Some people still associate meditation with kung fu movies and 1960s hippies, or at least New Age spa resorts. But the last few years have seen meditation practice steadily growing in “mainstream” popularity. What's that about? Could meditation make sense as a part of your busy urban lifestyle?
High profile meditation enthusiasts keep cropping up, from the artists like Jerry Seinfeld and David Lynch, to board members of Goldman Sachs Group and Exxon Mobil Corp (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-11-22/harvard-yoga-scientists-find-proof-of-meditation-benefit.html). “Mindfulness Training” workshops offered for employees at Google Headquarters (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/29/technology/google-course-asks-employees-to-take-a-deep-breath.html) regularly have wait-lists of up to 30 people. And U.S. government-funded neurological studies have reported that meditation causes significant improvement in brain and immune function. (http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/65/4/564.short) But still, the philosophical language used to talk about meditation can seem pretty irrelevant when just getting through the day's “to do list” can be so overwhelming.
After a basic introduction, though, many people find meditation more helpful in everyday life than initially expected. Meditation starts making sense when it stops seeming like a vacation activity, and instead you can begin to use it as a tool for getting through the workweek with a sense of spaciousness! The premise is that taking time to work with your mind can actually help you go further into the other projects and passions you care about. Everyone seems to agree that it's worthwhile to take some time to train and care for the body. Why do we so rarely take the time to train and care for our minds?
When we've got a big project to complete, and the temptation to stay up late working on it, we've all learned by experience that at some point it's actually a more strategic, effective choice to take a walk, clear your head, or get some sleep. Then we can dive back in, refreshed and ready to work efficiently. This is the logic of taking the time to show up for a meditation class. But it turns out this logic applies not just for efficiency, but also for enjoyment. A refreshed capacity to listen and think clearly helps us get work done. But the most compelling part is that quieting down our habitual stress patterns gives us the possibility to experience a basic sense of contentment. We can start to enjoy our own lives!
Every teacher I've ever learned meditation from has said something like “Don't believe anything I say - test it out for yourself, in the laboratory of your own daily experience. If it works for you, use it. If not, toss it aside.” Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years in religious contexts from Christianity and Islam to Hinduism and Buddhism, but it is essentially non-religious: compatible, but inherently separate from any system of beliefs. Mindfulness practice - which has gotten so much attention through scientific studies proving its transformative effectiveness - is nothing more than noticing what's going on.
There are many ways into meditation - many different techniques. But the heart of mediation practice is actually very simple. It has to do with relating directly to our own experiences in any given moment. Stillness and stability create a container in which we can start to understand how our own minds work. By showing up for something as simple as sitting on a cushion and watching the breath, we can become more able to show up for the rest of our own lives. Don't learn to meditate because you're curious about meditation, learn to meditate because you're passionate about enjoying life.
Want to learn more? Come join an Intro to Meditation class at the gorgeous new Urban Yoga studio in Business Bay, Dubai. Class happens three times a week, and you can check out the schedule HERE. Each session introduces the tools you need to get started, some discussion on meditation in modern life, and then guides you step-by-step through the meditation practice itself. Careful though, in addition to better focus and more efficient working patterns, you might even enjoy yourself!
Urban Yoga have kindly offered our Glowpeople community a FREE FIRST SESSION (choose any class you like!) and 10% off the first package. Book online at www.urbanyoga.ae, select the 'Drop in' payment option, and simply mention Glowpeople when you get there! Please note that 'Introduction to Mediation' classes resume on October 18th, 2013.
Scientists have long believed that by the time we turn 21 our brains stop growing. Recent discoveries have proven this is not so. Every day and for our entire lives, our brains are evolving in response to our experiences, thoughts, feelings, and actions. Exercises like these can help keep your brain sharp and neurons firing.
1-Look at the World Upside Down
Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroanatomist and author of 'My Stroke of Insight', suggests hanging a familiar item upside down. It makes the brain work differently to get the information it is looking for. Try inverting your calendar, family photos, a map, or even a clock.
2-Turn On Your Ears
Paula Oleska, founder of Natural Intelligence Systems, uses this exercise to help people stimulate the left hemisphere of the brain. Ears are very important sensory organs, but they "switch off" with excessive noise, diminishing the amount of information being received. This exercise turns the ears back on, improving clarity of hearing and overall alertness.
Firmly take hold of the tops of your ears and unroll the crease, pulling toward the back of your head. Repeat this movement, going systematically down through the whole ear. Repeat three or four times.
Paula Oleska, founder of Natural Intelligence Systems, suggests the cross crawl exercise to increase energy and stimulate memory and recall. By crossing the midline of the body, you activate the connections between the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
While standing, lift your left knee and touch it with your right hand. Then change to the right knee and left hand. Repeat for a few minutes.
Is it a vase or is it a face? Lynda Greenberg, a student of Dr. Betty Edwards, author of 'Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain', suggests trying this classic right-brain, left-brain exercise. Click on the picutre below and follow the instructions exactly and watch where you get caught up. Do you find it challenging? You can read about what's going on in your brain when you try it through the same link.
Source: Omega Institute
In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and hired the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people lived measurably better, happier and longer lives. In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.
After identifying the world’s Blue Zones, Buettner and National Geographic took teams of scientists to each location to identify lifestyle characteristics that might explain longevity and happiness. They found that the lifestyles of all Blue Zones residents shared specific characteristics. To read more about this fascinating work visit their website.
Meanwhile take this great test to evaluate how happy you truly are with your life, it's a real eye-opener:
In some Asian traditions, the following small exercises are believed to create an internally and externally beautiful person...
Once a day, you should:
- Meditate for 5 minutes
- Read at last one chapter in a book
- Do a good deed
- Compliment someone
- Walk for thirty minutes
- Tidy up your home
- Reflect on what you have done
In addition, Once a week you should:
- Go out into nature
- Go to bed early
And finally. once a month you should:
- Donate something
- Attend a cultural event
- Do something special for your children
- Buy a gift for the person you love the most
We want to share a wonderful website with all of you out there! http://www.doyogawithme.com is a great website that offers free meditation and yoga classes online. It's great for all you busy bodies who don't seem to make it down to the gym...we've tried it ourselves and love the classes and flexibility to do it anytime, anywhere. Enjoy!
Exercise stops your brain’s deterioration… Did you know that exercise literally prevents the physical deterioration of the brain? Our brains become less dense and lose volume as we age, and with that shrinkage comes mental decline and illness. Recent studies have shown that exercise expands the brain, allowing the neurons to better communicate and reducing your risk of developing Dementia and Alzheimer. Researchers at the university of Illinois, using MRI scanning on elderly patients, found that those who were more physically active had the densest brains. All you need is 30mns of brisk walking a day, so get your tennis shoes on and get moving!
Our final tip on how you can boost wellness in 5 minutes or less is all about changing your physiology to change your mood!
Emotions and negative energy get 'stuck' in our body and weigh us down. When you feel stuck or low, put on a song that you love and get up and move your body...Shake your body out and you will literally feel the negative emotions leave your body! You need to change your physiology to change your mood and you can do this through music, exercise, deep breathing...It'll help you snap out of it and change your state very quickly, it really works!
Check our other tips for "Boosting wellness in 5 minutes or less!"
Are you ready for change? Join our Detox Workshops