Mindfulness simply refers to being focused in the present rather than the past or the future. For example, the simple exercise of concentrating on your breath is considered a type of mindfulness - by relaxing and focusing on only the breath, and the sensations as it enters and leaves your body, you divert attention away from anxious, stressful thoughts. Mindfulness Based Practices can be as simple as taking a few moments to concentrate on your breath or it can be a full length meditation with guided imagery. The following websites offer free mediations and deep breathing exercises that you can play, record or download to your own player. There are hundreds of possible Smartphone applications for meditation that can provide you with structure and support as you gain knowledge and confidence in meditative techniques and practices. Relax Melodies: FREE by iLBSoftThis free app allows you to customize a sound mix from 46 different nature sounds to help you slip into a state of deep relaxation or sleep.
Relax and Sleep Well: FREE by i-mobilizeThis free app is a 27-minute hypnosis recording by a bestselling self-help audio author, Glenn Harrold.
Meditation 4 Inner Wisdom: FREE by i-mobilizeThis is another free app by best-selling author and hypnotist, Glenn Harrold. You might find that the structure of group meditation is easier for you and by scheduling it into your busy week, you are more likely to stay disciplined. 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. After you start practicing, look for greater clarity and focus in the way you approach your day-to-day life, how you problem-solve, and how you relate to others and the world around you. We'd love to hear how mindfulness practice is changing your life, so please share your experience on our Facebook page. Mindfulness & Meditation in Solihull on Thu 20th March 2014Starting in Solihull on Thursday March 13th.
Discover techniques to help you increase focus, develop emotional intelligence & find calm. The resource-seeking system is what motivates us to get out of bed each morning, to work hard, to accomplish our tasks, whether small or large, and to strive for excellence. Write down a list of potential problems that an over-reliance on the resource-seeking system might bring about in our life.
Because it is a primal survival response, the flight or flight mode activates the more primitive parts of the brain, in particular the brain stem and the limbic system.
These kind of effects are often noticed after only a few weeks of regular mindfulness meditation. Most of us are pretty familiar with fight or flight, which is the first of Paul Gilbert’s three emotional systems I mentioned in last week’s reflection. During fight or flight, our body systems go into overdrive – the blood pressure goes up, as does the heart rate, breathing becomes fast and shallow, your body is flooded with stress hormones, peripheral circulation decreases as the blood rushes to the major muscle groups ready for action, and your digestion slows down. Unfortunately for us, fight or flight is activated quite easily – after the old adage, better safe than sorry.
Most of us carry within us some kind of ‘silent grief’ – a disenfranchised grief for something we’ve lost which isn’t publicly recognised, but which may still burden us. Other forms of silent grief, however, cut us far more deeply, and can over the years lead to feelings of bitterness and isolation. Immigration is another form of loss which isn’t generally validated by the new host country. A regular mindfulness practice will, sooner or later, open us up to the silent grief within us. When we look at advertising we are bombarded with ecstatic smiles, showing two rows of perfect white teeth, giving the impression of a fully realised human life.
The gentle half smile is a way of bringing positive energy into our day, of lifting our spirits without necessarily trying to radically change our underlying feeling state. When we are talking to other people, it may not always be appropriate to be beaming a wide smile at them. If this were a person in the real world we’d probably soon tire of them, but the fact is many of us carry such a person around in our heads, constantly criticising, analysing and finding inadequate pretty much everything we do. People often comment how learning mindfulness is helping them to be more kind towards themselves. Listen to the tone of voice you use towards yourself, especially in situations when you’re feeling under pressure or aren’t performing as well as you’d like.
Last week, we looked at enthusiasm, and some of the joys and challenges it can bring to our lives. One of the most endearing, positive qualities we can have in our lives is that of enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is also easily manipulated – an inspirational speaker can fire up a crowd to behave in ways the individuals themselves would not, for better or worse. Enthusiasm without wisdom reminds us of the saying – ‘fools rush in where angels fear to tread’.
As Edmund Hillary has expressed so well, as responsible adults we need to balance our learning and experience with the childlike enthusiasm of a beginner. When completing a task which is a little tedious, imagine yourself being very enthusiastic about it. Some of these resources are external – perhaps we have friends and family who care for us, or we live in a civil society which is relatively stable, or we have food and shelter to nourish our bodies and protect us from the elements. Then there are our internal resources – our gifts, wisdom, resilience, good humour and warmth. So there’s a lot to be said for looking at the bright side of life – perhaps not always, as the Monty Python song reminds us, but almost always! Write down three external and three internal resources which you feel are in your life right now, and set an intention this week that you will notice times when you are drawing positivity and strength from these.
When my grandmother died, she had a cellar full of old nails, pieces of string, tools she hadn’t used in years, old clothes, shoes, crockery and books.
Most of us would like to be able to move on more quickly from past hurts, to let bygones be bygones, to enjoy a beautiful afternoon walk in the park instead of stewing over something which happened days or weeks or even months ago. A regular mindfulness meditation practice can help us become more aware of these patterns, and to become less caught up in them. There are many variations and resources to help you get started and I encourage you to find the type of practice that you are most comfortable with. When people are new to mindfulness based practices or meditation they often worry that they are not doing it right or they are not sure if it's working. Look for the "Free Resources" section and download audio files from any of seven different meditation categories. Enter "mindfulness meditation" in the search field and you will get over 300 hits including CD's for stress reduction, pain relief, depression and anxiety. This app offers six meditations ranging from five to 40 minutes with tips on effective mindfulness techniques.
The 37-minute guided meditation is designed to help you relax and connect with a feeling of inner wisdom and spirituality. 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. The simple and powerful tool of mindfulness meditation offers and effective, free modality for individuals to mitigate the effects of chronic inflammation.

Through our retreats and programs, we have seen that contemplative practices, such as mindfulness, foster resilience, well-being, and compassionate concern for others.
Whilst we try to ensure all details are up-to-date we do not make any warranty or representation as to the accuracy or completeness of the information shown.
Over the coming two weeks we will explore the second system, which he calls the ‘drive- and resource-seeking’ system. We can derive a great deal of our meaning in life, as well as joy and a sense of achievement, from this system. Participants in the eight week Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course often report in weeks three or four that they were able to deal with a stressful situation more effectively than they would have in the past. Imagine yourself in this situation being able to calm yourself down, be reflective, act with restraint.
Your focus is narrow, fixated on the perceived danger, and you lose sight of the bigger picture. It is activated just as readily by a real danger, such as a tiger attacking you, as by imagined danger, such as an email from management announcing a major restructure at work.
Having a parent with dementia is one form of disenfranchised grief – the person you knew is no longer there, they are no longer acting as your parent, but on the other hand there’s usually been no ritual to mark this transition. Immigrants are supposed to be delighted and happy they’ve been accepted into their new home, and there is usually an expectation of rapid assimilation. At first this might be vague, a generic form of Weltschmerz, feeling the pain of the world. From a mindfulness point of view, we may not agree with the line ‘hide every trace of sadness’, since we don’t want to deny our feelings. In the past we may have been told ‘come on, smile!’ ?? when we’ve been having a bad day, and we probably rather resented this! We can feel sad, or anxious, and still find our outlook improves if we sit with those feelings while we have a gentle smile on our face. During some of her guided meditations, she suggests feeling the gentle half smile behind the eyes, behind the face, in the heart centre.
They may be talking about something which has distressed them, or criticising you, and a big smile would look out of place. You’ve achieved something great at work, and the best they can manage is a miserly, ‘yes, well okay, that wasn’t too bad, BUT…’ This person specialises in ‘buts’ with capital letters, finds it very difficult to be happy for you, and looks slightly anxious if you insist on being joyful for a few moments.
When we learn mindfulness, we become more self-aware, and we can use this self-awareness to catch ourselves when we are caught in certain thought-patterns, such as negativity or anxiety or rumination. And most of us give some thought to how we interact with others – hopefully we are friendly, polite, and considerate to our friends and colleagues most of the time. Enthusiasm which isn’t grounded in reality is like a tree with shallow roots which is blown over by the first gust of wind. We put ourselves on the line when we show enthusiasm – we’re saying, in effect, this is precious to me, this is something I feel passionate about. It can provide a grounded counter-balance to over-excitement, to be more realistic about our present reality – to neither overplay nor underplay our expectations. It adds an extra sparkle to our day, motivates us to go the extra mile, brings us endless joy, and inspires and uplifts those around us. Sometimes in these situation we may start out with genuine enthusiasm, but that initial flush can be difficult to sustain. Add some music, balloons and colour, clapping and singing together… We can soon find ourselves being swept up in the mood of the crowd, which could be euphoric, one of the best experiences of our lives, or else it could be nasty, downright dangerous. There are many times when enthusiasm is not warranted – where it’s much more skillful to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and either walk away or else participate in something with a high degree of skepticism and caution. It’s easy to end up at one end of the scale – either heavy with world-weary ennui, or else sparkling with fireworks exploding all over the place.
Playfully, not taking yourself too seriously, imbue the task with enthusiasm and notice how this feels.
Yet, as Jon Kabat-Zinn often says to participants in his MBSR courses, most of the time there is actually more right than wrong with us. Just these basics are more than hundreds of millions of people around the world are able to enjoy right now. I’ve worked with people in hospitals or residential care who had lost almost everything, and yet they would smile with warmth when they saw a little kitten or young child come to visit. Having lived through two world wars and the depression, she did not like to throw anything away. We evolved like this to give ourselves the best chance of survival in an environment full of threats out in the open savannah.
Our mind is full of rusty old nails we’ll never use, but which we cling on to in case they might come in handy one day. We do need some of this threat-based information, and it pays to look after it, just as my grandmother looked after her radio and other possessions all her life. In mindfulness, we meditate or focus on only the present moment and we do so without judgment or criticism. As a consequence, there is a rapidly expanding scientific literature documenting the effectiveness of mindfulness based practices.
By making it a regular part of your daily routine, you should start to notice positive results within a few weeks.
I recommend you try several as you will find that different speakers appeal to different people.
Some people prefer soft music or nature sounds to a scripted or guided mediation and the Target selection includes more titles with nature sounds. If you'd like to try the yoga, you can select your fitness level and your fitness goals such as strength or flexibility.
The first two locations are non-denominational churches that welcome people of all faiths and beliefs. Parents who felt that the schools' Ashtanga yoga program was inherently religious in nature are suing the school for civil rights violations.
It is based on rewards – each time we achieve something, or get something, whether it’s a promotion, a like on Facebook, a new car, or praise from a family member, our brain releases a little rush of dopamine to help us feel good, and to motivate us to keep trying. The 24 hour news cycle, advertising, over-crowding, insecurity at work, family stress, the political climate – all these can make us fearful and reactive over and over again.
Fortunately, we can learn over time to switch off this primitive reactiveness when it’s not called for, and to instead engage the whole of our brain – including those parts which make us mature, wise, reflective and considerate. Whether it’s our relationship with our family or work, our neighbours or our cravings, we can learn to pause, reflect, and make conscious choices on how to act.
It’s a primitive but effective emergency response to a perceived danger, and it mobilises our body for immediate action. Parts of the brain such as the central pre-frontal cortex, which are designed to restrain your action, reflect on the situation and bring empathy and atunement to another person, go offline. Some people live in dangerous situations, such as a war zone or in a domestic violence relationship, but for many of us the actual physical dangers are rare – and yet we can spend a great deal of our lives in fight or flight mode. Perhaps your childhood home, which hasn’t been in your family for years, is being demolished. Each society has its own forms of disenfranchised grief – losses which aren’t validated by the community.
Yes, by all means bring some of your wonderful cuisine along and open a restaurant where your whole family can work long hours to feed us. Over time, however, we become more attuned to the losses inside us, and what might trigger feelings of grief.
It doesn’t need to be elaborate – a simple gesture to acknowledge the grief, such as lighting a candle, or placing a flower in a stream and watching it float away, can be very powerful.
However, there is a practice which the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh calls a gentle half smile, which can indeed brighten our day, without needing to pretend that life is all wonderful. We can also send the half smile to parts of our body which may be hurting, or which feel tense.
But even in those situations, you can still imagine a gentle half smile behind your eyes, and you will look more open and receptive to the other person, and they may feel you are being warm and friendly towards them.
It’s as if this person knows more about the world than you, understands that the world is really a very dangerous and unpredictable place, and so is trying his or her best to keep you on your toes, prevent you from being complacent, and ensure you will always strive a little harder than you did the day before. This increased self-awareness is valuable, but it will only really improve our lives if we can manage to talk to ourselves in a warm and friendly tone of voice.
We all know how wonderful it is to be with someone whose voice is warm, calm, and resonant. Yet when we do find ourselves being self-critical we can ask – is the criticism constructive? It’s relatively easy to kick-start a burst of enthusiasm, but even easier to deflate it again. It’s so easy to deflate someone’s enthusiasm – just a little pinprick, and the bright red balloon becomes a sad scrap of rubber. Mindfulness can help us develop beginner’s mind, an appreciation of what is happening right now, which is useful when we want to stay with something long term without getting bored by it. Pick one of these and find a way of including it in your week, even if it’s only for ten minutes. The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek en theos, which literally means ‘God within’, or ‘inspired by God’.

Our enthusiasm may then develop a fake, pinched quality – it comes across as forced, and doesn’t really convince anyone. Next week, we will look at ways of cultivating enthusiasm which are healthy, and based in reality. If we think about all the people we’ve met in the last few weeks, chances are that most were fundamentally friendly, decent and resilient.
We want to learn from our mistakes, to ask ourselves next time we find ourselves in a similar situation – ‘now remember what happened last time, that didn’t go so well, what might you do differently today?’ Yet much of our stress is caused by our just in case mind, that cellar full of rusty nails, and a regular mindfulness practice can help us clear some of that junk out, and choose to keep what’s actually important. By writing them down, you bring them out from the cellar of old memories into the living space of awareness upstairs, where it’s much easier to find an appropriate place to keep them (which may well be the rubbish bin!). Research continues to reflect many significant benefits to both mental and physical health such as improving mood, stress, focus, concentration, sleep, blood pressure, inflammation, cholesterol, and chronic pain. Barnes and Noble also has a large selection in their music section but ask a sales clerk for advice on your preferred format - music only or guided mediation with a speaker. The audio and video guides instruct and lead you through all the moves for a complete yoga session whether you are a beginner or more advanced. Its scientific research using mindfulness was the basis for stress reduction clinics in medical centers across the United States. This was the first study designed to control for other therapeutic mechanisms, such as supportive social interaction, expert instruction, or learning new skills.A class in stress reduction can be beneficial in many ways, some of which have little to do with mindfulness, according to Melissa Rosenkranz, assistant scientist at the center and lead author on the paper, which was published recently in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity. We’ve managed to avoid becoming the tiger’s lunch, but we still need to find lunch for ourselves, as well as shelter, medicines to keep us healthy, protection for our children, and so on.
The resource-seeking system is a very active and engaged system, and it can be highly energising.
Sometimes this is exploited by others – for example click-bait, which are stories designed to have us clicking on to online news, helping them to sell advertising.
In mindfulness, we are in effect asking – ‘what is really going on right now?’ And also, once we’ve become clearer about the current situation, we can also ask, ‘how can I best respond?’ Over time, if we practise mindfulness regularly, we find that our level of arousal in stressful situations is not as high, and we can recover more quickly.
In fact, in emergency situations, we often find ourselves reacting before we have time to think. Again, we can see how these responses are great in a survival situation, but less useful in a complex office or family environment. You feel a little sad about this, knowing you will never be able to see the house you grew up in again, but you’d hardly travel to the address to stage a public funeral on the footpath.
One example, which is slowly changing in some places, is the disenfranchised grief of a same-sex partner who has no say in end-of-life decisions or funeral arrangements.
Do you feel very moved by the online footage of the teenage Syrian refugee who has brought his puppy with him to Europe?
And we have all come across the compulsory professional smile, which depending on the person may still be friendly, but in the wrong hands can feel cold and arrogant. It’s a good practice to start our meditation with a reminder to gently smile, but we can also bring this half smile to our face throughout the day. It’s easy for us to metaphorically frown at various parts of the body, either because of pain, or because of a sense there is something ‘wrong’ with our bodies. It is a wonderful habit to cultivate, and encapsulates what mindfulness meditation is about – not pretending that life is other than it is, but choosing small actions which will gradually infuse our days with more positive states of mind.
Otherwise, our self-awareness might only add extra grist to the mill of self-criticism which is perhaps already out of control. You may know a person who, every time you meet them, breathlessly extols the latest self-help book or diet or guru or TV preacher. Mindfulness also helps us become more comfortable with our vulnerability, to be honest about those things we care about, but perhaps to also choose more wisely who we share our enthusiasm with. Like grace and love, there is an inspired quality to enthusiasm – we all know what it feels like, but we can’t manufacture or control it. The strained smile, the false cheerfulness – these can be used to hide dysfunction and disengagement, to stop people from asking difficult questions or expressing doubt. However, just as mindfulness is about acknowledging the difficulties we face, it’s also about recognising the resources and gifts which are available to us in any given moment. Hers was an era before ‘planned obsolescence’, where she used the same record player and radio she’d bought as a young mother after the war, right until her death.
Unfortunately, this just in case mind can also bring with it a great deal of unnecessary suffering, and can significantly reduce our ability to enjoy life.
This second system is all about ensuring we get the resources we need in order to survive and prosper. It’s certainly a wonderful part of our life, and, like all three emotional systems in Paul Gilbert’s model, it plays an important part in helping us live well.
Politicians may want to make us feel insecure so they can promise us security if we vote for them. This is a major advantage in times when we’re under considerable stress, but need to negotiate our challenges with wisdom and restraint.
This is great when a snake is coming at you and you have to jump out of the way; not so good when your boss says something you find upsetting and you find yourself screaming abuse at her. The silent grief can also be the loss of our hopes and dreams, being incapacitated in some way, a past injustice, or historical wrongs which haven’t been acknowledged. It’s so much more friendly to bring a gentle smile to different regions of our bodies instead. They’ve finally found ‘it’ – the one thing which will turn their lives around and set them on the path to happiness and fulfillment. Not everyone wants to hear all the ins and outs of the novel you’ve been working on for the past ten years, but sharing it with a person who does, and who actually, genuinely, wants to read the latest version of Chapter 1 – that is priceless! As for ourselves, we might have made a few mistakes in the past month, perhaps didn’t always cover ourselves in glory, but nonetheless we probably were often thoughtful and kind, and it’s likely we made some good choices along the way. She valued her possessions and looked after them, treating everything with care and respect so it could last as long as possible. The content of the program was meant to match aspects of the mindfulness instruction in some way. When our distant ancestors lived in the savannah, food and shelter were the main priorities.
However, there are also some potential pitfalls when we invest too much of our life into this system – when our life becomes out of balance.
The advertising industry often works on our fear – buy this product to keep you and your family safe – and who would not want their family to be safe?
Next week, we will look how mindfulness can be helpful for regulating the fight or flight response a bit better. Except that next time you see them, they’re preoccupied with a completely new ‘it’, the formerly wonderful ‘it’ quite forgotten. Yet she also had a cellar full of rusty nails she’d never use, old clothes which could have gone to someone else – all these possessions stored below, just in case.
For example, physical exercise was meant to match walking meditation, without the mindfulness component. Nowadays, in order to thrive in our society, we may also need a car to get to work, a smartphone to stay in touch, a computer, a house and so on.
Next week, we will look at some of the shadow sides which the resource-seeking system can bring with it. I love my dog.’ Maybe you had to leave a beloved family pet behind when you moved countries?
While there may be legitimate debate about just how much ‘stuff’ we actually need, the reality is that we can’t hold down a job if we only have one item of clothing made of old sacks, can’t wash ourselves, have no way of getting to work, or can’t keep in touch with the world around us.
The study also suggests that mindfulness techniques may be more effective in relieving inflammatory symptoms than other activities that promote well-being.s. And of course we also want the best for our children, and to give them every opportunity to feel safe, to thrive, and to belong. It helps to hold the silent grief with mindful compassion, to honour and respect it, so it’s no longer a disenfranchised grief but simply becomes part of our common humanity. This study adds to the growing body of knowledge concerning the mechanisms of mindfulness and how it affects the body.Co-authors on the paper were Richard J. 9 Ways to Boost Glutathione Empower and Heal Yourself With The Archangels The Egg Today Week Month All This Video Shows How McDonald’s Fries Are Made and Why You Should NEVER Eat Them 6 Ways to Have Radically Intimate Sex Open Your Third Eye and Awaken Your Pineal Gland With These Simple Exercises (This Really Works!) 7 Tantric Tricks to Supercharge Your Sex Life 12 Little Known Laws of Karma That Will Change your Life Getting Ready to Microchip the Entire Human Race Are You or Your Kid an “Indigo Child”? Here Are the Signs A Guide to Having Multiple Orgasms (for Both Men and Women) For The First Time Ever, NASA Saw Something Come OUT Of A Black Hole 7 Yoga Poses for Better Sex Woman Who Won $112 Million Using Law of Attraction Is Giving Back 13 out of 14 "Biggest Loser" Contestants Gained Back Their Weight: Here's Why Horoscopes Tuesday 3rd May 2016 FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the stories on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

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