Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Daily Inspiration

Can Meditation Banish Back Pain?

  • Mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy can relieve chronic low back pain, study says: 

 It might seem too good to be true that relief from that nagging back pain could be found in meditation and yoga. But a new study suggests this approach might be just as effective as cognitive behavioral therapy, a common technique involving relaxation and education. And both could be more effective than popping an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Researchers compared the two approaches in 229 adults between ages 20 and 70 with long-term low back pain. They assigned about half to receive eight weekly sessions of mindfulness-based stress reduction, involving meditation and yoga, and the other half to receive eight sessions of cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on helping people change the way they think about pain. Another 113 adults continued their usual care, which often involved ibuprofen and other pain meds.
    The researchers found that by the end of the eight-week course, 47% of people in the mindfulness group said their back pain was less disabling, based on factors such as difficulty walking and carrying out everyday activities. A similar number of people, 52%, in the cognitive behavioral therapy group reported less disabling pain. Both groups fared better than the group that did not change treatment, of whom only 35% had experienced improvements.
    "Our results confirm what has already been found for (cognitive behavioral therapy), and we went beyond that to show this other mindfulness approach was equally effective for chronic back pain," said Daniel C. Cherkin, a senior scientific investigator at the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. Cherkin is the lead author of the study, which was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association. (MORE)

    Source: CNN

    Monday, January 19, 2015

    Daily Inspiration

    Meditation Changes the Brain’s Wiring and Mindset, Harvard Studies Show

    Sarah Lazar's voice was calming even over the phone as she demonstrated, for this interview, a typical start to a mindfulness practice. "Notice you are breathing in and breathing out. Can you just be aware and really feel what it feels like as air passes through your nostrils?" she asks, gently.
    "It may sound incredibly boring," she says with a chuckle. "But things start to quiet down inside."
    According to Lazar, assistant professor of psychology at Harvard University, observing your breath without self judgment actually changes the way your brain is wired.
    She ought to know. As the lead researcher of a series of studies on yoga and meditation based at Massachusetts General Hospital, Lazar and her team have found that practicing things like yoga and meditation go far beyond a simple de-stress session and are, in fact, surprisingly long lasting.
    Thanks to what we know about the science of neuroplasticity - the brain's way of reshaping itself to adapt and grow - Lazar and her team have shown that the practice of meditating  - or quieting the mind - is not a passive act, even if it does involve sitting silently with eyes closed. On the contrary, it's an extremelyactive endeavor. Meditation significantly alters the regions of the brain associated with stress, overall well-being and fluid intelligence. (MORE)

    Thursday, January 15, 2015

    Daily Inspiration

    Meditation Class Helps Student Stay Mindful Of Stress

    Mindfulness mediation” is a term talked about everywhere from drum circles to corporate gatherings. It is a practice in which one attempts to be observant and non-judgmental of his or her thoughts, emotions and sensations in order to focus awareness of the present moment. 
    There are now more than 20 million Americans who practice meditation in order to reduce stress, pain and anxiety, according to a National Health Interview Survey. There has also been research that suggests mindfulness meditation can have physical, tangible benefits. 
    Now a twice-weekly group at the USF Counseling Center is bringing mindfulness to USF students.
    Amanda Schwait, a USF mindfulness meditation group leader and post-doctoral fellow at the Counseling Center, said that the sessions offer college students a time to set aside for relaxation, which can often be rare with the conflicting pressures of student and social life. 
    “Students have so many stressors in their day-to-day: a constant stream of homework and social interactions and social media,” she said. “The group allows those students to just come in and be really focused and aware of what’s going on inside of them.” 
    Schwait also said that the practice could influence the rest of students’ lives outside of meditation. She said, “There’s a lot of concerns and a lot stressors that happen developmentally during college, and I think (meditation) allows people to just slow down a little bit, maybe be able to take some of the non-judgmental mindfulness and awareness and just plug it into the rest of their day.”
    Diego Hernandez, a USF assistant professor with a doctorate in psychology, has practiced mindfulness meditation since his college years. 
    “When I was in undergrad, I was a triple major with a Greek minor,” he said. “I was involved in a lot of activities and a lot of stress, and I decided to reduce it to a double major to finish … but it’s one of those things that I found beneficial for relaxing and regaining my focus.”  (MORE)
    Source: The Oracle of USF

    Monday, January 12, 2015

    Daily Inspiration

    Here's How Zen Meditation Changed Steve Jobs' Life And Sparked A Design Revolution

    When Steve Jobs showed up at the San Francisco airport at the age of 19, his parents didn't recognize him. 
    Jobs, a Reed College dropout, had just spent a few months in India. 
    He had gone to meet the region's contemplative traditions — Hinduism, Buddhism — and the Indian sun had darkened his skin a few shades.
    The trip changed him in less obvious ways, too.
    Although you couldn't predict it then, his travels would end up changing the business world. 
    Back in the Bay Area, Jobs continued to cultivate his meditation practice. He was in the right place at the right time; 1970s San Francisco was where Zen Buddhism first began to flourish on American soil. He met Shunryu Suzuki, author of the groundbreaking "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind," and sought the teaching of one of Suzuki's students, Kobun Otogawa. 
    Jobs met with Otogawa almost every day, Walter Isaacson reported in his biography of Jobs. Every few months, they'd go on a meditation retreat together. 
    Zen Buddhism, and the practice of meditation it encouraged, were shaping Jobs' understanding of his own mental processes.  (MORE)
    Source: Business Insider

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Daily Inspiration

    San Francisco Schools Transformed by the Power of Meditation

    Silence isn't something people usually associate with middle school, but twice a day the halls of Visitacion Valley School in San Francisco fall quiet as the sixth, seventh and eighth grade students meditate for fifteen minutes.
    And school administrators tell NBC News that the violence outside of the school, which is situated in one of San Francisco's poorest neighborhoods, was spilling into the school and affecting the students' demeanor.
    "The kids see guns on a daily basis," the school's athletic director, Barry O'Driscoll said, adding, "there would be fights here three-to-five times a week."
    With a typical schools days filled with mayhem, O'Driscoll was skeptical when the San Francisco Public School District partnered with the Center for Wellness and Achievement in Education to introduce a meditation program, called "Quiet Time," to four of its schools, including Visitacion Valley.
    "I thought this is hippy stuff that didn't work in the '70s, so how's it gonna work now," O'Driscoll said. But he changed his tune, when over a four-year period, suspensions decreased by 79 percent and attendance and academic performance noticeably increased.
    Blocks away at Burton High School, which was once dubbed "Fight School," the results have been similar. Principal Bill Kappenhagen was skeptical at first, as well, and had to wrangle with the problem of when in the school day to grab a half hour for quiet reflection. (MORE)
    Source: NBC News