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Archive for the ‘Cancer’ Category

We try out many different ways to manage our physical and mental stress, anxiety, pain, grief, loss, regrets. Some work, some don’t. Meditation is one of them–and all the different types of meditations. Mahasri Yoga offers free online shorter breathing tracks as meditation and longer Yoga Nidras. They have had a profound effect on many (and like any other type of meditation, done nothing for many!). A recent reminder is that of an old college friend who had juvenile arthritis that started in college. She now lives in Spain with debilitating arthritis as an adult and happened to try the Yoga Nidras on the website. A Christmas card announced that they had transformed her life, “They were fabulous.”

So this goes to anyone who may want to try it out!

 

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Meena Modi | Being in Flow  Meena Modi | Breathe Fully Live Free
Both CDs are now at the Ridgewood Library and can be checked out through BCCLs in Bergen County.

 

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The 80-minute guided meditation CD Breathe Fully Live Free: Meditations to Release Anxiety and Fear is now available at Whole Foods Princeton, Ridgewood, and most other Whole Foods stores in New Jersey, lower Connecticut, and Long Island. It is also on CD Baby, iTunes, and Amazon (see links on Mahasri Yoga). The CD includes some core personal teachings of Swami Buddhananda Saraswati who was a key, well-loved Australian teacher (especially for yoga nidras and kriya yoga!) at the Bihar School of Yoga. He is the author of Moola Bandha:The Master Key.

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Breathe Fully Live Free: Meditations to Release Anxiety and Fear is now available for downloads on iTunes, Amazon, and CD Baby.

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Cancer patients receiving chemotherapy experience fatigue, sleep disturbances, anxiety, stress, and depression. Drugs to treat these symptoms can be expensive, ineffective, and have undesirable side-effects. A 2008 study approved by the University of California San Francisco tested the feasibility of the yogic breathing practices of pranayama and measured the effects on the quality of life (QOL) in patients. The study stated that yoga is inexpensive and has no side effects.

The study tracked the patients over one year beginning October 2008. Sixteen patients completed all the study measures. Participants were tracked over two consecutive chemotherapy cycles and the control group was given yoga training in just the second cycle. A trained yoga instructor gave a 60-minute class every week and then the participants had a home practice–twice a day for a total of 20-30 minutes daily.

Four specific techniques were taught: breath observation, ujjayi (victorious breath), kapalbhati (skull shining breath), and nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breath).

Conclusion:

This first study of a pure pranayama intervention in a population of patients with cancer successfully demonstrated that yoga breathing is feasible and can be safely recommended for patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy. Any increase in the yoga breathing practice was correlated with improvements in both cancer chemotherapy associated symptoms and QOL. Pranayama may be helpful for improving sleep disturbance, anxiety, and mental QOL among patients undergoing chemotherapy. Definitive conclusions on efficacy await further study.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3353818/ Yoga Breathing for Cancer Chemotherapy–Associated Symptoms and Quality of Life: Results of a Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

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It is so difficult to let go of that which tortures us, to let go of our pain. Why do so many feed and nurture and grow the pain? Often, we do not even know the real cause of suffering in our lives as it is so deeply embedded. I see people clinging to the very things that drive them insane, unable to let it go, to free themselves. No space is allowed to live with joy, to live free. This is where numerous studies support meditation. There are so many meditation techniques and they all have varying effects so it is important to distinguish between methods instead of having the generic term “meditation” or “Yoga”.

One of the most effective practices is Satyananda Yoga Nidra–there are many who have “borrowed” this practice without giving the source due credit. We suggest going to the original source and reading Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda. There are several transcripts in the book.

Satyananda Yoga Nidra is a the modern adaptation of the tantric practice of nyasa which works at five levels or bodies–physical, energy body, emotional, mind, and spirit. Repressed emotions manifest themselves at all levels as they are an intricate web and not distinct. The practice is ingeniously simple on the surface and safely allows emotions to surface. They are witnessed with awareness, not judgment or reaction. This process saps the emotion of energy and it is free to dissipate. The emotion no longer has the powerful grip over the mind and no longer consumes the person.

Yoga Nidra is a pratyahara (sense withdrawal) method in the eight limbs of Patanjali Yoga (yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyhara, dharana, dhyana, samadhi--see What is Yoga). Disturbances from the mind, and by implication the unresolved issues of life, must be settled before dhyana can begin.

Experience beats theory and so readers are invited to try out the Yoga Nidras from Mahari Yoga–they are all free on-line tracks. Begin with the first one and then gradually work your way up. These are shared freely with all who seek peace within themselves.

Being a Witness

In this practice, we will learn to be a witness, a neutral spectator, without actively participating in the physical breathing or mental processes. Simply being, observing, has a significant effect in calming the body, mind, and emotions. You will feel it in this practice.

Who Am I?

This meditation reveals the perpetual and consequential programming, or the conditioning process, of the mind that began at birth. Think of the body and mind as hardware and software that are constantly growing, and being shaped and formed, by everything the body-mind is exposed to. This body-mind complex takes, absorbs, processes, and stores everything. As we witness it, is “I” the body-mind? Who is the silent witness? Who am “I”? Even if there is no burning desire to seek an answer, just being aware of the continuous, ongoing, cumulative process of conditioning can empower us to reprogram ourselves consciously in positive ways. Conscious thinking can lead to a deeper, compassionate understanding of relationships and less conflict. It does this by slowly breaking down identification of Self with the mind and the thinking process.

Up to the Summit

In this meditation, we begin shedding some of the conditioned programming. We learn to discard excess baggage that weighs us down and prevents us from getting where we need to go. The visualization of climbing to the summit, top of the mountain, and the inner guide part is based on a Yoga Nidra done 30 years ago during a course in Mumbai with Swami Buddhananda Saraswati of the Bihar School of Yoga. Over the course of the years, like an evolving recipe, our interpretation and wording of it has also evolved. This is our version, which too will change over the course of time.

Role of Purpose and Beyond

This fourth meditation is about looking at various roles each one of us plays. Some roles are easier and more comfortable than others. Do others see us the way we see ourselves? Who plays the roles? Who watches as the spectator? Exploring these questions is a critical step in self-transformation for a more peaceful life for ourselves and others.

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The Ridgewood, NJ, Whole Body Whole Foods has fully endorsed and backed the guided meditation CD, Being in Flow: Meditations for Peace, Insight, Clarity, and Focus. It is available in the yoga section of Whole Body. All profits go to Sivananda Math, the charitable trust associated with the Bihar School of Yoga. The trust feeds, educates, and provides medical care to some of the poorest and most neglected children in the world. It also has many outreach programs for several villages.

Here are some of the ways in which the CD has been helpful to people who have used the meditations:

Benefits to Creativity

Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of meditation in terms of fostering creativity; a group of Dutch researchers, for instance, found that the practice promoted “divergent thinking”, in which many new ideas are generated. After listening to this CD, I definitely agree: while my mind often feels freighted with clutter, these tracks have brought a sense of calm and awareness, which in turn bring about heightened perception and creative abilities. I can see why Disney’s creative team has hired a meditation teacher! 

There are a couple of features that set this CD apart from the other meditation offerings. For one, the narrator has a wonderfully soothing voice that allows me to instantly relax and achieve the desired mental calmness. With other meditation tracks, I feel that this relaxation often spirals into a deep stupor and leads me to eventually fall asleep; here, however, the relaxation does indeed promote Insight into Problems and convert Stress to Rest.

Furthermore, each track has clearly been carefully considered, with a clear and logical progression guiding the individual through the practice. I have given this CD to a couple of friends, who have similarly spoken of a clear mind and enhanced creativity after going through the tracks. There is something very peaceful, almost addictive, about the ability to redirect your mind away from endless distractions and toward a more useful goal.

Barry J.

Improve productivity

When I first read about flow in a paper by the Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, the idea of complete immersion in a single, well-defined task sounded great. I had even experienced being in flow at times — it felt like the distinction between a task and my performing that task completely disappeared. The only problem was that I couldn’t get myself into this state whenever I wanted: sometimes I happened to fall into it, but most of the time I didn’t and wasted a lot of time trying to force it.

This CD actually helps me get into flow whenever I want. Different tracks work well for different types of tasks. For example, if I’m about to practice the piano, I will listen to Still Body Clear Mind, whereas if I’m about to work on a math problem, I will listen to Insight into Problems. Now, I’m finding that I don’t always need to listen to those two tracks whenever I want to get into flow since the CD effectively trained me to get into flow on my own. So while I do continue to listen to both of those tracks, now I’m listening more to Stress to Rest and Sound of Silence to get into flow for tasks that are less well-defined than music practice or math problem sets.

If you’re looking for something that’s relaxing, this CD works very well, but its real benefit comes from improving productivity. Once you’re in that state of flow in which you get things done so much faster than before, stress goes away on its own.

Max W.

The CD is also available from:
select Whole Foods Whole Body stores on the East Coast
select yoga studios in New York
iTunes
Amazon
Namaste Books (Union Square, NY)

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