Sufi Whirling Meditation: What Is This Mystical Practice & How You Can Do It

Sufi Whirling Meditation: What Is This Mystical Practice & How You Can Do It

Did you ever spin around when you were a kid? Haven’t we all? Back when we were full of innocence and joy, we would just spin around for no reason and feel a tranquil bliss which we long for now. Spinning or whirling is a basic and natural body movement and Sufi Whirling is one of the most unique meditation techniques.

“Dance until you shatter yourself.” – Rumi

Sufi Whirling is a form of dance meditation where we move our body to spin with our arms stretched out and our mind is still and centered. When we used to spontaneously spin around as children, we were actually practicing Sufi Whirling meditation. It centered our mind and soul while our body moved like a spinning wheel. However, as we grew up, we lost our innocence, joy and spontaneity which refrained us from experience the peaceful bliss that came from such spinning. Sufi Whirling allows us to experience that same feeling of being still and centered and heal the inner child.

 

What is Sufi Whirling?

“Sufi whirling is one of the most ancient techniques, one of the most forceful. It is so deep that even a single experience can make you totally different. Whirl with open eyes, just like small children go on twirling, as if your inner being has become a center and your whole body has become a wheel, moving, a potter’s wheel, moving. You are in the center, but the whole body is moving.” – Osho

Sufi Whirling

Sufi whirling is a type of dance worship practiced in Sufism, an Islamic mystic tradition which is focused on seeking the divine within ourselves. This ancient Sufi practice, is one of the most effective meditation techniques. This powerful & active meditation form focuses on whirling, experiencing and witnessing.

As your entire body starts moving, your centre becomes increasingly still and calm. This kind of meditation requires you to spin your body with outstretched arms, one arm pointed upwards while the other is pointed to the ground, while keeping your mind and soul centred.

When practicing this dance meditation, imagine your body like a cyclone and your mind as the eye of the storm. Regardless of how powerful or chaotic the storm is, the eye of the storm always remains still amidst all the chaos. 

Sufi whirling is an ancient practice that can be traced back to the 12th-13th century and was widely practiced by the disciples of mystic and Muslim poet Jalal ad-din Rumi. Sufis who practice this dance meditation technique are known as whirling dervishes. They wear long, skirt-like white clothes while performing the whirling which enhances the motion visually. As you spin with your hands stretched out, you raise your right hand in a way that your palm faces the sky to receive blessings from the Universe and your left hand is pointed downwards with your palm facing the ground to communicate the universe’s messages with the earth. It transforms your consciousness into a meditative state. 

As it is one of the best meditation techniques, Sufi whirling can be very intense and profound. You can have a life-changing experience even by practicing it just once. The technique is a combination of trance, meditation, prayer and dance which liberates and connects your mind and body, heals your heart chakra, improves breathing and allows you to express your inner self.

 

What Sufi Whirling symbolizes

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi

We are destined to spin to experience harmony and oneness with the universe as the earth is destined to spin around the sun. Like the celestial bodies whirl in space, Sufi whirling is performed from the side of your heart, that is your left side. The traditional long white attire that the dervishes wear while whirling represents purity while the length helps you to move gracefully and naturally, increasing the momentum. It is believed that during the elegant dance meditation performance, you become a conduit and receive divine blessings. 

Spinning meditatively generates invisible, transparent and pure energy and the endless waves created by the movement of the skirt help your aura engulf your body like the earth is enveloped by the warm rays of the sun. The faster you spin, the quicker your personal identity and ego are abandoned and you accomplish spiritual perfection.

How Mindfulness Can Help You Let Go Of Past Hurts and Heal Yourself

How Mindfulness Can Help You Let Go Of Past Hurts & Heal Yourself

How to Find Freedom from Your Past and let go of past hurts with Mindfulness

The past can often bring up painful memories and difficult emotions which can affect our future and our entire life. Letting of the past can be very challenging mostly because of unresolved issues. However, remembering the past is not what causes us pain & suffering and ties us to different negative thoughts & emotions.

It is our inability to detach from the attachment to that past which keeps us from finding freedom and happiness. Mindfulness can help us learn how to let go of the past hurts, the past and the attachments related to it by bringing our focus to the present moment and appreciating what we have right now.

“No one outside ourselves can rule us inwardly. When we know this, we become free.” – Buddha

Many of us have painful memories that we would rather forget—a difficult childhood, painful relationship, or traumatic event. We usually find ways to avoid thinking about them, so we don’t relive the painful emotions.

The reason they continue to cause us pain and suffering is that they remain unresolved. They fester in our subconscious mind, and manifest themselves daily in our attitudes and actions, and therefore, our relationships.

At the same time, we want to live happy and fulfilling lives. However, as long as these issues remain unresolved, we will never find freedom from our suffering, or realize the peace and happiness we’re searching for.

Here we’re going to look at how the mindfulness practice can help you overcome your painful past. But first we’ll discuss some of the sources of our painful memories, things we do to avoid them, and their cost.

 

Sources of Painful Memories

“Be careful who you make memories with. Those things can last a lifetime.” – Ugo Eze

There are various sources of painful memories. The main ones are our relationships with our parents, romantic relationships, and traumatic events.

Many of us have strained relationships with our parents. We often feel like they didn’t give us some of the things we needed, such as love, attention, or financial support. Maybe they were neglectful, or even abusive. Whatever the case, we carry many of these painful childhood memories through much of our lives.

If we didn’t have good relationships with our parents, then chances are that our romantic relationships didn’t go much better. If our parents don’t teach us how to have healthy relationships, then we simply bring our lack of coping skills into all our subsequent relationships.

When we don’t get what we feel we need from our parents, we tend to expect those things from our partner. Sometimes we place unreasonable expectations on our partner, which are difficult for him/her to meet. This is where the power struggle begins.

Some of us may have experienced a traumatic event that we never fully dealt with. Some examples are verbal and physical abuse, sexual abuse, or even an accident. These can have long-lasting effects, especially if we haven’t sought professional help, or developed good coping skills.

 

Things We Do to Avoid Painful Memories

“Memories are dangerous things. You turn them over and over, until you know every touch and corner, but still you’ll find an edge to cut you.” – Mark Lawrence

It’s natural for us to want to avoid painful memories, especially if we haven’t yet learned how to deal with them. In such cases, we may feel powerless to do anything about them.

If someone else is the cause of our pain and suffering, then we may expect them to rectify the situation. But this is usually unrealistic. The person responsible may be far removed from our lives by time, distance, or their passing. They may also be unwilling.

When we don’t know how to deal with painful memories, we develop defense mechanisms to help us avoid the feelings associated with them. This usually involves trying to avoid thinking about those memories.

We may avoid situations that trigger painful memories. For example, if we had a particularly unhappy childhood, we may avoid family reunions. Or, if we had a bad experience with a person, we may avoid similar people.

I once had a coworker who did everything she could to avoid talking to me, and if she did, it was short and to the point. She had no problems with anybody else—just me. I later came to find out that I looked a lot like her ex-boyfriend. And to make matters worse, I started working for the company on the same day as her birthday.

How Mindful Meditation Can Make You A Better Parent

How Mindful Meditation Can Make You A Better Parent

How Mindful Meditation Can Improve Your Parenting Style

“It’s our children who teach us how to be parents.” – Susie Morgenstern

Parenting children and adolescents can be one of the greatest challenges and most rewarding experiences of life. But being a parent is not an easy task. As kids are continually growing physically, emotionally and cognitively, it can be an intense experience both for the parents and the child. This is why the mental health of parents and their parenting styles play a crucial role in raising young people. How great you are as a parent will determine how well your children can process their emotions and experience overall mental and emotional well being.

Are you looking for ways to improve your parenting?

Of course; we all are! Anyone who is a parent is always looking to take their parenting skills to the next level and improve the balance in the household.

Parenting styles don’t have to complicate our lives, but which style of parenting we choose does have a direct impact on how harmonious our lives with our children are.

Everyone has heard the terms meditation and mindfulness; but, were you aware that mindful meditation can bring about an amazing transformation in your parenting style?

It’s true! With just a few simple tips on meditation and being more present, your parenting style can see an amazing transformation in just a very short time.

 

Mindfulness Meditation Matters

“Mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different; enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will); being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t).” – James Baraz

Meditation is the practice of calming and centering the mind. Mindful meditation originated in India thousands of years ago as part of Hinduism.

Over the centuries, its amazing ability to transform our mind, body, and soul have been taken on by Buddhism as well as many other cultures and religions.

Today, countless cultures around the world have embraced the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that mindfulness can bring to our personal lives.

 

Secrets to Stress-Free Parenting

“There is no such thing as a perfect parent. So just be a real one.” – Sue Atkins

Let’s face it, parenting can be hard and stressful!

It can also be quite amazing and rewarding to see the best aspects of ourselves standing in front of us in the form of our children.

To be the very best parents we can be, it’s crucial that we find productive ways to manage our stress. After all, our kids learn best by watching our behavior (this is called “modeling”) and if we don’t handle stress well, neither will they.

Adding a mindful meditation practice to your life, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, can transform your parenting style in several incredible ways:

  • You will feel a greater sense of calm and peace
  • You will be able to ebb and flow around daily challenges more easily
  • You will naturally be more patient with your child and yourself

 

Benefits Backed by Science 

“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD conducted a recent study on the effects of mindful meditation practice and it impacts stress and well-being. Their research looked at over 3500 people, and what they found was astonishing! [1]

They found that “the negative effect (of Anxiety, depression, and stress/distress) is improved in mindfulness programs”.

They also found that mindfulness-based stress reduction reduces (physical) pain severity to a small degree” and that “Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety”.

Yet another study published by the National Institutes of Health found that a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program “may have a beneficial effect on anxiety symptoms in generalized anxiety disorder, and may also improve stress reactivity and coping”. [2]

Clearly many experts recognize the ability of mindful meditation practice to reduce stress and anxiety; and since parents seem to have an endless stream of stress and anxiety, this can certainly help make some positive changes.

Why Vipassana Meditation saved me

Why Vipassana Meditation saved me

The origins of Vipassana meditation

Vipassana — or insight meditation — comes from two words in Pali — an ancient language used in Buddhism. The word “Passana” means seeing or perceiving and “Vi” relates to various connotations among them “ a special way” and “through or into”.

The practice was rediscovered by Buddha over 2,500 years ago. Although born in India, Vipassana expanded in Burma throughout the centuries. Today Vipassana is well-known around the world.

 

What is Vipassana Meditation?

There’s a difference between Vipassana meditation and other types of well-known meditations — such as Loving Kindness, Body Scan, or Mindfulness, for example.

Vipassana enables us to see clearly things as they are, from the inside us.

With Vipassana, our mind is cleared from everyday thoughts that may disturb our real perception of things.

In Buddhism, liberation is the final aim, alongside enlightenment, which can emanate from practicing Vipassana. As the oldest form of Buddhist meditation, Vipassana provides deep and true knowledge of ourselves, enabling us to reflect on our lives gradually. The reality of impermanence gets clear as we practice Vipassana.

Self-awareness is enhanced with Vipassana, letting us see through inside our own heart and soul with an unaltered mind. Furthermore, Vipassana teaches happiness and self-reliance through the recognition that we have been taught in the past simply doesn’t exist.

Reconditioning and reprogramming our minds with this type of meditation simply aligns us to a greater level of existence. We better know ourselves, can embrace change more easily, and can let go of what no longer serves us. The past can’t affect us, only the present moment matters.

 

What I learned from my Vipassana practice

I was introduced to Vipassana meditation in Bali when meeting with my meditation teacher. Returning from Nepal, he showed me true enlightenment with a daily 5-min meditation practice. We began exploring the self-journey through Vipassana. This is what I learned from starting Vipassana meditation. Until now, I found out Vipassana meditation to be intensely unique, self-exploratory, and miraculous in various ways.

A true self-journey exploration, Vipassana takes us to the deeper self, without any conditioning. Our light comes naturally to see as we breathe and meditate. We notice the beauty of what surrounds us, without making a connection to our initial thoughts, learnings, or past experiences. We unplug from reality to better perceive the true essence of our world. We cultivate self-growth, dive into a deep self-exploratory journey that ultimately lets us perceive the true nature of things.

The final goal is to find happiness within ourselves, at the present moment, with no connection to what brought us here. To embody this practice, we remove any mental blockages or negativity that alter our true perceptions of ourselves or of others. We let go of past luggage that no longer serves us. We move on to new heights, empowering ourselves within each breath. Our mind quietens to open up to a new era where love, growth, spirituality all come in one to serve us.

 

How to start Vipassana at home

Start your practice by finding a comfortable seat, somewhere calm, and sit down cross legs, your hands on each knee, with the palm facing the sky. Close your eyes, breathe deeply. Ensure your back is straight not to feel any pain.

You need then to choose an object to meditation. According to the master and teacher of Vipassana, this object should be portable, easily available, and cheap. Breathing in that sense becomes the object of meditation.

Breathing is then chosen as your first point of contact with Vipassana meditation. Let the breath deepens and quietens your mind throughout the practice. Be aware of your breath, simply your breath.

If your mind wanders off, return to your breathing. Make it your core and focus all your energies on breathing for 5 minutes. Start to feel relaxed and happy throughout the practice. Nurture the present. Each breath is your present.

 

What to do if you can’t focus on your breath?

For beginners, it’s normal to feel a bit “uncomfortable” for the first time, when you start Vipassana. Allow yourself to start slowly, allowing more room to develop a longer meditation practice when ready. For the first 10 days, let your breath take control of your life, start small with 5-minutes meditation.

Meditation For Beginners: Everything You Need To Know About Meditation

Meditation For Beginners: Everything You Need To Know About Meditation

Meditation is one of the greatest adventures your mind can embark upon.

Meditation…that’s certainly a BIG topic! There are different types, practices, techniques, approaches and benefits of meditation. So it can often appear very complicated and confusing to start meditation as a daily practice to calm your mind and find some inner peace.

But how can I find peace through something so complicated?
How do I know which approach is best for me as a beginner?
How long should I meditate every day when I can barely manage time for myself?
How do I even meditate to begin with?

Whoa! Breathe! Take a deep slow breath in on my count…1…2…3. Now slowly release your breath…1…2…3.

Feeling calm yet? Well, that was your very first lesson in meditation. It’s THAT simple.

Today the word ‘meditation is used very inaccurately and loosely, especially in North America. And this has resulted in a lot of confusion among beginners about how they should practice it. Well, no worries. Welcome to my meditation for beginners guide where you will find out everything you will ever need to know about meditation, which approach will be best for you and how you can get started right away.

Here we go.

Meditation is about understanding yourself

Meditation is hands down the best practice I have started to improve my mental health in the past few years. Being a follower of Buddhism, I turned to meditation to cope with my depression and it has helped me become more at peace with myself. Today I am a happier, more focused and confident person who worries less, appreciates what he has and who is aware of himself. No , i am no monk neither am i perfect. I am now simply a better version of myself thanks to my daily practice of meditation.

Meditation has allowed me to take a deeper look at my mind and my thoughts to understand how I behave and react to certain situations, unwillingly at times. Now I can make decisions the way I want to, instead of reacting to situations on auto-pilot mode. By understanding myself better, today I have better control over myself. And at the end of the day, that’s the only thing that matters.

Meditation 101

Meditation is a state of being that you can achieve through daily practice.

Yes. Meditation can seem difficult when you are just getting started. The moment you sit down and close your eyes, a thousand thoughts will cross your mind and you will feel a cyclone of emotions. You will feel confused and disoriented.

Is this how meditation is supposed to feel like?
Aren’t I supposed to feel calm and peaceful?
Isn’t my mind supposed to be completely blank devoid of any thoughts?
Then why does my mind feel even more busy than normal?

Well, this IS normal. This is exactly how I felt when I started practicing mindfulness meditation years ago and it took me some time to get the hang of it.

As I said, meditation is a state of being which can take years of practice to perfect. The practice of meditation is not like the highway where you can clearly see the road ahead and drive ahead smoothly. It is more like the waves of the ocean that keeps going up and down repeatedly. Your meditation experience will be different every time. One day you will feel peaceful while the very next day you may find yourself thinking about that thing from work. There is no right or wrong meditation. The focus in not on what you feel while meditating. The focus is simply on the practice of meditation.

What you need to know as a beginner

Just like we go to the gym to train our body, we meditate to train our mind.

Meditation refers to a practice of being and not a specific thing. As a beginner, you might find it very difficult to sit still in a meditative posture for hours and try to empty your mind by not thinking about anything. And that is the worst thing you can do to start practicing meditation. Meditation is not about having an empty mind or not having any thoughts or thinking about peace and bliss. That is just a myth. Meditation is actually very simple. It is not as complicated as some of the meditation gurus (read entrepreneurs) will make you think, so that you spend your moolah and make them rich to find inner peace.

Meditation is nothing but a simple practice that most of us over-complicate unnecessarily.

In the simplest terms, meditation is about awareness. It is about being aware of your breath. Remember how I asked you to breathe in and out? The act of inhaling and exhaling and putting your complete attention on your breath. That is the core of meditation. This is how we train our mind. This is the basic concept of meditation. You don’t need a guru or an app to meditate. However, I am not saying it will hurt to have someone guide you.

Meditation is not about doing nothing. Meditation is not about emptying your mind. Meditation is not an escape from life. Meditation is simply about being aware of your mind.

How Mindfulness Meditation For Panic Disorder Can Help You

How Mindfulness Meditation For Panic Disorder Can Help You

“Remember, happiness doesn’t depend upon who you are or what you have; it depends solely upon what you think.” – Zig Ziglar

Panic disorder can be seriously debilitating for anyone who suffers from it. Panic attacks can happen anytime without any understandable triggers. Suddenly your heart starts pounding faster, you sweat profusely, you find it hard to breathe, your hands become numb, you can’t think straight, and your body begins to shiver. You don’t know what to do but you can escape this feeling or this situation either. This is undoubtedly one of the worst feelings an individual can experience.

Panic attacks can severely affect your career, personal life and even your social life, if left untreated. Not only can it affect the quality of your life, but it can also result in various other mental disorders and unnecessary fears that can make you isolate yourself from the rest of the world.

Thankfully, we have a solution for your panic attacks. There are different relaxation techniques that can help you reduce stress and anxiety and help you avoid self-sabotaging behaviors. One of the most effective & natural relaxation techniques is Mindfulness Meditation for panic disorder. With proper practice, mindfulness meditation can help you reduce anxiety and stress, achieve a relaxed mind by slowing down your thoughts and gain better control over your panic attacks.

However, before we understand how mindfulness meditation for panic disorder can help you, we need to gain a clearer understanding of what panic disorder is.

 

What Is Panic Disorder?

If you suffer from from panic disorders, you will experience sudden and unexpected panic attacks that can affect your thoughts and behaviors for several minutes. Panic attacks are basically an unrecognizable fear of a disaster when there is no clear and present danger. People suffering from panic disorders can have devastating physical reactions due to panic attacks and become unable to conduct normal functions like talking, driving or working.

It is an intense feeling of fear that can make you feel immobilized. If you suffer from panic disorders, you can feel a sudden rush of unwanted emotions without any definite trigger or warning. It can even feel like you may be having a heart attack. Recurrent attacks can be triggered by certain circumstances like public speaking or submitting a report. It can be any situation where an individual may feel trapped and endangered. These attacks are mostly a fight-or-flight response of our body to certain situations.

 

Mindfulness Meditation For Panic Disorder

Panic disorder and attacks can be treated effectively with certain relaxation strategies like mindfulness meditation. It can not only help you reduce stress and control your responses to a panic-inducing scenario, but it can also help you live a better and more fulfilling life confidently.

Yes, meditation may sound boring to some, while others see it as a spiritual practice. Although Buddhism is an exceptional way of life, but you don’t need to be a Buddhist monk to experience the benefits of mindfulness meditation for panic disorder.

Being mindful means being present in current moment.

And mindfulness meditation, in the simplest terms, means focusing on the present moment and being aware of your thoughts and surroundings by observing your breath.

What Is Mindfulness Meditation?

“By living deeply in the present moment we can understand the past better and we can prepare for a better future.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Mindfulness meditation is a relaxation practice which empowers you to bring your attention and awareness to the present moment. It allows you to observe and analyse your thoughts, emotions and your surroundings without getting involved or passing any judgement. It is perhaps the easiest and most effective practice for treating panic disorders. All you need to do is find a quiet and comfortable place in your home where nothing will distract you, sit down comfortably with your back straight and simply focus on your breath. Of course, it is easier said than done.

Anyone who has tried to meditate previously will tell you that the moment you close your eyes and start observing your breath, suddenly hundreds of thoughts will cross your mind and you will experience a rush of mixed emotions. This is when you need to become aware that your awareness has started to wander away. Simply refocus your attention on your breath once again.

This School Replaced Detention with Meditation and Has Achieved Wonders

This School Replaced Detention with Meditation and Has Achieved Wonders

Read about this school that has replaced detention with meditation and has achieved wonderful outcomes.

Picture this. You’re teaching at a school and you have one student who is always misbehaving. What’s your solution?

Most schools would just send the child who is acting up straight to detention or suspend them for a few days.

It wouldn’t even cross our minds to teach a student who is dealing with frustration, stress, and rage to practice meditation. The very idea doesn’t sound feasible.

But then, even detention doesn’t sound like a great idea. We all have a rather negative view of it anyway.

Sitting in a boring room, making sneaky attempts at conversation with other students and not actually even trying to learn anything – this is detention in almost every school.

While the practice may have started to allow students to reflect on what they’ve done to deserve it, it doesn’t actually work that way. Those on the receiving end just become more resentful and rebellious.

However, a school in Baltimore, Maryland – The Robert W. Coleman Elementary School has implemented this practice and it has worked out better than they thought it would.

Ever since they started making students meditate, the school has not had to punish even one student with suspension.

What is more, this unique school policy that teaches children to meditate rather than sticking them in detention might be helping kids to be more successful.

Students no longer have to be sent out of the class or to the principal for a stern talking to or to the detention room. Now they are sent to a ‘Mindful Moment Room’.

Unlike the staid, old detention room, the ‘Mindful Moment Room’ has been designed to offer a calm and peaceful setting.

Lamps are laid out everywhere, soothing designs cover the walls and students are given comfortable cushions to sit on.

Whoever is acting up is requested to go to the room and is guided through breathing and meditation techniques which are soothing and helpful in calming them down.

These techniques also help them feel more grounded. They are even encouraged to discuss their experience in the room as well as the actions that led them there.

Interestingly enough, meditation and other forms of practicing mindfulness have been put to good use across various cultures over millennia.

In recent times, even the scientific community has become intrigued by the concept and many have started researching the impact of meditation on us, both physically and mentally. All this research has come up with quite a few interesting results.

For instance, one study which worked on soldiers by teaching them mindfulness and meditation found that when they meditated regularly, they were calmer and better able to deal with volatile emotions.

Even their memories were improved. Another study proved that mindful meditation helped increase the amount of time for which a person could concentrate and improve their focus in general.

While studies on people should be viewed with some skepticism as the results aren’t uniform for everyone, on the whole, an intriguing scientific view of the various benefits of meditation has emerged. Even in the field of psychotherapy, mindful meditation has proved to have its uses.

Meditation and Yoga Can Reverse DNA Reactions Which Cause Stress

meditation and yoga

It turns out that mind-body interventions (or MBIs) like meditation, yoga, or Tai Chi are actually capable of reversing molecular reactions in DNA which are responsible for poor health and depression.

The University of Coventry and the University of Radboud uncovered these findings, and the journal Frontiers in Immunology has published them. 18 different studies were scrutinized in all, spanning 846 participants and eleven years. More specifically, the focus was placed on the way that genes activate to generate proteins that impact the biological make-up of the human body, brain, and immune system.

It is known that when a human being experiences anxiety their sympathetic nervous system (SNS) kicks in and a choice is made to either fight or fly.

Furthermore, a molecule called nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB) is produced, and this molecule regulates how human genes are expressed. NF-kB translates stress by utilizing genes to generate proteins called cytokines; these genes control inflammation at the cellular level. This process is beneficial during moments when fight or flight is necessary, but it can actually lead to cancer, faster aging, or psychiatric disorders such as depression if it occurs too frequently.

However, it has now been discovered that human beings who practice MBIs demonstrate a decrease in the production of NF-kB and cytokines—which results in a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene expression and less inflammation-related issues. Fascinatingly, it has also been revealed that this fight or flight response was much more vital to human beings during hunter-gatherer times when wounds could easily become infected.

Head investigator Ivana Buric of the Brain, Belief, and Behaviour Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology, Behaviour, and Achievement points out that, “Millions of people around the world already enjoy the health benefits of mind-body interventions like yoga or meditation, but what they perhaps don’t realize is that these benefits begin at a molecular level and can change the way our genetic code goes about its business.”

Moreover, Buric argues that

These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing. More needs to be done to understand these effects in greater depth, for example how they compare with other health interventions like exercise or nutrition. But this is an important foundation to build on to help future researchers explore the benefits of increasingly popular mind-body activities.”


Materials provided by Coventry University
Ivana Buric, Miguel Farias, Jonathan Jong, Christopher Mee, Inti A. Brazil. What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices. Frontiers in Immunology, 2017; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.00670

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Yoga Poses To Release Emotional Pain

Yoga Poses To Release Emotional Pain

Understanding Trauma

When we hear the term Trauma, we think it is caused due to extreme mishaps like wars, accidents or abuse. But Trauma can be caused by any event that threatens our sense of security or well being,overwhelms our capacity to cope or respond and leaves us feeling fearful, hopeless or rudderless.

Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk,Boston based psychiatrist and expert on PTSD,defines Trauma as ,”We have learned that Trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past;it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind,brain and body.”

Trauma can cause emotional tension to get stored in various parts of our body and  can cause energetic blockages in our chakras affecting our overall physical,mental and emotional well being.

If these emotions are not processed or healed, they can manifest physically as shallow breathing, headaches, clenched shoulders and jaw muscles, heart palpitations, sweaty palms, gastro intestinal or heart conditions.

Yoga through a combination of asanas (exercises), pranayama (proper breathing), and relaxation and meditation techniques helps to release these emotions and clears our energetic blockages.

It also encourages the “rest and repair” functions of the parasympathetic nervous system and prevents the over stimulation of “fight and flight” response of the sympathetic nervous system.

Yoga Poses to Heal Trauma

1). Lion Pose

Why it works?

Teeth grinding, tense facial muscles, tightness in the jaw are some of the symptoms that manifest due to constant panic or anxiety.

We generally do not include any facial exercises in our exercise regime and therefore the tension stored in our facial muscles doesn’t get released.

Lion pose is an excellent pose that helps to release the tension stored in facial muscles and jaw area.

How to:

1). Sit in a cross legged position or sit on your heels .

2). Inhale deeply through the nose and exhale through the mouth by opening it wide and stretch your tongue out.

3). Open your eyes wide or gaze at the third eye.

4). Make a loud roar or a “ha” sound, release and come out of the pose. Repeat the pose as many times as comfortable.

Duration:

Hold the posture for as long as comfortable.

Contraindications:

Do not attempt the pose if you have any injury in face, jaws or neck.

2). Upward Facing Dog

Why it works?

The throat centre or the fifth chakra deals with self expression. If we suppress our inner voice for way too long or are unable to say what we need to say to protect ourselves , the traumatic energy gets stuck in our throat region.

Upward facing dog is a beautiful opening stretch for the upper body that stimulates the Throat chakra and clears any energetic blockages present there.

How to?

1). Start by lying face down on your mat.Spread your feet few inches apart and place your hand close to your lower ribs.

2).Bring your legs slightly off the floor by pressing the top of feet on the mat.

3). Inhale, press your palms firmly on the mat and straighten your arms,open your chest ,draw your shoulder blades away from the ear and lift your torso up.

4). Pull your chin up and look towards the ceiling.

Duration:

Hold for anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds and release the pose.

Contraindications:

Back,  neck or spine injury.

Pregnancy

3). Pyramid Pose

Why it works?

Hamstrings  are the main group of  muscles that aid in movement and therefore get activated every time our body gets into a fight or flight mode. But the problem arises when our sympathetic nervous system gets into overdrive and our parasympathetic nervous system is unable to calm us down even after the event is over.This leads to residual emotional energy getting stored in our hamstrings.

This is why a lot of us experience tight hamstrings.

Pyramid pose is an excellent pose that provides an intense stretch to the hamstrings to release the stuck emotions.

How to?

1). Start in mountain pose. Separate your feet about 3.5 to 4 feet apart by taking your left feet back.

2). Inhale, press your feet firmly on the ground, draw your navel in, lengthen your tail bone, square your hips and interlace your fingers behind the back.

6 Benefits of Meditation you probably never heard about

6 Benefits of meditation you probably never heard about

According to the Global Organisation for Stress (G.O.S), approximately 442,000 people in Britain alone became ill from stress in 2007/8. The world has picked up pace since then, and the negative consequences are rising. Meditation is one of the greatest medicines when combating a stressful lifestyle, and it doesn’t cost you a cent.

When we see what stress does to our bodies and what it does to our mind, we understand why our entire beings crave the healing that meditation provides. Let us look at the negative effects of stress and how meditation can help transform our beings. 

The mind –

 What stress does:

 When we experience high levels of stress the brain releases a hormone called cortisol. Normally this hormone does not affect the body in any negative way and is actually extremely useful to activate the ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ mode. However, when large amounts of cortisol are released due to continued stress, the brains functionality is seriously disrupted. According to The Touro University, cortisol in these high amounts kills brain cells, reduces the size of the brain and disrupts synapse regulation. The negative effect on the sociability of an individual is seriously affected and in turn causes the individual to become an erratic anxious person.

 How meditation heals:

Mindfulness meditation has been known to decrease high levels of cortisol, healing the brain directly from the harm caused by extreme stress. A study was done on the levels of 30 medical students to see whether this was fact or fiction and the measurements after meditation were drastically different. A far lower level of cortisol was found, and this was only after a single session, imagine what meditation can do for you over a prolonged period of time. The test results and outline can be found here. 

The heart – 

What stress does:

As mentioned earlier, stress directly influences the brain and commands it to release a hormone called cortisol. Not only does this hormone in large doses affect the brain negatively but also the heart. A recent study shows a direct link between stress and cardiovascular disease. They also found that high levels of cortisol in the hair are a direct prediction of an imminent heart attack. The World Health Organisation reports that cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death in the world. In 2015 alone 17,7 million people died of cardiovascular diseases and with the elevated stress levels 2017 may yet show a higher number. 

How meditation heals:

Now that we know that mindfulness meditation drastically lowers the levels of cortisol and in turn heals us, the question is how else can mediation heal the heart? According to Harvard Health, meditation lowers heart rates, release of adrenaline and the intake of oxygen. Meditation also lowers feelings of anxiety and significantly lowers blood pressure. According to cardiologist Dr. Deepak Bhatt, who is also a professor at the Harvard School of Medicine, “Meditation can be a useful part of cardiovascular risk reduction.”  

Your sleep patterns –

What stress does:

 Stress is known to cause hyperarousal which is also one of the main symptoms of PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder. Hyperarousal causes the body to act as though the trauma or stress is a lasting thing. It interrupts your sleep patterns and according to The National Sleep Foundation, usually causes insomnia. Beyond insomnia, stress interrupts your sleep/wake cycle making you feel as though you have not slept at all even though you were asleep the entire evening.

 How meditation heals:

 According to Harvard Health, and a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal, meditation allows you to draw on a direct feeling of relaxation. This feeling trains the mind to call back on it when it is time to go to sleep, and with the heightened feelings of peace and tranquility experienced in meditation, your night time sleep will be uninterrupted and your daytime will be a vibrant energy-filled experience.

 The ageing process –

What stress does:

 Believe it or not, stress makes you age faster. According to Harvard Health, a study that led to a Nobel Prize showed significant evidence that stress affects the ends of chromosomes called telomeres. These structures inside cells contain the genes. A large amount of stress causes them to shorten faster over time, once short enough, the cell dies. Not only that but people with excessive short telomeres are prone to cancer and heart disease.

8 Mystical Meditation Mantra That Raise Your Consciousness

8 Mystical Meditation Mantra That Raise Your Consciousness

MANTRAS ARE LIKE LOTUS FLOWERS THAT SPRING FROM THE MURKY DEPTHS OF OUR MINDS, AND BLOSSOM INTO THE PURITY OF BEING.

For thousands of years all throughout the planet, mantras have been used to quiet the mind, experience inner stillness, promote the development of virtues like empathy, and experience “God.”

Mantras, although simple words and sounds repeated over and over again, are immensely powerful in their ability to raise our consciousness. Not only are words and sounds a manifestation of energy vibrating at different frequencies, but they are also imbued with centuries of meaning. In fact, mantras and chants are so ancient that they are said to be over 3,000 years (or more) old.

If you would like to welcome the mystical influence of meditation mantras into your life, please take some time to consider what you need the most in your life right now. Do you need more love and empathy? Or perhaps you need to invite self-acceptance and forgiveness into your life.

8 TRANSFORMATIONAL MEDITATION MANTRAS

We all have different desires, needs and preferences, which is why it is so important to pick a mantra that personally appeals to you (and not just because it is popular or well-known). Remember to pay attention to each of the following meditation mantras and their underlying meanings. Choose one that appeals to you on a deep level, and one that you desire to have steeped in your unconscious mind.

My personal favorite is “om mani padme hum,” not only because it is easy to remember, but because its meaning resonates deeply with my needs in this period of my life.

I also recommend experimenting with different meditation mantras. Don’t feel pressured to choose a mantra from a different language (i.e. Sanskrit) unless you really resonate with it. In fact, you might prefer to create your own mantra which might be far more powerful than any pre-written one. You will find a few examples below.

1. OM

“Om” is said to be the first sound, and the birth of all other sounds. It is essentially the sound of infinity and is said to vibrate at the pitch of the universe (432 Hertz). This ancient sound can be chanted by itself to help focus, clear and purify the mind, or placed in front of other meditation mantras.

2. OM MANI PADME HUM

This mantra is used by Tibetan Buddhists to invoke Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva embodiment of compassion. Literally, this chant translates to “Hail the jewel in the lotus” but it has also been interpreted in the following way:

Om – This sound purifies pride

Ma – Purifies jealousy and the need for stimulation

Ni – Purifies passion and desire

Pad – Purifies ignorance and prejudice

Me – Purifies possessiveness

Hum – Purifies hatred

This mantra is said to contain all of Buddhism’s principles in a summarized form.

 

3. LOKAH SAMASTAH SUKHINO BHAVANTU

This Hindu prayer essentially translates to, “May all beings be happy. May all my thoughts, words and actions contribute in some way to the happiness of all beings.” This mantra helps us to become aware of our irrevocable connection with all of life, and helps us to open our hearts to understanding, love and compassion for others.

 

4. ELOHIM / HAMSA / SATNAM / TAO / SHIVA / RAM

Chanting the name of God/Consciousness/Source is also another powerful type of meditation mantra. Select any name that appeals to you the most and sit with it in silence. Repeat the name in your mind, or out loud. Let the syllables vibrate through you and infuse your mind, heart and soul with meaning, power and significance.

 

5. HARE KRISHNA HARE KRISHNA, KRISHNA KRISHNA HARE HARE, HARE RAMA HARE RAMA, RAMA RAMA, HARE HARE

This mantra, popularized by the Hare Krishna movement (ISKCON), is a form of transcendental vibration that is said to expand our consciousness by repeating the three names of Supreme Being; Hare, Krishna and Rama. When repeatedly chanted, this mantra helps us to taste something known as Krishna Consciousness (purity of being).

 

6. HO’OPONOPONO

This ancient Hawaiian word translates to, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you.” It is pronounced in the following way: ho-oh-pono-pono. This is an excellent mantra to use when you feel distressed, angry or ashamed. You might like to repeat the word “Ho’oponopono” or its literal translation, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you” as a mantra.

One Meditation Taboo You Should Break Right Now!

Our mind is still a big mystery that eludes it’s solution. We still have failed to comprehend the hidden powers and the capacity of our mind. Even when we are in the midst of this heightened period of enlightenment , humans still struggle to comprehend fully the powers dormant within us.

Meditation is one tool which helps us to comprehend some of the mysteries of the human mind and unleash it’s powers , to those who are willing to experiment with it! You know when they say, you cannot understand certain things unless you have experienced it?  Meditation in some ways is like this…you have to experience it to understand it

How many of you out there have tried starting a meditation routine, but ended up in vain? If you are one of them, don’t fret, your’e just at the right place. Either you are a complete novice to the world of meditation or you are just discovering yourself, this post is for you.

Meditation is often viewed as a “psychic” sort of thing and gives out an aura of the same. But aren’t times fast  changing as more people are now turning up to meditation for a stress-free life among other things.

Meditation gives you a place to go inside yourself where you can find inner peace and communicate with your mind. It helps you come in terms of who you truly are. Discover yourself. For those who are unaware of the benefits a 10-minute meditation session can give you, I suggest you try it for yourself.

First of all , let me clear a strong yet wrong misconception people  have about meditating. It’s what chases people away from meditating.

“Meditation is not concentration, it is in fact de-concentration”.

I know when people imagine meditating what pops up is an image of a person sitting with the eyes closed and chanting something. I bet something very close to this :

But meditating is not about sitting in a secluded place, with your fingers in the ‘meditation pose’ and willing your mind to ‘not’ think about anything.

Let me let you in on a secret that most of you don’t know : Our mind is not capable of not doing anything/thinking for even a minute. That being said, you might ask : then how does one meditate?

So, finally , here’s your completely easy guide to improve your life in just 5 minutes:

It’s not very difficult. Just be at ease. It helps if your surroundings are silent, but it’s fine if it’s not.You don’t have to have a strict posture too. Just sit how you are comfortable. Just close your eyes and I guarantee you the minute you close your eyes, your mind will be shouting like crazy!!! But what you have to do is quite simple: Just focus on your breath.It doesn’t matter what thoughts come and leave your head, do just that. Let it come and go. Don’t attach any emotions to the thought.

When you do this, you might not be doing this right every time, sometimes it’s totally fine to sneak on your thoughts and enjoy them or just hate yourself for your thoughts. Come on ,we are humans and we are not perfect. But the point is , don’t ever ditch your breath! Don’t do that. It’s fine if you lost it once, just continue. Before you know it, your mind will stay calm, maybe if you have mastered this you will be free of thoughts for sometime or you will be able to control your thoughts and steer your mind back in control , just by the snap of your fingers!

There is a video  which will help you : 

Meditation is an unique tool which gives you the opportunity to communicate with your subconscious mind. It helps to strike a balance in your already stressful life.

Meditating everyday for at least 5 minutes also helps. It’s up to you on how much time you want to spend on it.Have patience , you have to wait to see your fruits of labor! Nothing good comes easy.

P.S : Share your feelings and thoughts about how you found this guide to be helpful and I would like to hear about how meditating has changed your lives.

Opening Your True Self with Yoga. How to Find a Right Style of Yoga for You?

For many years, I was struggling with depression and stress caused by an inability to understand what is my true calling in life. Who am I? What am I meant for? Whether I’m doing everything right?
Soon enough, I got tired of having this negative mindset, this uncertainty, so I’d decided to change it, and then I discovered Yoga. I have seen hundreds and thousands of blogs and articles, describing different styles and types of Yoga, personal stories, and experiences. It was extremely overwhelming, but I realized that this is a way for me to overcome my stress and depression.
Before starting practicing Yoga, read this story and pick the right style for you, which will help you to open your true self, deal with stress and depression, and will bring more colors into your life.

Finding the Right Yoga Practice for You

In the U.S., most Yoga classes originally focused on some type of hatha yoga, which involves postures, called asanas, and breathing – activities that will prepare a person for meditation of some type. However, in recent years, a large number of different types of Yoga training have become available in classes or on video, ranging from the basic Hatha to rigorous activity for muscle toning and weight loss. And there are lots of crossovers that combine different Yoga practices in the same workout. As you look for a match for yourself, consider the following:

  1. Why Do You Want to Practice Yoga?

This is, of course, the first factor in your exploration. Are you looking for a strenuous workout or are you looking more for the peaceful, meditative aspect of Yoga practice? Maybe you are looking for a practice that will ease muscle aches and pains. Perhaps you want spiritual aspects and raising of your consciousness. Identify your goals first.

  1. What Type of Environment Do You Want?

Some want the social experience of a class; others want more personal attention from an instructor, and still other people have a lot of self-discipline and prefer to work on their own at home. Which are you?

  1. Consider Your Limitations

How much time do you have to practice? If you are thinking about classes, what are your budget constraints? And, of course, how out of shape are you right now? And how early are you in your spiritual journey?

  1. Do some Research and Attend Some Classes

The only way to really find the Yoga style that suits your needs is to try them. Borrow some videos from the library; some Yoga studios or classes held elsewhere will usually allow you to visit for free.

Try several different types, and see how you feel during and afterward. If your body feels good while you practice, this is a good sign; however, be mindful that you do want a practice that is somewhat challenging you too. Assess how you feel after the session – are you stressed and somewhat disconnected or do you feel relaxed and emotionally/spiritually open and grounded? The best indicator, of course, is that you want to do this again.

The important point is this: You have to find a style that resonates with you or you will not feel fulfilled and you certainly will not want to continue your physical and spiritual journey. And as you take this journey, your needs may change. So, you will need a program that will allow you to grow and evolve, cover the basics, and then move you forward, whether that is in a physical class or through a video series – either will work dependent upon your preference.

  1. You Want Flexibility

Because there are so many variants of practices and because your needs may change from day to day, there should be some flexibility in session offerings, whether through classes or video programs. Some days, you may feel unusually stressed and need a more meditative, breathing form that will bring you back to peace. Other days, you may find that you want a practice that will give you more energy. As you get to know the types of Yoga and how they meet your changing needs, you want to be able to switch back and forth.

Brief Guide to Yoga Types

As you consider classes, whether at a physical facility or through video and/or live streaming, you may want to have a brief idea of each type of Yoga as you consider where to begin your quest for the best match. Here is a short rundown of eight styles to get you started:

The Science behind Yoga and Stress

The Science behind Yoga and Stress

By Dr M Storoni MD PhD on Tuesday July 14th, 2015

What does bending your body into yoga poses do to your brain chemistry and nerve connections?

There are two functional parts of the brain that play a key role in stress. These serve the functions of emotion and cognitive function. So I am calling them the ’emotional’ brain (amygdala and its connections and medial forebrain structures including the medial prefrontal cortex) and the ‘logical’ brain (the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, other parts of the prefrontal cortex, parts of the cingulate cortex and parts of the hippocampus).

The emotional brain is able to initiate a ‘stress response’ via the sympathetic nervous system which culminates in adrenaline and cortisol racing through our circulation.The logical brain is always trying to ‘turn-off’ this stress response and it is also trying to restrain the emotional brain. The stronger our logical brain, the better it becomes at doing these two things. When the stress response is ‘turned off’, our parasympathetic nervous system signal is ‘turned on’. This signal ‘relaxes’ the body. So a strong logical brain goes hand in hand with relaxation.

The stress response and ‘relaxing’ signals travel through the body along a particular route and parts of this route have little ‘switches’ which we can physically manipulate to turn the signals on or off. The neck is an example of where such switches are located (by the carotid arteries).


“Everytime we are holding a posture our logical brain is being activated”

 

Training the stress circuit

Yoga is training this entire stress circuit at two levels.

1.   First, every time we are ‘holding’ a posture, staying very still to concentrate or trying to balance, our logical brain is being activated.

When we are bending forwards, our ‘relaxation’ signal is being turned on through the ‘switches’ in the neck. So bending forwards and concentrating at the same time is triggering both the logical brain and the relaxation signal at the same time.

2.  Bending backwards triggers the stress response signal through the switches in our neck.

Contracting a muscle also triggers the stress response signal. So, when we bend backwards and contract our muscles while still having to stay still and concentrate on balancing, our logical brain is given an extra challenge. It has to overcome the stress response signal being triggered in these two ways before we can be still and concentrate during a posture. This ‘extra’ resistance the logical brain is having to work against, ‘trains’ it like a muscle.

New circuitry that enables you to find it easier to control your thoughts is formed
New circuitry that enables you to find it easier to control your thoughts is formed”

Rewiring the nerve connections

At the end of a series of yoga postures, the logical brain has had a ‘workout’. It is buzzing with activity.

You feel mentally calm as it is keeping your emotional brain quiet.

Training the logical brain in this way for a long time can result in a rewiring of the nerve connections within the logical brain. New circuitry that enables you to find it easier to control your thoughts is formed. You may find it easier to channel your thoughts in the direction you want and not ‘dwell’ on negative thoughts or experiences.

This is partly why yoga seems to have a positive effect on depression and anxiety, where sufferers have a tendency to dwell on negative life events. Stronger connections within the logical brain keeps the lid down on the emotional brain and the stress response. This is why yoga can be so effective at battling stress.

The key thing to do is to attempt yoga postures which are structured in a well-formulated sequence where each posture involves a long hold. Then your yoga and stress will begin to be balanced.


Words By Dr M Storoni MD PhD

Originally posted by Brainboost Camp
Published Via Uplift Connect

The Science behind Yoga and Stress

 

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