Consider this: Mindfulness practice can help cope with serious chronic pain, succeeding in making a normal life possible again for those otherwise debilitated by the pain itself, or the adverse effects of becoming addicted to pain medications.
Mindfulness practice, in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy, has been suggested to be one of the most effective forms of therapy for treatment resistant depression, helping where antidepressants or cognitive therapy alone don't. Mindfulness practice, in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy, can also be effective in the treatment of anxiety and panic disorder. Mindfulness practice might help one cope with everyday stressors, thereby diminishing the need to rely on less healthy coping alternatives such as alcohol, drugs, eating too much or not enough, smoking, etc.
Not only can mindfulness practice act as potent medicine, but it is also free, and accessible to all. The broad answer is that mindfulness practice is not for everyone, just like the fact that not everybody exercises or follows a healthy diet, although both are key factors of good health. Mindfulness has profound healing effects on the mind and body, including lower blood pressure, lower cortisol levels, . The function of the Roshi and his stick is to catch studentsa€™ minds drifting away from being mindful, and to bring them back to the present moment with a tap. Other forms of mindfulness practice rely on the practitioner catching him or herself losing focus, and drifting off into thoughts, memories, fantasies, and daydreams. NeurOptimal does the same thing as the Roshi and his stick, but much more quickly, reliably, and effectively.
When NeurOptimal provides feedback by momentarily pausing music, it triggers the orienting reflex which is your minds natural trigger to be mindful of itself and its surroundings. In a typical 30-minute meditation session, the practitioner might a€?come backa€? to the present moment about 30 times. Like the meditation practitioner, your brain eventually develops the habit of staying in a state of mindful awareness more of the time, and coming back from distracting a€?driftinga€? more quickly. I love that mindfulness practice is being investigated by science, and fascinated that many of the shifts reported by meditators throughout the ages are being corroborated by scientific evidence.
Still, I often wonder if something is lost if we rely too much on scientific method and language as our way of approaching this work. Because scientific research is a matter of third-person observation, a conscious distancing in order to observe, and also a matter of logical interpretation, which happens at the level of thought and analysis, something of this heart quality can be missed when science is our only mode of engaging with things. On mindfulness courses, people often experience a realization that our supposedly logical minds, represented by the brain, are not always that logical—our thoughts are riddled with biases and preconceptions. Of course, thought is not bad—sometimes we just need to relate to it a little differently, realizing that it is only a part of who we are, and that our ruminations don’t have to dominate.
Our challenge, perhaps, is reject neither science nor art but to integrate the richness of experience with the clarity of observation. Through our weekly Sangha practice of sitting and walking meditation, reading Thay’s words, participating in Dharma discussions and chanting, we learn how to be more compassionate with ourselves and each other.
Half a century ago eastern philosophy began to seep into the west, bringing new insights about awareness, self, and reality. To understand what mindfulness photography is, let’s first take a look at what it is not. In photography, mindfulness is like observing something for the first time, even though you may have looked at it a thousand times before.
Meditation teachers have outlined some of the qualitities of mindfulness to help meditators recognize it when it happens. Some people recommend taking and looking at lots of photographs in order to widen your vision of what photography can be, to develop a heightened sensivity for recognizing visual possibilities that can be captured with your camera. In his book on mindfulness meditation, Henepola Gunaratana talks about how it is actually a combination of mindfulness and concentration. Photographers who practice mindfulness sometimes say that simply holding a camera can induce this state of awareness.
The Tao of Photography explores this territory with beautful black-and-white photos (including ones from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Stieglitz, and Dorothea Lange), along with words of wisdom from eastern philosophy and western mystical thinkers. Being a fully trained Zen Buddhist Roshi who also established himself as an accomplished photographer, John Daido Loori demonstrates masterful insight into artistic creativity in general and photography in particular. Many contemporary books that discuss mindful photography offer wonderfully philosphical and poetic ideas behind this state of mind, but not a whole lot of specific how-to suggestions. Mindfulness practice can possibly help with stress-related conditions such as high blood pressure, migraines, skin conditions such as psoriasis. Dragging oneself to sit day after day for 30 minutes every morning is not for the lazy one.
One of the paradoxes of mindfulness is that it does require some intention, and at the same time it does not work well with the extra tension from a priori expectations. The practice is largely about learning how to be with one's suffering, turning towards it as opposed to away from it as we usually do.
Many of these are supported by modern research, though it has been practiced for personal and spiritual development for thousands of years.
In Zen Buddhism, there is a tradition that the teacher (the Roshi) will use a stick to gently hit students on the back when they start to fall asleep during meditation. This tap is greatly beneficial to the student, who may get lost in his or her thoughts for long periods of time, if they were not brought back the present by their benevolent teacher.
When the practitioner realizes he or she has lost focus, they acknowledge their mind by silently saying a€?thinkinga€? or labeling their thought (e.g.
Instead of a watchful eye, NeurOptimal uses electrodes to detect your brainwaves and a computer to monitor your brain for indications of a€?driftinga€? out of a mindful state.

In a typical 33-minute NeurOptimal session, your brain would be brought back to the present moment hundreds, if not thousands, of times.
The consequent experience of patience and compassion are transformative for many people, leading toA  vast improvements in their relationship with others and themselves. I’ve written before about how scientific findings can bring expectation of future results, and that this can sometimes sabotage our mindfulness, taking us further into the stress of unfulfilled desire and out of the present moment. I do it myself sometimes, as a way of making sense of neuroscientific findings that show activity and structure in the brain can shift as a result of practice. The brain is an important organ, of course, but it’s interesting how much weight and attention is given to neuroscientific research as compared to evidence about what’s going on in the body.
Our thoughts are not as powerful as we make them out to be, and trying to think our way out of stresses or emotional upheavals is not usually very effective. Indeed, isn’t bringing these two modes together an important aspect of what mindfulness really is?
He is author of Mindfulness: How To Live Well By Paying Attention (2015) and co-author of The Mindful Manifesto (2012).
It works so well, Sharon Salzberg says, because it enhances life skills we already have.Three Simple Ways to Pay Attention - MindfulPracticing meditation doesn’t involve a whole new set of skills. Louis Missouri area who support one another through practicing engaged Buddhism in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. We welcome the participation of people from all backgrounds, regardless of ethnic origin, race, cultural background, socio-economic class, age, gender and sexual orientation.  We are committed to fostering a practice environment where all may experience positive transformation and healing.
Some of these ideas had already popped up here and there among avant-garde thinkers and artists in Europe and America, but the westward spread of such systems as Buddhism and Taoism catalyzed this dawning of a new way to see and understand.
You’re scanning the environment, looking for a good capture and trying to avoid bad ones.
Have you ever seen an infant staring, with fascination and delight, at a simple object, like a spoon? The list is very useful for us photographers as well, when we're doing photography or simply cultivating that state of awareness during everyday activities. Without a doubt, mindfulness will draw on your continually expanding reservoir of visual memories.
Mindfulness is a process of opening up and detecting something new, like highly sensitive peripheral vision. It is a kind of conditioning effect: your mind associates doing photography with mindfulness. That doesn't necessarily mean they rely on some transcendental being or force when taking photos. HIs own photography perfectly illustrates the exquisite simplicity of what we might otherwise consider banal.
Inspired by Minor White, he identifies specific elements that fuel creativity, including the still point, spontaneity, simplicity, a sense of mystery, the transcendence of paradox, and nonjudgmental feedback from others. If you want to develop mindfulness to an extent where it can truly change your photography, you'll need to go beyond most of the photography books about this subject. If you are the type to pop in pills for the slightest headache, you may have a hard time sitting with your pain. In this way, the teacher helps the student stay alert and mindful of his or her mind, body, and surroundings.
NeurOptimal looks at your brain activity 256 times per second, and returns feedback in milliseconds when it shows the first signs of shifting states. Like going to a movie theater, the conscious mind thinks it is getting a constant signal, and doesna€™t notice the almost instantaneous gaps that are always present. Since mindfulness requires a€?practicea€? to cultivate, NeurOptimal provides the most intense practice, and therefore the most effective results. People say they are able to just sit and be still more easily, without feeling the compulsion to be thinking or doing something all the time. But I suspect there may be another risk too—that of unconsciously narrowing our experience into a conceptual frame. This is fine, but traditionally, meditation has been considered more of a heart training than a brain training—a way of helping us to open our hearts to ourselves, others and the world. The work of mindfulness for many of us, then, is a letting go of attachment to what’s going on in our heads, and a reacquaintance with what’s happening in our bodies—a willingness to connect with the feeling and tone of experience. As we let go of fixating on thoughts, we can feel the textures of our lives more exquisitely—we can get in touch with the heart of things. He is a member of the faculty of the School of Life in London, and a frequent public speaker and media commentator on mindfulness-related topics. It’s like that moment when you look at a family member or close friend and suddenly realize that you are truly SEEING them, as if for the first time, and not just looking numbly at them, as you usually do. It is a state of mind that is welcoming, receptive, and openning up to the beautiful visual possibilities within the world, as well as to the many dimensions of our mind and soul that enables us to see those possibilities. Let go of blocked emotions, because receptiveness to all feelings and sensations allows the eyes to open.
When you're shooting, mindfulness will help you open up to all the possibilities you have seen in your mind's eye.
Concentration, on the other hand, is a one-pointed awareness that zooms in to focus on an object, like a laser.
I might add that when we are mindfully aware of our surroundings, we are doing photography, even if we don’t have a camera with us.

Instead, true to eastern philosophies like Taoism and Zen, it means learning how to see things for what they truly are, rather than what you expect them to be. What I find wonderful about them is how he gives us a subtle, but profound feeling for his love of colors, shapes, and textures.
If you're interested in the spiritual dimensions of photography as seen through the eyes of Zen, this is the book to get.
But sooner or later, you are going to encounter parts of yourself that don't feel so good, and you may start doubting. This may seem violent, but Zen teachers and students consider it a compassionate act by the teacher, for the benefit of the studenta€™s enlightenment. This method develops the habit of bringing onea€™s awareness back to the present moment with greater speed and reliability, the more the practitioner practices the method. You may notice these gaps when 3-4 are triggered back-to-back, but otherwise they are only registered by the part of your brain that operates outside of your conscious awareness. Indeed, the Sanskrit word sometimes translated as mind (citta) also means heart, and so mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn suggests, might just as well be called heartfulness. This reorientation process makes us feel more balanced and whole, and often, more friendly, compassionate, and open. He is also an advisor to and former co-director of The Mindfulness Initiative, which is supporting the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mindfulness to develop mindfulness-based policies for the UK. We can rely on the Sangha and trust it to support our deepest aspirations and give us energy and inspiration on the path of practice.
You consider ways to recreate your prior success or emulate those outstanding pictures by your heroes. She’s simply immersed in the joyful experience of it, without any of the psychological and emotional filters that distort our adult perceptions of the world.
Notice the light, shadows, colors, textures, and patterns, even if and especially if you don't have your camera.
It means recognizing the intrinsic beauty of the visual world rather than trying to manufacture a shot that looks good.
Through various exercises and assignments, he attempts to help photographers develop the ability to see tones, color, shapes, and textures without worrying about the meaning or value of the shot.
His photographs, which often lean into the realm of the abstract, strike me as a joyous celebration of the visual beauty in the world that our intutiive awareness can show us, if we just get out of the way and let it.
That's why I include here the classic, widely acclaimed book Wherever You Go There You Are by the eminent Jon Kabat-Zinn. However, it is a slow process since the practitioner has to catch him or her self, and will spend a lot of time a€?driftinga€? before coming back to the present moment. He offers ideas about cultivating a mindfulness meditation practice that will not only transform your photography, but your life.
In fact, it could get in the way of mindfulness, especially if you tend to hide behind the camera rather than immerse yourself into the scene, or if you think of the camera as a tool of power, control, purpose, and accomplishment. As Bion suggested, you leave memory behind and enter a new, creative territory for observing the world around you. Then, using the powers of concentration, you consciously direct your awareness to it, sink into and explore it, and finally, when doing photography, record it without memory or desire - not unlike the archer who selflessly lets loose the arrow in that fully focussed moment of Zen awareness. I'll offer a heads-up, though: it will be a challenge, because meditation requires practice and dedication.
During these everyday activities, just notice and appreciate how light works, without any other thought or expectation that might get in the way of that clear perception. You can just sense it in how he talks about his work and in the exquisite photos he shows us.
We see things not in terms of their utility or practical, abstract, or even personal meaning.
Be patient with and accept who you are, regardless of your photographic or personal shortcomings. It will reveal who you are as a person, including your problems - problems that no doubt affect your photography. We don’t even see them in terms of color, tones, shapes, textures, or other visual concepts.
If you stick with it, the reward will be a big improvement not just in your photography, but in your mental and physical well-being. If you still have any doubts about the effectiveness of this form of meditation, consider the fact that easterners have been doing it for thousands of years as a way to refine their skills in painting, calligraphy, sculpting, archery, and all forms of martial arts. If you find yourself slipping into a stupor-like focus on one thing, try returning to mindfulness. And after you’ve taken that great shot, linger on the scene for a moment, to appreciate it fully for what it is. We unite with the scene not so we can see a shot we want, but rather what the scene offers.

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