Brandon Jellison, owner of Authentic Body Therapy, was invited to speak at the Boston Shambhala Center on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, at their Wednesday evening study gathering. Brandon spoke about Unconditional Healthiness, a theme from The Shambhala Principle by Sakyong Mipham. Please find below a partial transcription of this study.
If you haven’t tried a loving-kindness meditation, then you definitely should! The goal of this twenty minutes of meditation is to focus on reminding yourself that you deserve happiness and ease and that the same goes for your child, your family, your friends, your neighbors, and everyone else in the world.
Here’s how you can practice a loving-kindness meditation:
Find a comfortable position: Get comfortable and observe your next several breaths. The goal is to recognize how you’re feeling at this moment, instead of forcing yourself to feel a certain way.
Picture your child: Think about what you wish most for your child and and repeat “May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you feel safe. May you live your life with ease.” in tune with your breathing.
Continue repeating these wishes for your child so that you can be reminded of your deepest intentions.
After a few minutes, move on to yourself: Resist your inner judgement and offer up the same well wishes for yourself that you did for your child. Remember to stay in tune with your breathing.
After a few more minutes, think about a close friend: Repeat the same praise process for this close friend who is completely positive in their relationship with you.
Next you’ll want to focus on a neutral person: Extend these same well wishes to this person that you may not even know.
Now you should think about a person in your life who you view as difficult: Ideally, this should be a person you have had a disagreement with or that you have a different perspective from. Extend the same well wishes for this person in a genuine manner.
Now focus on your entire family: This will likely be the most lengthy section of your meditation. Go through the well wishes for your entire family, while keeping in tune with your breathing.
Although this is optional, feel free to extend the same positive wishes to everyone in the world: This step should only be completed if you can do so in a positive manner. Additionally, it may be that some days you can complete this step easier than other days.
Source: “A Loving-Kindness Meditation to Cultivate Resilience”, Mindful, written by Mark Bertin, December 15, 2016
Unfortunately, our fast-paced way of life leaves almost no time for quiet moments to yourself. The bad news is that this fast-paced way of life leads to us being sicker. The main reason for this: STRESS. The best way to reduce or eliminate that dreaded stress: DAILY MEDITATION. Keep in mind, illnesses such as hypertension, headaches, insomnia, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and more are all preventable and often brought on by stress.
Modern medicine and ancient Eastern wisdom agree a simple daily meditation practice — 10 to 20 minutes of sitting quietly to take some deep breaths — offers a powerful way to protect and heal our bodies. Here are 3 major ways that daily meditation can actually save your life:
Reduce and manage stress: When we are faced with stress, our bodies respond by releasing certain hormones. Designed to protect us from danger, cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine increase your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and muscle energy output. While sometimes these hormones can be beneficial, constant exposure to these hormones can damage your body. The deep breathing that is an essential part of your meditation practice will relax your muscles, slow your heart rate, decrease your blood pressure and release healing hormones. In fact, you will reap some of the benefits after just one long, deep breath, while it takes 20 deep breaths to get the full benefits.
Bolster your immunity: Activating your ‘relaxation response’ releases healing hormones, which in turn support immunity. As a result, your body is better prepared to fight infection, inflammation, aging and even protect against damaging conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s. Additionally, melatonin improves your quality of sleep, mood, sexual maturation, reproduction and anti-aging mechanisms. Serotonin improves your brain function, and the human growth hormone improves muscle tone, bone strength and skin health.
Increase your emotional well-being: It’s a proven fact that meditation relaxes our bodies, but it also calms our minds. With a calm mind, you are better equipped to see things clearly, make correct choices and choose appropriate responses to stress. Meditation also offers time for reflection and introspection, so you better know who you are and why you do what you do.
Source: “3 Ways Daily Meditation Can Save Your Life”, KSL.com, written by Teri Harman, December 16, 2016.
For approximately 5,000 years, people have been practicing meditation and proving the positive impact it can have on the body and mind. While many people believe that meditation is only beneficial to your mental health, that just simply isn’t the case. Take a look at these 5 reasons that meditation reduces your risk of illnesses, even cancer, and keep up the good mindful meditation practices!
Meditation decreases stress.
Meditation improves cellular health.
Meditation increases melatonin.
Meditation can improve your emotions.
Meditation can help you make healthier choices.
One study conducted by Harvard University determined that meditation even rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in only eight weeks. It is said that Buddha was once asked, “What have you gained from meditation?” To which Buddha responded, “Nothing. However, let me tell you what I lost: anger, anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death.” Do you need anymore convincing to step up your meditation game? I certainly don’t!
Source: “5 Reasons Meditation May Decrease Your Risk of Cancer”, Collective Evolution, Kalee Brown, December 10, 2016
According to Tim Ferriss, Author of Tools of Titans, short but regular morning meditation is deemed to be the single habit that can have the most impact on your life. According to his research, more than 80% of the world-class performers he interviewed have some form of daily meditation or mindfulness practice. Both can be thought of as “cultivating a present-state awareness that helps you to be nonreactive.”
This applies to everyone from Arnold Schwarzenegger to Justin Boreta of The Glitch Mob, and from elite athletes like Amelia Boone to writers like Maria Popova. It’s the most consistent pattern of them all. Meditation will allow you to step back and gain a “witness perspective” so that you’re observing your thoughts instead of being tumbled by them.
Most of our waking hours, we feel as though we’re in a trench on the front lines with bullets whizzing past our heads. It doesn’t have to be that way! Here’s a few meditation reminders to make sure you’re on the right track:
Use an app like Headspace or Calm. Headspace’s free “Take10” will guide you for ten minutes a day for ten days.
Listen to a guided meditation.
Take a Transcendental Meditation course.
If you want to try mantra-based meditation without a course, you can sit and silently repeat a one two-syllable word for 10 to 20 minutes first thing in the morning. Remember to aim for physical comfort, you don’t have to have crossed legs or any other typical yoga-like poses. A default option: sit reasonably straight on a chair with your feet on the floor, hands on your thighs or in your lap, and back supported.
Source: “The Most Successful People Meditate, Here’s How You Can Too”, Huffington Post Blog, Answered by Tim Ferriss, December 13, 2016
Almost everyone has had a headache at some point in their lives. Regardless of whether your headache is brought on by stress, hormones, hunger, or seemingly no explainable reason at all, meditation can help!
If you aren’t sure where to begin to use meditation as a healing tool for your headaches, please just reach out and we can advise you on the best practices for your situation.
The biggest tool in your health toolbox - and one that you may not even realize you have? Mindfulness. So how, exactly, does mindfulness play into pain management? Here are the basics:
When headache pain fights for your attention, you have to refuse to give it any power. Don’t focus on the pain itself, or even avoiding it—instead, be mindful of things that will empower wellness.
Pay attention to your diet choices and keep in mind that adequate hydration levels are very important.
If you feel throbbing coming on, focus on your body and posture, and take a moment to do a little exercise.
The pain of chronic headaches—and really any chronic type of pain—is almost always accompanied by emotional distress or even despair. The key is to not let it cause automatic reactions. Instead, focus on your breathing and take a step back from the negative feelings until you can center yourself positively.
Source: “Can Meditation Help Your Headache?”, Headspace, written by Ashley Jonkman
Meditation practice has had a profound effect on me in terms of how I perform athletically and handle obstacles in my life. I love the fact that— in the U.S. about 8 percent of adults and 1.6 percent of children have tried it already. This is because the health benefits of mindfulness meditation are incredibly impressive … and supported by scientific studies.
From January 1st to the 8th I’ll be at a deep meditation retreat in rural Nova Scotia, Canada.
If you haven’t tried mindful meditation yet, here are 8 benefits you can receive from mindful meditation:
It reduces stress.
It has a direct, positive effect on anxiety and depression.
Ii is directly beneficial to weight loss and/or management. Mindful meditation helps with stress related overeating and an increased awareness of hunger and satiety cues.
It makes you less likely to have metabolic syndrome.
It is considered as a way to help prevent negative changes in the gut microbiome.
It can help reduce the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
It can lessen pregnancy-related stress.
It has been shown to significantly improve symptoms and side effects from cancer and its treatment. This includes stress, anxiety, depression, vitality, fatigue, and sleep levels.
Source: “8 Health Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation”, Ecowatch, December 4, 2016, by Joe Leech; http://www.ecowatch.com/what-is-mindfulness-meditation-2118242331.html
Standard 60min Massage: Boston ($140.00):
Deluxe 90min Massage: Boston ($200.00):
We all want the holidays to be filled with love and cheer, however stress happens too. Do you try to handle that on the fly, but that just ends up making it worse in the end? Trust me - we’ve all been there! Take a look at these 4 tips that are specifically designed to help you manage the holiday stress with ease - and a smile on your face!
Take a deep breath: We all know that breathing is the key to meditation. To survive those tough moments just close your eyes, follow your inhalation all the way in, and slowly exhale.
Remember your similarities: Even though it may sound corny, create a short phrase that you can say to yourself in the heat of the moment that will remind you that everyone has issues they may be dealing with and try to reign your feelings in positively.
Be compassionate: Remember that being compassionate doesn’t mean you have to be somebody’s doormat and that you can always remove yourself from a situation if it’s in your best interest.
Pause to re-center: Again, create a short phrase that will remind you of where your center and source of positivity is. When things get tough, say that to yourself (repeatedly if you need to) and welcome that calm feeling.
Remember, science shows that combining meditation with exercise can decrease depression, and meditation alone can reduce stress, relieve emotional pain, and even make you more compassionate. Why not use this to your advantage to survive the holidays?
Source: “Meditation Tips that Help You Handle Stress Over the Holidays”, Shape Magazine, November 22, 2016, Samantha Lefave, http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/10-minute-meditation-holiday-stress-relief
“What are the signs of progress? Our body, speech, and mind become more gentle. At times we are able to bear difficulty without complaint. We might even begin to welcome chaos as an opportunity to engage in patience, generosity, discipline, meditation, exertion, and their binding factor, prajna – wisdom rooted in seeing things as they are. When we consider chaos good news, whatever comes our way – good or bad – has less power to obstruct our journey.”
The Shambhala Principle, Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure, Sakyong Mipham, Page 52, Creating Enlightened Society (2013).
“In our households, if we foster values based on goodness – like patience and humor – they will flow into our relationships with others in our communities, eventually influencing our nations, and finally, the rest of the world. In turn, society at every level will become a support for our own confidence in basic goodness. The economy will become a powerful display of virtue, and at the same time, it will foster virtual in individual experience. That is how humanity’s inner treasure will become a richness that is share by all.”
- The Shambhala Principle, Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure, Sakyong Mipham, Page 166-167, Touching
“The question often arises, ‘How can a deep period of stillness and contemplation have any relevance to daily life and current world issues?’ Or, in the same light, ‘What does ancient philosophy have to do with modern life?’
Meditation practice is relevant because in meditation our conceptual mind relaxes and we can feel who we are at heart."
The Shambhala Principle, Discovering Humanity’s Hidden Treasure, Sakyong Mipham, Page 136, Being (2013).
Is it possible that regular meditation, could benefit your health and well-being as much as taking a vacation?
According to the experts at the Harvard Health Blog, “…growing evidence suggests multiple psychological and physical benefits of these mindfulness exercises.” – Monique Tello, MD, MPH, Harvard Health Blog Contributor
How does meditation benefit you?
- General health
- Mental health
- Quality of life
- Immune response
So what about the benefits of vacation?
Investigated studies suggest that vacation does result in real, positive effects on health and well-being, however temporarily. A trial study was conducted and outlined in Monique Tello's article, “Regular Meditation More Benefitical Than Vacation”, on the Harvard Health Blog, establishing two study groups. One group enjoyed vacationing only and a separate group of participants enjoyed a meditation retreat conducting daily meditation sessions.
The participants who vacationed experienced positivie benefits, but only for a temporary period of time. The vacation participants then returned to their baseline shortly after the vacation. However, the meditation participants experienced lasting benefits following the meditation retreat and continued to prolong these benefits through regular meditation practice.
So what’s the difference?
Research shows that vacation has beneficial but temporary effects, while meditation and mindfulness therapies have sustained beneficial effects.
To read more about the study and research conducted to achieve these findings, visit the Harvard Health Blog article.
Source: “Regular Meditation More Benefitical Than Vacation”, Harvard Health Blog, October 27, 2016, by Monique Tello, MD, MPH
Meditation is beneficial to our health and mind. Meditation is proven to reduce stress and anxiety. What better way to integrate meditation into your daily routine, than creating a meditation zone dedicated to your practice? Here are some tips from the "Mother Nature Network" to create a meditation room within your home
- Select a private space. Somewhere away from foot traffic and noise.
- Make it a technology-free zone. Disconnect from technology and distractions, leave the phone and tablet outside of your meditation room.
- Pick the right paint colors. Go with what makes you feel good. Some people consider pastels to be more soothing than bright colors, while others would choose dark, cozier colors for the space.
- Keep it clutter-free. A clear space will help you have a clear head. You can pick a few choice items that you really love to decorate the space — but that's it.
- Keep the furniture sparse. You don’t need a lot off furniture in a meditation space, so bear in mind the clutter-free policy while you’re putting furniture in as well. The most important thing is a place to sit — a cushion or a blanket — something other than the floor.
- Opt for a room with a view. If you're doing only part of a room and not a whole room, try to pick a spot that faces an outside view (as long as it’s of nature and not of a freeway). Part of meditation is connecting with the natural world, so looking out onto trees, a lake or even a backyard will help you do that. If you don’t have a view, try bringing a part of the natural world inside with a small plant or water feature.
- Try aromatherapy. Essential oils are gaining popularity as a means to trigger certain functions in the brain and body. They can be an integral part of your meditation practice, boosting your brain function to help you focus and relax.
- Play soft music. Music with words can serve as a distraction, but soft, slow instrumental music can soothe you. Some people will find any and all sounds distracting in a meditation room, so if you fall into this category, there's no need to play anything.
Source: http://www.mnn.com/health/healthy-spaces/stories/how-create-meditation-room, by Chanie Kirschner.
“Thirty million Americans have tried meditation. It’s in the mainstream and it’s good for your mental health,” said Varun Soni, dean of religious life at USC, who helped launch Mindful USC to integrate practices such as meditation into campus activities.
Meditation can bring relief for modern afflictions such as high blood pressure, insomnia, depression and anxiety.
The following are six insights into meditation that you may not know:
1. There are many, many ways to meditate.
Most techniques aim to calm the rushing, wandering thoughts and refocus them on the present moment. Though physical practices such as tai chi are called moving meditations, others just ask that you sit comfortably and engage in a type of reflection.
“The most commonly found sitting meditations are having a point of focus on your breath, an area of your body or a mantra,” said Megan Monahan, a Los Angeles meditation teacher. Mantras are Sanskrit words or phrases repeated silently that aid concentration.
2. Meditation can retrain your brain.
Meditation can produce measurable changes in the brain that are associated with improved sense of self, empathy and reactions to stress, according to a 2011 study by Harvard-affiliated researchers. Subjects spent eight weeks in a mindfulness-based stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness and learned to focus on nonjudgmental awareness of feelings, sensations and state of mind. The study was the first to document meditation-produced changes in the learning and memory centers of the hippocampus, and in other brain areas associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.
3. You’re never going to stop your thoughts completely.
Many meditate to slow their racing minds and in the process, assume that they are truly meditating only when their thoughts stop. “As long as you have a pulse, you’re going to have thoughts,” Monahan said. “As you meditate, you begin to watch the thoughts and practice navigating away from your stream of consciousness back to that point of focus. You practice the ability to rein in and redirect your mind when you want to.”
4. Meditation helps teach you that you are not your thoughts and we don’t have to believe them.
Meditation teacher and corporate coach Scott Schwenk illustrates the benefits of refocusing your thoughts and becoming the observer of them. “Make your inner voice say, ‘I’m a zebra,’ over and over. Can you notice that you have the experience of a voice in your head saying ‘I’m a zebra?’ You’re the listener, not the voice. You’re not that voice, but we listen to that voice all day long.” The idea, of course, is that when you say something as ridiculous as "I'm a zebra," you instantly see how ridiculous that statement is. Substitute any of the other equally ridiculous things that are on our endlessly repeating playlist of self-defeating thoughts, and maybe you'll see that you're not a failure, or unable to meet whatever challenge you have.
5. Group meditation can aid learning the technique.
When beginners ask why they should trek to a meditation class, just to sit in silence with other people, Schwenk explains that classes can “shorten the learning curve for recognizing the experience of meditation. If I’m sitting in a group of people who can access deep meditation, the mirror neurons in my brain are going to pick that up. Depending on how relaxed I am, I will get pulled into a meditative state. That internal experience is more valuable than anything a person can say or put in a book.”
6. You don’t have to feel anything particular while you’re meditating.
“The test of your meditation is not any phenomena that do or do not happen while you’re sitting,” said Schwenk. “Those could all be interesting. The real test of the practice is when you get up and out of the seat and is your state shifted. It’s to widen perspective and live from the wider perspective.”
Cultivate mindfulness, approach life with nonjudgement and compassion, improve concentration, openheartedness, and clarity through meditation.
How do you start?
Try guided meditation with a teacher who can give you cues, such as to observe your breath, or visualize your ideal future. Try a local yoga class that incorporates both active movement and meditation.
Give it Time
Don’t expect results overnight. Meditation and mindfulness requires practice and patience. It is recommended to try 30 days for at least 20-minutes per meditation.
Find a Comfortable Position
Whether that be sitting, standing, walking or reclining, find a comfortable position that lends to relaxing and mindful thinking. Avoid positions that cause fidgeting or your legs or arms to fall asleep.
Find the Right Time
Some recommendations include meditation first thing when you wak up in the morning. The silence and peace can help you to focus and set your mind to start your day on the right foot. This time of day also helps you to meditate with a clear mind, free of irritations that might arise throughout the day that weigh on your mind.
Some people enjoy meditation before bed to help them relax and fall asleep. This can be particularly helpful if you find yourself lying awake at night, having trouble falling asleep.
What Type of Meditation?
Explore your options to see what works best for you. Two basic categories include mindfulness meditation and concentration.
Mindfulness focuses on observing the mind and body without judgment.
Concentration practices direct your attention toward something, maybe to visualizing your goals, feeling loving-kindness for others and yourself or to repeating phrases (mantras).
For more information, http://www.theoaklandpress.com/health/20160831/benefits-of-meditation-are-well-worth-the-effort.
Research shows mindfulness works. It can help you be happier and help you reduce stress. Understanding the neuroscience behind the left and right sides of your brain will help you reach greater mindfulness.
The right side of your brain sees things pretty concretely. Oppositely, your left side weaves tales to try and make sense of the information coming in.
We need the left side of our brains to give meaning to life. The left side interprets experiences. However, the left side of our brain can sometimes be misleading, according to science.
Michael Gazzaniga, one of the top cognitive neuroscientists, did some brain studies in the 1970’s with Roger Sperry (who would later win the Nobel Prize.) Gazzaniga discovered what the left side’s job is —
From The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment:
“Gazzaniga discovered that the left side of the brain created explanations and reasons to help make sense about what was going on. It acted as an interpreter to reality… Over the last 30 years, several studies have shown that the left side of the brain, even in normal people, excels at creating an explanation for what’s going on, even if it isn’t correct.”
The left side of your brain does not have perfect information. This is part of you — and you are fallible.
This is where mindfulness comes in…
From a neuroscience perspective, mindfulness is about staying focused on the concrete in life and not getting too wrapped up in interpretations, categories, stories — and occasional fictions.
From The Neurotic’s Guide to Avoiding Enlightenment:
“Most live their lives as the interpreter, they are the interpreter, and the mind is a master they are not even aware of. They are angry, offended, happy or fearful and do not question the authenticity of these thoughts and experiences. The left-brain interpreter is always on and cannot be shut off but once it is recognized, things begin to change…”
So how do we reach greater mindfulness?
- Listen to your brain as you go about your day and check what you hear against the concrete facts you notice.
- Pause, and consider opinions as if it was advice from a friend. Check it against the hard facts you can see.
For more information, view the full article at: http://time.com/4470517/neuroscience-of-mindfulness/
"Research has confirmed what the yogis of ancient times already knew: Profound physiological and psychological changes take place when we meditate, causing an actual shift in the brain and in the involuntary processes of the body.
An instrument called an electroencephalograph (EEG) records mental activity. During waking activity, when the mind constantly moves from one thought to another, the EEG registers jerky and rapid lines categorized as beta waves. When the mind calms down through meditation, the EEG shows waves that are smoother and slower, and categorizes them as alpha waves.
As meditation deepens, brain activity decreases further. The EEG then registers an even smoother, slower pattern of activity we call theta waves. Studies on meditators have shown decreased perspiration and a slower rate of respiration accompanied by a decrease of metabolic wastes in the bloodstream. Lower blood pressure and an enhanced immune system are further benefits noted by research studies.
The health benefits meditation produces naturally reflect the mental and physical effects of this process. At the very least, meditation teaches you how to manage stress; reducing stress, in turn, enhances your overall physical health and emotional well-being. On a deeper level, it can add to the quality of your life by teaching you to be fully alert, aware, and alive. In short, it is a celebration of yourself. You are not meditating to get anything, but rather to look at and let go of anything you do not need."
Source: Mara Carrico, Yoga Journal, "A Beginner's Guide to Meditation", http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/let-s-meditate/
Sitting is the most commonly recommended posture. There are a number of classic seated poses, but Sukhasana (Easy Cross-Legged Pose) is obviously the most basic. More flexible meditators prefer Padmasana (Lotus Pose).
Sitting in a chair also works and is often the best choice for beginners. Be sure that your spine remains upright and that you feel steady and comfortable. To maximize comfort on the floor, place a cushion or folded blanket under your buttocks to elevate them and gently guide your knees down toward the floor. This helps support the natural lumbar curve of the lower back. Some people prefer kneeling “Japanese-style.” You can buy small, slanted wooden benches for this position.
Relax your arms and place your hands on your thighs or in your lap, with the palms in a relaxed position facing up or down. Roll your shoulders back and down and gently lift the chest. Keep your neck long and the chin tilted slightly downward. Depending upon which technique you are following, the eyes may be opened or closed. Breathing is natural and free.
A moving meditation—highly recommended by many teachers—may be an enjoyable option for you. The challenge of this form is to walk slowly and consciously, each step becoming your focal point. Destination, distance, and pace are all incidental. Relax your arms at your sides and move freely, coordinating your breath with your steps. For instance, you might breathe in for 3 steps and breathe out for 3 steps. If that feels awkward or difficult, just breathe freely. Although you can practice walking meditation anywhere, choose a setting you particularly love—the ocean, a favorite park, or a meadow. Remember, getting somewhere is not the issue. Rather, the complete involvement in the act of walking becomes your meditation.
Standing is another meditation practice that can be very powerful. It is often recommended for those practitioners who find that it builds physical, mental, and spiritual strength. Stand with your feet hip- to shoulder-distance apart. Knees are soft; arms rest comfortably at your sides. Check to see that the whole body is aligned in good posture: shoulders rolled back and down, chest open, neck long, head floating on top, and chin parallel to the floor. Either keep your eyes opened or softly close them.
Even though lying down is associated with relaxation, the classic Corpse Pose, Savasana, is also used for meditation. Lie down on your back with your arms at your sides, palms facing upward. Touch your heels together and allow the feet to fall away from one another, completely relaxed. Although your eyes may be opened or closed, some people find it easier to stay awake with their eyes open. A supine meditation, although more physically restful than other positions, entails a greater degree of alertness to remain awake and focused. Therefore, beginners may find it more difficult to meditate in this position without falling asleep.
Source: Mara Carrico, Yoga Journal, "A Beginner's Guide to Meditation", http://www.yogajournal.com/article/practice-section/let-s-meditate/