Meditation & The Brain

Meditation for Beginners
Meditation for Beginners, available on Amazon

ARJUN WALIADECEMBER 11, 2014  

Numerous studies have indicated the many physiological benefits of meditation, and the latest one comes from Harvard University. (Check out Dr. Herbert Benson, and his work with Meditation from Harvard University. He labeled this state of mind as the 4th brain state naming it the “relaxation response”. KWN)

An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes over time in the brain’s grey matter. (Check out the studies done by Dr. Benson KWN)

“Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day. This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.” – (1) Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuro-imaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School Instructor in Psychology

The study involved taking magnetic resonance images (MRI) of the brain’s of 16 study participants two weeks prior to participating in the study. MRI images of the participants were also taken after the study was completed.

“The analysis of MR images, which focused on areas where meditation-associated differences were seen in earlier studies, found increased grey-matter density in the hippocampus, known to be important for learning and memory, and in structures associated with self-awareness, compassion and introspection.” (1)

For the study, participants engaged in meditation practices every day for approximately 30 minutes. These practices included focusing on audio recordings for guided meditation, non-judgmental awareness of sensations, feelings and state of mind.

“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life. Other studies in different patient populations have shown that meditation can make significant improvements in a variety of symptoms, and we are now investigating the underlying mechanisms in the brain that facilitate this change.” – (1) Britta Holzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany

How To Meditate

A common misconception about meditation is that you have to sit a certain way or do something in particular to achieve the various benefits that it can provide. All you have to do is place yourself in a position that is most comfortable to you. It could be sitting cross-legged, sitting on a couch etc, it’s your choice. If, however, you lie down, or stay in bed in the morning and try to meditate, you will most likely fall back to sleep. What’s the difference between sleep and meditation? Meditation is a deeper brain wave state than sleep. Simple, you want the deepest state you can experience in Meditation.

Another common misconception about meditation people get caught up in, and discourage their own attempts, is telling themselves they have to have “no thoughts”. Instead, know the mind is always thinking thoughts, running movies, checking on what it’s doing next etc. It’s a busy referential system; we just don’t have to “listen” to it all the time. Instead… allow the thoughts, and bring your attention back to your breath. “There’s another thought bubble –”. KWN

“You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation: that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific biofeedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned. Meditation is not a by-product of any technique. Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind.” – Osho

Do you have a birth story you would like to share?

Christine’s posts have inspired me to open this site to birth stories from around the world.

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Baby’s best chance

Join us on the Facebook pages  too. So many places to share one of the most powerful moments in your life. Sometimes the older the story,  it becomes almost more reflective of the incredible event that made you a Mother.

We all look forward to reading your special story and thank you for sharing a most intimate moment of your life’s journey!

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A Gathering of Babies

Together, we are the difference that makes the difference. Thanks for sharing your story!

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A Mothers Love – by Christine MacKay

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First Contact

I was not born a mother rather I was created, established and constructed. Becoming a mother is a life change that didn’t occur when my children were born but when I realized they could not meaningfully survive with out me.

Ashleigh was born in January of 2009 and she was easy from the get go. Although there was a moment in the hospital, a frightening yet, right of passage moment that I realized that I would never be alone again. Furthermore, I would have to shape my life to accommodate a little being that holds my DNA; a bond that can be broken maybe only by death as far as I am concerned. I became enchanted with being vessel of protection for a body that came from me. As Ashleigh got older and more independent of me as they often do, I yearned for that close connectedness that comes during the attachment period in infancy. Who doesn’t love those little babies, who smell like babies, who need you to eat, to sleep and hold them through their first two years? Well maybe a little longer yet.

In late 2012 I did get my chance to experience it all over again with the birth of my son Isaac, who indeed became one of my greatest catalysts for change. The change initially began in the dark, and despairing pit of postpartum depression. In his first two years unlike Ashleigh, Isaac wouldn’t sleep longer then 4 hours with out waking. It didn’t take long before I plunged in to depression as Isaac started experiencing developmental delays. I tried to find it in me to be a good mother to all my children, I was heartsick from all my shortcomings, my relationship with Isaacs father was falling apart. I was overwhelmed by a lack of sleep, an insurmountable need to feel justified, but in the end I felt as though I were a ship that was severely listing. It became the single greatest drive to overcome the demons in my life and it would take doctors, caregivers, family and medication to help me through the tangled mess. This was the evolution of me as the mother.

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A fathers story

Now motherhood doesn’t always come to everyone easily and for some not at all. In a study by Harlow in the 1950’s the researcher identified characteristic behaviours of infantile monkeys that had suffered from a lack of attachment or love from their mother. It was a cruel and shocking study on the deprivation of maternal guidance in infantile Ryes Monkeys, and although similar studies were protested by PETA , the evidence gathered by these studies showed clear evidence that support attachment between a mother and child and the child’s ability to cope with the outside world. The monkeys that experienced complete maternal deprivation often had severe social dysfunction, anxiety issues, health problems and some died as a result of their inability to cope with the social environment. (Harlow, Wikipedia 2007)

John Bolby a researcher for the Army Corps and a grad from Trinity western in Cambridge furthered Harlow’s study and defined the “Attachment theory”. Bolby suggested that children are pre-programmed for attachment to mothers, and seek that relationship to ensure their survival. (Bolby, Simply Psychology, Saul Macleod 2009)

In these studies there were glaring examples of the sheer simplicity of attachment, and yet the complex consequence’s of poor attachment with the mother. These deprivations almost always lead to a child’s inability to cope with the social spectrum, building relationships and coping with change.

At this key time of my life I was learning that affection, and trust builds as the mother remains a source of guidance, and comfort as the child experiences joy, excitement, sadness, pain and failure. So I began to make powerful changes that meant I had to pick up my pieces and fight for my own life.

So it was, I made a choice to go back to work, perhaps I was trying to rekindle my own validation, as I failed to justify my position as an at home mom. The work was hard, backbreaking, labor but it was great pay and excellent benefits for the kids and me. My partner and I separated and I moved the two kids closer to town with our two dogs. As if life wasn’t tough enough I pictured myself the mother wolf leaving the wolf pack to go at life on her own with out her pack. How does the wolf do it? How does she hunt for her babies, and how does she keep herself and both of them alive? So my life is not as dramatic as a National Geographic production ;I would get up for work at 4:30 am and leave the kids with a sitter at 5 am for work. I would work all day in the production facility manufacturing company, get off at 4, pick the kids up at 4:30 walk our dogs, make the kids dinner and then fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 well before they did. The meaning of motherhood was becoming so blurred, life was so hard with out the support of the pack, but the days became easier, and Isaac was getting easier with all of the support from therapies.

I always had a sense though like all mothers do, one misplaced step and the whole thing would come apart. A mother’s maturation is a humble journey. A journey for which you are constantly bargaining; whether it be with work, teachers, or your own offspring the art of instinctual negotiation is the difference between life and death in the lone wolf pack. As I tried to maintain that balance of work and life with a special needs child, I felt as though I was holding up so many boxes, tiny ones, big ones that would all come crashing down when I was diagnosed with Renal colic (chronic kidney stones).

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New Sibbings

I the mother wolf was becoming more and more unavailable because of the hospital visits, the medications, and the surgery to correct the kidney function. It was a mother’s worst nightmare, until one day, like in the movies, the pack returned. The kids were scared when I got sick, but I bit the bullet and re- connected to their dad. I began to repair the dysfunctional parenting relationship to improve the attachment for my children. A concept offered by one of Isaac’s behaviour interventionists was “In the event of a plane crash, the mother needs to put the oxygen mask on herself before the children” It became clear to me I was going to have to harvest some strong friendship’s and bonds so that I could support my own abilities to love and care for my children. I was going to have to align myself with the village no matter how much crow I had to eat, for the benefit of my kids.

Like an onion a mother grows layers of herself, lowering expectations, being more empathetic to those that would support the children’s Journey, and me and finally accepting life for its ups and its downs became a lesson for all of us. See when I gave birth to the children I wasn’t yet there. Giving birth is an enormous achievement, with the loss of your body, the ballooning, the hormones, the eating, the puking, the planning the nesting then the finale. No woman knows if they can handle that pressure of labor, many experience that lack of confidence on the birth of the first baby. The second, well you know you can’t handle it so you ask for the drugs. That is what a mother does, that’s the beginning! Some say that birthing moment is that first true test, but I say I am not sure.

Nothing can prepare you for the first time you see them take a step when they should, or that feeling you get when they don’t. Every mother has been there, for the first fall, the first scratch. Its my suggestion that its the first time you have to decide if you have the courage to make the decision that nobody wants too: The decision to hold your child back, or to leave them alone for the first time.

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Best Friends

All those things that can run through a mothers mind as you prepare them for the first day of school and they hate it, cry through the whole first day, but because of you they go back the next day and smile a little. The day you think you have abandoned them, failed them, hurt their feelings when you had to share the discipline is that same day they surprise you with that hug,. That thing the researchers described as attachment presented in its raw form. I was blessed with an advanced daughter and a son with autism, and I am sure my body mechanics did not prepare me for both but I wasn’t the only mother with this problem and those other mothers had to find answers too. Like the mother who makes the decision to start chemotherapy to save the life of their three-year-old son; who prepares you for that scenario? I know now as a mother that would make me physically ill but that mother is not alone, and those mothers find answers. There are so many examples of catalysts that change the wolf mother into her truest and most magical form and every woman who has had to make these hard decisions in life knows what it takes. Today I am more confident as a mother because I give very few absolutions, just because I know everything changes.

Elizabeth Stone once said, “Making the decision to have a child- it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking on the outside of your body

Although a mother’s intuitive nature will be a guide, only time and experience will shape the her bond and character and she will be comfortable with that.

 

References and Citations

Harlow’s Monkeys

Wikipedia-Harry Fredrick Harlow, October 31,1905- December 18,1981

Simply Psychology, Saul Macleod , 2007

John Bolby- Deputy Director of the World Health Organization 1950

Born February 1907 to September 1990

Maternal Deprivations theory, Saul Macleod, 2009

Attachment theory , Saul Macleod , 2007

Elizabeth Stone – Fordham University

Author Quotes , Goodreads

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living in Turbulent Times

A metaphor for our times:

There is a ton of this stuff available to us out “there” in the collective right now – everyone at some level is lifting the lid on their patience levels and letting it rip at whomever and whatever touches the latest trigger.

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Storm Clouds Brewing

Turbulence, we all experience it when flying. From smooth to suddenly  bumpy, unsettled air, and pockets of ups and downs, and the captain warns us, we’re into it, take your seats, and put your seatbelt on, we’re going into rough air.

We bounce and jar our way through it, coming out the other side somewhat stressed, anxious, “is that coming back again”?

We observe others who spilled drinks, are rushing for the bathroom, and feel panicked and anxious for them too. The attendants are trying to calm everyone, like our own inner resources are trying to flood the system with feel good chemicals to help take down the adrenaline response that has just flooded through the system.

It takes about 40-45 minutes to bring it around, and then resume somewhat normal, however, altered enough from the encounter to feel wary of the next encounter.

The brain stores the memory loops so when something similar happens again, the triggers are ready to fire off and they often are firing off, just in anticipation of the upcoming turbulence.

The media reports the daily chaos, reaching for headlines it’s winds the listening public up to a frenzy of turbulent emotions, fearing the next moment is truly going to trigger the end of life as we know it.

Anxiety is rife in the consciousness, and what can anyone do about this?

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Reflections

We all know that when turbulence is encountered in air travel, often the pilot advises, “there’s jet stream here, just above us and I’m going to move us into it, where the ride is going to smooth out so you can all relax and enjoy the flight”

Just like that, things smooth out, and in addition to smoothing out, everyone knows the jet stream, takes less fuel, and you can move much faster on fewer resources. Often you arrive at your destination earlier too.

The jet stream. Easier flow, no turbulence, everyone is calm, rested on arrival and using much less fuel too.

Where is the jet stream in your life? Everyone has access to this “jet stream” we all have it. We even know where it is too. Its when we feel calm, peaceful, and we are very much disconnected from any of the turbulence around us.

We are in the Flow, in the Now, in the moment where all the resources are working together to make things easy and effortless.

Do you know where to find the turbulence in your life?

Well it’s often there in the media and news, we just can’t do anything about it. We will experience some of the results of that turbulence but really there is nothing we can do to affect it. We are passengers along for the ride, that turbulence is not in our lives, it’s over there, we can go into it, and bring it into our lives, and feel the rock and roll of turbulence from others…or…

We have a choice. Yes we do. We can resume our personal “jet stream” and resume flow, focus, attention to what we want, and let of other peoples behaviours, and aggression. That’s turbulence – and it’s drama!

Where do you find drama in your life? How do you manifest it and develop it, talk about it, expand it make it bigger, add to your story? Tell it from that place of deleting, distorting and generalizing the details.

When you find yourself in turbulence are you aware you have a choice and can do something different? With whom does this turbulence generally take place?

What can you do about it in the moment?

It’s like an accident, keep staring into it, and you just might pile into it too.

Instead, step back, become aware of the turbulence. It’s going to feel like : Have to, Must, They Should, How terrible, How upsetting, How dramatic…

And those kinds of statements are going to drive the turbulence into a frenzy. They feed turbulent behaviour. They feed turbulent beliefs, and they drop you like a stone, from the Jet Stream into rocking and rolling around, wanting the agony to stop!

When you experience the feeling of turbulence, what is your first step?

Ask yourself some questions:

Am I aware I’ve entered into the turbulence and I’m feeling the reactions to it.

Am I aware I am telling my story with greater and greater drama? Am I aware that I’m kind of enjoying this, so long as it doesn’t get any worse. When it gets worse, because turbulence does, as drama increases, turbulence does too; you find yourself reaching out for reinforcements.

Not the kind that suggests you get into the Jet Stream and stay there, if they suggest such an unsupportive option and refuse to join you in the turbulence, you often will attack them, for their ignorance about the turbulence.

Any suggestion to step into the Jet Stream can be taken as a turbulent act against your better judgement. WHAT? I’m not creating this, it’s them. Ok, then let them have the turbulence, and get back into your “jet stream” – can you do that? Will you?

Will you stop right now, assess “yes this is turbulence, and it’s so unnecessary” and choose, Jet Stream.

Remember the benefits:

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Peace

Use less fuel, Get there faster, feel relaxed and calm, a sense of peace, even serenityAs the drama fads away to the turbulence, and you are simply shifted to an entirely different place, state and awareness. Life is good. It really is.

So wait, is this not just turning our back on the important issues of the day?

No that would be more turbulence,  just turbulence, notice how it wants to bounce you around, and push everyone’s buttons, push the guild, the shame, the “you have to do something about this” buttons… to get you to leave the jet stream and come on down to the level of turbulence.  How awful is it really?

It’s just turbulence, hot air and cold air, anger, and freezing others out. Just turbulence. Just air. And the Jet Stream is a solid safe, friendly comfortable, fuel efficient way to resume normal and stay focused on what is important to you.

What do you choose in your life?

If it’s turbulence do you know how to leave it behind and get into the Jet Stream quickly, effortlessly, just like the pilots do?

If you refuse the Jet Stream ask yourself what is more important than expecting a great life, and a great ride?

You paid the same price everyone else did to get on this flight, so aren’t you entitled to the same great smooth, effortless ride?

The Jet Stream… it’s the only way to fly!

New Beginnings

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Do you ?

What do I want? I know what I don’t want… and that wasn’t good either,

So what do I really want?

When we are clear and know what we want, it’s really easy to pick off the stuff that does not work. And having some support in figuring that out often comes through “talking it through” with someone that does not have an investment in your decisions or choices. An impartial third party. As a “wise woman” once told me, “if you just let people talk long enough, they find their own answers.”

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Friends Support

Then you  will not end up going through 6 months or a year of more of the same, trying to get a different outcome, instead you see the patterns and you can easily say “no this is not what I want” and reach a better decision before you get hooked into more of the same.

And that’s the only match up you want to be going for. All the others are various levels of internal negotiation and denial to try and get what you want, and that creates massive delusions and illusions, drama and
self sacrifice, all in the hopes of eventually, maybe, hopefully getting a little of what you want.   

We spend our youth chasing , making and subjecting ourselves to lots of drama, and when we get older it seems reasonable to – live alone, and accept what little bits and pieces come along – declaring “I’m so much happier than I was when I was young”. Of course you are, you are alone and happily making choices just for you. What if there was a way to do this differently? No sacrifices and no giving up, and finding yourself living life sharing the adventure with someone that would not ask you or want you to give up anything?

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Shared times

So there are some ways to secure the shifts and changes you might be looking for, however, if you don’t know what they are… you won’t know when you get them.

And believe me knowing all this, nothing is perfect, there is no perfect relationship, however, if the majority of what you want, the big things are covered, then the little things are so easy for you to take care of.

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I trust myself

What we most want in our life is someone we can….

Trust? Respect? Like? Be-friend? Love? Care for? That will give us the same in return?
Physically attracted to, have fun with? Maybe choose to go the distance with each other?
Through the mirrors of relationship figure out what is mine to still work on? Witness my life and respect me enough to at least see me, hear me, and love me?

We can blame our parents, our teachers and keep ourselves a victim of our own choices and behaviours, and so many do. And it’s ok to do that too, it’s just a difference “choice point”.

When women figure this out – it’s wonderful, they are like honey to bees, because they just keep dancing out of the reach of the relationships that just will not work…because they know what they want.

And the right bee is out there, and when they share their honey together, it really is magic. Really.

When we ask: What am I doing? That’s when real change is possible.

To get there, we can’t just say – oh I’m over my childhood stuff with mom and dad , cleared and released. Instead we drive forward for :

Forgiven, and the free-flowing gratitude for  our parents, who held to their steadfast behaviours that caused me to “wake up” and say – “hey I want something different here”

Go Ahead: Ask the questions:

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I can do this!

“Who Am I?”
What do I want?
What would it look like?
What stops me from getting that?

What do I have to deal with in my own behaviours?
Am I 100% satisfied with myself?
Do I know how to go with the flow,
Let things go?
Relieve stress and anxiety, tension and even discharge anger ?

What do I have to do to get all this?
What steps do I take?
What books do I read?

Am I worth committing to? Am I the person I know I can be – all the time?

So, a set of goals, a bit of work, some commitments to taking this work personally…

Then what happens next is really up to you, because at the very least you will not be afraid of your personal history, you will have shifted that forever, into personal awareness so you never again find yourself stuck without resources to help yourself.

The crazy thing I found out in my self discovery process is this NLP training we do, and I took, is designed specifically to hit these targets, to create awareness and open us to our real self, perhaps the scariest aspect of knowing oneself is connecting to it all.

Some of the keys to self discovery are letting of of those crazy beliefs we’ve agreed to:

Masterfully handle family issues, with awareness of your own choice points
No longer controlled or manipulated by guilt or anger
Skillfully design and create the life you want
Orientate yourself to your goals and moving towards what you want, instead of away from, because of fear, guilt, lack of confidence in yourself
Know what your personal goals are
Set a campaign to achieve them in a timeline that is yours, then projecting and future pacing it into your future
Knowing what you want, and celebrating when you get it – celebrating the self, rather than expecting others to
Knowing the difference between sorting from the inside, to sorting from the outside – both are essential to navigating life, and experience, however, there are time, when only you and yourself know what is truly needed
Achieving milestone goals
Remaining active in creating the life you want
Adjusting what isn’t working quickly and efficiently rather than hoping things will change

Masterful personal change work starts with knowing what you want.

This is not a therapy, NLP doesn’t work like that, NLP operates somewhere much deeper on the level of knowing how we communicate with each other. How you communicate in your relationships whether business or personal relationship or even specifically to yourself,
NLP provides the tools to help you reveal your personal communication style, the way you process information, how you view the world, what your beliefs are, changing those historical markers that you used to believe created your problems. Getting real with who you are, helping yourself first, and feeling amazing about it.

NLP doesn’t hold a behaviour judgement either, it doesn’t need to. Leave that one to the therapist’s chair.
NLP steadfastly observes communications and the process we use to achieve the outcome, whether we like it or not, or even want to change something, NLP doesn’t hold an opinion on that.
It simply says “This is what you are doing to achieve this”.  Now, “is it what you want?”

Want to change it? Ok, then we use the same tools and skill sets to achieve that too.

So think about this, where are you right now? Do you know what you want? What’s important to you? How many times have you stopped yourself from getting what you want? If you speak your truth what happens? If you say “this is what I want” how do you feel about that? What if you have an opportunity before you – do you back away fearful of the challenges? Tell yourself I’m not good enough? No one will listen to me? My father said I was …. My mother always….

 

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Team Work

So what’s the point of those stories in your life? Are you ready to change them? For good?

Contact me and lets get started – after all this is Your Life.

Today is a new day…

No mistakes in it

Its just begun, and what are your thoughts?

Where are you placing your focus?

Yesterday, last week, a month ago?

Or is there fear and worry about something you must do today?

Or next week?

Or the new job, or interview today?

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Lifes’ choices

What stops you?

What behaviours do you use to keep yourself fearful and worried?

What stories do you tell yourself?

What movies are you revisiting?

What don’t you want to change?

Do you know what must change?

How do you answer all of this in your mind, right now?

You know what you know… and you know what stops you.

Lets change that

Change …

 

Change is  the only permanence we truly know. 

Nothing stays the same, everything is constantly moving, changing and shifting, like the great tides they are never the same, nor are the grains of sand the tides move.

Meditation in our daily lives can help us change the patterns and beliefs we sometimes tell ourselves are “permanent”.

IN FACT, meditation helps us observe the impermanence of everything.

If we bring our focus to something, it’s already moved, the moment of NOW is illusive, try and hold your focus in NOW… NOW…NOW…How about NOW?

It’s always moving, no two breaths are the same, no two fingerprints, we are change, we are it’s awareness and we are what marks change. We have the capacity for memory, and that gives u the awareness of change and how it moves through our lives. Have you been able to include meditation in your life? Helping you expand consciousness yes, and all the other wonderful things it brings to our personal mind and body? Meditation is a gift to ourselves that continues to give back to us, all day long.