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Posts Tagged ‘Meditate for Life’

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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Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation: gets you outside and moving, and reconnects you with your inner self.

I truly enjoy my Walking Meditation, it fulfills two functions, gets me outside and moving, and reconnects me with my inner self.

The following Informal Walking Meditation is very simple and easy to do.

On the Meditate for Life program, one of the many meditation techniques we teach is a form of Walking Meditation, again very simple and easy to do. So, I encourage you to give it a go and enjoy the outdoors whilst attending to your inner self. HAVE FUN.

Alexia Miall

INFORMAL WALKING MEDITATION

When we are too centered on our own internal dramas, too full of our own subconscious gossip, we become out of touch with the world around us.

Rediscover a sense of awareness by going for a walk.

The act of walking literally establishes contact with the ground, and the constant input of new images helps break up fixed moods, let in fresh air, and diverts attention from a fixation on problems.

This informal walking meditation does not require any particular technique of the body or hands and so can be performed anywhere – in a city street or a park, for example. It simply focuses on maintaining awareness.

1. Select a place in which you feel relatively secure. An unsafe part of town is not the right scene for a walking meditation.

2. First focus yourself, bringing your mind back to your clear intention to remain aware. The purpose of the exercise is to be fully present while you take your walk.

3. As you set off, feel the energy rising up from the ground to the top of your head. Consciously relax your body and mind. Let the motion of walking be easy and natural.

4. Let go of mental chatter, and focus attention on the sights, sounds, smells, and sensations of the environment around you as you walk.

5. When you notice that you have been thinking, come back to the sights and sounds around you. Simply acknowledge that you have been thinking, and return to the immediacy of the present moment.

From The Meditation Year – A Seasonal guide to contemplation, relaxation, and visualization
Jane Hope

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“Meditation brings wisdom; lack of mediation leaves ignorance. Know well what leads you forward and what holds you back, and choose the path that leads to wisdom.” Buddha

People have been asking us what actually happens on the ‘Meditate for Life’ program?    So, in response, here are the answers to the most common questions:

Who’s it for?

It’s for anyone who is interested in learning to meditate or who has learned in the past and would like to kick-start their practice again.

How long does it go for?

8 weeks on a Monday evening, starting at 7.00pm and finishing at 9.30pm

What happens each evening?

Each evening we cover some theory, and also practice what we are learning.   Some evenings we have two meditations as a group, and some only one, depending on the material we cover.    Here’s a breakdown of what we cover each session:

Session 1:  What is Meditation? Learning a basic Breath Meditation

Session 2:  Review Practice, What’s actually happening when we meditate?  Review of research into the benefits of Meditation

Session 3:  Discussion on progress & Q&A.    Counting Meditation designed to aid focus and concentration

Session 4:  Identifying effects of Meditation in everyday life.   Mindfulness.    Walking Meditation

Session 5:  Meditation & the Brain 1:  Meditation and Brainwave patterns.   Using the mind to change the brain to change the mind!   Gratitude Meditation

Session 6:  Meditation and the Brain 2:   Understanding anxiety and using Meditation to develop calm and equanimity

Session 7:  Meditation as a tool for managing pain.   Chanting Meditation

Session 8:  Review of program.   The role of Meditation in the Evolution of Personal Consciousness.  Loving Kindness Meditation

By running over 8 weeks we have time to really establish a Meditation practice, and there’s plenty of time to check in each week as to how the practice is going and if there are any specific questions about the practice that are concerning people.

What sort of effects does the program have for people?

At the start of the program and again at the end of the program, we survey the participants across a range of indicators.    The results of the survey can be seen in the video on our website (you can register there too!) – next course starts 27th June, 2011

Have you got any questions about Meditation? – just type them below – we’d love to answer them.

StJohn and Alexia Miall (Meditate for Life Facilitators)

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.   You can find out more about StJohn’s activities when he’s not at Quest, by visiting the Keep Evolving website.


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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This great video compiled by StJohn Miall shares the results of a recent 8 week meditation course conducted by the Quest for Life Foundation, in Sydney. You may be surprised at the results!

The next Meditate for Life Course starts on the 1st November. For more details and to register click here. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

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Here’s an interesting News Release that came out recently….

Some of us need regular amounts of coffee or other chemical enhancers to make us cognitively sharper. A newly published study suggests perhaps a brief bit of meditation would prepare us just as well.

While past research using neuroimaging technology has shown that meditation techniques can promote significant changes in brain areas associated with concentration, it has always been assumed that extensive training was required to achieve this effect. Though many people would like to boost their cognitive abilities, the monk-like discipline required seems like a daunting time commitment and financial cost for this benefit.

Surprisingly, the benefits may be achievable even without all the work. Though it sounds almost like an advertisement for a “miracle” weight-loss product, new research now suggests that the mind may be easier to cognitively train than we previously believed.

Psychologists studying the effects of a meditation technique known as “mindfulness ” found that meditation-trained participants showed a significant improvement in their critical cognitive skills (and performed significantly higher in cognitive tests than a control group) after only four days of training for only 20 minutes each day.

“In the behavioral test results, what we are seeing is something that is somewhat comparable to results that have been documented after far more extensive training,” said Fadel Zeidan, a post-doctoral researcher at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and a former doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, where the research was conducted.

“Simply stated, the profound improvements that we found after just 4 days of meditation training are really surprising,” Zeidan noted. “It goes to show that the mind is, in fact, easily changeable and highly influenced, especially by meditation.”

The experiment involved 63 student volunteers, 49 of whom completed the experiment. Participants were randomly assigned in approximately equivalent numbers to one of two groups, one of which received the meditation training while the other group listened for equivalent periods of time to a book (J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit) being read aloud.

Prior to and following the meditation and reading sessions, the participants were subjected to a broad battery of behavioral tests assessing mood, memory, visual attention, attention processing, and vigilance.

Both groups performed equally on all measures at the beginning of the experiment. Both groups also improved following the meditation and reading experiences in measures of mood, but only the group that received the meditation training improved significantly in the cognitive measures. The meditation group scored consistently higher averages than the reading/listening group on all the cognitive tests and as much as ten times better on one challenging test that involved sustaining the ability to focus, while holding other information in mind.

“Findings like these suggest that meditation’s benefits may not require extensive training to be realized, and that meditation’s first benefits may be associated with increasing the ability to sustain attention,” Zeidan said.

StJohn Miall

Alexia and I are running an 8 week Meditation Course for Quest for Life, in Sydney starting 1st November.     Over the 8 weeks we’ll be teaching a number of different Meditation techniques to suit a range of needs and we’ll be looking in much more depth at how meditation works, and how you can use it to improve your sleep, manage stress, become less anxious, manage pain more effectively, have more energy and rest down into a quiet peaceful space each day that nurtures you right at your very core.

We’d love to have you come and join us. To see the results from the recently completed Quest for Life meditation course click here.

To register follow this link

All the best

StJohn

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