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

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Daily Inspiration

Meditation Becoming More Popular Among Teens

One of the most surprising trends going among teenagers going into the New Year is, of all things, meditation.
It’s due in large part to the growth of scientific research that suggests meditation can help teens to reduce stress, regulate emotions and boost grades.
Meditation is now being taught in schools across America.
Actor Russell Brand meditated with students at Phillip and Sala Burton Academic High School in San Francisco, where officials say meditation has brought down violence and improved academic performance.
Research suggests meditation has benefits for both grownups and children, including improved focus, better test scores, boosted immune systems and lower blood pressure.
In a 2011 study published in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a team of researchers from Harvard University found that after eight weeks of meditation, first-time meditators were able to grow the gray matter in the areas of the brain associated with self-awareness and compassion and shrink the gray matter in the area of the brain associated with stress.
Neuroscience has also shown that meditation can effectively rewire key areas of the brain that are associated with stress, self-awareness and compassion. (MORE)
Source: ABC News