Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

More research has been done on mindfulness meditation, further showing that there are positive health outcomes that can come about. This study from Michigan State University has found that negative feelings and emotions can be subsided through mindfulness meditation. Read the full article below to learn more about the study and its results.

Anyone looking for a way to control their negative emotions might benefit from some mindfulness meditation, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

The University of California-Berkeley define mindfulness as: “Maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment.”

A Harvard Help Guide tells us that: “Above all, mindfulness practice involves accepting whatever arising in your awareness at each moment.”

Mindfulness has gained popularity in recent years. Rooted in religious practice and prayer, and especially in Buddhism, proponents claim that it can benefit the immune system, improve attention and memory, and increase the density of gray matter in the brain.

It is said to enhance compassion, to ease relationship behaviors, to help people to overcome addiction, and to reduce stress.

The search for neural associations that underlie mindfulness

Now, researchers from Michigan State University (MSU) have found neural evidence that mindfulness helps to control negative feelings, not just in people who are naturally disposed to be mindful or well-practiced in meditation, but in anyone.

On the basis that mindfulness can help to regulate the emotions, the team wanted to know whether someone who is not naturally mindful can enter a “mindfulness state of mind” through a decision to do so, or by undertaking a focused, deliberate effort.

The team of psychology researchers, led by Yanli Lin, an MSU graduate student, invited a group of 68 native English-speaking females, who had not practiced mindfulness meditation before, to participate in the study. Analysis showed that participants came to the experiment with different levels of natural mindfulness.

Each participant wore an electrode cap, to enable EEG recording. They then took part in one of two 18-minute activities. Some listened to a guided meditation, while others were exposed to a language-learning presentation.

Immediately after the meditation, they were shown some disturbing pictures – for example, a blood corpse. The researchers used the EEG to record their brain activity while viewing the images.

Meditation appears to help tame emotions

The participants were instructed to view the pictures either “mindfully” or “naturally.” After this, they completed a questionnaire.

Results indicate that, whether the participants had high or low levels of natural mindfulness, the brain was able to control negative emotions to the same extent. Exposure to the meditation session appeared to help the emotional brain to recover quickly after seeing the photos, suggesting that meditation enabled participants to tame their negative emotions.

Some participants were also asked to view the images “mindfully,” while others were not, but this did not appear to affect their ability to control emotions.

It would seem that meditation could be more helpful in achieving emotional control than just telling people to “be mindful,” says Jason Moser, MSU associate professor of clinical psychology and co-author of the study.

“If you’re a naturally mindful person, and you’re walking around very aware of things, you’re good to go. You shed your emotions quickly. If you’re not naturally mindful, then meditating can make you look like a person who walks around with a lot of mindfulness. But for people who are not naturally mindful and have never meditated, forcing oneself to be mindful “in the moment’ doesn’t work. You’d be better off meditating for 20 minutes.”

Jason S. Moser

Lin believes the results show that meditation can improve emotional health, and that even people who are not naturally mindful can acquire these benefits through practice.

One challenge in conducting such research, say the authors, is that there are different definitions and types of mindfulness, as well as the potential interference of mood and anxiety disorders, among other confounders. The team attempted to minimize this by choosing, as far as possible, a homogeneous group. The participants were all undergraduates, and they were all right-handed.

Find out how mindfulness meditation can help to reduce pain.

Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/313216.php

Finding Your Dharma from Within

The word, inspiration, comes from the Latin root word “spire” meaning spirit and the prefix “in” which means “within”. Thus, inspiration is what happens when we get in touch with the spirit within us. To be inspired is our natural state of being. To feel inspired is to feel the joy, excitement and enthusiasm that come with feeling connected to a greater purpose.   What is a greater purpose? It is a purpose greater than one’s own selfish pursuits. It is a purpose for a higher motive, a greater cause or calling. It is what happens when the Divine speaks to you and prompts you to take action. This Divinely motivated action is sometimes called “dharma” in Hinduism.  What’s your dharma? What’s your higher purpose?

dharma

Each person has a dharma.  Some learn it through a vision. Others hear a voice. It is a Divine experience to realize one’s dharma. The good news is that everyone can discover the dharma. To do so, there are only two things necessary.

1. Be still.  It is in the stillness that the Divine speaks to you. This occurs in meditation or a moment of Divine reflection. It can happen in your living room or on a mountain top.

2. Surrender: This is the hardest part. You have to be willing to surrender to your dharma to receive a clear vision of your dharma. The Divine speaks to those who are ready to listen, not just hear.

What will you do if you don’t like your dharma? What if it’s hard work? What if it will be fraught with challenges? Will you still surrender and serve?  The only answer that will do is “YES!” Without a yes, you have not surrendered and your own ego will get in the way of listening to the Divine.

I am reminded of my own vision when surrendered my life to a high power…..All I wanted was to serve. All I wanted  clear direction. When the vision came, it was big. It was large. And, it was scary. But it was also so incredibly exciting and the prana (energy) that surged through me was greater than anything I had previously experienced. I have tried my best to surrender and serve that vision ever since.

 You be still and hear the universes-May you have the courage to surrender to what you hear.