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01.10.2015
In a video that recently aired on "Through the Wormhole" narrated by Morgan Freeman on the TV channel Science, Dr.
The image below compares brain activity at rest and while the subject (a Presbyterian minister is shown in the video) is in deep prayer. The red part indicates greater activity, and in this case, increased activity is observed in the frontal lobes and the language area of the brain. Over the past few years I’ve written about mindfulness and meditation numerous times, both on this blog and elsewhere. Despite being all over the theory and health claims, I’ve recently started to come out to people as a meditation drop-out, and meditation skeptic.
To be fair, I probably I fell prey to the current culture and narrative around McMindfulness mindfulness and meditation. Even a year later, recalling the sensations and feelings I experienced in that room summons a resurgent wave of panic and tightness in my chest. Listening into a podcast by yogi and meditation practitioner Jonathan Fields, I heard great analogy from him of how mindfulness can harm when it is presented as an isolated practice. Nevertheless, there is emerging scientific evidence from case studies, surveys of meditators’ experience and historical studies to show that meditation can be associated with stress, negative effects and mental health problems.
I’ve never found it peaceful and calming, instead the battle with myself to chill has the opposite effect. As I explain in my Bottom-Up, Outside-In, Top-Down model of brain health, I believe there are plenty of ways to access your nervous system to counteract the stress response. In the absence of a meditation practice, I use a combination of of Bottom-Up, Outside-In AND Top-Down tools to reduce my stress response, modulate my emotions, and cultivate self awareness.
I find that there are periods (of many months) when I enjoy meditation – and others, as long, when it is just the wrong thing. When I tried to meditate I could only sit still for about 5 seconds before squirming and feeling very uncomfortable. Than we get up and are refreshed to head back into what life has to offer in the next moment, and can smile.
I have used mindful meditation (and other means) as a way of trying to manage a chronic health condition I’ve had for some 55 years.
I teach workshops in meditation, and one of the myths I expose is that meditation makes you peaceful. Every time the mind whisks your attention away, simply bring it back to the breath as it moves in and out.
I have meditated consistently for 41 years and it is as natural to do it as it is to clean my teeth.
It is not meant to be easy and a lot perseverance is required in order to become proficient. I’ve meditated and found it immensely helpful before going to bed when I worked at a mental health treatment center.


My active mind needed a system for meditation and Amma’s IAM technique was the perfect fit.
Relaxing Meditation MusicDynamic and at the same time quiet music which is suitable for the meditation, movement, introspection and reflections about sense of life. Newberg did not observe any of the brain activity in the frontal lobe that he observed in religious people.
Newberg concludes that all religions create neurological experiences, and while God is unimaginable for atheists, for religious people, God is as real as the physical world. Even if they don’t find it stressful, they report finding the entire experience underwhelming, incredibly challenging, or a waste of time. Out of curiosity, I try the Headspace app, but the breathing exercises leave me with pins and needles in my face and a burgeoning terror.
For example, one study found that mindfulness meditation led to increased cortisol, a biological marker of stress, despite the fact that participants subjectively reported feeling less stressed. I still try to mindfully empty the dishwasher, peg the clothes out on the line, and focus on the world around me when walking. I’m going through one of those periods at the moment and there is no apparent reason for it. This stops the rumination in its tracks and has a lasting effect after the exercise is over.
I find a hard pump class at the gym or other outdoor sports like skiing have the same impact.
This is where we find we are pushing the tension around never catching it, so to just let the floor support us, to let go trust the surface of the Earth press up to us and holding us, with no need to worry or be tense. Therefore, since I was Never meditating all of my life, it became a guilty weight of a brick on my psychological sholder.
Just sitting on the side of your bed, feet flat on the floor, and watching how your mind squirms, your nose itches, the to-do list intrudes.
Most are really relaxed and at peace at the end, but of those, most, I suspect, get home and can’t make it part of their routine. And because I find other activities work just as well, perhaps I didn’t have the required dedication.
Saturated sound of the album immerses the listener in the atmosphere of a spiritual holiday similar to a quiet and sure current of the sacred Ganges River. Andrew Newberg, MD, is the Director of Research at the Myrna Brind Center for Integrative Medicine at Thomson Jefferson University Hospital and Medical College, and he has studied the neuroscientific effect of religious and spiritual experiences for decades. Newberg believes that for the brain, praying to God in the Judeo-Christian tradition is similar to talking to people. The image below compares brain activity at rest and while the subject is in deep meditation. I was seduced by the claims and research backing up the claims, that meditation is a great antidote to stress.


The fact that something seemingly benign, positive and hugely popular had such a profound effect has taken me by surprise.
They present research on the often serious and negative outcomes of meditation — psychosis, breakdowns, and violent behaviours — that are seldom spoken of by meditation advocates and practitioners. But overachiever I am, I like taking on a new challenge that has a reasonable chance of success, or at least small wins early on in the process.
The first two weeks I struggled with cravings come late afternoon (that is another blog post). When I was walking every morning (before sore knees wrecked that) I would try to be mindful of one sensory in-put each morning.
So, I am very happy to learn that you, an overachiever, put your experiences here & that I was lucky to have it come to my phone app!! I’ve attended mindfulness training sessions, downloaded the HeadSpace app, and quizzed meditation teachers about their practice. Pleasure, not repeated failure, is what I find rewarding, motivating, and keeps me coming back for more. I do find that if I attempt to meditate under these circumstances that it does have a negative consequence for my overall mood. It will shatter any expectations you might have of neon lights and being enlightened in the short term.
When I walk I don’t have the constant narrative running through my head as I do when meditating. Plus we have plenty of evidence it smooths emotions, sparks creativity and improves your memory. At the beginning of each walk I would listen out for different bird calls, and their direction, intensity, differences, timing etc.
It is a process of observing yourself increasingly without judgment, without faltering, with steadfast acceptance and affection.
As the walk went on, the sounds I heard changed – birds faded out as the light came up, and traffic noises near and far would take over. Listen to your body moment by moment, discern the inner knowing to dance your dance, sing your song, walk your walk.
By the end of the walk my mind had wandered off, but at least is wasn’t buzzing with what I needed to do that day (this is how I wake up).
Nowadays I’m doing water aerobics several times a week, and try to get to the pool early to practice some mindfulness in the water. No need to compassionately observe my mind. I just walk with my dog, and think about whatever I want.



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