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This is a list of articles that I have written to date that will help you to find mindfulness in your daily life and that all take anything from a second to a few minutes. I recently completed the 8-week Mindfulness & Meditation course and thoroughly enjoyed it. Robert is a man who is on top of his craft…he is a man with empathy and a wealth of experience. The day retreat and the beginning of August was wonderfully uplifting and my mind was almost still for 3 days after! We will be provided with an authorization token (please note: passwords are not shared with us) and will sync your accounts for you. Recent findings illustrate how changes in consciousness accommodated by neural correlates and plasticity of the brain advance a model of perceptual change as a function of meditative practice. Studies using fMRI suggest that, due to the plasticity of brain, there are dynamic changes in activation of the bilateral temporoparietal junction and the temporal gyri frontal eye field when an individual closes and opens his eyes (Mayer et al., 2004).
In meditation, cardio-respiratory synchronization leads to a long-lasting neural response as indicated by EEG, fMRI, and other imaging techniques. The DMN is a specific, anatomically defined network of brain regions preferentially active when one is wakeful but resting and not focused on the external environment (Buckner et al., 2008).
Different mind-body techniques may be expected to produce differences in physiological changes as well as different experiences and brain states (Orme-Johnson and Walton, 1998) and these may also be attributed to variations in methodology (Travis et al., 2009). Variations in brain wave patterns have been observed in different meditation techniques, for example, increased alpha coherence in Transcendental Meditation®, higher theta wave activity in Zen meditation and increased gamma activity in mindfulness meditation (Travis and Shear, 2010). Activation of the DMN has been found to be increased during periods of low cognitive load and decreased under greater executive control. Recent research illustrates how the neural correlates and plasticity of the brain accommodate changes in consciousness. Synchronization of the hemodynamic response during meditation was shown to lead to inhibition of the limbic system, and deactivation of DMN leads to an increase in cortical functional connectivity. Mindfulness is the quintessential meditative practice, the most valuable instrument in your mind’s toolbox and the key to personal development.
Yes, although mindfulness is very intimately related to Zen meditation, it is certainly not exclusive to such practice. Now there are many valuable and comprehensive resources about the subject – from metaphysics to practical guides – and a lot of masters in the practice who definitely can shed more insight on the topic than myself.
As Eckhart Tolle suggests in ‘A New Earth’ it only takes the awareness of one single breath to connect to your state of mindfulness and inner peace…well let’s make it three!
Another ‘anchoring’ method for meditation in general is being aware of your body – whether your body as a whole, a certain part of your body or else proprioception (the feeling of space and position your body is occupying). Like the three breaths, the purpose of this exercise is to access mindfulness briefly from anywhere, anytime.
For example you are in a coffee shop somewhere watching the world go by around you in a frenzy. In short, the funny thing is that the lucidity tests or ‘reality checks’ used in lucid dream techniques can be applied to your waking life just as well and as effectively. The above suggestions are meant to ground your awareness and become mindfulness in short time windows wherever you are.
Teach Yourself Mindfulness Course: A carefully crafted course designed to guide you deeper through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment – When I think of Mindfulness I think of Jon Kabat Zinn, author of this fantastic guide to mindfulness. This article was originally featured on SoulHiker, where it was used with direct permission from the author. Robert is skilled at delivering information, managing differing needs in the group and giving everyone a chance to engage at their own pace. This means that you will not need to remember your user name and password in the future and you will be able to login with the account you choose to sync, with the click of a button.
This page doesn't support Internet Explorer 6, 7 and 8.Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience. During the mind-body response neural correlates of changing awareness illustrate how the autonomic nervous system shifts from a sympathetic dominant to a parasympathetic dominant state. The mind-body response may be illustrated by a hypothetical psychophysiological condition before meditation, with decreased prefrontal cortex activity, with increased mind wandering (Hasenkamp et al., 2012) leading to an unsynchronized cardiac and respiratory center (elevated sympathetic nervous system activity) and increased activity of the thalamus and amygdala (see Figure 1). The dynamic mind-body response is illustrated by a hypothetical psychophysiological condition before mindfulness meditation, with mind wandering and decreased prefrontal cortex activity, leading to unsynchronized cardiac and respiratory centers (elevated sympathetic nervous system activity) and increased activity of the thalamus and amygdala associated with baseline or increased activity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) and decreased cortical function connectivity. A study conducted with mindfulness-based stress reduction on patients with social anxiety disorder reported that during a breath-focused attention task, subjects showed (a) decreased negative emotional experiences, (b) reduced amygdala activity, and (c) increased activity in brain regions implicated in attentional deployment (Goldin and Gross, 2010). In an fMRI study where the effects of respiration variations on independent component analysis of DMN were analyzed, it was shown that functional connectivity can be greatly affected by cardiac and respiratory activity (Birn et al., 2008). One factor that seems to be common among different types of meditation is respiratory and cardiac synchronization, a feature that underlies increased heart rate variability that is indicative of autonomic modulation. Alpha and theta power increase with eyes closed compared to eyes open in normal subjects tested via fMRI scans to monitor the DMN, suggesting a network of spectral EEG activities simultaneously operative at well defined regional fields in the eyes closed state, varying specifically between eyes closed and eyes open states (Chen et al., 2008). The TM technique utilizes automatic self-transcending to allow the mind to settle to a state of quiescence (Alexander et al., 1987).

Neural correlates of expanding awareness during the mind-body response illustrate how the autonomic nervous system shifts from a sympathetic dominant to a parasympathetic dominant state. This article provides evidence to support the mechanism of neurophysiological changes during meditation at the cellular level based on neurovascular coupling, and at the global brain activity level from the autonomic response generated by cardiorespiratory synchronization.
In other words, it’s the shortest path to actualising your fullest potential  – your real You.
In view of this, I will reserve my article space here to suggest a few mindfulness hacks and experiments that you can carry with you in your everyday situations.
As I mentioned, you can focus on any part of your body but there are areas which are particularly useful to access mindfulness – the guts, stomach, the chest and the throat. For instance a sense of powerlessness from a difficult relationship will manifest in a feeling of constriction around the chest area (Heart Chakra) or anxiety as ‘butterflies’ around  your stomach area (Solar Plexus). Placing our awareness briefly in these major energy centers can help you connect much easier to your inner being which in turn will center you in a state of inner calm and mindfulness. You are there absorbed in something – perhaps chatting with your pal, texting on your smartphone or just engulfed in the experience of the world passing by. Something triggers your conscious awareness to ‘pop’ out and realize you are actually in a dream. Kabat-Zinn is a scientist and meditation teacher who was a pioneer in demonstrating the benefits of mindfulness within western mainstream medicine.
Expansion of awareness during the practice of meditation techniques can be linked to the Default Mode Network (DMN), a network of brain regions that is active when the one is not focused on the outside world and the brain is restful yet awake (Chen et al., 2008).
Increased thalamo-cortical activity is associated with baseline or increased DMN activity and decreased cortical function connectivity.
In the final stage and after meditation, there is decreased mind wandering and increased prefrontal cortex activity, leading to synchronized cardiac and respiratory centers (elevated parasympathetic nervous system activity) and decreased activity of the thalamus and amygdala associated with decreased DMN activity and increased cortical function connectivity. Mindfulness meditation has been shown to: (1) decrease pain-related activity of the primary somatosensory cortex, (2) increase activity of the anterior cingulate cortex and anterior insula, and (3) reduce activity of the limbic gating mechanism with the thalamus (amygdala).
Regarding coupling between the hemodynamic response and neuronal activity (neurovascular coupling), findings suggest that the hemodynamic response is significantly correlated with neuronal activity.
These fluctuations are hypothesized to result from neuronal activity synchronized within and across brain regions (Birn et al., 2006).
Cardio-respiratory phase synchronization has been shown to be enhanced during meditation, compared with normal relaxation (Wu and Lo, 2010). Awareness of the mental transformation leads to a state of increasing calm and outer focus via increased self-awareness through pranayama practice (Brown and Gerbarg, 2005). The amount of deactivation within the DMN is modulated by the effort required to perform the task. This experience is associated with significantly increased EEG coherence and physiological rest (Travis et al., 2001). The practice of TM has been shown to increase functional connectivity of DMN and to activate DMN compared to simple eyes closed rest (Travis et al., 2010).
We have attempted to synthesize the literature in order to advance a model illustrating meditation’s dynamic mind-body response, and associations are made with the cardiac and respiratory center, the thalamus and amygdala, the DMN and cortical function connectivity. Future research will benefit from use of a standardized set of psychophysiological variables and imaging protocols, for comparison of studies different kinds of meditation, that would foster clearer understanding of the relationship between the DMN and experiences during meditation (Travis et al., 2009).
Mindfulness-induced changes in gamma band activity – implications for the default mode network, self-reference and attention. Focused attention, open monitoring and automatic self-transcending: categories to organize meditations from Vedic, Buddhist, and Chinese traditions. With so much talk and literature about the subject, it’s easy to get confused on what mindfulness really is or isn’t.
Think of a time or situation where you felt really in ‘sync’ with your inner feelings, thoughts and felt collected, centred and ‘in one place’.
But putting your awareness to it will ground you to the inner stillness underlying the frenetic stream of thoughts or feelings constantly arising in your waking consciousness. Take three deep breaths and put your awareness on to it…just your breathing nothing more.  Can you feel a sense of stillness and peace even if perhaps subtle for now? These are places where emotions, tension or unresolved issues tend to manifest certain sensations.
The course comes with ebook and 10 high quality audio files with meditations. Highly recommended.
Robert is generous with his time to enable participants to learn at their own pace whilst being able to share a lot of information. A model is presented illustrating the dynamic mind-body response before and after mindfulness meditation, and connections are made with prefrontal cortex activity, the cardiac and respiratory center, the thalamus and amygdala, the DMN and cortical function connectivity. During and after meditation, DMN activity is decreased and there is increased prefrontal cortex activity, leading to a more synchronized cardiac and respiratory center (elevated parasympathetic nervous system activity) and decreased activity of the thalamus and amygdala. Conversely, exogenous visual space orientation compared to endogenous facilitation results in only a single focus of activation in the left superior temporal gyrus. The findings suggest that mindfulness meditation improves visuo-spatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning (Zeidan et al., 2010). This concept is further illustrated by recent findings of effects of meditation on the DMN. Independent component analysis has distinguished waveform activity within the DMN and respiratory induced changes (Birn et al., 2008). In Zen and Kinhin meditation, the breathing frequency decreases spontaneously even in novices leading to the cardio-respiratory synchronization (Cysarz and Büssing, 2005).

Alpha EEG coherence and synchrony, as seen during the TM technique, is associated with neural communication and integration which may be the neurophysiological basis of beneficial physiological and clinical effects of TM (Travis and Shear, 2010). A positron emission tomography study reported that TM practice increases blood flow in the prefrontal cortex, reduces activity in the thalamus and the medial occipital lobe, and reduces hippocampal activity (Newberg et al., 2006).
Physiological patterns during practice of the transcendental meditation technique compared with patterns while reading Sanskrit and a modern language. Patterns of EEG coherence, power, and contingent negative variation characterize the integration of transcendental and waking states. My sense of ‘I’ (or rather the awareness behind the ‘I’) feels centred and strongest in that place in the body. Here are some resources you might want to dig into to find out more how you can use mindfulness as part of your personal development. The default status of the DMN changes corresponding to autonomic modulation resulting from meditation practice. This decreased thalamo-cortical activity is associated with decreased DMN activity and increased cortical function connectivity. In our model, the normal activation resulting from endogenous orientation at the start of meditation with eyes closed shifts from the temporal (somatosensory) gyri to the parietal and visual cortex. Mindfulness practitioners exhibit lower trait frontal gamma activity, as well as state and trait increases in posterior gamma power, irrespective of practice proficiency suggesting that mindfulness induces neuroplasticity in self-referential and attentional networks (Berkovich-Ohana et al., 2012). It is our hypothesis that respiratory impulses synchronize with the DMN via activity of slowly adapting stretch receptors (SARs) in the lungs. The activity of pulmonary SARs is also known to be transmitted to the heart where respiratory sinus arrhythmia is observed during lung inflation. TM produces higher alpha power in the frontal cortex and lower beta and gamma waves in the same frontal areas during practice, and creates greater alpha coherence between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Regional brain activation during meditation shows time and practice effects: an exploratory FMRI study. The effect of respiration variations on independent component analysis results of resting state functional connectivity. Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on emotion regulation in social anxiety disorder.
Mind wandering and attention during focused meditation: a fine-grained temporal analysis of fluctuating cognitive states.
Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system.
A self-referential default brain state: patterns of coherence, power, and eLORETA sources during eyes-closed rest and Transcendental Meditation practice. A self-referential default brain state: patterns of coherence, power, and eLORETA sources during eyes-closed rest and transcendental meditation practice. It can then be extended to other areas even outside the body but that is beyond the purpose of this mindfulness hack. Central and autonomic nervous system interaction has been shown to be impacted by only 5 days of meditation, including lower heart rate and increased heart rate variability (Tang et al., 2009).
Regular practice engaging DMN over time may induce neuroplastic changes that improve health for the mind and body. Things were still happening around you but you were totally still, even if only for a short while.
However the purpose of this experiment is to experience the stillness and centre of power that comes from mindfulness.
The good news is that it can be practiced anytime, anywhere and extended to how long you feel fits your situation. The things which were affecting you – people passing by, chatter, your screen – does not suck you in anymore. Animal-based studies have shown the origin of rhythmically generated inhibitory impulses by inflation of respiratory alveoli in the lungs, that are detected in the brainstem and other areas of the brain. Cardiorespiratory modulation synchronizes with the DMN and causes increased cortical function connectivity.
Separating respiratory-variation-related fluctuations from neuronal-activity-related fluctuations in fMRI. These neuronal impulses inhibit over-inflation and are involved with the Hering–Breuer reflex (Hering and Breuer, 1868). The DMN average frequency of 0.1 Hz synchronizes activity in widespread regions of the brain and is highly correlated with respiration. Our model suggests that decreased DMN activity during and after mindfulness meditation may lead to increased cortical function connectivity (Figure 1). After meditation, there is a decreased rate of breathing, and decreased activity of the DMN leads to selective inhibition of thalamus and amygdala (sensory relay center and emotional centers respectively) and activation of cortical function connectivity.

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