home. These simple activities can make us feel childlike as we get lost in the sheer joy of performing them. Not practicing simple contemplative activities such as these steals our joy and corrodes our connection to our Creator.
I need to try and instill this kind of thinking in my children when they are doing their chores as well! Parents who felt that the schools' Ashtanga yoga program was inherently religious in nature are suing the school for civil rights violations. A new study from the National University of Singapore, attempts to differentiate the relative benefits of different types of meditation…. And, putting aside Buddhists, why is the meat industry growing when the science says it’s hurting our planet? From formal Chan practice, such as archery or KungFu practice in Shaolin, to facing the wall meditation, to active mindful chore meditation, to mantra or sutta recitation, to simple things like making offerings—all are methods of practicing mindfulness. Increased energy, improved self-esteem, ability to relax and sleep, and a general ability to cope with modern life are also often cited. According to an article by Carolyn Schatz, an editor at Harvard Medical School publications, “all this focusing and refocusing is increasing brain connectivity. Or, you can focus on just the process of cleaning and caring for what you have.  Instead of focusing on cleaning as a chore, think of it as giving your home love and attention. Since the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, we have known about the stress-reducing benefits of both mindfulness and drumming. Researchers in Los Angeles, California compared the brain activity of volunteers who had finished eight weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction training with that of volunteers who did not do such training. Herbert Benson, director of Mind-Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital discovered that mindfulness training can actually turn specific sets of genes on and off in people who practice regularly. Who knew cleaning around the base of your toilet on your hands and knees could be a spiritual experience! My kind teacher, Zasep Tulku Rinpoche, smiled as they lifted the pup for a blessing after the teachings. These genes improve the body’s ability to handle free radicals, inflammation, pain, and even cell death.
We live in a very fast-paced world and if we are not careful we will crowd out God’s grace in our lives.
One application of the Dissolving process is to let go of whatever needs to drop away.You make whatever comes up in your life--no matter what it might be or how it is manifesting--into an agenda so you can dissolve it. It starts by activating your intent.Formulating an Agenda - Preparing for MeditationIf you want your mind to be magnetized toward a particular agenda, you must contemplate it before you begin dissolving. Or, you could focus for the next few minutes on the emotion associated with your agenda as you scan downward. Maybe you think about how someone lied to you, how you lost in a situation when you expected to win.Pick something and focus on it. It doesn't much matter because if your mind is focusing on a particular emotion, your energy will start moving toward where it is inside you.

When you truly become free inside, you will no longer experience this pull.Experiencing the full range of emotions is natural and healthy, but as your ability to dissolve agendas increases, you won't experience the spikes where you erupt in anger, burst into tears or jump for joy with little or no stimulus. At some point, you will get a very light sense of the emotions associated with your agenda, or at least some sense of stirring inside.Start from the top of your head and dissolve down to the bottom of your belly.
As you continue dissolving down from the top of your head, you are always feeling for the energy behind whatever comes into your awareness.
Stay with the energy behind them.Suddenly you can find yourself going into an entirely different space of your inner world than where you have ever been before. The Taoist position is that there is as much internal space inside you as there is space in the whole external universe.Over time in Taoist meditation, the Inner and Outer dissolving practices are combined, so that as you dissolve inward--either sequentially or simultaneously--you also dissolve outward toward the cosmos. Eventually, this process allows your mind to stabilize in the middle ground, the home of consciousness where inner and outer and that which is neither and both exist.Relationship between the Mind and a BlockageIn the Dissolving process, how does your mind contact and then dissolve the tension or blockage in your body, regardless of the denseness or subtlety of that blockage? In other words, how can you deliberately contact, become aware of and feel the blockages in your body with your mind only? People with normal nerves will feel pain if you hit them forcefully in a sensitive body part. Sometime later, they will feel the "blockages" inside their body as a throbbing pain.Likewise, a person can be erotically stimulated in a sensitive spot and feel pleasure. In strong emotional situations, such as falling in love, experiencing the death of someone close or being frustrated with situations beyond your control, you can consciously feel your emotions--positive or negative.With a little bit of concentrated "mind effort," you can increase, decrease or mitigate your physical pain, pleasure or emotions. In other words, you can feel what happens inside you with your mind.In externally induced situations, such as those just described, your whole mind concentrates instead of being diffused. Every parent knows that if you can distract the baby with something more absorbing than the pain, the baby's attention can be diverted to a new "object," such as a favorite food or a toy.
At one end of the continuum, sex is seen as a nasty business, bordering on evil, to be engaged in as little as possible and only according to the rules of the prevailing religion. At the other end of the continuum, consensual sex between a man and a woman is viewed as a healthy, normal human activity and a celebration of the life force.Sex has the potential to be either wonderful or a mess, depending on the sanity, internal balance and openness of the participants. Westerners often impute all sorts of meanings to normal consensual sex, but to the Taoists sex is only another chi or meditation practice. It is not considered prurient or non-spiritual in any philosophical sense.The practice of how you use Taoist meditation is basically the same regardless of modality. That is you can meditate while standing, sitting, moving, lying down, or engaging in partner exercises.
So the same inner and outer dissolving techniques can be used and there are also many different partner exercises.Why Meditate with Sex?During sexual activity most people become more fully alive, the energy of the body becomes flush, and the mind and emotions soar. For many people it is easier to feel and influence the body's energies and physical tissues during sexual play than at any other time. Consequently, for many people the sexual act naturally enhances their awareness of chi sensations to which they were previously numb. If you keep your awareness open while making love, you can begin to feel the different kinds of physical and energetic blockages inside your system. You can then learn to direct your own internal energy generated from lovemaking into an injured or diseased part of your body, to dissolve and heal it.The Power of Two Working in UnionIn like manner, you can also direct your partner's sexual energy to "loop into" your blockages to aid in dissolving them. Conversely, your partner can direct his or her energy toward helping your particular problem. You can then mutually dissolve any blocked energy that happens to exist in either of your bodies.The core of sexual meditation involves adapting the Taoist meditative dissolving practice to lovemaking.
Once you have linked your consciousness to that of your sexual partner, your mind can go into his or her Mindstream for the purpose of dissolving any blockages in the entwined energetic system.The smoothest way on the face of the earth to achieve direct contact with the consciousness of another is through making love. Taoists believe it takes much more skill, psychic power and finesse to gain such contact with another person when separate than through meditative sex. When we think of external alchemy, which was also practiced in medieval Europe and the Middle East, we tend to conjure up images of a wizard wearing a black gown and pointed hat, toiling in a sequestered laboratory with flasks, beakers and burners trying to turn lead into gold.When internal alchemy is mentioned, most people don't know what picture to conjure.
Their costly lab experiments are aimed at two great accomplishments: turning lead into gold and creating a physical substance called the "philosopher's stone," which when ingested supposedly cured any disease, reversed the aging process and conferred physical immortality. Consequently, for the internal alchemists the equivalent of changing lead into gold becomes the changing of their own foolishness into wisdom, greed into generosity, anger into compassion, judgment into equanimity and fear into acceptance.
They don't seek physical immortality so much as complete freedom for consciousness or the soul. Although the term internal alchemy may mean different things in various Taoist traditions, the common bond is a series of transformations. In Taoist internal alchemy, the alchemical precepts progress to living in the Tao by means of a series of transformations:Body to chi to spirit to emptiness to Tao. A central technique, however, is the dissolving practice with specific methodologies for each of the eight energy bodies.

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