This is a re-post from an email sent to me from Luminosity.com by Pam Zhang.
This is a re-post from an email sent to me from Luminosity.com by Pam Zhang.
How Meditation Can Affect Alpha Rhythms in the Brain
Meditation might act as a “volume knob” forselective attention, leading to better control over pain and negative emotions. A recently published Brown University study on mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown that attentional training holds promise for improving everyday functions.
What is MBSR?
Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Sc hool, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has grown to become part of many healthcare plans in the last 20 years.It consists of an 8-week program that trains patients to focus a “spotlight of attention”on different parts of their body, and eventually to develop the same awareness of their mental states.
How MBSR affects alpha rhythms
There is strong evidence that the MBSR techniques of increasing attentional control have measurable effects on alpha wave behavior in patients’ brains. Alpha rhythms are a key part of the sensory system: they’re related to how the brain processes and filters irrelevant sensory inputs.Filtering inputs is a crucial part of higher order cognitive process such as selective attentionand working memory. Both of these processes are based on a person’s attention to focus on relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information. Without proper filtering, your ability to carry out even the most basic cognitive operations can be crippled.
Imagine the simple task of backing your car out of the driveway. In order to reach the street safely, you must hold your destination in mind while steering t he car and ignoring distractions from every modality: the news on the radio, children playing at the end of the block, an itch on your foot, the glare of the sun in your eyes. Most of us do this filtering subconsciously—but if you let such irrelevant stimuli distract you, even such a daily task can become a difficult ordeal.
That’s why MBSR’s value extends even beyond its ability to improve attention during regular tasks: one of its primary clinical uses is in the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain, who struggle with ignoring irrelevant pain stimuli on a daily basis. In fact, MBSR has been shown to have positive emotional benefits in those suffering from chronic pain and depression.
Brain scan evidence of MBSR
In this 2013 Brown University study, researchers divided participants into two different groups: a test group that underwent MBSR training for 8 weeks, and a control group that did not. After 8 weeks, both groups were analyzed using a brain imaging technique known asmagnetoencephalography (MEG).Participants in the brain scan were told to direct attention to or away from their left index fingers. The MBSR group’s neuronal response was significantly faster than the control groups, as measured by concentration of alpha power.
Let’s talk wind.
What comes to your mind when we say “wind?”
Does wind bring up good feelings or bad feelings? Why? Did you have an experience that colored the way you think or feel about wind?
When I was 10, we moved to Omaha, NE……. and any of you who have ever visited or passed through Nebraska know about the prairie wind. I loved the wind. I would stand, or attempt to stand, out in the wide open fields with my arms stretched out and sing in my loudest voice. The wind carried my voice away and I only heard the rush of the air by my ears and not my own voice. I would lean way into the wind – just to see how far I could lean and not fall over. It was pretty far! Until, of course, the wind stopped for just a moment and I met the turned up earth in that field.
But the Nebraska wind brought scary moments too. Tornados were not something I’d ever even thought about. Paying attention to the color of the sky, or the sounds in the air, or all the other grown up ways that tell of the potential of danger was not in my awareness. But at 10, I learned quickly to grab cushions and the dogs and head to the basement. But I still loved the wind on the sunny days…… out in the field, singing at the top of my lungs.
When I was 18, I lived in Boulder in an old dorm room with windows on three sides. Any of you who have ever visited or passed through Boulder know about the wind….. smile……..
I hated that wind! It messed up my hair (it was the 80’s – you remember how much time we all took on our hair in the 80’s),it blew my clothes all around, and howled at all hours of the night. And this is the idea of wind I carry with me now, not the delight of my youth but of the howling, destructive force that has come into my adult understanding.
And yet, it just is. The wind is just something that is in this world we share. Not something to fight against or get angry with or think of as a personal tormentor.
When we move – either by walking, running, riding a bike, motorcycle, car, horse, boat or roller coaster – we experience our own personal “wind.” Even on the stillest of days, when we move, we perceive a breeze, don’t we? Even now, if you take your bulletin and fan yourself, you feel the rush of air. But it took you doing something, some movement from you, to create this personal wind experience.
Einstein said — Nothing happens in the universe until something moves. And this applies not only to mass but all forms of energy. Stuff doesn’t randomly start moving in an unknown direction. It takes a force, an idea, a pull, or a push to make motion happen.
In 1665 Sir Isaac Newton proposed three Laws of Motion.
The first law says — in layman’s terms: If an object is not moving, it will not start moving by itself. If an object is moving, it will not stop or change direction unless something pushes against it.
There’s nothing personal about this law. Like gravity, it just is. If you are stuck in something, a bad job, a bad mindset, a bad relationship, a repetitive thought process or a mud puddle, it’s going to take force – or an action – from you to get going again. Depending on the weight of the situation and your resistance to change, it may take a great force. There are external forces that create movement and internal forces that create movement and both of them can meet resistance. Think of one situation in your own life where you knew there was a better way and you moved to change your own circumstances.
When we walk, run or ride that roller coaster, we meet some resistance on our face in the form of the wind, as we move from one point to another. Let’s say for this moment that the wind is a metaphor for the resistance to change. So when you started to change your situation, what resistance did you feel?
Coined by Maria Nemeth, the term “Trouble at the border” describes the resistance WE create in our own lives. The actions we take as a result of the inner voices of doubt – what the Buddhists call “Monkey Mind”. The sabotage can be as subtle as an inner nagging that creates doubt and slows us, or as upfront and obvious as the fear that stops us in our tracks. Sometimes this saboteur shows up like a sneaky little spy that encourages us to go into “evidence gathering mode” where we collect supporting evidence or false intelligence that tries to convince us monkey mind was indeed right all along.
Have you ever said “The universe OBVIOUSLY doesn’t want me to do this because look at all this resistance to my attempts.” Did it feel like the resistance was personal? Like God just didn’t want you to walk this path?….
Really? Do you think that the universe/God has nothing better to do than to test you this very minute? There is nothing personal about the resistance or the wind. It just is.
Now, we’re not suggesting that you ignore the wind or the resistance…….. because that would be like asking you to ignore the sunshine or the rain – impossible right?
It’s unwise not to prepare for the wind. It’s unwise not to evaluate the next step and possibly make adjustments to the “plan.” Do you need to take a coat or do you need to change your way of getting there? Is the end goal something worth pushing through or redirecting around the resistance or does the goal itself need an adjustment?
We all label things and events, real or imagined. Most of the time, labels serve us properly: Peas versus corn, cars versus trucks, green versus blue.
However , at times our labels are merely the sneaky side of monkey-mind tricking us into limiting thought. Right versus wrong, bad versus good, positive or negative, should have, could have, success, failure – all are limiting judgements
The resistance, and the labels, and the thoughts, and the woulda, shoulda, might haves swirl in our heads creating chaos and stress. In Mark 4:35-40, Jesus and the disciples were in the midst of a storm crossing a lake in a boat. The disciples were frightened by the turmoil and what appeared to be their impending demise.
Remember that Unity teaches us that each person, place and event in the Bible represents some part of us or our story. The disciples represent all of our faculties – Faith | Strength | Wisdom | Love | Power | Imagination | Understanding | Will | Order | Zeal | Elimination | Life — These 12 faculties, the “disciples” were in an uproar, because they fully claimed the reality of the storm (the resistance in getting from one place to another) they were deeply in the chaos of their own struggle. Jesus knowing the Truth, not only was unshaken but was so unconcerned that He was sleeping on the bow! Awakened by the fearful voices of the disciples, Jesus (higher thinking) calmed the storm (or struggle) by simply stating “Peace, be still.” Scripture states that they made this journey with other boats – which can be viewed as other people. The storm can be seen as a creation of the culmination of thoughts from all on the journey – or tribal thought. Higher thinking stills the waters not just for one boat, but for all.
When Jesus stated peace be still, the winds stopped and the waves calmed and *everyone* was able to think clearly again. Jesus is our example, not our exception. What He has done, we too can do [John 14:12]. So when the winds of resistance threaten to swamp your boat, remind yourself — Peace, Be Still and allow the Divine Peace to calm your fears and your worries. The disciples labeled the resistance as bad, Jesus made it neither good nor bad.
So can we release the good/bad labels and just see events for what they are: Just a connected series of happenings that are part of a long string of events that we label life. Release the judgment, and our thoughts formally pre-occupied on limited thinking, are now freed to remember with genuine clarity.
Resistance is often thought of in a negative way, but like everything we encounter on our journey, it is there to serve us if we remain awake and aware.
Knowing that resistance *is* inevitable empowers us to watch for it and use it to our benefit. Resistance can be embraced rather than challenged.
When resistance is encountered and noticed, take the opportunity to pause, look around and reassess. Where might I be moving too fast? Where might I be moving too slow? Where can I put greater or more mindful effort toward improving this particular path?” Understand that resistance is the Divine throttle helping us avoid moving into territory that we are not yet prepared for.
Knowing that resistance is inevitable should free us from the surprise when it shows up. So if we are no longer surprised by it, can we give ourselves permission release the need to create stress around it? We know it’s coming, we can stop being alarmed by it.
And for the Star Trek Fans: Resistance to Resistance is not only futile, it might just be downright silly.
When we release the need to resist resistance we discover there is no “bad” in it. There is only good, there is only God and God is only Good.
Every event in life *can* hold a learning opportunity, but it’s not necessarily there *AS* a lesson. We can *choose* to learn from it, but it’s not a class requirement. John & I have come to believe that it’s not about learning the lesson but about *remembering* and reclaiming the Truth.
We believe that the Universe has better things to do than micro-manage our remembering and our lives. Our master teacher Jesus tells us that God does not dole out favors, nor dole out punishment nor does God give out grades.
Resistance is not a result of wrong-doing or right-doing or missed “lessons” but a positive serving attribute of the Divine. We are all the same in the eyes of God so resistance is neither greater nor lesser for any individuals. We ALL experience resistance and we ALL have the choice to allow it to serve us. The difference is what we each choose to do with it.
So the next time you feel wind (resistance) blowing through your hair see it as an indication of your forward movement. It’s a gentle reminder to continue your mindful motion. It’s a gentle reminder to apply mindful energy to any situation. And a gentle reminder to enjoy the experience, lean into the wind and sing at the top of your lungs!
So our assignment for you this week is to be on the lookout for resistance, and when you find it, turn your thoughts to your advantage rather than seeing a limiting force.
Okay, so we chatted about how you have to BE something before you can HAVE it. We received a response requesting some ideas as to how to handle the challenges. I’m going to go there in a future post but for now, let’s really dissect the trouble, okay?
Sometimes, I think, we make spiritual stuff harder than it needs to be and we get frustrated with it because there’s not an end point we can shoot for. (Okay, full enlightenment is great, but I would be happy with making it through the day without thinking bad thoughts about someone else.) It’s really easy to think “my goal is to be nice to everybody, all the time” than it is to live it. And when it gets too hard or too frustrating to try and think in an enlightened way, we use the guilt and shame as whips against our souls. Then we affirm that OBVIOUSLY we’re not worthy of the good in our lives, so why try. Okay, I shortened the process here for the sake of space, but I think you get the gist.
When you first decided that you were going to “change your ways” as far as the food you put in your body, do you remember how you felt? Excited, ready to learn, eager to seek support and more information, and maybe a little apprehensive. There was so much to read and learn and think about that thinking about food/snacks/can have’s/can’t have’s became all consuming. It’s all you thought about and all you talked about. If you’re not eating, you’re thinking about the what and the when of your next snack.
I remember when John and I went off of sugar. The first days were terrible! My head hurt, my body hurt and I was just generally cranky. Going out of the house was a true test. I remember clearly standing in line at the grocery store shocked by all the walls and shelves lined with brightly colored ads for sugary items. So, did the grocery chain find out that John and I were off of sugar and put all of those items in front of us to tempt us or to trip us up? (John says, yes, they did.) No! Those things were already there. I just had not ever noticed them to that degree before.
So, let’s go through my analogy a bit more:
My head hurting — Total entrainment with my previous thought pattern. My human mind was trying to help me to see the error of my ways and convince me that I would feel better if I’d just give up these highfalutin ideas. Eating had come easy all of the previous years of my life, why give that ease up now? This new path is hard and I’m tired.
My body hurting — If the mind can’t get you back, the pressure of the many will! I’m going to equate my body to the tribal teachings (societal agreements) that we’ve all bought into as truth. My body didn’t agree with the mind’s choices and was willing to take some low blows to make me come back into the pack. That’s how tribal teachings work — you go against the flow and you pay the price.
And the crankiness, oh, let’s not forget the crankiness — It’s HARD changing your ways. It’s hard going against everything you understand. It’s hard and everyone should understand how hard it is!!! It’s time consuming and frustrating and …. oh you get the picture.
Now, here’s the part that gives you hope. While the first few days were horrible, the horribleness didn’t last. Eventually, the steps became easier to follow and we weren’t fighting against this new way of being.
Here’s where you ask yourself if we’re still off of sugar………. I’d like to say yes, but I’d be lying. However, we did learn a lot about ourselves and what to eat and what not to eat during that stint. Some of the habits we have today stem directly from that particular diet. So, did we “fail” in our attempt to enlighten ourselves?
I say, no. Enlightenment can come to some in an instant (or so I’ve read) but I believe it’s more of a journey. Are we eating better because we went through this diet process? Yes. Did we learn a few things that we’ll always remember? You betcha! For us, the learning is cumulative. Each time we change our eating habits, more ideas make sense and are easier to follow. Spiritual learning is the same way.
The more you study, the more willing you are to look at, practice and TRY to learn a better way, then more sticks with you and makes more sense to you. One point from a book connects with a talk from a spiritual leader connects with something you hear from an unlikely source. It starts settling into your understanding and you find that you’re not fighting against this new thought process as much.
So, understand that the challenges don’t come up because there’s a “test” or a lesson from the Universe. The things we label as challenges were already there — we were either blind to them or we stepped into them without notice. By deciding that you are going to think in another way and act in a higher way only sheds light on the things in your life that no longer fit in your new mindset. They must be dealt with and released before the “new” way of thinking becomes easier.
In the meantime, enjoy learning something new, stay in the excitement of possibilities and let go of the apprehension.
Make sense? Okay, next time — how not to get stuck in your stuff……..
Albert Einstein once said “Nothing happens in the Universe until something moves.” The Laws governing abundant flow in our lives are very much aligned with that principle. For flow to occur in our lives, we must allow flow and an easy first step is to initiate the flow with an outgoing gift.
Spiritual teachings of many cultures emphasis the importance of giving in an anonymous way. Anonymous giving, or what is sometimes called “Righteous Giving” in Christian teachings or “Perfection of Giving” in Buddhism is a form of flow with no strings attached – no expectations of reciprocation and free of wrong motivation. If we expect reciprocation, is it truly a gift? If we expect to be honored for the giving we are feeding ego and thus not giving in the highest intention. If you are looking for status or prestige, check your motivations.
Matthew 6:1-4, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Sufi sheikh Kabir Helminski states: “The Prophet Muhammad said, ‘the best of my people will enter paradise not because of their achievements, but because of the Mercy of God and their being satisfied with little for themselves and their extreme generosity toward others.’ “
We give it with the highest intentions and completely let it go. If we hold expectations on the gift, in a way we are still attaching ourselves to it, have we really given it away? By releasing attachments and expectations we are allowing Divine Spirit to lift the end results to higher levels than we could ever anticipate. Attaching expectation is a “My way or the highway” mentality, and who are we to judge what the recipients best interests really are? They know their life needs better than we do and certainly so does the Divine.
You may find it helpful to say a little prayer of intention and release as you give.
“Diving Loving Spirit, I am eternally grateful for the abundant flow of good in my life and the opportunity to share the good with others. I release this gift into your Loving Guidance knowing that the highest and best possible outcome is unfolding right here, right now. For this I say thank you God. Amen!”
To be in the flow it is vital to be open to the many ways you can receive. Being in the receiving position of flow shows up many ways you may not have previously viewed as Divine Flow. When that co-worker offers to buy you lunch, accept it! Someone offers to pay you for gas in exchange for a ride, accept it. When we refuse these gifts we are creating two powerful blocks to flow:
By limiting others giving to us, we stand directly in the way of their choice to be fully in the flow. They want to give and we are taking that away from them. Accepting their gift is not placing a burden on them, but rather providing them with joy. If you are triggered by receiving, change your mind. If not for yourself, at least do it for them.
Once we open to receive, greater things will come to our attention. Not because new things are there – the abundant flow has been there all along, but because we have begun the process of aligning our consciousness with flow. We awaken to see now what we did not see before. By refusing to receive we tell our consciousness that we choose to step out of the flow – that we no longer wish to see the abundance of good that is always present, just waiting for us to open our hands and arms to receive.
Driving home from the auto dealer you become amazed at just how many of the same model of car there are on the roads. They seem to be everywhere and you wonder why you had not noticed them before. As you ponder this you pull onto your street and discover that the family two doors down has one in their driveway and it’s been there all along.
If you drive, the chances are very good you have experienced something very close to the example. This is shifted awareness. Now that you are consciously alert to the model of the car, you see them where you had not seen them before. This is just the way our minds work. Seeing opportunities in life such as flow is no different. Change your mind, change your life.
If you are ready to see greater good in your life, actively start the ball rolling. Move something in the universe and be open to receive.
Some simple anonymous gifts:
An envelope with some cash or a gift card mailed to a family experiencing lack with a nice unsigned note.
Donation / Tithe to a spiritual center that spiritually feeds you or someone you know.
The Starbucks Effect: Pay for the coffee or meal of the person in the drive-through behind you.
Visit department stores and offer to pay towards the lay-away of needy families. The clerks will often have an idea of who might be the most ready to receive.
Share your ideas for conscious and anonymous giving in your comments below!
We all have it. Stuff. Things. Material goods. Every item in our life has amazing potential power you may not be aware of. Things in our lives have the power to serve us in ways that can enhance our present state of being, and they have the power to suck the life out of our day. I invite you to think about it this way: If the item makes your life easier it is serving you. If the item burdens you, you may be serving it.
It started harmlessly enough, with a seasonal cleaning of the garage. After the fifth or sixth time of stepping over a pet travel crate I began to get frustrated with the entire ordeal – I had been stepping over and around this thing for months. When I get frustrated I know it’s a sign for me that I am either bumping up against my own limiting thoughts, or a blockage of flow. In these cases I have a ritual that helps me: I take a gentle deep breath and drop my attention to my heart space. I feel the love in my heart and I ask for Divine guidance. In this I was quickly reminded of the question: “Is it serving you, or are you serving it?” from a chapter in the book The Prosperity Paradigm by friend and once-upon-a-time mentor: Steve D’Anunnzio.
The concept is simple really. If something in your life either saves you energy or provides you ease, grace or joy, it is serving you by increasing your quality of life. If something requires more energy to maintain than is saved or returned to you, then you are serving it. If that’s the case, it’s time to consider letting the item go as it may no longer serve a true legitimate purpose in your life. Whatever our “stuff” is, it took energy and resources to create it and now that energy can be sitting stagnant on your shelf, drawer, closet or garage floor. Get it back in the flow where someone who can be served by it is waiting.
Albert Einstein once said “Nothing happens in the Universe until something moves.” The Laws governing abundant flow in our lives are very much aligned with that principle. For flow to occur in our lives, we must allow flow. This includes both incoming and outgoing flows. By initiating an outgoing flow we make room in our lives for the incoming good. If we want more good in our lives, we can start by releasing that which no longer serves us. This frees us from carrying the burden of the old and opens our awareness and our environment to be aware of and receive the new abundant good.
If you are ready for more abundant good in your life, find that which no longer serves you and release it.
If there is something constantly taking your resources to maintain it or work around it. Why keep putting up with it?
That dog carrier? It went to a good home – a young lady on freecycle who needed a way to get her rabbit to the vet. Other bags, boxes and clothes went to charity so they could leverage the benefit for someone else’s needs.
Here are a few resources:
Non-profit Thrift Stores
Homeless Charities List
One on One giving