Researchers at CMU (Carnegie Mellon University)(in my adopted hometown of Pittsburgh) have stumbled upon an interesting finding about mindfulness meditation practice: older adults (55 to 85 years of age) who practice mindfulness show a decrease in loneliness.
Now, this isn’t about the Sangha Effect* (of socializing in meditative groups). This is about solo practice that, I guess, helps you feel one with everything. After all, if you feel one with everything what is there to feel lonely about?
At least, that’s my take on it.
References: APA Monitor on Psychology, October 2012 (citing Brain, Behavior & Immunity, online July 20th)
*Sangha Effect – sangha is a contemplative community; when I say “Sangha Effect” I mean “Community Effect,” which does not seem to be the case in this particular study.
for meditation tips go to my Breathing Corner
Important to understand:
to accept is not to give up or surrender;
to accept is to relax (into the here-and-now reality of what is).
Russia likes to sit down. There is a Russian saying: “v nogakh pravdy nyet” which literally translates “there is no truth in feet,” meaning “there is no truth in standing,” meaning “a body in a hurry is a mind in a hurry,” meaning “a mind in a hurry is not to be trusted.”
Similarly, there is a custom of starting every journey with a brief sit-down. Whenever a group of people are about to embark on a trip of any significance, somene’s bound to call out “Syadyem na dorozhku!” which means “Let’s sit down before we hit the road.”
The “sit” is no more than a minute – a chance to gather your thoughts, to catch your breath, to clear your mind, to set an intention. It’s really cute when kids remind their parents to do so. I remember feeling quite empowered when I called out for a sit-down before my Mom and I headed out for my first big summer vacation to the Crimea (on the Black Sea). I must’ve been 8 or 9 years old then, but the idea of slowing down and not trusting a mind-in-a-rush had been already culturally programmed into me.
Never mind: let me make a couple of points and go back to sleep…
You’ve heard people say: there are many roads to Rome – meaning, many different means to the same end, many a path to get to one and the same destination. That’s understood.
What’s a bit more confusing, however, is when you’ve got one road that leads to quite a few different places. Take the mindfulness practice for example. Say, you sat down to watch the river of your experience, to listen to this babbling brook of your consciousness… What’s it all about? Where’s this investment of time going? What’s the goal?
There is – as I understand – a fundamental difference between relaxation and meditation. While both may share the same road, the very same road seems to lead to rather different destinations.
“Looking Under the Psychosomatic Hood of Breathing…”
As a once “proud” owner of the turbo-charged Saab 9-5, I recall the great sigh of relief I’d experience, when — after peeling off at the first hint of “green” at the streetlight — I’d look back at the sluggish acceleration of the suspecting (and unsuspecting) contenders left in the dust of the street race…
Oh, the triumph of the turbo acceleration!
Turbo — the way I understand it — is a mechanical equivalent of a Power Breath. Invented by the Swiss engineer, Alfred Buchi, turbo compresses the ambient air and delivers it to the air intake manifold at higher than normal pressure. This forced air induction is superior to the naturally aspirated engines ultimately increases power and torque.
Turbo — thus! — is a deep breath.
When listening to a recording of guided relaxation, have you ever felt annoyed by the following prescription: “Allow yourself to relax…”
“Allow?!!! If I could allow myself to relax, if it was that simple, then why in the world would I allow myself to be stressed in the first place?!”
Allowing yourself to relax – strange notion, indeed… It certainly presumes a degree of responsibility over stress that many of us are hesitant to admit! What a skillfully inoffensive pointing of the fingers!
Ignorance, they say, is bliss. As I see it, there are 2 kinds of ignorance:
1. ignorance of un-awareness (mindlessness of something that can be known)
2. ignorance by choice (a conscious decision to ignore that which cannot be known)
Which type of ignorance is bliss and which is existential loss?
Let’s see if we can briefly sort this out.
You’ve heard this: the past has already happened, therefore it doesn’t exist; the future hasn’t happened, therefore it doesn’t yet exist; thus, here’s nothing but Now…