Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness meditation’

Mindfulness Meditation to Suppress Anxiety

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

Many studies have recently shown, much to the delight of the yoga community, that mindfulness meditation is scientifically verified to help reduce anxiety. It is sometimes called mindfulness-based stress reduction, or MBSR, when studied in a scientific setting, but it is a mindful form of meditation through and through. These studies show particular promise for mindfulness meditation in the treatment of Social Anxiety Disorder, or SAD, and in combination with cognitive behavioral therapy. Hybrids between cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation have even been developed, called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy. Participants who undergo mindfulness-based cognitive therapy are found to have a reduction not only in anxiety symptoms, but also depression symptoms.

Research into the effect of meditation on social anxiety has revealed a mindful form of meditation can actually change the self-image of participants. In one study headed by psychology researcher Philippe Goldin, participants meditated and then were told to select adjectives that described them. After meditation, they were more likely to select adjective such as “admired” or “loved” but less likely to pick adjective such as “coward” or “afraid.” In fact, participants showed favor toward all positive words after meditation. This suggests a mindful meditation actually bestows a feeling of well being on the practitioner, with radical psychological consequences, rather than simply raising awareness or giving the practitioner more tools.

The effect of self-knowledge and awareness certainly shouldn’t be underestimated either. Long touted as the primary psychological benefit of being mindful during meditation, it has far-reaching consequences, particularly for social anxiety sufferers. Since anxiety is formed from negative emotions in the past and unhelpful projections into the future, bringing awareness to the moment cuts off the main mechanism of social anxiety, and indeed anxiety in general. Those who practice mindfulness meditation learn to see their thoughts for what they are, simply thoughts and not necessarily truths. This helps anxiety sufferers detach from the spiral of negative thoughts that so often causes anxiety, freeing their emotions to respond to other things. Eventually, this can stop the habitual cycle of self-defeating thoughts all together.

To practice mindfulness meditation only takes ten minutes out of your day. Some meditate for longer periods, and some meditate for shorter periods, but ten minutes is the recommended time to help with psychological issues. Simply find a quiet place to sit or lie down, and close your eyes. Concentrate on each breath. Thoughts will arise; simply observe them. With continued practice, you’ll learn much about yourself and improve your quality of life. Though this form of meditation really is as simple as that, it can help to have a teacher or course as a beginner if only for your own confidence.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Meditation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Monday, January 9th, 2012

yoga teacher certificationBy Narendra Maheshri

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a debilitating condition that truly robs an individual of happiness and joy. The individual with OCD is often not the only one to suffer as a result of the disorder since most obsessive-compulsive individuals share their need for rigidity and excessive structure with those closest to them. While there are medications that have proven beneficial for those with OCD, meditation is an effective alternative as well.

At first glance, an individual with OCD may look like an overachiever that has everything going for them. They are always on it, always making sure that things are done according to plan or procedure. These perfectionist-minded individuals are often valued at their places of work for the high standards and work ethic they bring to the job. This is the positive side of this disorder.

What many people never see is the pain, worry and fear that individuals with OCD face on a day-to-day basis. People with OCD do everything to the extreme because in their minds, they have no choice. While others may look at a project or situation and say that it’s excellent, for the person with OCD, it’s never quite good enough. In order for them to feel safe, valuable and worthwhile as a human being, everything must be perfect, all the time. This is unrealistic to the extreme because life is often messy and unpredictable. Humans are in their power when they allow themselves to let go and accept this present moment exactly as it is.

OCD is much more common than most people realize, and this is probably due to the fact that people suffering from the repetitive thoughts and behaviors realize that their fixations are irrational. This in turn causes them more stress and results in more clinging to rituals and perfection in order to save them from their anxiety. Since there is shame involved, many who have OCD meticulously hide their disorder from those around them as much as possible.

All humans cling to illusion, and OCD is simply this insane, irrational clinging taken to an extreme. We try to bend our external reality to fit the needs and wishes of our minds, and when life seemingly fails to be everything the mind believes it ought to be, there is pain and suffering.

This suffering happens when humans become identified with their minds. The thoughts, feelings, and patterns of the mind are not the true essence of a human being. Meditation is a powerful way to begin regaining control over the overactive and fretful mind. Though many methods of meditation are useful, mindfulness meditation is one of the most effective to counter and combat OCD.

Begin each morning sitting quietly, observing the mind. Most individuals with OCD are painfully aware of their own personal quirks and fixations, and as these repetitive thoughts fire in the brain, simply observe them. Do not berate or judge if one of these repetitive patterns pops up because by judging them, one strengthens them. Simply watch the thoughts; see them as they are, but do not act on them. This will be the hardest part in the beginning, since the mind will likely believe that the sky will fall if these compulsions are not acted upon.

Continue to sit and observe the mind on a daily basis, and watch it spin in its futility. You are not that mind; you are the presence that is watching it and allowing it to be as it is. Repetitive thoughts are not a problem; the mind is not a problem. You are the compassionate being that is wholly separate and so grounded and centered in the depth of itself that the mind holds no sway over it.

Many with OCD have faced difficulties with family and friends who stood in judgment of their compulsive behavior instead of responding to it with love and forgiveness. Let your own observing presence be that forgiveness now. By observing without judgment, an unspoken acceptance and forgiveness is present.

As meditation is made a daily habit, the sessions will grow easier and in time, a person with OCD will have an essential detachment from the mind. Withdrawing the attention from the mind draws energy away, and eventually the mind will grow silent, knowing that its ranting and raging is falling on deaf ears.

At this point, one may graduate from mindfulness meditation to other meditation forms, which are commonly practiced in Yoga sessions, such as breath awareness or guided meditation. Mindfulness meditation will no longer be a priority, because mindfulness is now the default state of being.

There is no need to be a slave to an obsessive-compulsive mind. Through the power of your own attention and presence, freedom from this difficult condition is possible. The only side effect of this treatment is a pervading sense of inner stillness and peace.

© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Mindfulness Meditation and Yoga Postures

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

yoga teacher trainingBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Mindful meditation techniques complement a Yoga posture (asana) practice beautifully. The practice of mindfulness meditation, or awareness through witness consciousness, helps a Yoga student to be aware of the needs, limitations, and wisdom of his or her body, during a Yoga class. This awareness is important during both a vigorous flowing session of Yoga asanas, as well as a gentle restorative Yoga practice. In both cases, remaining aware of the needs of the body, and one’s emotions, during a an asana session, will help a student to release deeply-held tension and support the healing of one’s body and mind.

By maintaining a state of mindfulness, and by witnessing consciousness during a Yoga training session, a student will be able to ascertain the state of his or her own mind and body. With this awareness, he or she will be able to engage in Yoga asanas and pranayama exercises that will replenish, relax, strengthen, and nourish one’s being on all levels. Becoming aware of what your body and mind actually need, in any given moment during a Yoga class, may seem easy, but it is trickier than you might first believe.

Often, we have strict expectations for ourselves and our Yoga practice. If we are able to go into upward-facing bow on Tuesday, we should absolutely be able to go into this challenging pose on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday – regardless of the daily fluctuating state of our bodies. Disregarding our bodies’ needs and limitations, by pushing through our current physical state, can cause injury and a sense of violence toward one’s self. This is the antithesis of one of the main tenets of the Yoga Sutras, which we know as Ahimsa or non-harming.

To remain unaware of your physical needs and limitations, and to do the poses you think you should be able to do anyway, even if your body hurts, is an act of self-harming. Respecting your body’s needs and limitations springs first from a non-judgmental awareness of your daily physical and emotional needs. For example, does it seem silly that you are having trouble maintaining Tree Pose today? If so, you may want to utilize the mindfulness meditation technique of non-judgmental and compassionate exploration of the reasons for your lack of balance today. Are you upset about something? Are you feeling rushed or emotionally off balance?

If so, do you know why? Is there another pose that would better help you to ground, center, balance, and relax, today? Putting this awareness and wisdom into practice is a critical component of allowing your body to relax and trust you. This honoring of your own physical needs and limitations will support you in creating physical and emotional health, ease, and complete well being.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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About Brain Fitness Meditation

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

A lot of focus is put on physical fitness but what about the brain? The brain is essentially the hardware of the soul, the seat of all thought and emotions. There are a variety of techniques that claim to improve brain health, but few of them deliver the results of meditation.

Meditation of all varieties yields great benefits for the health and longevity of the brain, but mindfulness meditation is particularly helpful in this regard. Daily mindfulness meditation may be used to prevent or reverse age related brain decline in addition to boosting baseline brain function considerably.

Studies show that those who meditate on a daily basis have much more gray matter than those who don’t. The gray matter of the brain is vital and functional, used for thinking, problem solving, recalling memories, and even emotions. Having more gray matter essentially means having more brain. What could be better than that?

The reason that brainpower reduces with age is because the gray matter shrinks as we grow older. The brain learns and grows by making new connections, and new connections are made every time we encounter something that we have never seen before. The brain is fed by encountering the new and novel but eventually everyone reaches a saturation point where nothing is really new anymore. This is natural and it is difficult to combat because the more you do something, the more familiar it becomes to the brain.

Scientists are still unsure as to why daily meditation has such a protective effect on gray matter. In the future, science may be able to explain the specific mechanisms behind this interesting phenomenon but until then, it’s good enough to know that the benefit is there.

When meditating, the most important factor is the length of the session. For meditation to be helpful for maintaining optimal brain function and focus, the sessions must be at least 20 minutes in length on a daily basis. With this in mind, it is very important to find the meditation method that’s right for you. Most people will be very satisfied with daily mindfulness meditation, but if one finds that they prefer transcendental or guided meditation better, it’s fine to stick with that. The main thing is to make it a daily habit.

A basic mindfulness meditation technique is to sit quietly in a comfortable position. This could be on a mat or cushion, or in a comfortable chair. Take a few deep, calming breaths and then close the eyes. Let go of all thoughts and focus on the breath. Feel the breath travel in and out of the body, through the nostrils, down the windpipe and into the lungs. Feel the breath nourish and bring life to the body. Realize that each breath we take is a beautiful thing in and of itself. If the mind wanders during this practice, that’s okay. When you realize that the mind has wandered, gently pull it back towards contemplating the breath. Keep it positive and have patience with yourself. Sit and breathe for at least 20 minutes and then slowly come back to your external reality. This is the simplest form of meditating, but also the most popular. It’s very effective.

Another good mindfulness method to try involves sound. Using a recording of nature sounds, tranquil music or even the sounds of a city if one is able, close your eyes and focus intently on all the noises. Give them your utmost attention and try to hear every detail of each sound as it enters the mind. If an image is brought to mind by a particular sound, feel free to regard it for a moment and then release it. Do not let judgment enter in during this meditation. Once in a fully present and relaxed state, try to hear the silence under the sound. This can be difficult at first but given time, the silence will be heard. The silence is that which allows the sound to be; the unmanifested Source from which all things are brought forth. Once the silence can be both felt and heard, even noises previously judged as unpleasant such as horns, trains and sirens become a welcome reminder of the connectivity and oneness of all things. The great unmanifested Source which allows all those things to be is also contained within you. It allows you to be, and through that connection you are one with all things. In this state, there can be nothing but peace. Listen intently for at least 20 minutes, and then open your eyes.

After 8 weeks of daily meditation, significant changes will be made to the wiring of the brain and this will only increase as time goes on. Making meditation a daily habit leads to a stronger, fitter brain that only gets better with age. No pills or potions in existence can claim the same results.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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Can Meditation Slow HIV/AIDS?

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

yoga teacher trainingBy Faye Martins

What could be more stressful for an individual than knowing with utmost certainty that a disease is slowly but surely destroying them from the inside out, every second of every day? That’s the painful reality many people with chronic diseases face, including sufferers of HIV and AIDS. Unlike cancer, HIV is an incurable disease at this point, and we are many years from seeing a cure. Without hope to cling to, many who have HIV fall into despair.

What if there was a simple treatment that could slow the progression of this disease? And what if this treatment was free and easily accessible for anyone interested in giving it a try?

A groundbreaking study at UCLA proves that there is such a thing available to HIV patients today. The study aimed to measure the effectiveness of meditation on promoting the health of CD4+ T lymphocytes. HIV slowly destroys the CD4+ T lymphocytes until they no longer function, leading to a lack of essential immunity. The CD4+ T lymphocytes are basically the brain of the immune system and are the force that coordinates immune activity. Without them, there is no immune defense.

CD4+ T cells have another destroying enemy in addition to the HIV virus itself and that enemy is stress. Stress causes rapid acceleration of CD4+ T cell deterioration and stress is prevalent in HIV patients. How could it not be? HIV and the stress it causes work hand in hand to destroy their host.

During the study, participants engaged in daily mindfulness meditation and their results were recorded over an 8 week period. At the end of those 8 weeks, the meditating group reported no loss of CD4+ T lymphocytes at all. These results were then compared to those from a control group, who reported significant declines in CD4+ T cell counts. This was to be expected due to the HIV virus.

Further research was done which proved that the positive impact was indeed from the meditation and not from other factors such as medication. In addition, the same level of CD4+ T cell protection from meditation extended to those who were taking antiretroviral medications, making it an ideal complementary therapy. The painful irony of HIV medications is that they cause some very unpleasant side effects, including increased blood pressure and stress levels. Meditation counters that, which makes it a very valuable addition to other HIV therapies.

Another important finding was that the protective buffer increased right along with meditation times. To put it simply, the more an individual meditated, the more powerful the protective buffer.

With these findings in mind, it is safe to say that meditation can slow the progression of the HIV virus dramatically in addition to improving the overall quality of life through the psychological benefit of lowered levels of stress.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

To see our selection of Online Yoga teacher training courses, please visit the following link.

If you are a Yoga teacher, studio owner, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is, including the resource box above. Namaste!


Three Classic Yoga Meditation Types

Friday, April 15th, 2011

become a yoga teacherBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

There are many different Yogic lineages, which result in a variety of Yoga meditation techniques. These techniques vary, depending on the creator, tradition, and teacher. Meditation techniques, are often combined with pranayama and Yoga asanas, help bring the mind to states of tranquility. They will lower your stress and anxiety levels. Ultimately, they will connect you with the simmering divinity at the core of your own being.

Mindfulness (Awareness) Meditation

One of the classic types of Yoga meditation is the practice of mindfulness meditation. This form of meditation rests on the art of becoming deeply present and aware of what is here, right now. As a Yoga student, you are constantly reminded to check in with yourself and see exactly how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. In order to do this, you must focus on what is happening at this very moment, without judgment.

As you practice this form of meditation, you will become aware of physical sensations, pains, aches, and feelings that arise during the course of your Yoga practice. As you become intimately aware of what is happening for you in the moment, you are given the opportunity to practice ahimsa, or non-violence, towards yourself and others, as you move throughout your day.

Breath Awareness Meditation

Another classic form of Yoga meditation is to simply watch your breath. All you have to do is sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor, close your eyes, and begin to watch your breath, as you inhale and exhale, and inhale and exhale, and inhale and exhale. By this point, your mind will most likely begin to wander. Slowly and gently, let go of the thoughts and focus again on your breath. You can do this meditation practice almost anywhere, unless you are driving. If you are driving, you can focus on your breath – just don’t close your eyes!

If you find that your mind wanders uncontrollably, you may want to take the aid of a mantra or sacred word. A mantra is a sacred word, or phrase, that you repeat either silently or aloud, during your meditation practice. You may have received an enlivened mantra from your Guru, or you may choose a mantra with which you personally resonate.

Mantra Meditation / Koan Meditation

Meditating on a divine concept, or a mantra, is another classic Yoga meditation technique. However, this form of meditation is difficult, and requires a teacher for optimum success. An uplifting spiritual concept is a wonderful meditative focal point. It will help to quiet and uplift your mind.

A Japanese koan (a paradoxical anecdote), on the other hand, is designed to take us far beyond our regular way of thinking, in order to stop the analyzing and judging part of the mind. The koan is a riddle without an answer, which helps the practitioner develop intuition, instead of judging.


All three of these Yoga meditation techniques will help to quiet, center, and train your mind, so that you are prepared for life’s many challenges, and to create a connection with your own spiritual beauty.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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If you are a teacher, yoga school manager, blogger, e-zine, or website publisher, and are in need of quality content, please feel free to use my blog entries (articles). Please be sure to reprint each article, as is. Namaste!