What Neuroscience Can Teach Us About Compassion – Carolyn Gregoire

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Mounting evidence of the impact of contemplative practices like meditation (which we now know can, quite literally, rewire the brain) are finally bringing modern science up to speed with ancient wisdom. Mindfulness and compassion — the practices of cultivating a focused awareness on the present moment, and extending a loving awareness to others — are part of every religion and wisdom tradition, and we’re at last beginning to understand the profound impact that they have on the brain, says psychiatrist and mindfulness expert Dr. Dan Siegel………..

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Why You Should Try Meditating While Running (and How to Do It) – Gina Tomaine

I’m running down Kelly Drive in Philadelphia on an unseasonably warm fall day, my purple sneakers softly thudding against the ground. As I run, I notice a young boy skateboarding on the street, and the way his red hat flops to the side. I pass dry-looking trees and plump geese gathered in the grass next to the trail, and a couple kissing on a rock overlook. I notice the way the water ripples as a racing shell cuts cleanly through the center of the Schuylkill River and glides away from me.

Would you guess that I’ve been meditating this whole time?

Meditation is a practice of focusing attention in order to clear the mind and reduce anxiety (see: that constant to-do list running through your head). Learning to focus can help you tune out distractions.

Meditation is not only calming—it also has some seriously positive health results. It’s been shown in certain cases to reduce stress, ease depression and anxiety, to help people cope with pain (something distance runners deal with constantly), and even to strengthen parts of the brain. There are many ways to develop a meditation and mindfulness practice—as little as five minutes a day can still have noticeable effects.

 “It’s a myth that meditation happens only when you light candles or incense and sit cross- legged,” says Chandresh Bhardwaj, founder of the Break The Norms meditation program Instead, he explains, “When you are deeply involved in any activity, you become meditative.”

“A lot of easy running days turn into meditations on rhythm and nature for me,” says Sarah Attar, one of the first women to compete as a runner in the Olympics for Saudi Arabia. “I allow my run to become a space for reflection, exploration, and mindfulness, to connect with the world around me.”

Runners often talk about running as a salve—a way to work through problems, escape negative thinking, or overcome personal demons. The thing is, it’s backed by science: a study in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise indicated that even 30 minutes of time on a treadmill could instantly lift someone’s mood. And in literature, memoirs of using running as a barometer for self-growth abound, from Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running to Jen A. Miller’s Running: A Love Story to Caleb Daniloff’s Running Ransom Road.

Running, in all of these cases, is rarely ever just running. Or perhaps conversely it is just running, and that simplicity is why it helps diffuse all of those stressors. That is what links running to meditation, especially in terms of mental benefits.

It turns out that running combined with meditation can potentially make both your running, and your mind, stronger. A 2016 study published in Translational Psychiatry found that combining directed meditation with running or walking reduced symptoms of depression by 40 percent for depressed participants, and more research is ongoing.

The key to all of this is that a meditation and mindfulness practice helps build your ability to focus, and running inherently narrows that focus: to the path ahead, to how many miles are left, to whether you need water, to the chill of the wind over a river.

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But there really is no right or wrong way to practice running meditation, says yoga teacher and Ayurvedic practitioner Sarajean Rudman. Instead, as Rudman says, “several different paths lead to the same outcome: be here now.”

As any endurance runner will tell you, whether you can keep going in a marathon has as much to do with mental toughness as physical training. Often it’s the mind that gives up or crashes first—not the body. “When we can create a sense of calm in the mind,” says Rudman, “the body can go further. We get to see what we really can accomplish.”

If you’re ready to ditch the headphones, and try focus over distraction, here are nine tips on getting started:

Before Running, Sit Still for Three to Five Minutes

Gina sitting still

“Before you start running, inhale deeply. Hold your breath for a few moments, and exhale. Do this for five minutes or so, and you will experience a deep relaxation before your run,” says Bhardwaj. If you find the waiting too difficult, try to start with one minute of stillness—or as much as you can stand—and work up.

Set an Intention
“It could be a question that has been haunting you for days, or a stressful thought or challenge that has been on your mind,” explains Bhardwaj. “Whatever it is, set an intention that this running will resolve your question.” You don’t have to know what the resolution might be—just put faith out there that this run will help it.

Choose a Mantra
When you are just starting out, “mantra meditation can be very easy to acclimate to,” says Rudman, “and a very powerful tool to use, especially when racing. Choose some words that mean something to you, whether they are in Sanskrit like the classic ‘Sa Ta Na Ma’ (loosely translated to ‘I am truth’), or something simple in English, like ‘I am strong.’ They serve the same purpose: to anchor your attention to and keep you in the present moment. Tether the mantra to your footfalls, so you are using one word per footfall.”

Count Your Footfalls

Gina running

“A great place to begin is simply by counting footfalls. Head out with a number in mind,” advises Rudman. “For example, count every step up to eight, then count back down. As thoughts start to creep in, notice them and return to your counting. Use the numbers as a way to anchor your attention so it doesn’t wander off into what you’re going to eat when you return home, or what you said to your spouse or children before you left, or the things you need to do for work or school. Keep coming back to right now.”

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Make a List of Everything You See (Yes, Everything)
“Become acutely aware of your surroundings,” says Rudman. “You can choose to use sight or sound for this exercise, or take turns with each sense. As you run, begin listing either everything you see or everything you hear as a way to calm what yogis call your ‘monkey mind’ and enter into the moment you are actually experiencing. For example: tree, stop sign, leaf, sidewalk, gum wrapper—or car noise, the wind, a baby yelling, a horn, my footfalls, my breath. You can even combine the two senses along with the other three, taste, touch, and smell. This would look like: “I am aware of a dog barking, I am aware that my skin is cold, I am aware of the smell of the bakery, I am aware of music far away, I am aware of my heart rate speeding up…”

Focus on Your Breath and Posture

Gina Focusing on posture

“Bring more awareness to your breath, as well as your posture while you run,” advises Chesapeake Yoga teacher Julie Phillips-Turner. “Start running at a comfortable pace, then start to ‘shape’ the breath to count inhales and exhales, such as ‘inhale one, two, three; exhale one, two, three…’  If [your] mind gets distracted from counting, notice that and bring [your] awareness back to the breath count. Be aware of slumping shoulders. Try to keep the shoulders back and the chest lifted to allow maximum oxygen to enter the body.”

Ban the Thought “I’m Doing This Wrong”
“The number one mistake people make when trying to meditate while running, or in general, is to get upset because they aren’t able to clear their minds,” says Rudman. “The goal is not to clear the mind, but instead to recognize the mind by being present with it and observing it. Notice your thoughts as they pop up, remember them, and dog-ear them for another time. When we choose to not follow our thoughts down whatever rabbit hole they are leading us, and let them keep on their merry way without us, we are meditating.”

Think About Your Other Body Parts—Not Just Your Legs
Think about your arms, your forehead, your eyeballs—and forget about your legs. “When you are running, feel the breeze embracing your every body part. Don’t just focus on legs. Use your every sense and every muscle to interact with Mother Nature. Such consistent interaction will develop a stronger connection with nature and thus adds onto your healing, and running, ability,” says Bhardwaj.

Celebrate and Express Gratitude for Your Run
Think about how lucky you are to be physically able to be running, and how many people cannot. Think about how you would feel if you couldn’t run. “Meditation means you should be immersed in the process and the feelings and sensations of running,” says Rudman. “You should cultivate a sense of ‘I get to run!’ instead of distracting yourself with an ‘I have to run’ state of mind.”

To further cultivate gratitude, Attar recommends focusing on the beauty your surroundings. “Once a routine of gratitude becomes part of your natural inclination,” Attar says, “you can find a calm and positive spirit in how you go about everything, especially running. When you are grateful for even just the opportunity and ability to be running, it opens up the space within you to become more connected to everything.”

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Feeling Stressed? Try These 3 Meditation Techniques – Serenity Gibbons

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Stress negatively impacts businesses each day. Overworked, overwhelmed employees often feel as though they’re running in circles, never quite getting anything accomplished. Over time, this feeling can lead to burnout, severe job dissatisfaction, and susceptibility to a number of diseases and illnesses.

The positive effects of meditation have been well documented over the years, but time-challenged professionals hardly have time to go to yoga every day. Luckily, you don’t have to take a regular class to put valuable meditation techniques into use in your everyday life. Here are some meditation practices you can bring into your daily stressful situations:

Related: Meditation—Your Way

1. Practice mindful awareness.

One of the most useful aspects of yoga for your daily life is mindful awareness. In a meditation session, this involves merely clearing your mind and focusing on the present moment. By centering yourself and thinking only about your breathing and posture, you can move yourself away from the stresses of the day and truly be in the moment.

There are tricks you can employ in your daily life, too, without closing your eyes and sitting still. Try using observation to appreciate the environment around you—as you wash your hands, focus on the feeling of the water as it hits your skin, or as you open a door, truly feel the doorknob. You can also focus on one object to the exclusion of all else to relax your mind, like a leaf blowing on a tree outside your office window or a dust particle floating through the air—anything that provides an appreciation for natural objects.

Raj Jana, the founder of JavaPresse Coffee Company, created a meditative practice through something as simple as grinding his morning coffee. “In this period of mandatory downtime,” Jana explains, “my hands are too busy to text, and I’m too occupied to think.” All of his energy and focus is devoted to grinding the coffee, from noticing how his hands are moving to taking in the aroma of the beans.

2. Find a mantra.

Mantras are often associated with the word “om” and are used in many meditation sessions to refocus the mind. But your mantra can be any word you choose. Popular modern mantras include Norman Vincent Peale’s “I change my thoughts, I change my world” and Gandhi’s “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” Choose a saying that reminds you of your own goals and dreams and use that mantra to quiet your mind and center your thoughts.

When you find yourself feeling overly stressed, find a quiet place where you can clear your mind and relax. In time, you’ll likely find that you can use that mantra in any stressful situation to calm yourself. Your colleagues will respect your ability to remain cool under pressure and react to every situation professionally.

Related: 19 Calming Quotes to Help You Stress Less

3. Just breathe.

There’s a reason breathing is so closely connected to yoga and meditation. When you take deep breaths, it actually tricks the body into reversing the physiological effects of burnout, such as rapid heartbeat, tense muscles and dilated pupils. Deep breaths slow your heart rate, improve oxygen delivery and lower your blood pressure, effectively reducing the health problems that can result from too much stress.

For best results, practice breathing exercises when you’re alone. When a stressful situation arises, you’ll then be well versed in the art and able to put it to use to calm your mind, even if you’re in a business meeting or facing a hostile co-worker in your office. You can choose from several different types of breathing exercises to find the one that works best for you, including abdominal breathing, progressive relaxation and guided visualization using an online meditation audio tool.

Abdominal breathing—also called diaphragmatic breathing—is all about taking deep breaths, rather than the shallow ones we’re used to, to get oxygen into your body. The goal is to inhale slowly through your nose until your stomach pushes out and then exhale for an equal amount of time. This reduces stress and helps with digestion.

Progressive relaxation is a similar method of pushing your muscles to an extreme and then relaxing them. In progressive muscle relaxation, you tense your muscles up in sections, such as focusing on your neck and shoulders. You then let the tension go and absorb the relaxation through your muscles and body.

Guided visualization focuses on heightening your senses to achieve relaxation. The guidance may ask you to picture a peaceful nature scene, like a waterfall, or a healing light bursting throughout your body. One good tool for guided visualization is the Stop, Breathe & Think app, which offers guided meditations for specific needs, such as sleep or anxiety.

When used correctly, meditation is a great way to battle the many stresses professionals face every day. By practicing these exercises when not in a stressful situation, you can prepare yourself to use them when others are around.

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10 Hot Mindfulness And Meditation Apps To Watch

(Source: http://www.forbes.com) Photo by Simon Rae on Unsplash. Welcome to the 10th edition of Apps to Watch is about the most impressive and innovative mobile meditation apps. Meditation and mindfulness is a common habit among many successful people. Kobe Bryant, The Beatles, Arianna Huffington and many other high authority figures in life and business do it […]

via 10 Hot Mindfulness And Meditation Apps To Watch — Kopitiam Bot

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