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From Adam Grant in NY Times: Meditation isn’t snake oil. For some people, meditation might be the most efficient way to reduce stress and cultivate mindfulness. But it isn’t a panacea. If you don’t meditate, there’s no need to stress out about it. In fact, in some situations, meditation may be harmful: Willoughby Britton, a Brown University Medical School professor, has discovered numerous cases of traumatic meditation experiences that intensify anxiety, reduce focus and drive, and leave people feeling incapacitated.
Evangelists, it’s time to stop judging. The next time you meet people who choose not to meditate, take a deep breath and let us relax in peace.
From Big Think: Dan Harris is a self-described “fidgety and skeptical news anchor” who would probably be the last person you’d expect to buy into the hocus pocus of supposed new age wellness. But after suffering a live, on-air panic attack on “Good Morning America,” the ABC News correspondent took up meditation not because he was in search of a magical solution, but rather because of the overwhelming scientific evidence that it just works.
Excerpts from Harvard Health Publications: “In 2002, the Corporate Leadership Council compiled a survey of almost 20,000 employees at 34 companies. Their findings showed a dramatic link between job performance and attention to strengths: when performance reviews emphasized what a person was doing right in the job, it led to a 36% improvement in performance, while emphasizing performance weaknesses led to a 27% decline in performance.”
“Certain strengths have been found to be the most closely linked to happiness. They are gratitude, hope, vitality, curiosity, and love. These strengths are so important that they’re worth cultivating and applying in your daily life, whether or not they come naturally to you…”
“Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), which combines mindfulness practice with cognitive behavioral techniques, has been successfully used to treat depression and anxiety…. In a randomized clinical trial published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, people with recurrent depression who participated in an eight-week group course of MBCT were significantly less likely to become depressed again than people who continued on antidepressants without therapy. During the study, people in the mindfulness group reported greater physical well-being and enjoyment in daily life, and 75% were able to discontinue their antidepressant medication.”
“Aspects of mindfulness meditation tend to be dose-related– the more you do, the more effect it usually has. Most people find that it takes at least 20 minutes for the mind to begin to settle, so this is a reasonable way to start. If you’re ready for a more serious commitment, Jon Kabat-Zinn recommends 45 minutes of meditation at least six days a week. But you can get started by practicing the techniques described here for shorter periods.”
“Your temperament also influences how you handle choice and how it influences your happiness. ‘I never settle for second best.’ Does that sound like you? Psychologists would call you a maximizer: in your quest for the best deal or product, you need to evaluate all the choices before making a decision. Other people are satisficers: they have standards for what they want in a given circumstance, but as soon as something meets those standards (which can be high or low) they make the decision. Judged by measurable criteria, maximizers may make the best choices. In research at Columbia University and Swarthmore College, students were rated on their tendency toward maximizing or satisficing and were followed for a year as they searched for jobs. By the criterion of starting salary, maximizers found the best jobs, making 20% more. However, going through the process they experienced many more negative emotions, and after being hired they were less happy with their jobs than their classmates who looked for the good-enough option. Who made the best decision: those with the higher salary or those with greater happiness?”
From NY Times: Meditation and mindfulness: the words conjure images of yoga retreats and Buddhist monks. But perhaps they should evoke a very different picture: a man in a deerstalker, puffing away at a curved pipe, Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. The world’s greatest fictional detective is someone who knows the value of concentration, of “throwing his brain out of action,” as Dr. Watson puts it. He is the quintessential unitasker in a multitasking world.
Find peace in a frantic world with these five meditations, including The Chocolate Meditation. Connecting with your senses is one of the core benefits of Mindfulness meditation. Many traditions use nuts or fruit as the focus for a meditation on the senses of taste, smell and touch. But you can use any food at all so we developed a meditation based on chocolate.
From SharpBrains: Notes from a fun session on brain fitness during the Neuroleadership Summit in San Francisco, exploring opportunities to enhance performance and health of leaders and workforces by deploying both old tools (like breathing and meditation) and new ones (such as biofeedback and database-driven personalized brain training solutions).
From SharpBrains: Dr. David Rabiner shares an excellent review of a new study that analyzes the benefits of mindfulness for adolescents and adults with attention deficits. He writes that “although this is clearly a preliminary study, the results are both interesting and encouraging.”