How breathing deep calms your mind

What’s the first thing that people tell you to do whenever you’re upset or anxious? Take a deep breath.

We know that slow, deep breaths can help us calm down. Pranayama, or yoga breathing, is a practice that has been around since at least the fifth or sixth centuries B.C. It focuses on using breathing techniques to calm and center the mind. The Sanskrit word pranayama translates to (prana,) “vital force” and (ayama) “to extend or draw out.” So for thousands of years, humans have known that by controlling our breathing, we can control our moods.

New findings from researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine may shed light on why it works.

The research team, led by biochemistry professor Mark Krasnow, looked at the neurons in the brains of mice. They found that of the 3,000 neurons that control breathing — also known as our breathing pacemaker — roughly 175 of those neurons also appear to control the part of the brain that regulates attention, arousal and panic. This would explain why we hyperventilate when we are anxious and why deep, controlled breathing helps us calm down.

For the study, which was published in the journal Science, researchers isolated the 175 neurons that they suspected acted as communications highways between breathing and arousal and then “turned them off” to get a better idea of their precise function. Researchers theorized that without these neurons, the breathing of the mice might be affected such that they would cough or sputter. But that’s not what happened. In fact, the breathing patterns of the mice initially appeared unchanged.

Mellow mice

The team originally thought that they had been off base with their theory. But after a few more tests, they noticed something odd about the mice. Unlike the control mice who spent the majority of their time in the test chamber exploring and sniffing, the mice in this experiment appeared more calm, spending most of their time grooming themselves and relaxing. They also breathed more slowly than they did prior to the experiment.

Of course, these are mice. So it’s unclear whether or not similar communication highways exist in the neurons of human brains. Also, it’s up for debate as to whether or not the mice were actually more relaxed after the neurons were turned off or if this was just a subjective assumption on the part of the research team. It’s hard to know for sure since the mice aren’t talking.

Still, this is a good start for researchers hoping to better understand the connection between breathing and arousal. If a similar pathway does exist in humans, medication that targets these neurons might help to control anxiety when the system goes into overdrive.

For now, the research just confirms what humans have known for thousands of years. If you’re stressed out, take a deep breath. And let those neurons in the brain work their magic.

Credit: Jenn Savedge

IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH DIFFICULT EMOTIONS, VISUALIZE THIS…

Pain, insecurity, fear, anxiety, anger are swirling around inside your head like black smoke, pungent and menacing.

Close your eyes. Take a slow, deep breath in. As you do, imagine that you’re breathing in the cold, clear mist of a gentle waterfall. The mist enters your nostrils and flows into head space, where it begins to push out the black smoke, to your surprise.

Now, exhale slowly. As you do, imagine the black smoke escaping from your nose and mouth, as if it’s a thread. Every time you inhale, you take in the stream of clear, refreshing mist, and when you exhale, black smoke exits your body.

Continue this deep breathing and visualization until all of the smoke has vanished. Open your eyes. Doesn’t the world look different without all the smog?

 

Deepak Chopra aims to set the world record for most people meditating

For many, meditation is a private, individualized practice.

But Deepak Chopra wants to change that, in a big way.

The physician and wellness guru, famous for his outspoken stance on alternative medicine and self-reflection, is hoping to set the Guinness World Record for the largest meditation gathering ever. And it’s going to take place next week.

“I could be in Russia or China or some little country in Latin America, and I ask my audience how many people did (the online meditation program), and about 10% would raise their hand,” Chopra told the Daily News.

“The idea came, why not do one when we get together at the same time?”

The group — which will meet Aug. 3 through Aug. 9 for Chopra’s biannual Seduction of Sprit retreat in Toronto — will need to number 15,000 strong in order to set the world record. But Chopra’s rep told the News that 40,000 have registered virtually already.

The meditation date is set for Aug. 8. Three hundred people are booked to attend the retreat in person.
Here’s how it will work: in-person participants will get their Zen flowing while others stream the service remotely, and singer-songwriter India Arie will perform during the meditation.

But why pose peacefully in public? When people meditate in a group, their happiness can spill out onto others and create a ripple effect of good vibrations, Chopra said.

He collaborated with a senior scientist at Gallup to get empirical data on how that happens and found that “individual consciousness is connected to the consciousness to others at a level that’s beyond what is obvious,” he said.

“If I have a happy friend, my happiness goes up by 15 percent, but if my happy friend has a happy friend who I don’t know, it’ll go up another 10 percent,” Chopra said.

This year, the first time Chopra is holding the retreat in Canada, spiritual teachers Gabrielle Bernstein and Maya Tiwari will join him. In addition to group meditation, the week features yoga classes, workshops and Ayurvedic meals.

The holistic doctor says he believes that coming together in a calm setting like this could actually change the world.

“When we change our own consciousness in the direction of peace, love, compassion, harmony or love, it affects everyone on the planet,” he said. “If we set our goal (to) 100 million people in the next years, maybe we will have a more peaceful, healthier planet.”

MEDITATION FOR STRIVERS

During a trip to the United States in the nineteen-seventies, the Tibetan scholar, translator, and lifelong meditator Lobsang Lhalungpa found himself in San Francisco’s financial district. Struck by the hordes of rushing bodies, he stopped, turned to his guides, and said, “I don’t see any humans here.” This was before A.O.L.

Now, in mid-2014, a spate of recent articles and self-help books advocate the kind of mindfulness that Lhalungpa practiced, not only as a means of improving one’s health and well-being but as a way to get ahead in one’s career. Two of these books—Arianna Huffington’s “Thrive” and the “Nightline” co-anchor Dan Harris’s “10% Happier”—have remained on the Times best-seller list for months. A recent Bloomberg News article reported on the increasing use of meditation among hedge funders to maximize performance (some call themselves corporate samurai and ninjas). How did strivers everywhere come to appropriate a twenty-five-hundred-year-old philosophy of non-striving?

A clue lies in “10% Happier,” which positions itself as self-help for those suspicious of the genre. Harris depicts himself throughout as a no-nonsense high-achiever who winces at having to cover religious events for ABC News. Seeing him, at the book’s end, as a happy (or ten per cent happier, as he brands it) practitioner of mindfulness is meant to amuse the reader, like finding Alex P. Keaton in lotus position.

The studiously constructed character arc also serves the book’s broader goal. If even Harris, a hard-nosed skeptic, can find use in it, so can you. He states his mission explicitly in the book’s preface: “Meditation suffers from a towering PR problem.… If you can get past the cultural baggage, though, what you’ll find is that meditation is simply exercise for your brain.” It’s clear from Harris’s conjured associations (“pan flutes,” “granola,” “crystals,” “Age of Aquarius”) what kind of cultural baggage he’s referring to: hippies, the sixties. This is Buddhism’s P.R. problem: it is still salted by its last wave of contemporary popularity, when it was widely presented as a more ancient form of tuning in and dropping out.

As he begins mindfulness meditation (also known as Vipassana meditation), Harris finds that quite the opposite is true. In this practice, one sits in an erect position for a designated length of time while focussing on a particular point of breath, whether in the nostrils, stomach, or chest. When thoughts arise, one is meant to observe these thoughts without judgment and return gently to the breath. Harris recommends starting with a modest length of time (five or ten minutes) and then trying to sit for longer. The “mindfulness” refers to the nonjudmental observance of thought.

As Harris soon discovers, sitting still in this way is exceedingly hard to do. Its sheer difficulty makes it resonant with the values of capitalism. It requires “genuine grit” and “can give you a real advantage.” He approvingly quotes a Georgetown professor who has helped to bring mindfulness training to the Marines: “There is nothing incense-y about [meditation].” Harris’s metaphors are practical, hygienic, often financial. He compares it to brushing one’s teeth. Meditation yields a good “return on investment.”

In a famously distracted age, it’s not surprising that a practice meant to bolster focus and equanimity has emerged as the aid of the moment, just as yoga has gained in popularity as we’ve become more estranged from our bodies and more attached to cubicles, computer screens, and cars. But how exactly did this happen? How did we go from “Be here now” to “R.O.I.”? The journey from a Buddhism antithetical to Western go-getting has been charted quite consciously by a number of influential practitioners in the baby-boom generation. Harris devotes a chapter to some of these mostly Jewish mentors, whom he playfully refers to as “Jew-Bu”s. These Jew-Bus, some of whom are mentioned in the book, include the psychotherapist and author Mark Epstein, the scientist Jon Kabat-Zinn, and the founders of the influential Insight Meditation Society, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Sharon Salzberg.

A cursory history of Buddhism in the postwar West might go as follows: After the Second World War, more Americans encountered Zen masters, lamas, and monks, both here and abroad. This helped to popularize Buddhism with members of the Beat Generation, who in turn shared it with the generation that came of age in the late sixties and early seventies; by then, as a result of increased cultural interpenetration, Eastern religious study had become more common in American universities. Most of today’s celebrated teachers of Buddhism had their first experience of the religion in college, before pursuing study in the East. Some flirted with staying abroad before returning home, bringing back what they had learned in a more digestible form. Jack Kornfield and Joseph Goldstein devoted themselves to serious Vipassana practice (Kornfield became a monk) while serving as part of the Peace Corps in Thailand, in the sixties. Sharon Salzberg studied Theravada Buddhism in India in the early seventies. The Columbia professor Robert Thurman and the prolific British author Stephen Batchelor were both ordained as Tibetan monks before returning West.

Part of this generation’s work involved shaping a view of Buddhism that was science friendly, pragmatic, and nonmystical. Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center*; subsequent studies of its participants suggest that mindfulness can ameliorate, among other conditions, chronic pain and anxiety. Since then, practically a whole field has opened up, measuring the hale effects of meditation. The Dalai Lama, for his part, has encouraged this research, participating in a 2003 conference at M.I.T. called “Investigating the Mind” as well as lending his name to the university’s Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values. Seconding these efforts, Stephen Batchelor has articulated an atheistic Buddhism, a vision echoed by many who advocate for meditation while dispensing with religious Buddhist beliefs, like reincarnation. Others connected Buddhist values to happiness studies or emotional intelligence.

If anything, the recent flourishing of corporate mindfulness is an inevitable, if unexpected, byproduct of these efforts. From Kabat-Zinn, it is a small leap for Harris to equate meditation with brushing one’s teeth, or Wired to name it “the new caffeine.” Many of the current iterations of Buddhist practice are even fully stripped of any philosophical or ethical coating. “Thrive,” for its part, reads a like a clip job of various wellness studies, among which meditation is but a small, unexamined part. If metaphor reflects clarity of thought, Huffington is fairly muddled; meditation, she writes, is an element of well-being, which itself constitutes only one of the four “pillars” (along with wisdom, wonder, and giving) that comprise the third “metric” of success (the other two are money and power). It doesn’t seem to occur to Huffington that pursuing this third metric (wisdom, wonder, giving, and well-being) might conflict with the primary metrics of money and power.

By contrast, “10% Happier” mainly seeks to do right by the tenets of traditional Buddhism. To his credit, Harris at least begins to explore the potential for conflict between his professional and meditative lives. Unlike other lay enthusiasts, he also gives an entire chapter to the frequently overlooked but central practice of metta, or loving-kindness meditation. A key principle of Buddhist life is the cultivation of compassion for all living beings. To do this, the sitter first conjures a feeling of warmth toward himself or herself, next toward a benefactor, then toward a close friend, a neutral person, an enemy, and then toward all beings. Harris regularly performs this meditation, and while he begins to explore how its practice may interfere with his daily tasks as an on-air personality, and asserts that he has become a kinder, more empathetic person, metta, it should be said, does not seem to have radically altered his life or ambitions.

One might fault Harris for not having moved to the Himalayas to become a monk (or to the outer boroughs to become a social worker). This failure of commitment is what Slavoj Žižek means, in part, when he calls Buddhism a Western “fetish,” and yet to expect it to be otherwise seems to me either to overstate the power of meditation or to understate that of capitalist ideology. It burdens the possibly helpful with having to be a spiritual or political panacea. One might also claim that Harris’s watered-down vision of Buddhism, with its emphasis on career advancement, will encourage misuse. This may be fair enough, but it’s not an especially revealing criticism. After all, one of the first things that people do with any tool or philosophy is misuse it. A history of Christianity is largely a history of the abuse of Jesus Christ’s teachings; Buddhism is not exempt from such misprision. On the spectrum of misappropriation, using self-advancement as a lure seems forgivable enough if it leads people to try a technique as subtly transformative as mindfulness. (Indeed, if personal betterment is America’s religion, such an approach might be seen as syncretic.) What can be lost by broadening access to a philosophy of liberation, even if a majority of people conflate it with the more vulgar priorities of our culture?

It’s a long road, even for those who are earnest in their practice, and Buddhists take the long view. According to Buddhist legend, the length of time it takes to achieve enlightenment through the course of one’s innumerable lives equals the time it would take a bird to efface a mountain with a silk scarf dangling from its beak. There is a peculiar kind of hope in this image, even if to ears less seasoned by the study of suffering it can sound like resignation. For, while it’s true that it takes a really, really, really long time, it can be done with a silk scarf! So we may say that a book like Harris’s does just as much—and just as a little—as a stroke of a scarf to the mountain of fear, self-interest, and inattention upon which our kingdom is built.

Source: The New Yorker

New mind-controlled Google Glass app could be great for concentration, meditation

For decades people have used neurofeedback to treat attention deficit disorder. The technology reads brain waves and gives you visual feedback on your calmness.

But within the last year, a new crop of commercial brain-reading devices have taken this once expensive and inconvenient technology and put it into a portable, battery-powered headset (pictured above).

For instance, the Muse headband presents you with a calm ocean scene (via the device’s iOS app) when you’re focused and a stormy scene when it senses brainwaves associated with distraction.

The problem with the current crop of neurofeedback tech is that it doesn’t follow users around; we don’t just want to be mindful when we take time to meditate, we want to be mindful all the time.

Google Glass is the first technology that could clue us into our lack of attentiveness in real time. And this week we got the first taste of how that might work.

The Neurosky is also a fantastic meditation tool (in fact, meditation through neurofeedback is one of the device’s original uses).

One exciting application I could imagine for the MindRDR tool would be to have it display certain colors in your field of vision whenever your attention wanes. It would be like having your own private Yogi all the time.

Indeed, an upcoming waste-clip wearable, the Spire, will alert users when their breathing becomes erratic. Right now, the Spire only interacts with a smartphone. You have to pull out the device and stare at a phone to do breathing exercises that will bring you back into a calm state. Integration with Google Glass would be far more effective, since the Spire’s instructions would be right in your field of vision.

Google Glass’s application with mind-reading technologies could be a boon to anyone looking to be more calm and focused throughout the day.

Technology has made the world a very (very) distracting place. In the near future, it may also give us the tools to be more mindful and focused.

Source: Venture Beat

Up To 67% Of People Would Rather Receive An Electric Shock Than Meditate

If you thought you were the only one who’d rather get a bikini wax than meditate for 15 minutes, you’re not alone: New research in Science reveals some people hate the idea so much, they’d rather shock themselves. Seriously.

When given the opportunity to simply sit by themselves and daydream, participants in 11 studies ranging in age from 18 to 77 generally did not enjoy their quiet time. In fact, they found it so unpleasant that 67% of the men and 25% of the women opted to self-administer an electric shock in order to cut their 15 minutes of alone time short.

Enjoyment wasn’t the only issue. Study author David Reinhard, a doctoral student at the University of Virginia, was surprised participants found the “thinking period” not only miserable, but difficult. “We tried different kinds of interventions: We tried giving a variety of topics to think about, suggestions for how they should try to control (or not control) their thoughts, as well as giving them an object to fiddle with,” he explains.

If you guessed that this discomfort with stillness is a result of our dependence upon technology, you’re partly right. But what’s really happening, says Reinhard, is an evolutionary trait at work. “The human mind evolved to engage with the world to be vigilant for dangers as well as seek out opportunities,” he says. And while we possess the ability to mentally disengage from the world, it’s not something we get to do often. “Participants chose to engage with the outside world, even if that engagement involves pain,” he says.

If you can empathize with the electric shock group, there’s no reason to feel badly or fear you’re missing out on anything, says Reinhard. “Meditation involves training and consistent practice, which highlights some of the difficulties people face when trying to entertain themselves with only their thoughts.” But if you’d like to give some alone time a whirl and aren’t sure where to start, these meditations that match your personality can help.

Source: Prevention

25 Minutes of This Will Get Rid of Your Stress

In just half an hour, by focusing on your breathing, you can start to relax and melt away your cares.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University investigated how effective mindfulness meditation can be in countering the body’s stress response. For that type of meditation, you need a laser-like focus on your breathing, and, some advocates say that as your body fills up with air, your muscles contract. That helps you to push out other distractions — like deadlines or your to-do list — and start to relax.

They randomly assigned 66 volunteers to either participate in mindful meditation for 25 minutes for three days, or go through a cognitive training program in which they learned how to analyze poetry passages. The people who meditated reported less stress, and even showed that they were better at coping with stress compared to those who relied on their behavior training.

The new study, published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, is not the first to show the positive effects of mediation. An analysis from February showed that Transcendental Meditation (TM)–a 20 minute mediation that simply requires closing your eyes and quieting down outside thoughts — sometimes by repeating a mantra — significantly lowered teacher stress and burnout. Fans of TM include chef Mario Batali, music mogul Russell Brand, Paul McCartney, Arianna Huffington, and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Now it looks as if there’s some promising science to back them up.

Source: Time

Mindfulness Meditation Benefits More Than The Mind

I can see clearly now, my sunk-cost bias is gone.

Meditation has long been known for its mental health benefits, but new research shows that just a few minutes of mindfulness can improve physical health and personal life as well. A recent study conducted by researchers at INSEAD and The Wharton School found that 15 minutes of mindful meditation can help you make better decisions.

The research, published in the Association for Psychological Science’s journal Psychological Science, comes from four studies (varying in sample size from 69 to 178 adults) in which participants responded to sunk-cost scenarios at different degrees of mindful awareness. The results consistently showed that increased mindfulness decreases the sunk-cost bias.

WOAH, hold the phone. What’s a sunk cost and what’s a sunk-cost bias??

Sunk cost is an economics term that psychologists have adopted. In economics, sunk costs are defined as non-recoverable investment costs like the cost of employee training or a lease on office space. In psychology, sunk costs are basically the same thing: The time and energy we put into our personal lives. Though we might not sit down with a calculator at the kitchen table when deciding who to take as our plus one to our second cousin’s wedding next weekend, we do a cost-benefit analysis every time we make a decision. And we take these sunk costs into account.

The sunk-cost bias, then, is the tendency to allow sunk costs to overly influence current decisions. Mindfulness meditation can provide improved clarity, which helps you stay present and make better decisions, the study says. This protects you from that manipulative sunk-cost bias.

“We are really good about getting wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the each day,” said Dr. Adam Naylor, a sports psychology consultant and clinical assistant professor at Boston University. “Even seemingly benign hassles chip away at cognitive freshness and physical readiness. Meditation can be a way to cleanse oneself of the performance sapping, mental clutter.”

Say you realize that the guy you’re dating in a total doofus. Do you break up with him? Our trusted friend the Magic 8 Ball says all signs lead to yes. But wait, you’ve already invested so much time and energy (sunk costs!) in this relationship, not to mention the $1,000 you spent fixing that dent in his car last month, maybe you should just wait it out. No! All signs led to yes! You’re sunk-cost biased!

Cue meditation.

So how does it work?

“The debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation in sunk-cost situations was due to a two-step process,” wrote study co-author Zoe Kinias, Assistant Professor of Organisational Behavior at INSEAD in an article about the study for the journal. “First, meditation reduced how much people focused on the past and future, and this psychological shift led to less negative emotion. The reduced negative emotion then facilitated their ability to let go of sunk costs.”

But mindfulness doesn’t just help with the big decisions. It can help with the little ones, too. Should you eat an apple or a brownie? Should you go to the gym or watch Netflix? Rather than convincing yourself that you’ll be too tired if you go to the gym, mindfulness practice can provide the clarity you need to realize that’s just an excuse and that you should go.

Mindfulness meditation can have physical benefits, too. Fitness experts say that mindfulness meditation can increase your focus so that you actually get more out of your workout.

“Purposeful meditation givess the mind a moment to reset, so it can be creatively and fully engaged on the tasks we choose to embrace,” Naylor said.

So start meditating, break up with the doofus, and head to the gym.

Source: Boston.com

Russell Simmons Demystifies Meditation

In this exclusive interview, Russell Simmons kicks knowledge on getting money, happiness, and success through stillness.

Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam, has an astute business acumen that’s made him one of the most successful businessmen in the game. He’s built empires that span a variety of industries, including fashion, film, music, digital media, and financial services. It’s his personal undertakings, however, that have afforded him his greatest successes. Those personal undertakings? Yoga and meditation.

“I discovered meditation through my yoga practice. Meditation is the most powerful part of yoga. I started going to yoga because of the hot girls, and I got addicted,” Simmons laughs. The idea of being present, and not being rushed, was so appealing to me. I was running around frantically at the time. Meditation, it’s benefitted me greatly. You can’t get no money when you’re living in the past or the future. You’ve gotta be present.”

For a man nicknamed Rush, slowing down seemed to be counterintuitive–and counterproductive–to all that he was trying to–and did–accomplish. Yet Simmons stuck with it, and now credits his success to his ability to be still. ”It changes everything. It’s helped me with everything. Business–and life–is all about the choices you make. When you can clear the noise from your mind, you’e able to be more thoughtful. When emotions and emotional attachment to the world aren’t clouding your judgment, you can make better decisions,” he explains.

What started as a way for him to meet hot girls gave way to a passion that has changed his life–and he hopes, the lives of others. He recently published a new book, Success Through Stillness, that offers his breakdown of meditation made easy, making it an invaluable tool that’s accessible to anyone, anywhere, Russell Simmons style.

The Source sat down with Uncle Rush to talk to him about meditation, his book, and how these things changed his life–and, how they can change yours, too.

What is meditation?

Meditation is the idea of quiet time. You work your muscles out daily, you brush your teeth daily, but you don’t do anything for your brain. Fluctuation of the mind is the cause of all suffering. The present moment is happiness. Getting rid of the noise in the mind is happiness. If you’re sad, if you’re depressed–there’s noise in the mind. People try drugs and alcohol, and even exercise, to release endorphins to kind of counteract that noise. The truth is that nothing promotes happiness like a quiet mind. You just sit and repeat a mantra. It’s not difficult.

Should everyone meditate?

Absolutely. Everyone, everywhere. The process of smiling and breathing is good for anyone. Both my daughters meditate; my littlest daughter started when she was 8. Her mother said “You better sit down and do it.” Now she loves it, and we do it together. Meditation is a way to be in an awakened state. All the prophets have promoted it in every religion. It’s an invaluable resource, with so many benefits. We haven’t been passing it to our children. I actually just spoke to the mayor of Chicago about getting meditation in the schools over there, because meditation has been proven time after time to reduce violence. It’s science.

So what are the real world benefits of meditation?

Meditation can lower your blood pressure. It increases the grey matter in your brain, and increases your brain functioning. You’ll be able to see miracles unfolding instead of being so caught up in the fluctuations of the mind that you miss everything. It’s the greatest way to promote happiness and clarity. With clarity also comes better decision making.

When you are able to watch your thoughts, you can make decisions without all that background noise in your head. You’re more intuitive. You’re more confident. You’re able to make better choices instead of the world making choices for you. When you sit in meditation and the mind settles, and thoughts begin to come and go, you see them without emotion. You don’t get to prejudge or make decisions based off of emotions. Baggage affects your choices, you know. Experiences are color for the moment, and when you’re so focused on the colors of the past, it makes it difficult to accurately assess the colors of the present moment. Once we’re relieved of the anxiety from the past by being in the present moment–and only in the present moment–we make better decisions.

Many yogic traditions emphasis the importance of breathing during meditation. If you’re not familiar with breathing techniques or yoga, how can someone be mindful of their breathing in their meditation practice?

Yes, some people meditate solely on the breath. You can inhale “Let” and exhale “go.” Over and over.

Did you face any resistance to developing a regular practice?

No, from the first class I took, I got high as hell, and stuck with it, and did it every day. I do it every day.

What advice do you have for people who have resistance to making meditation a part of their regular routine? The people who don’t have time, are too tired, too busy, too whatever, to practice?

Remember how you feel after class or after you sit and practice. I guarantee you feel inspired, uplifted, awakened, happy and clear. You’re never too tired or too busy to feel like that! You’re too tired and too busy because you don’t feel like that. And you have the ability to make that happen for yourself. So why not? Do you want to be inspired, uplifted, happy, and clear? Or do you want to be slouching, tired, frantic?

What tips can you offer, for anyone who wants to begin, or even improve, a meditation and/or yoga practice?

Consistency is good; consistency matters. Posture is important. No slouching! If you sit up erect in a perfect asana (pose), you’re more likely to have a clearer meditation. Always feel your body, and listen to your body. The “meditation pose” may not feel natural at first, but physical practice helps achieve that alignment. It’s called practice for a reason–it’s something you can always improve, and it does take practice. But it’s so easy, that anyone can do it. Oh, and breathe, and smile!

A big shoutout to Uncle Rush for taking the time out of his busy schedule to share the gift of meditation with us. As he said during the interview, “I don’t own meditation. I’m ‘sharing’ it with you. Giving consciousness is the greatest gift.”

Source: The Source

Headspace Releases New Version Of Its Meditation Platform

Headspace is a web and mobile meditation platform that allows you to cram 10 to 60 minutes of calm and clarity into each day of your over-connected and fast-paced life. The company is releasing a new version today, after reaching over 1 million users in 150 countries. I have been a daily user of Headspace for six months now, and it’s interesting to see how technology can help when it comes to meditation.

Now, meditation is still an unfamiliar skill for most people. Do you think meditation means cross-legged sitting and chakras opening?

I am Parisian, which means that I’m completely blasé, cynical and skeptical. When one of my friends introduced me to Headspace, I couldn’t help but snigger: “another I-drink-carrot-and-ginseng-juice-every-morning Californian hipster thing.” He answered: “Well, first, the startup is based in London. Second, I think you kind of need it.”

So I forgot about my assumptions, put my cynicism away and looked into it. The on-boarding experience convinced me right away. From the first second, you’re walked through very short videos that explain how meditation works and what you should expect from it — this one sold it to me.

There’s a thousand reasons why you might want to look into meditation — maybe you need to be able to go to sleep at night, to be less stressed out in your day-to-day activities, to free yourself from an addiction and more. For me it boils down to living a happier and more mindful life.

With Headspace, you learn to do just that, by taking 10 to 60 minutes out of each day. During this time, Andy Puddicombe will guide you by simply telling you what to do, what to focus on, and what are the mechanisms in play.

Puddicombe is one of the founders of Headspace. I like to think of him as Buddha 2.0. On the one hand, he’s bald and lived 10 years as a monk in the Himalayas, Burma, India and Nepal. On the other hand, he and his co-founder Richard Pierson built a beautiful web and mobile platform to demystify meditation and make it accessible to anyone around the globe.

Puddicombe’s teaching goes beyond the 10-minute meditation sessions: all the principles you learn from him are applicable in everyday situations, and therein lies the true power of meditation.

After a week of meditation, I was already able to step back and cope with unpleasant or complex situations in a far better way, ranging from not getting upset when the suburban train is late (which happens all the time in Paris) to staying rather sane when in just one week I quit my job, gave up my Parisian apartment and flew to New York without a return flight.

Source: TechCrunch