Thursday, July 24, 2014

Two Shoulder Openers You Can Do at Your Desk

Many of us sit at a desk, hunched over a computer for the majority of the workday, and our posture suffers. Considering this, it’s no wonder that shoulder openers feel so good in yoga class. Here are two simple poses that you can do at home - or even at your desk - to open your shoulders and achieve better posture.

Eagle arms: Instead of doing the full eagle pose, simply focus in on your upper body. Bringing your arms in front of your body, wrap your right arm under your left and then if you can, bring your palms to touch. For a deeper stretch that will reach across the shoulder blades, start to lift the arms higher. Once you’ve gotten a good stretch, unwind your arms and repeat on the opposite side.

Reverse prayer: Generally, we hold our hands with palms together in front of the heart for prayer pose. In reverse prayer pose, aim for the same hand position, but behind your back. This is an intense opener for the front of the shoulders, so it may be wise to slowly build up to the full pose. Eventually, your pinky fingers will rest vertically along the spine, and the forearms will be parallel to the ground.

In both of these poses, be sure that you are sitting or standing up straight and remember to breathe deeply. Adding the meditative breath will help to bring additional tranquility to your day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The History and Benefits of Transcendental Meditation

A relatively new type of practice, transcendental meditation teaches individuals how to avoid distracting thoughts and enter into a state of calm and abiding awareness. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who derived the practice from the deep study of the Indian Vedas and the traditions that surround them, brought the practice to the United States in the 1960s. Since his passing, several other teachers have arisen to provide instruction in the practice in areas around the country. The teachers generally supply their students with a mantra, a sound from the Vedic tradition that has no meaning. Practitioners silently repeat the mantra while seated in a comfortable position with their eyes closed. Individuals direct their attention to the mantra during the practice.

Transcendental meditation has been linked to a reduction in chronic pain, anxiety, cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Several studies have demonstrated these connections, although scientific debate persists. Devoted practitioners achieve a state of stillness and stability that is free from normal mental boundaries. This peacefulness often has a direct effect on an individual’s quality of life.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Dr. David F. O’Connell Encourages Medical Meditation with New Book

Dr. David F. O’Connell, a distinguished licensed psychologist, will soon release his new book, Prescribing Health: Transcendental Meditation in Contemporary Medical Care. In the book, Dr. O’Connell encourages physicians in a wide range of fields to recommend meditation as part of their patients’ treatment plans. He explores the health benefits of regular meditation practice for a number of serious and chronic physical and psychological health problems.

The motivation for writing this book came from a supposition that most people still do not believe that real health benefits, including the more effective management or treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, hypertension, and various addictions, can be derived from regular meditation. Dr. O’Connell has already published two books about the role of meditation in the treatment of addictions.

The book specifically addresses transcendental meditation, a form developed by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 1950s. During the following decade, Dr. O’Connell encountered transcendental meditation, which has since had a major impact on his life. In this form of meditation, individuals focus on a mantra to invoke refined states of awareness.

Monday, July 7, 2014

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Help American Students

Based in Emeryville, California, Mindful Schools has trained more than 2,000 teachers from 48 states on implementing mindfulness practices into their daily classroom routines. The teachers often report that mindfulness helps with focus and attention. Additionally, meditation provides children with tools to relax themselves when they experience overwhelming emotions or are exposed to a great deal of pressure. In modern American schools, children deal with the stress of tests and standardized exams, which can create a high-pressure environment. Mindfulness allows more children to flourish in these environments.

In recent history, schools across the nation have begun to focus more on social and emotional education, especially as issues such as bullying have made major headlines. An increasing number of teachers are discovering mindfulness meditation as one of the best means for tackling this new sort of education.

Mindfulness in American schools also helps adults to deal with the stress of teaching. Teachers cannot instruct their students on mindfulness meditation unless they themselves have a developed practice. Such a practice could ultimately make them better teachers as they handle pressure and frustration more constructively.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Origins of Vipassana Meditation Practice

The oldest form of Buddhist meditation, Vipassana derives from the Satipatthana Sutta, an ancient text that is traditionally attributed to Shakyamuni. Through Vipassana, practitioners cultivate mindfulness, an abiding awareness of the present. Students spend years practicing this form of meditation, during which time they generally examine various aspects of their existence, such as their hardwired reactions and emotional sensitivities. Ideally, practitioners become more receptive to the basic experiences of life and begin to pay attention to their thoughts and feelings without becoming lost in them.

Mindfulness leads to a greater understanding of the self. Individuals project an ego image. Through mindfulness, they begin to realize who they really are beneath that projected image.

At its heart, Vipassana meditation teaches individuals how to fully pay attention without any divided attention. While this may sound simple, it is far from easy. In reality, people pay very little attention to daily experiences. Instead, they devote their attention to reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Without focused energy, people rarely pay complete attention to the present.