Body Mind Spirit

This category includes Health and Fitness.

The Five Tibetan Rites

When browsing through videos from Yoga Today I came across The Five Tibetan Rites. At Wikipedia the practice is described like this:

  • First Rite: Clockwise spinning: inhale and exhale deeply as you spin.
  • Second Rite: Inhale deeply while lifting the head and legs; exhale while lowering the head and legs.
  • Third Rite: Inhale as the spine arches back; exhale as the spine returns to an erect position.
  • Fourth Rite: Inhale while rising up; hold the breath while in the top position and tense the muscles; exhale while returning to the starting position.
  • Fifth Rite: Inhale while raising the body; exhale while lowering the body.

Read more:
Five Tibetan Rites (Wikipedia)

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

When mind attacks body – the nocebo effect

Today at Twitter I got this link, The science of voodoo: When mind attacks body. It’s a really interesting article that goes from placebo (when mind helps the body) to nocebo (when mind attacks body).

The idea that believing you are ill can make you ill may seem far-fetched, yet rigorous trials have established beyond doubt that the converse is true – that the power of suggestion can improve health. This is the well-known placebo effect. Placebos cannot produce miracles, but they do produce measurable physical effects.

The placebo effect has an evil twin: the nocebo effect, in which dummy pills and negative expectations can produce harmful effects. The term “nocebo”, which means “I will harm”, was not coined until the 1960s, and the phenomenon has been far less studied than the placebo effect.

What I find interesting but not surprising is that this is a yin-yang pair, good and bad, in both cases the mind affects the body. The nocebo effect can also explain how voodoo works:

What we do know suggests the impact of nocebo is far-reaching. “Voodoo death, if it exists, may represent an extreme form of the nocebo phenomenon,” says anthropologist Robert Hahn of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, who has studied the nocebo effect.

The article gives an example of a person who was told that he was terminally ill and died within the said timeframe. It was then found out that the diagnosis was wrong, still the person and those surrounding him believed in it and acted/reacted as if it was true. Mind attacked body.

Despite the growing evidence that the nocebo effect is all too real, it is hard in this rational age to accept that people’s beliefs can kill them. After all, most of us would laugh if a strangely attired man leapt about waving a bone and told us we were going to die. But imagine how you would feel if you were told the same thing by a smartly dressed doctor with a wallful of medical degrees and a computerful of your scans and test results.

I find this connection between mind and body very interesting. I know the good effects from yoga and meditation, this is the darker side of it.

This was originally posted at Zen And More, another blog of mine.

The jar of life – stones, pebbles and sand

This is a classic story which unfortunately mentions time management. But time management is a misnomer since time can not be managed. We can only manage ourselves, our attention and our priorities.

One day, an old professor of the School of Public Management in France, was invited to lecture on the topic of “Efficient Time Management” in front of a group of 15 executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America. The lecture was one in a series of five lectures conducted in one day, and the old professor was given one hour to lecture.

Standing in front of this group of elite managers—who were willing to write down every word that would come out of the famous professor’s mouth—the professor slowly met eyes with each manager, one by one, and finally said, ‘we are going to conduct an experiment’.

From under the table that stood between the professor and the listeners, the professor pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it in front of him. Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar. Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, ‘Is the jar full?’ The managers replied, ‘Yes’.

The professor paused for a moment, and replied, ‘Really?’ Then once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom. Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, ‘is the jar full?’

At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions. One replied, ‘apparently not!’

‘Correct’, replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table. Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles. Yet again, the professor asked, ‘is the jar full?’ Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, ‘No!’

‘Correct’, replied the professor. And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full. The professor now lifted his gaze once again and asked, ‘What great truth can we surmise from this experiment?’

With his thoughts on the lecture topic, one manager quickly replied, ‘We learn that as full as our schedules may appear, if we only increase our effort, it is always possible to add more meetings and tasks.’ ‘No’, replied the professor.

‘The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is: If we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.’

In other words – make room for what is most important first, those are your stones. Other things can then be fitted around the stones.

This was originally posted at Forty Plus Two, another blog of mine.

Wherever you go there you are

A while back I finished a book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Wherever you go there you are – Mindfulness Mediation in Everyday Life. I love Jon’s low key style. The book which consists of very short chapters, most of them only a few pages long, covers different aspects of mindfulness and meditation. There are also practices in many of the chapters. The easiest way to describe the book is to take part of the introduction:

In this book Jon Kabat-Zinn maps out a somple path for cultivating mindfulness in one’s own life. It speaks both to those coming to meditation for the first time and to longtime practitioners, anyone who cares deeply about reclaiming the richness of his or her moments.

Here comes some quotes from the book, texts that hooked me:

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgementally.

Meditation is not about feeling a certain way. It is about feeling the way you feel.

Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way.

Meditation means cultivating a non-judging attitude towards what comes up in the mind, come what may.

Being whole and simultaneously part of a larger whole, we can change the world simply by chaing ourselves.

There is no successful escaping from yourself in the long run, only transformation.

And finally this reassuring quote:

You are already perfect.

See also:
Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness for Beginners
Arriving at your own Door

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Milk and Sugar

Yoga and my spiritual development makes me change gradually what I eat. The two things I focus on at present is to eliminate or at least cut down on sugar and dairy. When it comes to sweets I do not like the concept of artificial sweeteners, I avoid them completely.

Zen Habits has a great post about sugar: Beat the Sugar Habit: 3 Steps to Cut Sweets (Mostly) Out of Your Life. There is a list of the bad things with sugar as well as a list of tips on how to beat the sugar habit.

Epic Self raised an interesting question in “Dare We Eat Dairy?”:

When it comes to nutrition, the milk debate is probably as confusing and controversial as it gets. Is cow’s milk a cancer fighting, PMS subduing, osteoporosis preventing super food? Or is it just another multi-billion dollar industry working with the government to alter dietary guidelines in their favor?

It also says:

Today we tend to look to scientific evidence to tell us what and how much to eat. But, what happened to paying attention to how you personally feel after eating certain products? Tuning into the internal workings of your own body will give you some clues into how to moderate or in some cases eliminate dairy from your diet.

My own experience is that dropping sugar and dairy makes me feel better.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn

Google has a collection of company videos at YouTube. There are a lot of sessions worth watching.

I came across Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn which is terrific. The workshop is an hour long but is well worth that time, it also includes a meditation session. Jon Kabat-Zinn talks about mindfulness and meditation, awareness, non-doing, beginner’s mind, to bring doing and being together, to be fully present.

Jon reminded me of the value of just tuning in to our own breathing as a simple way of bringing as back to here and now. Not with the intention to control our breathing, just to follow it and become more present.

I liked this presentation so much that I have ordered some of his books. Now I am looking forward to “Arriving at Your Own Door: 108 Lessons in Mindfulness”, “Mindfulness for Beginners” (CD) and “Wherever You Go, There You Are”.

See also: The 5-minute Meditator.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Appearances can deceive

I love this quote from The 5-minute Meditator, a book about ‘spot meditations’:

A person in a Buddhist centre, sitting cross-legged with his eyes closed for an hour, may be completely unfocused and not meditating at all. He could be daydreaming, falling asleep or thinking about everything at random. Conversely, someone who is fully present while preparing food or walking to the shops is meditating beautifully.

This is valid not only about meditation. There is the classic You can’t judge a book by its cover, before you can judge something you need to take a closer look at it.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Scientists probe meditation secrets

When browsing the net about meditation I came across an article at BBC: Scientists probe meditation secrets. The article says that scientists are beginning to uncover evidence that meditation has a tangible effect on the brain.

Research into the health claims made for meditation has limitations and few conclusions can be reached, partly because meditation is rarely isolated – it is often practised alongside other lifestyle changes such as diet, or exercise, or as part of group therapy.

The BBC article is interesting, it says that:

It is a new area of research, but indications are intriguing and suggest that meditation may have a measurable impact on the brain.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.

Five Steps Closer to Calm

I subscribe to the Daily Insight newsletter from YogaJournal. On May 5th it was about Five Steps Closer to Calm. It says:

If it’s hard for you to still your mind to meditate, the senior teachers at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health have developed a five-step approach that could help. Follow these steps and allow yourself to fall into a deep meditative state that will reveal a closer connection to the present and help calm you when you’re upset.

The five steps are:
1. Breathe—Focusing on your breathing is an essential practice that draws your awareness inward and helps you experience the presence and flow of energy.

2. Relax—The more you relax, the more you deepen awareness of sensation.

3. Feel—Let your sense of feeling move beyond physical sensation. Acknowledge who you are as a being of energy.

4. Watch—Sense who you are as a witness; be a scientist observing phenomena arising in and around you.

5. Allow—Sense who you are with no preferences. Be present to the process of your life unfolding moment by moment.

This was originally posted at another (now extinct) blog of mine.