Can Meditation Help Counter Alzheimer’s?

Researchers have found differences in the brains of people who’ve meditated for years and believe it may be one way to prevent losing cognitive function as we get older. Also, tune a piano, tune your brain…

The study, led by Dr Florian Kurth of the University of California, Los Angeles, noted a difference in brain volume between those who meditated and those who didn’t. According to Dr Kurth, ‘We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating.

Tune A Piano, Tune Your Brain

Researchers at Newcastle University and University College London have found that professional piano tuners’ brains undergo structural changes in the hippocampus – the part of the brain that controls memory and navigation.

Magnetic resonance imaging of the physical structure of subjects’ brains, revealed similar changes to those previously observed in London taxi drivers who learn to navigate city streets by memory alone. The paper’s authors believe this shows that piano tuners ‘navigate’ sounds in a way that is similar to spatial navigation.

Why you get stressed

Some stress is necessary to help you meet life’s challenges.

Your brain is wired in such a way that until you feel some sort of pressure, you are slow to take action to achieve a desired goal. Research from UC Berkeley in the US found that the onset of stress entices the brain to grow new cells responsible for improved memory. However, this effect is only seen when stress is intermittent.

When stress becomes prolonged, it suppresses the brain’s ability to develop these important new cells.Intermittent stressful events increase your performance by keeping the brain more alert. The best performers at work use strategies to lower their stress levels and ensure their stress is not prolonged.

Here are a few ways you can employ strategies to deal with stress brought about by people you encounter at work.

Say No.Research from the University of California shows that the more difficulty you have with saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress. ‘No’ is a powerful weapon in the battle against stress.

Don’t be afraid to wield it. Avoid phrases like, ‘I don’t think I can’ or ‘I’m not certain’. Saying no gives you the time and opportunity to fulfil your existing objectives.

‘What if’ might never be. What others do at work is pretty much out of your control, unless of course, you’re their boss. Endlessly questioning what would have happened if things had gone your way simply raises your stress levels. Spend less time worrying about what could have been if person X hadn’t been involved, and more time on what you can do to achieve the best outcome for the organisation and yourself.

Know when to disconnect.When you’re constantly tracking someone at work, you expose yourself to a barrage of stressors. Turn your focus away from them and concentrate on what you need to do. If you’re seriously worried about the negative repercussions of their actions on your work, talk to a manager.

Be mindful, be positive. Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation that can help you control your own thoughts and behaviour. People who practice mindfulness are more focused and perform better. Being mindful means reflecting on your actions and not jumping from one thing to the next without thinking it through.

Positivity is power. The more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them. Most of our negative thoughts are just that – thoughts, not facts. Focus on the positive. When your work colleague gets right, make sure you recognise it. A simple ‘thank you’ could do your relationship the world of good.

The Importance Of Pilates Principles

Concentrating or ‘being mindful’ in each and every moment and understanding and executing the Pilates principles in each and every exercise.

This will ensure both maximum physical gains and enjoyment, leading to improvements in overall well-being and happiness !

There were six main principles of Pilates:

Concentration

You cannot ensure correct muscle activation and exercise execution for maximum gain and minimum injury risk, if you do not pay attention to your own body and its capabilities.

Centering
Both in mind and in body, centering refers both to the connection of the central stabilising muscles and a steadying of the mind in preparation for movement.

Control
Each exercise requires consideration in order to balance the muscles and protect other areas of the body from becoming overused and fatigued.

Breathing
A deep exhalation initiates contraction of the deep, stabilising abdominal muscles, which then makes it easier for you to connect with them and maintain the connection whilst executing an exercise.

Precision
From the tips of your fingers to the tips of your toes, every muscle should be conscious and in balance in order to ensure fluidity and functionality to each exercise.

Flow
Initially, this referred to flow within each exercise. That is, each series of exercises should be executed smoothly and with grace. In more recent years the concept of ‘flow’ has been further added to the choreography of transitions between exercises.

Mindfulness extends from only thinking about the present time and not the future, to the very action one is taking in that present moment i.e. making a cup of tea or eating a chocolate. Mindfulness teaches us to appreciate the present moment because once that moment has passed you can never get it back. Enjoy the sounds made by the kettle boiling, notice smells and noises; enjoy the texture and flavour of your chocolate and so on. It’s almost meditative, in the sense that in that moment; you are only focussed on the one ‘thing’, your mind cannot be occupied by stresses and worries.

7 Reasons Why Meditation is Good for Your Health

By tapping into an abundance of creative energy, meditation can enrich both our emotional and physical health. Makes you happier…

Reduces stress

Endorphins also act as a means of reducing stress levels in the brain; so by meditating you can stop worrying about the little things in life and concentrate on the exploration of yourself and the promotion of positive feelings.

Helps you focus
Meditating allows you to learn how to discipline yourself and this will reflect in your everyday lifestyle. When you address tasks, your mind will focus more naturally and you will experience an increased efficiency.

Improves sleep
Scientific studies have shown that those who meditate enhance their slow wave sleep pattern, which can help fight insomnia. Furthermore, focussing the mind on mental and physical processes will aid relaxation and consequently, sleep.

Lowers blood Pressure
Research has also shown that meditation can reduce blood pressure, both in the short term and later in life. By decreasing psychological stress and increasing coping ability, blood pressure decreases, helping you pursue a healthier life.

Relieves Pain
Long term practice of meditation can lead to physical changes in the brain that help alter the perception of pain. Those who meditate will experience lower pain sensitivity. Mindfulness, a result of meditation, can also help those who suffer chronic pain come to terms with it.

Connects you with others
While it’s true that meditation is mostly concentrated on self-growth, it also improves your social interaction. The mind becomes more sharply focussed on compassionate feelings that are directed towards others. As little as a few minutes of meditation practise can increase positive feelings towards strangers.

Makes you happier
Meditation causes the pituitary gland in your brain to secrete endorphins that help elevatemood and have a positive effect on the whole body. It also alters brain activity to enhance the area associated with positive emotional experiences.

Be awakened

Don’t be lazy. We have been lazy and ignorant for millions of years, and we are now lucky to hear the bell of Buddha.

Meditate all day and night while lying, sitting, standing and walking. Always be awakened and mindful. That is the message from Zen Master Vien Hoc. But how can the lazy body be conquered? It is a hard work, and only you can do it to save yourself. You should observe your body carefully. Eat healthy, eat little. Work and exercise everyday.

Always remember that the law of impermanence is drifting us swiftly all day and night, and we have very little time in this life to practice Buddha Dharma to reach the shore. So don’t be lazy.

That doesn’t mean that you have to punish your body. The body is a raft, a vehicle; you have to take good care of it for a really hard trip.

Observe all your bodily movement; that’s a part of meditation. In a certain way, this kind of meditation might have originated some forms of martial arts. Also, you can have your own style Tai Chi Chuan for fun while meditating.

Try this: breath in and out gently, move your right hand very slowly in any way you want while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. Then, with both hands. Then, with eyes open, stand up and move gently while you observe and feel all the bodily movements. It is so much fun for the children to practice their own style Tai Chi Chuan while meditating.

Ask them to try it around five minutes a day. The practitioner would some time see that the mind and body become one.

The Mind of Emptiness

Life is too short. If you attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness, you will be free from the world of coming and going.

You can feel the frailness of your body now, even when you are healthy and strong. Try this: breathe in and out, gently and naturally; feel the breathing in and out; feel your whole body breathing; feel your whole body becoming one with the breath. Then you will see that your breath is so fragile and your body is so vulnerable.

The more you experience the bliss from meditation, the more you feel sorrowful for the plight of humankind.
Recalling the Buddha’s words saying that we have born and died countless times, you will feel grateful to countless parents, and will see all people around as your dear parents in past lives. Then you will feel your whole body deeply resonate with the Zen vow to save all sentient beings. How can we save others if we are not free yet?

Zen master Vien Chieu said that learners must attain the mind of emptiness and formlessness. Indeed, you will see that the mind essence is empty and formless. So all things in the world appear and disappear in the mind just like the clouds formed and dissolved in the sky, just like the images emerged and vanished in a mirror.

So all the forms you see, all the sounds your hear, all the odors you smell, all the flavors you taste, all the senses you feel, all the thoughts you have are changing swiftly. So nothing has a self. So all things come and go, governed by the principle of dependent arising. Realizing the mind essence will free you from the world of coming and going.

The Present

The present is not the past; the past is not the present.

That means past thoughts vanished and the present thought is not the previous thought. That means every act in past lives and now has its own merit. That means the good deed now is not the bad act done before. That means the breath now is not the breath earlier, and the breath felt previously was not the breath sensed presently.

Live with the present. Every act has its own merit, so you should not worry about the past. Just sit with eyes half open, feel your breath now, feel your body breathing now, feel your thought now arising and vanishing. Can you see this interval: while the previous thought vanished and the next thought does not arise yet?

Try to gently stare that interval for all times in a day, or in two days, even when you are lying, sitting, standing and walking. Later, you can use this stare to cut off all wandering thoughts.

Emptiness

Just look at your body, your feelings, your thoughts; they were changing swiftly since the day you were born.

So you have had millions of bodies; millions of feelings, millions of thoughts – which one is your true body, true feeling, true thought? Your body, your feelings, your thoughts can manifest as millions of forms, because forms are indeed emptiness just like illusions appearing in the mirror. If you cling to anything as form or emptiness, you are chasing the illusions.

Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe. Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.

The Treasure

Living in the world, happy with the Way, you should let all things take their course. When hungry, just eat; when tired, just sleep. The treasure is in your house; do not search any more. Face the scenes, and have no thoughts; then you do not need to ask for Zen.

Live with the water, not with the waves rising and falling; live with the nature of mirror to reflect, not with the images appearing and disappearing; and live with the essence of the mind, not with the thoughts arising and vanishing. When you see the essence of the mind, then you catch a glimpse of Nirvana – the state of unborn, uncreated, unconditioned peace.

After that moment, you know how to live with the mind unmoved while walking, standing, lying, and sitting. How can you see the essence of the mind? Please, remember: You are never away from it, just like the water holds all the waves and is never away from the waves, just like the emptiness of the mirror hold all the images and is never away from the images.

The essence of the mind is non-self, so it manifest as a great magician: your mind has no form, so it takes all forms you see as its forms; your mind has no color, so it takes all colors you see as its colors…Now look out the window, when you see a bird, your mind now has the form of a bird; and when the bird flies, your mind flies too. Your mind is all things you see, all things you hear, all things you feel; the observer is all things observed.

Watchful

Watch yourself everyday, constantly. Watch yourself, be mindful, be alert. In this dream world, do not search for Dharma counselor; Watch yourself, and see the Buddha’s face on your face.

Watch yourself, and see you are impermanent, no-self. Watch yourself, and see whether you are living in a dream. You are changing swiftly, endlessly. Yesterday, you had millions of different bodies, millions of different feelings, millions of different thoughts – just like a stream flowing swiftly.

Look back and see all those bodies, feelings, and thoughts just like dreams, like echoes, like mirages. Then look at the day before yesterday. Do you feel just like millions of lives away? Are those dreams? Think nothing, just observe.

Just be alert, feel the breath, observe the body breathing. And feel the life and death flowing swiftly, endlessly in your whole body.