Monday, March 14, 2016

Mindfulness & Meditation

What is Mindfulness? 
According to John Kabat-Zinn (here), Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, "Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

Mindfulness enables you to see things more clearly, free of self-imposed filters and preconceived notions; you see things as they are, rather than as you want them to be. By undoing mental and physical knots and tensions, it increases your sense of being fully present in the moment, giving you greater strength to face different challenges, large and small, in your daily life.

Through the practice of Mindfulness you will learn formal seated meditation, breathing techniques to calm body and mind, a ‘Body Scan’, and even how to eat more mindfully, among a host of other techniques and practices that don’t involve sitting cross-legged on the floor.

Can Anyone Learn How to Practice Mindfulness?
Um ... yes. Mindfulness can be taught to anyone from young children to adults. 

What are the Benefits?
Among other things, you may experience:
  • more energy and enthusiasm
  • a more relaxed mind
  • a greater capacity for physical relaxation
  • enhanced self-confidence
  • more compassion toward others 
  • and an increased ability to handle stressful situations 
Additionally, it has been my personal experience that a regular mindfulness/meditative practice is effective in overcoming stress, worry, addictions and more. It leads to peace of mind, a deeper sense of well-being, greater focus and creativity, and improved relationships. It helps you to: be more emotionally aware; more attentive and fully engaged; put aside preoccupations and wake up to what is happening right now.

Studies at Harvard and other top Universities have shown that as little as 6 - 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation brings a significant increase in grey matter concentration in regions of the brain associated with sustained attention, emotional regulation and perspective.

Mindfulness has also been used to deal with specific issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), management of chronic pain, dealing with the effects of cancer, and even the slowing down of the progression of Alzheimer's. 

Mindfulness Meditation is helping our soldiers deal with Post-Traumatic stress Disorder

As a daily regimen of exercise strengthens and tones the physical body, regular meditation is fitness for the mind and spirit. Who among us wouldn’t enjoy more contentment and less stress in life? Meditation provides you with the best conditions for training your mind to be calmer, clearer and kinder to yourself.

Many people believe that to meditate you must sit cross-legged, perfectly still on the floor for long periods of time, chanting mantras, while patchouli incense burns. Although you can do this, there are as many different ways to meditate as there are people. The most important thing is to be comfortable; so it doesn’t really matter whether one is sitting in a chair or on a cushion, standing against a wall, laying down, or supported in other ways.

Meditation has been practiced in various forms all over the world for thousands of years by people from all walks of life. Children from as young as five and adults well into their 90s can all learn and benefit from meditation.

What is the difference between Mindfulness and Regular Old Relaxation? 
A good question! Meditation can be profoundly relaxing and even though they may sometimes feel the same, meditation and general relaxation are actually two different things – but they don’t have to be!
There are many different ways to just relax – taking a nice long walk, sitting and listening to music, a conversation with a friend, playing with your dog in a local park, swimming, watching TV or reading a good novel, or even just chilling out in a comfortable place with nothing to do or nothing in particular upon which to focus your attention for a period of time.

Meditation is a practice where you train your mind to become more aware of the present moment, the here and now.

The cool part is anything, therefore, can be meditation when done mindfully – washing the dishes, taking a shower, gardening, making love, even those activities mentioned above. Whenever the mind is focused on this moment, and distractions are eliminated, that is a form of meditation. Which means that, although we often choose to sit while practicing, in truth one can meditate anywhere ... at any time ... while doing anything

Mindfulness: Good for What Ails You
For the longest time in the West, meditation was thought of as being the domain of hippies and the New age movement.

But the theory that meditation can reduce stress, depression and even chronic pain is one that has been gaining in momentum in the medical community in recent years. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) as taught by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) as taught by Mark Williams at the University of Oxford have quickly become the interest and choice for academics in the mental health field, and organizations such as the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and the National Health Service (NHS) in England.

How do I Know if Mindfulness is for Me?
Are you breathing? Then mindfulness is for you.

Let’s face it, there are very few (none) of us who don’t need a little relief from the stress and pressure of daily life. We are all faced with bills, family obligations, demands at work, school, anxieties in personal relationships, too-little-time, and health issues.

Everyone can benefit from developing a more mindful approach to Life.

In our Saturday meditation sessions we have teachers, parents, office workers, moms, dads, and others.

Meditation ... Not just for hippies anymore!

Meditation is useful for anyone who is ready to look directly into themselves and learn new ways of responding to what life brings. It is entirely secular and suitable for those of any religion or none.

Some people want to learn better how to cope with stress in their work or family life; and some people simply want to learn to appreciate their lives more fully, letting go of preoccupations. Some people come because they want to work with a particular issue: depression or anxiety, or chronic pain, for example.

The principles and practices explored in the Saturday sessions are relevant in each case.

If you would like more information, or to reserve a spot on the mats, please call (570) 332-4377 or email me at 

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