The International Foundation of Yoga and Meditation (IFYM) is an educational membership-based network to bring people together to get the benefits and advances of yoga and meditation. International Foundation of Yoga and Meditation is open to all meditation teachers, students, yogis, yoginis, research institutes, meditation organizations and yoga organizations. Know more about IFYM.
Scientific studies confirmed that benefits of mindfulness-based meditation are remarkable. I discussed here, the six most powerful benefits of mindfulness meditation with six inspirational quotes. Whether you are doctor, engineer, lawyer or any other professionals, practicing mindfulness will give you immense benefits.
The cultivation of joy is an important element of mindfulness practice. Joy helps us to be more fully present to life, and it also gives us the motivation. The actual practice of mindfulness involves moment to moment happiness awareness of what is happening now, both internally and externally.
1 Mindfulness as Collaboration with Nature:
A University of Washington study divided participants into three groups. One received an eight-week course in mindfulness meditation, another received some training later and the third received only body relaxation training.
Only the individuals who received the meditation training showed cognitive improvements on the test and those participants’ concentration abilities “improved significantly.”
This change is thought to be due to the way meditation improves neural communication, including among attentional networks and between those areas and the frontal region.
Collaboration is the essence of life. The wind, bees and flowers work together, to spread the pollen. -- Amit Ray
2. Mindfulness to Conquer Pain and Anxiety
Studies have repeatedly shown the efficacy of meditation as a method of managing chronic pain. Research shows that the benefit is achieved through reducing pain intensity by activating specific areas of the brain related to “pain processing.”
If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. - Amit Ray
3. Mindfulness Reduces Loneliness, Inflammation
In 2012, a small study was launched to see the effects of meditation on a group of seniors versus a control group who did not meditate.
The results were clear: meditating seniors were less lonely and physically healthier. The physical benefits were linked to “a significant drop in the expression of inflammation-related genes.”
In every bend of time there is some surprise, joy and beauty. Mindfulness is the light to discover it. -- Amit Ray
4. Mindfulness Improves Stress Resilience:
Mindfulness improves self-control, objectivity, tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, and emotional intelligence.
Study found that people who practice mindfulness meditation appear to develop the skill of self-observation, which neurologically disengages the automatic pathways that were created by prior learning and enables present-moment input to be integrated in a new way (Siegel, 2007a). Meditation also activates the brain region associated with more adaptive responses to stressful or negative situations (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson et al., 2003). Activation of this region corresponds with faster recovery to baseline after being negatively provoked (Davidson, 2000; Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000).
Life is a collection of moments. Mindfulness is beautification of the moments. - Amit Ray
5. Mindfulness Improves Emotional Intelligence and Attention
Another study examined how mindfulness meditation affected participants' ability to focus attention and suppress distracting information. The researchers compared a group of experienced mindfulness meditators with a control group that had no meditation experience. They found that the meditation group had significantly better performance on all measures of attention and had higher self-reported mindfulness. Mindfulness meditation practice and self-reported mindfulness were correlated directly with cognitive flexibility and attentional functioning (Moore and Malinowski, 2009).
Life is a dance. Mindfulness is witnessing that dance. - Amit Ray
6. Mindfulness enhances creativity
The two main factors that determine levels of creativity are: divergent thinking (coming up with lots of ideas) and convergent thinking (solidifying those ideas into one brilliant concept.)
Researchers at Leiden University led by Cognitive psychologist Lorenza Colzato studied the effects of two different types of meditation practices on divergent and convergent thinking. They found that mindful meditation significantly improved both divergent and convergent thinking.
Mind is a flexible mirror, adjust it, to see a better world. - Amit Ray
If you are interested about mindfulness and meditation, commit to a daily practice. Start by committing to a time-frame that you can be easily achieved. It can be 5-10 minutes per day. After practicing for a week, re-evaluate and see if you'd like to meditate longer or shorter. The most powerful evidence of whether these practices will “work” for you isn't a study, but direct experience. So, give it a try and understand for yourself.
Source: From the book: Mindfulness : Living in the Moment - Living in the Breath By Amit Ray
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What are the different types of meditation? Just as there are different forms of exercises to train and relax the body, there are different ways to train and relax the mind. There are many ways to meditate depending on what you are personally trying to achieve. Our ability to resist an impulse determines our success. It’s probably the single most important skill for our growth and development. Meditation teaches us to resist the urge of that counterproductive follow through (McCown, Reibel, & Micozzi, 2010). The eight most powerful meditation techniques are:
Om meditation is the combination of the two great meditation techniques – breath and sound. They are combined form of yoga posture, breathing exercises and sound exercises. As Amit Ray said “Om is the mantra of harmony and celebration. Om is the mantra to access the Supreme Divinity residing within us. Om is the mysterious cosmic energy that is the substratum of all the things and all the beings of the entire universe. It is an eternal song of the Divine. It is continuously resounding in silence on the background of everything that exists. Om meditation is accessing that divine peace and silence” (Ray, 2010a).
Mindfulness Meditation is an adaptation from traditional Buddhist meditation practices, especially Vipassana, but also having strong influence from other lineages. This form of meditation simply requires that you be fully present with each of your activities. Rather than allowing your mind to bounce from thought to thought during the day, take the time to be mindful of what you do or think during daily activities. This type of meditation can be done while you are walking to your car, washing the dishes, typing on your computer, or any other type of daily activity. Often with everyday activities we start and finish almost automatically, not even remembering the in-between of what we just did. Being mindful and present is about being there for the in-between. As you drive home from work, take in your surroundings, be mindful of how you drive, shift gears, how the car sounds, or the noises around you. Being present and mindful on your drive home will not only make you a more alert driver, but you will find yourself arriving at home with a clearer memory of the in-between. The core of mindfulness meditation is: “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath. (Ray, 2015)”
Zen is simple observing the mind and breath. We tend to see body, breath, and mind separately, but in zazen they come together as one reality. The first thing to pay attention to is the position of the body in zazen. The body has a way of communicating outwardly to the world and inwardly to oneself. How you position your body has a lot to do with what happens with your mind and your breath.
The most effective positioning of the body for the practice of zazen is the stable, symmetrical position of the seated Buddha. Sitting on the floor is recommended because it is grounded.
Once you sit comfortably, count each inhalation and each exhalation, until you get to ten. If your mind wanders, which it will, cast off the thought and then continue back counting from one again. When you are able to get to ten repeatedly without any intruding thoughts, it's time to start counting an inhalation and an exhalation as one rather than counting them separately. Eventually you will be able to just concentrate on the breath and abandon the counting. For this to happen you need to practice zazen on a daily basis. You can practice Zen in as little as 15 minutes each day.
In walking meditation, called kinhin in the Zen tradition, practitioners move slowly and continuously while staying aware of the body and mind. For this form of meditation, use good posture (just like seated meditation), take deep breaths, and experience the motions of the body. The walking movement should be continuous, so pick a safe place with space to roam around, like a large park or field.
This form of meditation allows you to develop positive emotions and release negative ones. An individual repeats silent mental phrases directing feelings of love toward a loved one, toward themselves, toward a person they might not know, toward someone who has harmed them, and lastly, towards everyone.
Reciting a phrase like: I will be kind enough to take the time to listen to
- 1. Myself
- 2. A loved one (e.g. my wife/ husband, child or friend)
- 3. A person I do not know well (e.g. someone at work you might not have talked to before)
- 4. Someone who has done harm (e.g.someone you might have had a disagreement with)
- 5. Anyone that I meet (e.g. a store clerk) Using positive phrases
6. Dance Meditation:
Get ready to boogie—meditation just got a soundtrack! Most people, at one time or another, have put on some tunes and cut the rug to chill out after a tough day. Dance or kundalini meditation takes that release one step farther by asking participants to let go of the ego and surrender to the rhythms and ecstasies of movement. Some classes encourage yelling, jumping, and even hooting like an owl! Dance meditation may not be for the faint of heart—or arm or leg—but it can be a great way to release tension and get in touch with our instincts.
7. Daily Life Practice Meditation:
In this style of meditation, practitioners slow down daily activities to half-speed and use the extra time to be mindful and focus on thoughts. There’s no need to sign up for a class when it’s possible to meditate while washing dishes, taking a shower, walking down the subway steps…
8. Breathing Meditation:
This technique takes those pre-yoga class "Oms" to the next level. Also called yogic breathing or Pranayama, this meditation style is all about controlling the inhales and exhales. Longer exhales tend to be calming, while longer inhales are energizing. For meditative purposes either the ratio of exhale to inhale is even or the exhale is longer than the inhale for a calming effect.
9. Transcendental Meditation (TM):
Maharishi, an advocate of Transcendental Meditation defines the purpose, “The goal of Transcendental Meditation is the state of enlightenment. This means we experience that inner calmness, that quiet state of least excitation, even when we are dynamically busy.” In this Hindu tradition you sit in Lotus, internally chant a mantra, and focus on rising above the negativity.
10. Samatha and Vipassana Meditation:
"Vipassana" means clear insight into the real characteristics of body and mind. Vipassana bhavana (insight meditation) is sometimes called mindfulness meditation. The technique of Vipassana uses mindfulness to note every detail of our mental and physical experience from moment-to-moment, with an unbiased attitude. Mainly it includes nonjudgmental attention to body, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations of touch, pain or pleasant feeling, thoughts, etc.Read more ..
Science of yoga is not just about philosophy. It is all about how yoga can change your health and mental well-being, which is measurable, observable and quantifiable. Yoga is a systematic way to attain perfection, through physical and mental exercises.
Yoga has been noted to reduce anxiety and depression. Scientific studies have also shown that yoga can improve several conditions including psychological and pain syndromes, musculoskeletal and neurological disorders and autoimmune and immune syndromes.
Volumes have been written on the healing properties of yoga. Although very little research has been conducted on potential underlying mechanisms for the effects of yoga, it appears yoga stimulates pressure receptors under the skin which, in turn, leads to enhanced vagal activity and reduced cortisol.
Scientist observed that yoga exercises gives superior parietal cortex, involved in directing attention, and the visual cortex.
1. Yoga Improves Immunity Function
There are numerous scientific studies that show that yoga improves immune functioning. Yoga, perhaps, is one of the most effective and time-tested natural immunity boosters that we can adopt for a healthier life. It is an ancient art that strengthens the body and also relaxes the mind.
"Yoga means addition - addition of energy, strength and beauty to body, mind and soul" -- Amit Ray
2. Yoga Cures Addiction
Dopamine, a chemical in the brain that gives one contentment during a high on ones drug of choice is generated naturally by doing yoga. Thus, the craving for that level of contentment from addiction is no longer manifested. Yoga can give one the same level of dopamine high or contentment, thus cutting out the craving of addiction.
3. Activates Parasympathetic Nervous System
Yoga actually activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms us down and restores balance after a major stress is over. When the parasympathetic nervous system switches on, blood is directed toward endocrine glands, digestive organs, and other organs, thus reducing the heartbeat rate and lowering the blood pressure.
4. Anxiety Reduction
Several studies have focused on anxiety, and several studies on various conditions have used anxiety as a measure of the condition improving. It is observed that who participated in the yoga training showed decreased stress, anxiety, fatigue and depression as well as increased well-being and vigor.
5. Yoga Heals Chronic Insomnia
Reduced sleep problems following yoga may mediate decreased depression. In a chronic insomnia sample, yoga led to improvements on virtually every sleep measure including sleep efficiency, total sleep time, sleep onset latency, number of awakenings and sleep quality measures based on sleep-wake diaries.
Yoga also reduced sleep disturbances in a geriatric sample after 6 months of yoga practice. The Yoga group versus the standard control group had a significantly shorter latency to sleep as well as a significant increase in the total number of sleep hours and in the feeling of being rested in the morning. Increasing deep sleep (restorative, quiet sleep) may reduce pain syndromes via a reduction in, for example, substance P that causes pain. In the Field study, when quiet sleep increased, based on activity watch monitors, both substance P (measured in saliva) and pain decreased. Similar measures might provide more confirmatory data for the sleep-enhancing and pain-reducing effects of yoga.
"Yoga is the art work of awareness on the canvas of body, mind, and soul." - Amit Ray
6. Reduction of Lower back pain
In a study yoga participants attended weekly yoga sessions for 16 weeks. The control group was given education on low back pain for the same time period. Results revealed reduced pain intensity (by 64%), functional disability (77%) and pain medication usage (88%) in the yoga group.
The physiological effects of yoga including decreased heart rate and blood pressure and the physical effects including weight loss and increased muscle strength are the common benefits of yoga. Yoga enhance vagal activity and reduce cortisol. The reduction in cortisol, in turn, may contribute to positive effects such as enhanced immune function and overall well-being.Read more ..
Mindfulness meditation can be defined in many ways and can be used for a variety of different therapies. Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one's attention to the internal and external experiences occurring in the present moment, which can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term "mindfulness" is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of some Buddhist traditions.
Mindfulness meditation is practiced sitting with eyes closed, cross-legged on a cushion, or on a chair, with the back straight. Recent interest has emerged for studying the effects of mindfulness on the brain using neuroimaging techniques, physiological measures and behavioral tests.
Neuroimaging techniques suggest that mindfulness practices such as mindfulness meditation are associated with “changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network and default mode network structures.
Life is a mystery- mystery of beauty, bliss and divinity. Meditation is the art of unfolding that mystery. -- Amit Ray
Mindfulness is a special way of paying attention that can help with how you cope with everyday life, or bounce back from tough times, and there are great benefits for your physical and mental health. Mindfulness is something that everyone can develop, and it's something that everyone stands to gain from.
Mindfulness Meditation In Nature:
The first exercise is very simple, but the power, the result, can be very great. The exercise is simply to identify the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as out-breath. When you breathe in, you know that this is your in-breath. When you breathe out, you are mindful that this is your out-breath.
Just recognize: this is an in-breath, this is an out-breath. Very simple, very easy. In order to recognize your in-breath as in-breath, you have to bring your mind home to yourself. What is recognizing your in-breath is your mind, and the object of your mind—the object of your mindfulness—is the in-breath. Mindfulness is always mindful of something. When you drink your tea mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of drinking. When you walk mindfully, it’s called mindfulness of walking. And when you breathe mindfully, that is mindfulness of breathing.
Use this meditation twice daily to develop better focus, attention and a greater overall sense of clarity and calm over time. Mindfulness is the practice of awareness of the present moment, enabling us to disassociate with notions of past and future that trigger rumination and stress.
The second exercise is that while you breathe in, you follow your in-breath from the beginning to the end. If your in-breath lasts three or four seconds, then your mindfulness also lasts three or four seconds. Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through. Breathing out, I follow my out-breath all the way through. From the beginning of my out-breath to the end of my out-breath, my mind is always with it. Therefore, mindfulness becomes uninterrupted, and the quality of your concentration is improved.
So the second exercise is to follow your in-breath and your out-breath all the way through. Whether they are short or long, it doesn’t matter. What is important is that you follow your in-breath from the beginning to the end. Your awareness is sustained. There is no interruption. Suppose you are breathing in, and then you think, “Oh, I forgot to turn off the light in my room.” There is an interruption. Just stick to your in-breath all the way through. Then you cultivate your mindfulness and your concentration. You become your in-breath. You become your out-breath. If you continue like that, your breathing will naturally become deeper and slower, more harmonious and peaceful. You don’t have to make any effort—it happens naturally.
Mindful Body Awareness
The third exercise is to become aware of your body as you are breathing. “Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.” This takes it one step further.
In the first exercise, you became aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. Because you have now generated the energy of mindfulness through mindful breathing, you can use that energy to recognize your body.
“Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I am aware of my body.” I know my body is there. This brings the mind wholly back to the body. Mind and body become one reality. When your mind is with your body, you are well-established in the here and the now. You are fully alive. You can be in touch with the wonders of life that are available in yourself and around you.Read more ..
Born in 1944 is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He teaches mindfulness, which he says can help people cope with stress, anxiety, pain, and illness. The stress reduction program created by Kabat-Zinn, mindfulness-based stress reduction, is offered by medical centers, hospitals, and health maintenance organizations.Read more ..
Amit Ray born in 1960 is an Indian author whose teachings and writings on meditation, yoga and compassion deeply influenced people across the world. He showed a spiritual tendency and heightened awareness right from the age of 8 years. From his childhood, he learnt meditation from the wandering monks and ascetics who happened to pass by their village farmhouse. He was a meritorious student. He did his engineering from Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, University of Calcutta. He did his M.Tech and PhD from Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. His first deep realization occurs at Thornton Heath, London. While he was working in a corporate job in London, many uncommon mystical experiences happened to him.
He is famous across the world for peace, love, compassion, and positive vibrations. He is an author and a great philanthropist. His words give inspiration to millions. His work has huge impact to improve the dignity and the worth of humanity. He is strong advocate of non-violence as the way for peace. He has the courage of his convictions. He is promoting peace not only in his country but across the world. By his words and efforts Amit Ray helped to make the world a better and safer place.
With a scientific bent of mind, he undertook meditation practices of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, without being entangled in the dogmatic views and rituals. He pursued a dedicated search for the truth in their cottage on the high mountain in a Himalayan village, undergoing intense spiritual practices of deep meditation and silence. From 2004 to 2010 he went for long silence meditation in Uttarkashi, Himalaya. His deeper realization of cosmic God consciousness happens at Uttarkashi and Gomukh.
He experienced a series of powerful and profound awakening, which revealed to him the true nature of human reality and existence. Realizing the liberating truth, he started sharing his wisdom and spreading spiritual knowledge and serving mankind.
His work is helping to awaken the conscience of the people across the world. He addresses these issues with extraordinary vigor, integrity and selflessness. A man of greatness of spirit, he works for the fellow human beings to live in freedom and happiness.Read more ..
Born in 788 AD in a village called Kaladi in Kerala Adi Shankaracharya was a philosopher of the greatest renown because he brought new life to the Vedas and restored them to their ancient glory. He revived Vedanta at a time when Vedanta philosophy was going through a period of darkness due to the excesses of ritualistic practice. His correct interpretations saw a revival in the status of the Vedas and so he was able to successfully advocate Advaita Vedanta. He founded the Dashanami monastic order and believed in worship of the Shanmata tradition. He established four Adi Shankaracharya Peeths and devoted one of the Vedas to each:
- South - Sarada Peetha, Sringeri
- East - Govardhana Peetha, Jagannath Puri
- West - Kalika Peetha, Dwaraka
- North - Jyothir Peetha, Badrinath
Born in 1923 at Almora, Uttarakhand Swami Satyananda showed a spiritual tendency and heightened awareness right from the age of 6 years. In 1943 he left home and came in contact with Swami Sivananda at Rishikesh and the Swami initiated him into the Dashnami Sannyas. Satyananda performed such intense nishkam seva that he was able to realize the secrets of spirituality. He studied yoga, tantra and Vedanta and kundalini yoga in such a through fashion that he founded the new Bihar School of Yoga in 1963 and became the pioneer of this yoga practice.Read more ..
Born in 1887 at Pattamadai, Tamil Nadu, India in 1887 Swami Sivananda was a Doctor in Malaysia but he renounced his medical practice in 1924 when Swami Vishwananda Saraswati initiated him into Dashnami Sannyasa. He practiced intense sadhana, yoga and learnt the scriptures. He became a wondering monk and toured the length and breadth of India. Wherever Sivananda went he tried to awaken the moral and spiritual consciousness of people. In 1936 he founded the Divine Life Society at Rishikesh with the main aim of spreading spiritual knowledge and serving mankind. Being a doctor he started the Sivananda Ayurvedic Pharmacy in 1945.Read more ..