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Posts Tagged ‘Meditation’

hand draws brain signThis blog arrived in my email today.

I was struck by its profound simplicity and by it’s practically as a useful tool to develop appreciation, gratitude and mindfulness.

What do you think?

A Simple Practice to a Happier Balanced Brain

By ELISHA GOLDSTEIN, PH.D.

“TAKE A MOMENT to look around. Where is the good in this moment? Look inside and out. What’s the good within you, what’s the good outside of you?

The gifts of life are truly here; we just need to come to our senses from time to time to notice them.”

Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

The fact is our brains aren’t wired to be happy; they’re wired to keep us safe. That’s why left to its own devices the brain isn’t going to be aware of all the good that is around.

There are many writers, psychologists and mindfulness teachers who speak about the essence of our true nature being good, being happy, and being compassionate.

However, this only comes when we feel safe and secure.

Our brain is often times not in a state of feeling safe and secure and is more often on the lookout for what’s a potential danger around us. This is what’s been called the brain’s automatic negativity bias. In other words, we’re far more likely to pay attention to what’s not good than to what’s good. This is especially prevalent if you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, depression or any trauma.

But there’s good news:

The good news is that we also know what we practice and repeat in life starts to become automatic. In neuroscience lingo, that is the basis behind neuroplasticity – the ability to wire our brains with our attention and behaviors.

This can be a very simple practice as suggested above to just pause from time to time and ask yourself, “What is good right now?” or perhaps you can even ask yourself, “What do I love?”

At times the answers may come easy and at other times you may yourself reaching for something that’s good. There may be even times when you notice resistance to this practice, judgments around it or a sense of vulnerability arising in combination with the answers.

This is your brain’s way of guarding against vulnerability. In other words, if you feel good you’re at risk for a greater let down if something bad happens. Researcher Brene Brown calls this “Foreboding Joy” and it’s more common than we think. When you notice this resistance, remind yourself it’s okay to be aware of the good and see if you can refocus on it for a moment.

For the good of your brain and your life, give this simple practice a shot. Treat it like an experiment and see what you notice. Allow your experience to be your teacher.

These are the sorts of things we will be exploring and practicing on the Meditate for life workshops we are running over the next few months.   For more information go to the Meditate for Life Webpage: http://www.questforlife.com.au/meditation-program

All the best

StJohn Miall

StJohn Miall

StJohn Miall

StJohn Miall is the co-founder of Keep Evolving, an organisation the facilitates Leadership and Personal Development Programs that has it’s focus on the development of Wisdom, authentic Power and Compassion.  His focus is on the design and delivery of programs to both the corporate sector and the general public with particular focus on deeper, developmental work, supporting the ongoing building of emotional intelligence, spiritual intelligence, coaching, leadership and personal development.

StJohn is an expert guide in the gentle practice of Meditation and its use by those wishing to explore their own inner landscape.

With over 25 years of training experience, StJohn has a wealth of experience to call on both in the design and delivery of transformational programs. He is known for his easy style and ability to make the complex simple and easy to grasp.

Along with his wife Alexia, he facilitates ’Meditate for Life’ and eight week program run in Sydney to learn all about meditation and how to establish a regular meditation practice.   StJohn and Alexia also Facilitate the ‘Take a Stand for Life’residential program held at Bundanoon which is specifically for people looking to further develop their skills for a meaningful and fulfilling life.  

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If you only have the time to do one practice, then Meditation is the one to choose

If you only have the time to do one practice, then Meditation is the one to choose

Meditation has been an important part of my life since 1980.  I have found myself thinking and saying over the years, “I don’t know how I would have got through (the day/the week/the year/the incident etc)  without Meditation”.  When I am too busy to Meditate, I make the effort to find the time, and then am amazed at how much I achieve during my day.  Meditation has helped me to find that still place inside,  even when everything is chaotic around me.  I have found the value many times over of the practice of Meditation in my life, and know the benefits of finding the time to practice regularly.

I am convinced, if you only have the time to do one practice, then Meditation is the one to choose.

If you are thinking about learning to meditate OR wanting to kickstart your practice, then check out the Quest website for the upcoming Meditation programmes in Caringbah, the Central Coast and Crows Nest.


Meditation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about a variety of mental disciplines used to induce specific modes or states of consciousness.  

Meditation is a practice in which an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit[1] or as an end in itself.[2]

The term meditation refers to a broad variety of practices (much like the term sports) that includes techniques designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qikiprana, etc.) and develop compassion,[3] love, patience, generosity and forgiveness. A particularly ambitious form of meditation aims at effortlessly sustained single-pointed concentration[4] single-pointed analysis,[5] meant to enable its practitioner to enjoy an indestructible sense of well-being while engaging in any life activity.

The word meditation carries different meanings in different contexts. Meditation has been practiced since antiquity as a component of numerous religious traditions and beliefs. Meditation often involves an internal effort to self-regulate the mind in some way. Meditation is often used to clear the mind and ease many health issues, such as high blood pressure,[6] depression, and anxiety. It may be done sitting, or in an active way – for instance, Buddhist monks involve awareness in their day-to-day activities as a form of mind-training. Prayer beads or other ritual objects are commonly used during meditation in order to keep track of or remind the practitioner about some aspect of the training.

Meditation may involve generating an emotional state for the purpose of analyzing that state — such as anger, hatred, etc. — or cultivating particular mental response to various phenomena, such as compassion. The term “meditation” can refer to the state itself, as well as to practices or techniques employed to cultivate the state.[7] Meditation may also involve repeating a mantra and closing the eyes. The mantra is chosen based on its suitability to the individual meditator. Meditation has a calming effect and directs awareness inward until pure awareness is achieved, described as “being awake inside without being aware of anything except awareness itself.”[8] In brief, there are dozens of specific styles of meditation practice, and many different types of activity commonly referred to as meditative practices.[9]

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a major career change in 1980 to Adult and Transformational Education.  She has been privileged to share this incredible journey with 1000’s of like minded souls through her extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, life coach, therapist, and mentor.  She managed her own training company in Victoria during the 1990’s, and during this time was the Course Leader for a training program from which the Banksia Environmental Foundation formed.

Alexia has acquired further education in Adult Education in Training; Somatic Psychotherapy; Life Coaching; Conflict Resolution; plus Accreditation in many behavioural and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

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The better response will become your new default reaction

Keep a journal of your triggers

The five-step process below came into my computer’s inbox today, and I believe it is beneficial to be reminded that we do have the power to make different choices around our ‘habits’.

Meditation/mindfulness is a wonderful tool to support us on this journey.

Five Key Steps to Habit Change

Tara Bennett-Goleman’s new book, Mind Whispering: A New Map to Freedom from Self-defeating Emotional Habits, explains the neuroscience of habit change. She recommends mindfulness as a way to bring unconscious habits back into awareness where they can be changed. And she outlines a simple five-step process for making that change.

1) Familiarize yourself with the self-defeating habit. Get so you can recognize the routine as it starts, or begins to take over. This might be by noticing its typical thoughts or feelings, or how you start to act.  You can also follow Paul Ekman’s simple suggestion: keep a journal of your triggers.

2) Be mindful. Monitor your behavior –thoughts, feelings, actions – from a neutral, “witness” awareness.

3) Remember the alternatives – think of a better way to handle the situation.

4) Choose something better – e.g., what you say or do that would be helpful instead of self-defeating.

5) Do this at every naturally occurring opportunity.

Tara cites the neuroscience evidence that the more often you can repeat the new routine instead of the self-destructive one, the sooner it will replace the self-defeating habit in your basal ganglia. The better response will become your new default reaction.

Shared by Alexia Miall

Alexia is co-facilitating one of our Meditate for Life courses in Sydney commencing in August. These 8 week courses are conducted in a variety of locations. You can visit our website for all the details.

Alexia Miall

Alexia’s career began in banking and then moved via advertising to a major career change in 1980 to Adult and Transformational Education.  She has been privileged to share this incredible journey with 1000’s of like minded souls through her extensive experience as a facilitator, trainer, life coach, therapist, and mentor.  She managed her own training company in Victoria during the 1990’s, and during this time was the Course Leader for a training program from which the Banksia Environmental Foundation formed.

Alexia has acquired further education in Adult Education in Training; Somatic Psychotherapy; Life Coaching; Conflict Resolution; plus Accreditation in many behavioural and culture change models. She is an Associate of EcoSTEPS, a niche Sustainability consultancy, which supports her love of the natural environment.

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meditation as a life skill for our youth

Meditation as a life skill for our youth

I recently introduced my 13 year old daughter to Petrea King’s meditation CD.  Emma has a short term memory problem which has made learning very challenging for her. She’s a talented artist and singer but struggles with learning in a school environment. Over the years we have spent thousands of dollars on learning support – speech therapy, occupational therapy, kinesiology and more recently with counseling sessions with a child psychologist to help with her self-esteem. Both the primary and secondary schools she has attended have provided excellent learning support and have supported me, as her fiercely loyal advocate, with encouragement and advice along the way.

The greatest improvement and benefit however has come from her meditation sessions which she now initiates herself. She will head off to her bedroom after school, close the door and meditate to Petrea’s CD for 30 minutes. When she finishes her ability to articulate is so greatly enhanced that I am often left speechless. She is able to “slay” her brother at the dinner table with confident, insightful and humorous conversation that has previously evaded her. Meditation obviously clears her neural pathways to allow her memory to function normally. She is generally less anxious and has become more confident at school and in social situations since starting to meditate. She quickly recognized the considerable benefits gained from meditation and now considers it part of her life. She chooses when she wants to meditate which is generally three or four times per week. I can see it will eventually become a daily ritual for her which I know will support her well through the teenage challenges ahead.

No-one had ever suggested meditation as a support tool and it makes me wonder how this could benefit the hundreds of thousands of families out there dealing with learning difficulties and trying to navigate their way through a winding road, lurching from one solution to the next, often being confronted with issues of whether to medicate or not and being out of pocket thousands of dollars along the way.

So it has got me thinking about the broader benefits of meditation as a life skill for our youth. With so many issues impacting on our young people today, an increase in learning difficulties, a huge increase in youth mental health issues, eating disorders, body image issues, cyber bullying and the anxiety and stress they deal with preparing for their HSC. The fear of failure if they don’t get that high Atar score. If meditation was taught to our children as part of their PDHPE curriculum what impact would we see? A start to each school day that involves 30 minutes of meditation perhaps? Sounds like a worthwhile research project to me.

Vicki Miller
Guest blog

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Sitting Like a Mountain

Sitting Like a Mountain

One of the definitions of meditation is having a steady mind, and the aim of meditation is not to identify so closely with thoughts but rather, just to watch them come and go.  In daily life, you usually react to what is happening in the mind.  When you feel happy, you call a friend or write a poem; when you’re feeling down, you might pour a drink or turn on the television.  The discipline of meditation allows you to sit like a mountain with all kinds of weather passing overhead – storms, sun, wind, rain.  Nothing that is thrown up causes a great reaction; you are just aware of the passing weather.  The mountain remains firm and solid and steady, not rocked by the changes that happen all round.  Meditation allows everyone to develop such firmness and dignity.

The Meditation Year
Jane Hope

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Zen Garden

Zen Garden

Recently I was in a beautiful garden sitting with a dear friend asking her for her wisdom and guidance about an issue in my life.

This friend is a true and trusted loving presence in my life and I often consult with her. I have to say she has never given me bad counsel. As we sat, she said I needed to “take it easy and trust in life. Everything is taken care of”. She added you don’t need to worry… you are safe”… I breathed a sigh of relief and warmth filled my belly.

I stayed holding hands with this dear friend and I relaxed.

My soul filled with joy and peace.

Did you guess yet who my friend was?

Yes it was me… Like many of you, I love to unwind and rejuvenate to Petrea’s beautiful voice. One of my favourite CD’s is Zen Garden in which Petrea leads us into a garden so we can sit and talk with the higher part of ourselves – the wise and loving part who cares and knows our best answers. If you have wondered what this CD is all about, I can highly recommend it as a way to peace and connecting with the part of you that holds your highest wellbeing at heart and who always loves you during both challenging and good times…

Wishing you much ease and peace with your own special garden friend.

Zen Garden

Zen Garden

Lots of love Margie

Note: We have a special on Zen Garden until 31st October – it is half price at $15 (including postage) – will make a great Christmas present! Click here to purchase.

Margie Braunstein

Margie is a somatic psychotherapist and counsellor providing psychotherapy services to the people of the Central Coast and Sydney.  Margie lives on the beautiful Central Coast with her husband, two children, two dogs and a cat.

Over the last 12 years, Margie has also been engaged in the design, delivery and marketing of transformational learning programs. During this time she has regularly facilitated personal development programs for up to 50 people on weekend workshops, week-long intensives and advanced programs of 3-4 months.

Margie has a Graduate Certificate in Adult Education from UTS, Diploma in Psychotherapy from the Australian College of Contemporary Somatic Psychotherapy and qualifications in somatic therapy, executive coaching and relationship counselling.

Margie has a passion for personal development and regards people with respect, empathy and compassion in the belief that while we all do the best we can, a little bit more kindness and care can lead to even greater peace and joy in life.

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Buddah

We live in a world that is changing rapidly and feels out of control.

There is an enormous amount of research happening about the brain, mind, and consciousness. Science knows a hundred times more today than it did in 1990 about what happens to the brain when we engage in contemplative practices like meditation.

This is great news for those who say “I can’t meditate”!

There is now good motivation to meditate because it actually changes our brain. The days of saying “Brain cells die as we age, the brain is fixed, you can’t change your mind, I am stuck in this thinking” is over. And here is why.

We now know that that the brain of people who regularly meditate becomes thicker. (not more stupid!) It becomes thicker in two major regions of the brain. One is the pre-frontal cortex, located right behind the forehead. It’s involved in deliberately paying attention to something.

The second brain area that gets bigger is the insula. The insula tracks both the interior state of the body and the feelings of other people, which is fundamental to empathy. So when we regularly meditate it helps us become more self aware and empathic.

Now that is motivation!

This is neuroplasticity in action which is really the idea that as the mind changes, the brain changes.

In the Buddhist tradition the mind takes the shape of whatever it rests upon – or more exactly, the brain takes the shape of whatever the mind rests upon. So if we are regularly thinking of regrets, resentments, quarrels with others, self reproach, and continually commenting of everything that isn’t working for us, it will change our brain in that direction, because the neurons that fire together wire together.

Conversely, if we think about those things that are going well, what we are grateful for, good connections we have with others, our positive qualities, what we have accomplished in our day, we are going to build neural pathways and circuits of positivity.

This is good news when we live in a world that is changing rapidly and feels out of control.

No matter what is going on “out there in the world” we can choose to stay more peaceful and calm by the regular practice of mindfulness or reflection or meditation or whatever we want to call it. The facts are in. When we meditate we change our brains and we change our lives.

If you haven’t started yet, today is a good day to commence changing your brain and your mind.

See Rick Hanson’s book The Buddha Brain.

www.RickHanson.net

 

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie Batho

Wendie has co-facilitated residential programs with Petrea for more than sixteen years. Prior to that Wendie spent over 25 years as a teacher, school principal and was involved in educational leadership and facilitation of school executive groups.

Ten years of this time was spent in PNG where she taught and worked for the government. Wendie has been travelling since the early sixties and is especially attracted to Asian cultures. She holds degrees in Anthropology, Education, Sociology, Theology and Political Science. Her current passions are her grandchildren, travel biographies, exploring Asia, 4×4 driving, reading everything she can get her hands on, and watching movies on the big screen at home.

 

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