What Got Me Hooked on Meditation? A Clinical Psychologist’s Contemplative Path
I started my meditative practice during my late teens when I was introduced to the work of Harvard professor, Herbert Benson. His book, The Relaxation Response, was a basic guide, and it was one that sparked an interest that would continue for the next three decades.
My attraction to Dr. Benson’s approach was that it was rooted in science. He demonstrated the health benefits of regular practice, which resonated with my reasonable side. Although meditation wasn’t easy to do at first, and I wasn’t always consistent in my practice, I accepted it as a healthy way to decrease stress.
My Meditation Tipping Point
Throughout the years that I spent earning advanced degrees, I studied various forms of meditation, and as its benefits became clearer, my practice deepened. My meditative tipping point, so to speak, happened when someone whom I respected immensely, shared her … Read More »
Meditation on the Move: Where ever you can walk, you can meditate
When you read the word “meditation,” what images pop up in your mind? For many of us, we think of someone sitting in the lotus position (legs crossed), eyes closed, and hands in a mudra (symbolic hand gesture). But there’s another form that is equally as relaxing. It’s walking meditation, and you can do it practically anytime and anywhere.
Walking meditation is a simple way to implement mindfulness practice into your active life. If you’re a regular meditator, it also adds variety to your daily routine, and it’s particularly useful when your body just doesn’t feel like sitting still. Over time, you’ll experience similar decreases in stress and increases in relaxation as you would during your sitting meditation.
Peace of Mind One Step at a Time
An essential component of all meditation methods is creating a rhythm. Whether it’s breath meditation, mantra meditation … Read More »
Mindfulness Helps to Combat Stress: New study on meditation
Mindfulness, or awareness of the present moment, means ensuring that you are aware of the here and now. Part of the Buddhist and Indian Yoga traditions, mindfulness has become more and more popular in the West. Mindfulness can be achieved through practicing meditation, and indeed, many people practice mindfulness during meditation sessions or other mental exercises. According to a recent study, mindfulness can combat everyday stress by helping to clear the mind and body.
Reap the Many Benefits of Mindfulness
In the latest issue of the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, Britta Hölzel of Justus Liebig University and Harvard Medical School describes the many positive aspects of mindfulness, which she discovered through extensive research. Some of these benefits include attention regulation, body awareness, emotion regulation, and increased sense of self. Mindfulness can be very useful for achieving attention regulation, since focusing on … Read More »
Warning: Meditation May Dramatically Increase Eye Opening Events in Your Life: Can meditation increase synchronicity?
You’re talking to a friend and there’s a pause in the conversation. You break the silence by saying what just popped in your mind. Your friend responds with, “No way! I was thinking the exact same thing.”
You stumble upon a friend’s number in your address book; you decide to give her a ring to see how she is. She picks up the phone and shares that her grandmother just died, and she really needed your support. You reached out to her at the precise moment that she was seeking comfort.
Events like these have a small probability of occurring, yet they still happen. Some would call them coincidences. But I encourage you to think differently. The focus of this post is on the phenomenon called synchronicity.
The Subjective Truth of Synchronicity
Synchronicity is related to probability. Because synchronous events usually take place between … Read More »
Quieting the Monkey Mind with Meditation: An easy guide to starting a meditative practice right away
In meditation circles you’ll often hear the term “monkey mind.” The “monkey” refers to how our primate relatives are able to swing from one branch to another with awe-inspiring skill. Similarly, our minds bounce from one idea to another, but rather than inspire awe, the activity often fills us with anxiety. Our thoughts sway from fear on one end to desire on the other, and we can rarely focus on either for very long.
Meditation quiets the monkey mind. While there are probably as many types of meditation as there are things to fear and wish for, all techniques are based on a system of repitition and focus. In this post, I’ll provide simple steps to start a meditative practice right away.
Although some meditative traditions have very strict rules regarding how your posture should appear, what you should wear, and … Read More »
Mind Altering Experiences Without Any Side Effects: How meditation changes your brain waves
As you become a more skillful meditator, you may find yourself motivated to remove the training wheels that have moved your practice forward. For instance, you may not need to meditate in a room that is completely quiet. In fact, I regularly meditate with my two kids running around or doing whatever active children do. Or you may not need the soft music playing in the background. You may even find yourself dropping your prayer word or mantra. Meditation without a repeated word or phrase is my favorite way to sit. This technique is often referred to as breath meditation. I believe that it’s the most powerful and yet one of the simplest methods to learn.
Brain Wave 101
Mental activity is measured by brain waves. When we think, wave patterns in the brain result. There are four main types of brain … Read More »
Why Meditate? The Purpose Behind a Practice Nearly as Old as Human Existence Itself
I’m sure you’ve noticed the thoughts that flow in and out of your mind throughout the day. I call this mind chatter. It’s the commentary we place on our experiences. Mind chatter is like thought bubbles in a comic strip. And the storyline comprises variations on two basic themes: events that took place in the past and ideas about the future. Sometimes we ignore the mind chatter, while other times it consumes all of our attention. In this blog post, I’ll explain the pitfalls of mind chatter and how to decrease its influence in our lives.
We’re Guests at Party and Don’t Even Know It
At any given point and time, there are countless phenomena where we can focus our attention. Unfortunately, we miss the calls to embrace the present moment because we’re so busy dwelling on the mind chatter. It’s as … Read More »
A Tale of Two Grandmothers: Meditation Keeps Us Healthy: How Meditation Reduces Medical Costs
If you’ve read Robert Kiyosaki’s New York Times Bestseller, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, you’ll recall that it’s a story about two fathers: The “poor” one was the main character’s biological dad, and the “rich” one was his financial mentor, who wasn’t related to him at all. I have my own take on this story: Physically Fit Grandma, Mentally Fit Grandma. In this blog post, I’ll use their examples to illustrate the impact of meditation on our overall health.
Profiles of Health
Growing up I was very close to both of my grandmothers. Although both lived to be 90 years old, their lives ended in dramatically different ways. Physically Fit Grandma exercised and walked regularly. In fact, to stay active during the frozen mid-western winters, she’d stroll in circles in her basement. Meanwhile, Mentally Fit Grandma loved to play cards and other intellectually … Read More »
East Meets West: Two Perspectives on Meditative Experiences
is the term we commonly use to describe the mystical experiences of those from spiritual traditions rooted in Asia. On the other hand, “Awakening” is how we typically characterize mystical experiences of those whose spiritual traditions have their origins in Europe and the Middle East. Call it Enlightenment or Awakening, these terms describe the same thing. In this blog, we’ll explore both, and I’ll show you how to cultivate them in your life.
Awakening & Enlightenment Viewed from a Scientific Lens
Abraham Maslow, academic, author, and creator of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, was a meditation pioneer. He coined the term “peak experiences” to describe the mystical, consciousness-expanding experiences of being completely engaged with the present moment. Peak experiences are part of what he called self-actualization, which is the pinnacle of his hierarchy of needs pyramid. Peak experiences are synonymous with Awakening and … Read More »
Confessions of an Angry Therapist-to-Be Part 2 of 2
Traffic jams. Angry bosses. Kids behaving badly. Distracted text messaging drivers. The reasons behind our unhappiness could easily max out any Twitter post. Stressful situations can lead us to act in surprising ways. Many years ago, a driver cut me off in a parking lot. I got out of my car to talk to him, he closed his windows and locked his doors, and I responded by plunging my fist into the top his car. At that moment, with my frustration at its peak, the last thing that would have crossed my mind was the following saying: Everyone is our teacher. But that’s precisely what the “present me” would have told that young adult in grad school. So what does “Everyone is our teacher” mean? And how can we apply it our lives? I’ll address these two questions in today’s … Read More »
Confessions of an Angry Therapist-to-Be Part 1 of 2
It was Christmas in Princeton, New Jersey. I was in grad school at the time, and the mall’s parking lot was hopping with holiday shoppers. As I was scanning the lot for open spaces, a car suddenly pulled in front of me. Although we were both moving at a snail’s pace, the jam-packed lot meant that I had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting him. The driver who cut me off needed some advice about manners, I thought to myself.
I threw the shifter into Park, and got out to share what was on my mind. But before I could talk to him, he had rolled up his windows and locked the doors. Prior to putting his car under lockdown, my intention was to use words-and nothing else-to express my pique. But now I was really mad. No sooner … Read More »
Three Steps to Improve Your Relationship With Food: Eating mindfully benefits the soul and the stomach
Elizabeth Gilbert’s wildly popular memoir, Eat, Pray, Love highlights her peak gastronomic and meditative experiences. In the New York Times bestseller, the author divides blissful eating and mindfulness into two separate experiences: in Italy it was about the food, and in India it was about the meditation. In this blog post, I’m merging the two–meditation and eating–together, and the result will be good for the mind and the waistline.
Mindful Eating’s Evil Twin, Mindless Eating
We in the United States are known to be a hardworking lot. The frenetic pace that characterizes our daily lives means that eating becomes more of a task to get done as soon as possible rather than something to enjoy and appreciate.
We’re so busy checking off items from our to-do lists that we don’t think about nourishing our bodies until hunger hits. And by the time we’re … Read More »
How Meditation Can Ease Your Child’s Back-to-School Blue: Fall Signals the Start of High Stress Season
The long days of summer are coming to an end, which signals the start of the school year. Over the next few weeks, boys and girls across the country will be returning to their full time classroom positions. For them, back-to-school can be both exciting and stressful. No doubt that their lives are busier than ever. Homework, extra curricular activities, social commitments, and maybe even part time jobs mean that the fall can signal the start of the high stress season.
As a clinical psychologist in private practice, I’ve witnessed first hand the effects that today’s fast-paced lives have on my young clients. And I’ve also seen how stressed out sons and daughters make for equally anxious moms and dads. So what tools can we provide our youth so that they experience peace of mind despite the demands of daily life? … Read More »
Why Meditation Matters Today: Finding peace of mind in the midst of our busy lives
Although it’s the outrageous blunders of high profile people that make headline news, no one is immune to behaving badly. And many of life’s biggest missteps occur because our lives are out of balance. This blog is about tipping the scales away from stress and chaos and towards happiness and peace of mind. And one of the most powerful ways to do this is through meditation.
We lead busy lives, our responsibilities are great, and change is the only thing that remains the same. The purpose of my blog is to share the benefits of meditation and to teach you how to integrate this ancient practice into our modern lives. It’s a lofty goal, but one that I’ve spent over 20 years as a clinical psychologist exploring, and it’s a journey I look forward to taking with you.