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British School of Meditation Blog

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Mindfulness and MS

Article from Complementary Medicine Newsletter 28/03/14

 Perceived Stress in Multiple Sclerosis and The Potential Role of Mindfulness in Health and Well-Being

A study conducted at the Department of Neurology, Oregon Health & Science University, the Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, and the Department of Neurology, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center, all in Portland, OR, USA looked at Mindfulness meditation and whether it might help people with Multiple Sclerosis - especially when these people are under stress.

Abstract

Stressful life events are associated with worsening neurological symptoms and decreased quality of life in multiple sclerosis (MS). Mindful consciousness can alter the impact of stressful events and has potential to improve health outcomes in MS.

This study evaluated the relationship between trait mindfulness and perceived stress, coping, and resilience in people with MS. Quality of life was assessed as a secondary outcome. One hundred nineteen people with confirmed MS completed the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire, Perceived Stress Scale, Brief Coping Orientation for Problem Experiences, Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale, and Medical Outcome Study Short Form–36.

Greater trait mindfulness was significantly associated with decreased psychological stress, better coping skills, increased resilience, and higher quality of life. After investigators controlled for confounders, mindfulness accounted for 25% of the variation in perceived stress scores and 44% of the variation in resilience scores. Results support further investigation of mindfulness training to enhance psychological resilience and improve well-being for those living with MS

Poem

A poem I came across while on holiday in Spain

Be patient

to all that is unsolved

in your heart ….

Try to love the questions

themselves…..

Do not now seek the answers

which cannot be given

because you would not be able

to live them,

and the point is to live everything.

Live the questions now.

Perhaps you will then

gradually,

Without noticing it

Live along some distant day

Into the answers.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Letters to a Young Poet 1934 


David Hamilton

David Hamilton

On Saturday, 1st March, the Meditation School was delighted to welcome back Dr David Hamilton www.drdavidhamilton.com

David is a brilliant speaker who is able to combine cutting edge scientific information with modern day spirituality.

His subject this time was to look at self-love. He is writing a book on this important subject which will be published early next year.

David argues that most of us, men as well as women suffer from low self-esteem, but that there are tools and techniques we can use to develop our self-esteem and feel so much better about ourselves.

We had over 30 of our graduates and students at the CPD day. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy the workshop and get a lot from it. I know I certainly did.

Check out David’s website or his Facebook page: David Hamilton PhD to discover more about the science behind self-love. 

One Minute Mindfulness

One Minute Mindfulness

You know how it is: there is a pile of books on the coffee table that you really do need to sort through, so you set to the task, but only when you are expecting visitors, well this is true for me anyway.

I was going through such a pile when I came upon a book that I must have brought ages ago and not looked at. The book I found was:-

  One Minute Mindfulness, How to live in the Moment by Simon Parke.

I stopped tidying for a little bit; well actually for quite a while, whilst I looked at the book.  I was really impressed by it and not sure how it has just sat on my coffee table for such a long time.

Simon Parke has written a paragraph on each page with a  phrase underneath that you might like to meditate on, some are funny, some require a lot thought, but each one has a message that we could use in our practice.

I have opened the book and this is the paragraph which I have focussed on for this blog.

A Turner Sky.

The other day, as I walked mindfully in the city, I looked up and saw a ‘Turner’ Sky:  the sort of luminous sky that the English Romantic landscape painter JMW Turner looked at so profoundly and painter so well.

And, for that moment, time melted away, personality blurred and we were one and the same person, William and I looking up at one and the same sky.

The eternal now does not know our distinctions.

Now that is a phrase to focus and meditate on.

Helen

Extract from:-One Minute Mindfulness by Simon Parke page 163 published by Hay House.2011

Dr David Hamilton on gratitude

David Hamilton’s latest blog: gratitude

I think many people nowadays have heard that gratitude is good for us, but if you haven’t, or want a recap on how and why, here’s 10 reasons below. Please share them with others so that more people enjoy the benefits of gratitude. 

1. It’s good for mental health

Studies show that a regular gratitude practice (like keeping a daily or weekly gratitude journal) boosts happiness. Research that compared people who were asked to count blessings with people asked to count hassles and annoyances found that the gratitude groups were around 25% happier.

2. It helps counter stress

We get stressed when we put all of our attention on hassles, frustration, and problems. Gratitude takes our minds away from these things, thereby relieving the stress that they bring. And gratitude as a practice improves our ability to switch our focus in the moment and also helps us notice more of the good things in life that we wouldn't normally pay as much attention to.

3. It inspires us to exercise more

We feel better when we practice gratitude and many people who do so are then inspired to do things that are good for them, including exercise. One of the findings of a 2003 research study was that people who kept weekly gratitude journals exercised more than those who kept hassles journals.

4. It helps us achieve our goals

Over a measured 2-month period, research also showed that people making gratitude lists were found to be more likely to make progress towards important personal goals. Not only do we feel more motivated when we feel good but we are also more creative and more likely to spot solutions to our problems.

5. It makes us kinder

One finding of gratitude research is that people keeping daily gratitude lists are more likely to help someone in need, when compared with people making lists of hassles.

6. Makes you feel less lonely (more connected)

Making us more kind also improves our relationships and connections with others. Some participants in gratitude studies indeed report feeling more connected to people. Some people practicing gratitude also feel more connected and part of life as a whole. It increases their sense of belonging in the world.

7. It helps us sleep better

In his inspiring book, ‘Thanks: How the new science of gratitude can make you happier’, Robert Emmons, the world’s foremost gratitude researcher, encourages us to “count blessings, not sheep” if we can’t get to sleep. Moving the mind away from worries and stresses and towards good things helps relax us, making dropping off to sleep much more likely.

8. It makes you feel more in control of your life (more optimism)

After observing that gratitude is having a positive effect on life and emotions, we begin to feel more optimistic and in control of our lives, rather than being bounced around by life events. With renewed optimism and strength, gratitude can even help us to turn our lives around.

9. People like you better

Some gratitude practices involve thinking of people we’re grateful for and the reasons why. A side-effect of this is that it improves the quality of our relationships with them. It also helps us see the best in people and therefore bring out the best in them. Overall, it make us warmer towards others. People tend to like people like this.

10. Better Health

It’s good for our overall physical health and cardiovascular health. As well as making exercise more likely, some research shows that gratitude gives us better immune systems and even lower blood pressure.

Gratitude is a practice, and like all practices we need to be consistent to get best results. I recommend you make a big deal of your gratitude practice so that you are encouraged to be consistent. Get a nice journal and draw or paint the words, ‘My Gratitude Journal on It’. I like to use a journal with nice paper and also use a pen that feels nice.

You can keep it beside your bed or carry it around with you in your bag. You can keep note of things that occur daily that you’re grateful for, and even jot down reasons why you’re grateful for particular people in your life. I’d also recommend that you also include things you’re grateful for about yourself – your personality, your strengths, your talents, who you are, the way you are with people, animals, etc … anything, really, that reminds you that you are enough!

Happy journaling. 

Kindness

A lovely quotation on kindness:


Of the sweets of adversity, and let me say that these are not numerous, I

have found the sweetest, the most precious of all, is the lesson I learnt on

the value of kindness. Every kindness I received, small or big, convinced me

that there could never be enough of it in our world. To be kind is to

respond with sensitivity and human warmth to the hopes and needs of others.

Even the briefest touch of kindness can lighten a heavy heart. Kindness can

change the lives of people.

Ultimately our aim should be to create a world free from the displaced, the

homeless and the hopeless, a world of which each and every corner is a true

sanctuary where the inhabitants will have the freedom and the capacity to

live in peace. Every thought, every word, and every action that adds to the

positive and the wholesome is a contribution to peace. Each and every one of

us is capable of making such a contribution. Let us join hands to try to

create a peaceful world where we can sleep in security and wake in

happiness. Aung San Suu Kyi 

 


Meditation 'works just as well as anti-depressants': Half an hour a day offers as much relief as tablets

  • Study found meditation works as well as conventional anti-depressants
  • It follows research in the U.S. involving 3,500 people

By JENNY HOPE

PUBLISHED: 00:29, 7 January 2014 | UPDATED: 00:34, 7 January 2014 Daily Mail 

Researchers found regular meditation can relieve anxiety, pain and stress as well as traditional anti-depressants

Meditation for just half an hour can relieve depression as much as popping a pill, claim researchers.

They found regular meditation could also relieve anxiety, pain and stress.

In a U.S. study of previously published research involving 3,500 people, meditation alleviated symptoms of depression on a par with conventional anti-depressants.

Meditation, which has a long history in Eastern traditions, is one of many 'mindfulness' techniques that have grown in popularity in the West over the last 30 years.

It is typically practised for 30 to 40 minutes a day with the aim of encouraging acceptance of feelings and thoughts without judgment, and relaxing body and mind.

Study leader Dr Madhav Goyal, an assistant professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, said 'A lot of people have this idea that meditation means sitting down and doing nothing.

'But that's not true. Meditation is an active training of the mind to increase awareness, and different meditation programmes approach this in different ways.'

He said thousands of people use meditation for stress busting and personal growth, 'but it's not a practice considered part of mainstream medical therapy for anything.'

He said 'In our study, meditation appeared to provide as much relief from some anxiety and depression symptoms as what other studies have found from antidepressants.

'These patients did not typically have full-blown anxiety or depression.' Overall, depression affects one in 10 adults in the UK at any one time.

There has been a big rise in the use of antidepressants in the last 20 years, particularly among women, with prescriptions in England reaching a record 50 million in 2012.


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2534957/Meditation-works-just-anti-depressants-Half-hour-day-offers-relief-tablets.html#ixzz2piEWLPgE 

New Year's Resolutions

 New Year Resolutions.

Usui Mikao, a Japanese teacher and founder of the practice of Reiki, gave us a set of precepts to live by, the first being: ‘For Today Only’.

At this time of year we take stock of the year that has just passed and hopefully decide, on balance that it has been a good one, and we look to the future year with renewed expectation that our life might change or we will form new positive habits.  Maybe starting a new diet or giving up chocolate. A good resolution would be to meditate every day.  If we start these at the beginning of the year, and think that we will fail if don’t follow them for the whole year then we have added yet another level of stress into our daily life. Therefore in my view it is better to start everyday with a set of resolutions, if we don’t keep to them it doesn’t matter we can start again the next day, ‘For Today Only’.

I try every morning during my meditation practice to focus on’ For today Only’, as this brings me to the present moment, it helps me to understand that today I will try my best and live each moment mindfully, note the word TRY.

So instead of setting up your resolutions for the year set them for everyday.

The Precepts are:

For Today only,

Do not bear Anger, for anger is an illusion,

Do not be Worried, fear is a distraction,

Be true to your way, and to your being,

Show compassion to yourself and to others.

Because this is the centre of you essence.

Have a Very Happy New Year.

Helen

A story to enjoy

 A blog for Christmas- take a few minutes to relax with a cuppa and enjoy this story.

WHY MEN DO NOT WRITE ADVICE COLUMNS:

Dear Walter:
I hope you can help me here. The other day I set off for work leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn't gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband's help. When I got home I couldn't believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with a neighbour lady making mad passionate love to her. I am 32, my husband is 34 and we have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that he'd been having an affair for the past six months.
I told him to stop or I would leave him. He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. I don't feel I can get through to him anymore.
Can you please help?
Sincerely,
Mrs. Sheila Usk


Dear Sheila:

A car stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the jubilee clips holding the vacuum pipes onto the inlet manifold. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.
I hope this helps.

Walter
.

Apps and meditation

Apps and Guided Meditations.

Apps and guided meditations can be very helpful and a support for your meditation practice.   I am using an app on my tablet which is called Insight Timer; the icon is a singing bowl, it has a lovely sounding bell which you can set for time you want to meditate for and even set it so it can ring in intervals during meditation.  The app also has guided meditations, one of which is by Sharon Salzberg. The app, also shows with little dots where people are using this app though out the World at the same time as you, all good fun.

Guided Meditation CDs (Mary has recorded several which are excellent) and Apps are very useful as a tool to help us to build our practice of Meditation, they are a bit like the small training wheels children have on their bicycles  while they are learning the skill of cycling, until they can to ride without them.  This is what we should be aiming at with our practice, to become the Meditation, in everything that we do, not just for 20 minutes or so every now and then.  It will be amazing when we all get to that point, for me I definitely still have my L plates on.

Helen

Insight Timer App by Spotlight Six software.

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The British School of Meditation has been established to train teachers in meditation techniques to meet the growing demand for highly trained and accredited meditation teachers throughout the UK including: the Midlands, South West, Wales, North West, North East, London and the South East.