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Yoga Nidra is being taught at the Benson Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. These are Satyananda-based Yoga Nidras. The hospital is also a center for MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) programs established by Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. As I am doing the Teaching Company’s Mind Body Medicine Guide by Dr. Jason Satterfield at the Unitarian Society, it has become yet another affirmation of the dovetail complement of the bio-pyscho-social model of medicine with the meditation philosophies/practices. Viewers can download free tracks from Mahasri Yoga that brings over 35 years of experience with Yoga Nidra and refer to the book review of Yoga Nidra by Swami Satyananda. Benson’s research started with Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Benson writes in his book [The Relaxation Response}, “We claim no innovation but simply a scientific validation of age-old wisdom”.[3]

The Benson-Henry Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital teaches how to elicit the response in nine steps. Benson’s website and his book describe four steps.[5] Two of those steps are essential: a mental device (a simple word, phrase or activity to repeat to keep the mind from wandering) and a passive attitude.[5][6] The goal is to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which causes humans to relax.

Benson developed the idea of the response, which counters the fight-or-flight response described during the 1920s by Walter Bradford Cannon at the Harvard Medical School.[7] According to Benson more than 60 percent of all visits to healthcare providers are related to stress. It causes the “fight or flight” hormones, epinephrine and norepinephrine, to secrete into the bloodstream. This incites or exacerbates a number of conditions. They include hypertension, headaches, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic low back pain, as well as heart disease, stroke and cancer.[8]

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Relaxation_Response

The core belief of the Benson-Henry Institute (BHI) – that teaching patients mind body approach like meditation and yoga can reduce their stress and improve overall physical health – was proven correct in a preliminary study published this fall in the journal PLOS ONE.  The study found that patients who participated in BHI programs reduced their medical visits on average by 43% in the year after taking part.

Source: http://www.bensonhenryinstitute.org/


									

Another Year?

Too Many Names

by Pablo Neruda

Mondays are meshed with Tuesdays
and the week with the whole year.
Time cannot be cut
with your weary scissors,
and all the names of the day
are washed out by the waters of night.

No one can claim the name of Pedro,
nobody is Rosa or Maria,
all of us are dust or sand,
all of us are rain under rain.
They have spoken to me of Venezuelas,
of Chiles and of Paraguays;
I have no idea what they are saying.
I know only the skin of the earth
and I know it is without a name.

When I lived amongst the roots
they pleased me more than flowers did,
and when I spoke to a stone
it rang like a bell.

It is so long, the spring
which goes on all winter.
Time lost its shoes.
A year is four centuries.

When I sleep every night,
what am I called or not called?
And when I wake, who am I
if I was not while I slept?

This means to say that scarcely
have we landed into life
than we come as if new-born;
let us not fill our mouths
with so many faltering names,
with so many sad formalities,
with so many pompous letters,
with so much of yours and mine,
with so much of signing of papers.

I have a mind to confuse things,
unite them, bring them to birth,
mix them up, undress them,
until the light of the world
has the oneness of the ocean,
a generous, vast wholeness,
a crepitant fragrance.

Source: http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/Poets/N/NerudaPablo/TooManyNames/index.html– from Neruda: Selected Poems, by Pablo Neruda / Translated by Anthony Kerrigan

stop

The sun shines over all life without distinction
The water flows with no attempt at prejudice
The earth holds us all without labels
The tree gives fruit and shade without judgement
The breath flows from one to another giving life to all
The sky covers us with the umbrella of infinite space
Rich or poor, dark or light, man or woman
No East, West, North, or South
Seeing no country or religion
Just Being
Why let the mind divide what Nature does not

Poem: Meena Modi

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/static/uploads/photo/2016/02/01/21/53/weapons-1174491_960_720.jpg

In meditation we experience oneness. Nothing separates us from life, all beings.Can we carry that inner awareness into our outer world, our daily lives? If the inner light cannot shine on thoughts and behaviors that arise from fears and insecurities, conditioned thinking, then one must question the quality and motivation of meditation. Fears arise from lack of understanding. They imprison and painfully dissect minds, people, and communities. This poem from the March 27, 2013,  blog post is copied to renew awareness in this polarized world.

Dalai Lama Lady Gaga Talk

Lady Gaga asks His Holiness The Dalai Lama about the despair and loneliness in youth; the importance of kindness and compassion for self-esteem and sense of purpose; and connecting to our shared humanity for healthier living. What meditation to practice is another question briefly explored.

Dalai Lama Lady Gaga Talk

Difference Of One

Thich Nhat Hanh Quote Collective's photo.

“In a family, if there is one person who practices mindfulness, the entire family will be more mindful. Because of the presence of one member who lives in mindfulness, the entire family is reminded to live in mindfulness. If in one class, one student lives in mindfulness, the entire class is influenced.”

Source ~ Thich Nhat Hanh Quote Collective

 

Simple Way To Break A Bad Habit

Mind and Life Fellow Jud Brewer talks about the relationship between mindfulness and addiction in his recent TED Talk, “A Simple Way to Break a Bad Habit.”

 

 

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!

 

This is a question that comes up quietly but persistently–a man’s duty as a father, husband, spiritual quest–and the conflicting emotions that arise from it: How does a man just walk out on his wife and new-born son without a single word? What about duty to them and the Buddhist teachings of duty to parents and family?

“When I heard the story of Gautam Buddha, my question was always about his wife and son that he left behind…this write-up by Vikram Bhattacharya touches that part of the story.” (Source: saw this posted by a friend’s friend on Facebook and here is another link http://metamorphosiseyou.blogspot.com/2015/10/buddhas-wife.html)
—————

He left her in the middle of the night, the night their son was
born. When she heard the news
she was devastated.

Yet, she did not complain but her
life lost all meaning. The only
reason for her to live now was
her son. She wanted him to grow
up to be a man that the world
would look up to.

Her friends and relatives came
around and asked her to forget
about the man who had left her
and start life again.

They asked her to marry again
but she refused. She was young
& beautiful & suitors queued up
outside her door, but she refused each one of them.

Then one fine day he came back !

He stood in front of her and she could hardly remember him as the man who had left her. “They call you the Buddha now?” she asked him gently.

“I hear they do,” he answered in
a calm fashion.

“What does it mean?” she further inquired.

“I think it means the enlightened one, a knower,” he informed.

She smiled and then a silence.
“I suppose we have both learned something. Your lessons O Buddha, will make the world richer in spirit, but my lesson will unfortunately remain largely unknown.”
she reflected deeply….

“ And what lesson is that ? ”
The Buddha probed.

Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears, “That a courageous woman does not need anyone to complete her…..
SHE IS COMPLETE ON HER OWN ”

I welcome the courage and honesty in the January 23, 2016 Guardian article Is mindfulness making us ill?  Meditation is a way of training or developing mindfulness, also called awareness, being attentive to what is. In my teaching, we have always stated that nothing works for everyone.  

For many people, self-help books may be fine to feel grounded. But as we have seen over the years, experienced guidance is often critical. There are numerous types of meditations and techniques. Whatever works for you is the one that is best for you. Mindfulness-based methods, insight meditations are challenging for some and something like Yoga Nidra could work well. Others may find they don’t like the guided meditation. How much time should be spent? Experienced, in-person guidance may be essential to find what works. Over time, the practice needs to evolve and change. And as various emotions and moods surface, guidance is needed in resolving them.

Then there is honesty–an experienced teacher is secure and honest in saying this is not working for you. Perhaps try another teacher, method, or try something else to relax and feel grounded–dance, listen to or play music, sing, swim, walk, run, knit, write, even drink a glass of wine! Perhaps the person needs psychiatric help and not mindfulness. A good teacher knows that it is not about her ego but what is best for the person. A good teacher does not delude herself into thinking that mindfulness is the perfect elixir for everyone–sometimes even a teacher needs to know when to take break from mindfulness and meditation. For the person, it does not mean that she is doing anything wrong.

Meditation can aggravate depression, trauma, and other mental conditions regardless of all the virtues being cited–one needs to be honest and objective without being attached to a preconceived outcome.

Do no harm.

 

 

Peace Poem: The Field By Rumi

Out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing,

there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,

the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other

doesn’t make any sense.

Source: Essential Rumi by Coleman Barks.