Zen Blog

This blog collects various internet feeds aimed towards information, experience and technique exchange in support of our shared spiritual journey.....

”Namaste - may the light in me, honor the light in you…”

The Top 10 Guided Meditations from 2019

At Mindful, we aim to connect you with the resources you need to develop and strengthen your meditation practice. We know that meditation isn’t always easy—that’s why we’ve created step-by-step instructions to guide you through each practice. Whether you’re new to meditation or have been practicing for years, our resources give you the space to slow down, connect, and refresh. 

This year, we provided meditations on how to tame the inner critic, tune into the body, sleep better, sit with change, and practice loving-kindness. 

The Most Popular Meditations From 2019

1. A Body Scan for Beginners

The body scan practice helps you reconnect and relax from head to toe. Elaine Smookler walks us through the basics in this beginners practice.

2. A Meditation to Tame Your Inner Critic

The next time your self-doubt becomes too loud, explore this 12-minute meditation from Mark Bertin to confront the nagging voice in your head.

3. Loving-Kindness Meditation to Cultivate Resilience

By taking the time to remind yourself that you deserve happiness and ease, you can foster greater self-compassion and call upon it when times get tough.

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Tap Into Ease When You’re Feeling Stressed

This time of year it’s often hard to slow down—and, even when we do get a chance to rest, our mind skips ahead to the next task or event. But it’s good to let ourselves step off that inner merry-go-round by finding ways to savor these final weeks of the year. 

Take time to slow down and wholeheartedly savor with these three practices:

First, allow yourself to fully experience the present moment.

When we let go of the “stressing-out” aspect of figuring out travel schedules, worrying about making holiday dinners, or accomplishing anything else in particular, we can glimpse the ease of being (rather than doing) that’s available to us all. Listen to this 7-minute guided meditation on shifting from doing toward being.

Next, focus on what you’re doing right now.

“Just do one thing at a time” is one of those wise things we’ll say lovingly to our friends and relatives, often without following our own advice. Learn how to consciously single-task with the practice of Notice, Shift, Rewire.

Then, check in on how you’re really feeling.

You don’t have to be a writer to benefit from a mindful writing exercise. It not only gives you a chance to slow down both mind and body, but it lets you ask yourself honestly what you are feeling, what you need to express, in this moment that is entirely for you. Give yourself the gift of slow self-care with this simple, 5-step mindful writing practice.

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Why You Need a Mindfulness Teacher

As interest in mindfulness grows, and programs and research projects follow apace, critiques grow too. A common critique we hear is that mindfulness is just a quick fix for reducing stress. It doesn’t ask us to look for root causes of stress. For example, this criticism posits that if your employer is asking you to work overly long hours and meet impossible deadlines, the mindfulness teacher hired by the company will simply tell you, “Oh, it’s your fault you’re stressed out. Take a few deep breaths, notice what’s going on in your mind, let go, and you’ll be fine.”

But this critique—most strongly heard in Ron Purser’s recent book McMindfulness—is a classic straw man: It paints a vivid picture of people doing wrong in order to hurl brickbats at them, without saying exactly who’s being talked about and when and how they offended. It’s not supported by a lot of evidence of the work of actual mindfulness teachers.

Yes, there are bad mindfulness teachers, and bad mindfulness apps, and probably there are a growing number of both. So let’s continue the work of setting and upholding standards that help you distinguish superficial (and even counterproductive) “mindfulness” from something that can make a real difference in your life when offered with an appreciation for your unique circumstances. 

Fortunately, there are already many good mindfulness teachers and good programs, and the ones we promote at Mindful would not encourage anyone to ignore root causes, to simply accept the status quo and use meditation to “uh, get used to it, buddy.”

In the hands of good mindfulness teachers, mindfulness opens the door to deeper inquiry and insight.

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How I Discovered That I Wasn’t the Centre of the Universe (and Neither Are You)

“I need to get centered.”

We’ve all heard these words hundreds of times. Perhaps we’ve said something like this hundreds of times. It’s also something that, in a cynical mood, people like to make fun of: the airy-fairy mindfulness-spouting person who is so “in touch with themselves” that they’re out of touch with everyone and everything around them. You know, “Excuse me, what did you say? I was finding my center.”

When we talk about getting centered, though, what do we really mean? Is there any value to it? And is “getting centered” the be-all, end-all when it comes to mindfulness and meditation?

Centering on Getting Centered

In the context of mindfulness—the innate human ability to be aware of where we are and what’s happening inside and out—“centering” connotes the opposite of being scattered, distracted, unfocused, carried away by the next thought when we would like to be attending to what is at hand. It’s a good thing. 

And we have lots of practices—such as mindfulness of breathing—that can address the need to come into focus. 

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Five Mindful Books to Refresh and Renew

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PERMISSION TO FEEL:Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive

Marc Brackett • Celadon Books

Brackett—founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence—came to this work with a mission born from his own experience of bullying and sexual assault, which he discusses poignantly in Permission to Feel. Before we learn his story, however, Brackett paints a vivid picture of why emotions matter so much for public health and education. Incidents of bullying and harassment in US K-12 schools doubled each year between 2015 and 2017; 46% of teachers report high daily stress; from 2016-2017, one in three students across 196 US colleges reported diagnosed mental health conditions; a quarter of US children between 13 and 18 suffer from anxiety disorders; and by 2030, mental health problems could cost the global economy up to $16 trillion. When our children learn unhealthy responses to emotion, tangible results ripple through families, schools, communities, and society. That’s the diagnosis.

Brackett’s prescription—as researched, taught, and advocated for at the Yale center—begins with a very simple question: How are you feeling? If the response is avoidance or lying, if no one is interested in our genuine answer, we’re almost…

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Original author: Mindful Staff
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