Summary of “There’s a Dark Side to Meditation That No One Talks About”

We’ve all heard about the benefits of meditation ad nauseam.
In addition to calming the mind and body, meditation can also reduce the markers of stress in people with anxiety disorders.
This demanding and sometimes intensely distressing side of meditation is rarely mentioned in scientific literature, says Jared Lindahl, a visiting professor of religious studies at Brown University, who has an interest in neuroscience and Buddhism.
Along with Willoughby Britton, a psychologist and assistant professor of psychiatry at Brown, the two meditators have co-authored a study that documents and creates a taxonomy for the variant phenomenology of meditation.
To conduct their research, the pair interviewed 60 Western Buddhist meditation practitioners who had all experienced challenging issues during their practice.
They included both rookies and meditation teachers, many of whom had accumulated more than 10,000 hours of meditation experience in their lifetime.
Most would not imagine that these side-effects could be hiding behind the lotus-print curtains of your local meditation center.
Who runs into the unexpected hurdles? What are the unique set of factors involved? In which ways do teachers assist students who are struggling? The answers, which still require future research, may one day be relevant to the ways meditation is used as therapy.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Corporations Want You to Shut Up and Meditate”

Modern mindfulness is often sold as evidence-based, sanitized of any cultural baggage-neuroscience with a dash of what Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as the father of the modern-day mindfulness movement, calls “The essence of Buddhism.” It’s at once secular and clinical yet sacred.
Rather than organize to change the need for self-care and breathing exercises in the first place, he writes, corporate mindfulness, or McMindfulness, becomes a pacifier that teaches workers to be comfortable with insecurity.
It’s quite unlike more grassroots activist movements like the civil rights movement, where you could see a more communitarian strand of mindfulness, run by people of color.
It’s a stark contrast to what we see with these very rich, wealthy white men who are the promoters, who I call mindfulness merchants, and they’re spouting that mindfulness is good for everybody, it’s universal.
ZS: So who really benefits? If the goal of corporatized mindfulness is to get employees to be more productive rather than simply practice awareness of the present moment as an end in itself, then mindfulness is good for the people up top.
RP: That’s the trickle-down theory of mindfulness, that if we train mindful leaders or bring in mindfulness programs, teach a little bit of individualistic mindfulness to employees or leaders, that gradually we can expect some sort of corporate transformation.
So bring in mindfulness programs and, over time, we’ll start to see much more humane work environments, more organizational citizenship.
ZS: In breaking down the science behind mindfulness, you write, “The widespread belief that there is compelling clinical proof that ‘mindfulness works’ is simply not supported by the scientific evidence.” Is “Evidence based” built on a house of cards?

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Summary of “The Simplest, Best Tool for Personal Wellness: Breathing”

Jasmine Marie, an intuitive breathwork healer and mindfulness practitioner, is working to teach others about the oft-overlooked benefits of simply breathing to lower everyday stress and anxiety.
She’s the founder of black girls breathing, which provides breathwork classes specifically aimed at black women, who suffer from some of the most alarming rates of stress, anxiety, depression, and other resulting disorders.
“Breathwork is really powerful,” Marie says.
“So it’s not regular meditation. I think what’s in mainstream meditation right now and what’s trending is more relaxed – like a stillness of the mind. Breathwork, on the other hand, is very active.”
The term breathwork refers to a meditation technique used to shift energy through the body by reframing the nervous system.
There are a variety of styles practiced, including holotropic breathwork, cathartic pranayama and shamanic breathwork to name a few.
Breathwork has roots in many spiritual practices like tai chi and Buddhism and can also be traced back to Asian and Indian cultures.
There are many breathwork resources, like Marie’s classes, which include solo and group sessions, both in person and online.

The orginal article.

Summary of “How the brains of master meditators change”

Richie Davidson has spent a lifetime studying meditation.
He’s studied it as a practitioner, sitting daily, going on retreats, and learning under masters.
He’s pioneered the study of it as a scientist, working with the Dalai Lama to bring master meditators into his lab at the University of Wisconsin and quantifying the way thousands of hours of meditation changed their brains.
The word “Meditation,” Davidson is quick to note, is akin to the word “Sports”: It describes a huge range of pursuits.
What he’s found is that different types of meditation do very different things to your brain, just as different sports trigger different changes in your body.
This is a conversation about what those brain changes are, and what they mean for the rest of us.
We discuss the forms of meditation Westerners rarely hear about, the differences between meditative and psychedelic states, the Dalai Lama’s personality, why elite meditators end up warmhearted and joyous rather than cold and detached, whether there’s more value to meditating daily or going on occasional retreats, what happens when you sever meditation from the ethical frameworks it evolved in, and much more.

The orginal article.

Summary of “5 Zen Principles To Live By”

I started reading more about Zen when I learned that legendary basketball coach Phil Jackson is very into Zen and used the concepts to coach Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.
Especially Kobe, a person who I have immense respect for, embraced Zen principles.
Buddhism, Taoism, Zen – they share many of the same ideas.
So I’ve made a list of 5 Zen lessons I’ve found practical and easily applicable to modern day life.
Find Your Meditation Technique The most important part of a Zen monk’s life is meditation.
Focus On The Process Zen Monks and Masters don’t care about results.
The Meaning Of Life Is To Be Alive Alan Watts was a British philosopher who was introduced to Zen in 1936, when he attended a conference where D. T. Suzuki spoke.
Suzuki, a Japanese author, singlehandedly influenced the spreading of Zen in the West.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Side Effects of Meditation No One Talks About”

Isn’t meditation supposed to be the old practice that’s going to cure us of our modern woes? Aside from offering a somewhat secular way to engage in spirituality, meditation is also said to be rooted in science, with empirical evidence backing up its benefits to health.
The group connects online, where people of all ages and backgrounds across nine time zones come together and find solace in the company of others who are also suffering from the negative side effects of meditation.
Britton gets referrals from meditation centers, meditation teachers, and now apps as well, which she describes as “The new frontier of completely unsupervised meditation in mass quantities.”
It’s been well-documented that meditation can lead to troubling sensations-Buddhist traditions have often referred to the varying effects of meditation.
Many of the mechanisms that are responsible for the benefits of meditation may also in fact be responsible for these adverse effects.
A specific kind of meditation at a specific time in your life could trigger a response, no matter who you are.
What all the researchers and meditators can find common ground in, perhaps, and what’s ignored by the deluge of meditation apps and casual recommendations is this: Meditation is powerful.
It might mean that if I do a specific kind of meditation that increases interoception too much-like, say, the kind where you scan your body and take stock of every little sensation going on from head to toe-I might end up with adverse side effects.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why are we surprised that therapy has its downsides?”

Except it turns out that getting happy is by no means guaranteed to be therapy’s only outcome.
One recent paper estimates that, when it comes to cognitive behavioural therapy, 43% of clients will experience unwanted side-effects like distress, a deterioration in their symptoms, or strained family relations.
“Psychotherapy is not harmless,” the paper’s authors conclude.
That conclusion highlights a widespread belief about therapy that gets stranger the longer you dwell on it: why on earth would anyone assume it was harmless in the first place?
If therapy and meditation weren’t potent enough to have such effects, would they be any use at all? A hammer strong enough to drive a nail into a wall must also be capable of crushing your thumb.
According to many models of both therapy and meditation, some degree of distress proves the process is working – as Robert Frost put it, there is “No way out but through”.
This in turn suggests that maybe “Getting happy” isn’t the best way to think about the aim here.
Talk Is Not Enough: How Therapy Really Works, a 2001 book by US psychotherapist Willard Gaylin, is an insider’s account of why the process works – and sometimes doesn’t.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Meditation in the Time of Disruption”

As with mindfulness meditation generally, the science surrounding Headspace serves the dual purpose of making meditation seem worth one’s time and dispelling the worry that one is being indoctrinated.
The promise that meditation will make you more effective at work seems to have a lot more salience and motivational charge than the promise that meditation will just make work feel a little less important overall.
More recently, the company has begun the daunting and implicative project of securing FDA approval of a Headspace prescription meditation app, such that it could be integrated into mainstream health care by, say, increasing quality of life for cancer patients-something that meditation generally has already been found to do.
The notion isn’t just that meditation would be prescribed alongside conventional medicine, but that the meditation prescribed would be offered by Headspace.
Writing in the introduction to the anthology Meditation, Buddhism and Science, professors David L. McMahan and Erik Braun traced the inception of meditation as a popular practice to a single day in 1883, when Burmese monk Ledi Sayadaw watched as his monastery-and all work contained therein-burned to the ground.
If Headspace is uniform and top-down, the app Insight Timer is its opposite: a sort of clearinghouse for meditation of all stripes run by a network of about 1,500 teachers, most of them independent and unaffiliated with the app itself.
Cliff Saron’s old teacher, Joseph Goldstein is a founder of the Insight Meditation Society and one of the pioneering ambassadors of vipassana meditation in the West.
Though 10% Happier is not the only app guilty of this, the constant refrain that meditation is totally normal and not weird only makes me wonder what these people are so ashamed of.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Health Benefits Of Mindfulness Meditation: The Science Behind The Practice”

Is meditation’s ubiquity based on rock-solid scientific research? Or are there other factors to thank for its staying power? What exactly is meditation capable of, and should we all be doing it? We spoke to several experts behind the growing body of research on the health effects of meditation to hear more about what the science tells us-and what we have yet to learn.
In 1979, Kabat-Zinn developed a program called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction at UMMS that, as Vago explains, would help bring the principles and practices of mindfulness meditation traditions, largely rooted in the Buddhist Dharma, into a mainstream medical setting for clinical application and scientific study and five to 15 minutes of informal mindfulness practices.
There is one MBI designed specifically for the treatment of depression known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy-a mix of MBSR and cognitive behavioral therapy-that is now regarded as scientifically valid as MBSR. Obviously, mindfulness meditation looks very different outside of the clinical world, and practices can vary from person to person-from the kind of meditation they practice, to how often they do it, and for how long.
The experts we spoke to agree that, when looking at the science on the benefits of mindfulness meditation, there are three conditions with a strong and convincing body of evidence to support its effects: depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
There is an intriguing cluster of studies forming around the potential benefits of mindfulness meditation for a couple of other stress-related health issues that are just as universal as depression, anxiety, and pain: inflammation and aging.
A 2015 neuroimaging study of 100 meditators concluded, “These findings seem to suggest less age-related gray matter atrophy in long-term meditation practitioners.” And a 2014 review of 12 studies found preliminary evidence that “a variety of meditation techniques may be able to offset age-related cognitive decline and perhaps even increase cognitive capabilities in older adults.” This kind of research, Vago explains, indicates that “[t]hese parts of our brain, which are basically being worked out through [the] mental training of mindfulness just like you work out with your muscles in a gym are protected from the age-related decline or atrophy that happens normally across [our] lifespan.
How do you capture the full picture of any one person’s meditative experience with brain scans and numbers measuring very specific outcomes? “The biggest challenge I see is that people see mindfulness meditation as very goal-directed, while part of meditation in general is to experience things ‘as they are,'” Smalley says.
“Perhaps the benefits of mindfulness meditation are more in how it impacts our relationships of self to self, others, and the universe at large, an area that has yet to receive much scientific investigation,” Smalley says.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What you’re getting wrong about mindfulness”

A new study suggests that mindfulness meditation, a popular type of meditation that practises being aware in the present, may not be the best way to increase your motivation at work.
In the first, 109 participants were given audio instructions in common mindfulness meditation techniques by a meditation coach.
“If mindfulness meditation came in a pill form, we’d all be on top of it. It’s calorie-free, portable, it doesn’t cost anything, and it’s capitalised onto you sitting down and doing nothing. To think the antidote to what ails you is to ‘just be’ is probably a welcome message, but it’s pure speculation.”
The effect of mindfulness and meditation in the workplace is a relatively unexplored field.
Research on mindfulness itself though is gathering pace – the number of high-quality trials has increased significantly in recent years but many studies have been small-scale and focused on short meditation interventions.
In Sunnyvale, a recent count found the nine mindfulness rooms were used on average 15 times a day, with over half of these visits specified as meditation.
The company measures the success of its wellness programme by keeping track of how many employees participate in meditation classes, use the mindfulness rooms, attend mindfulness workshops and use the promoted mindfulness apps.
“We certainly don’t teach or promote mindfulness as a way to be content in one’s current state. In fact, I would say the aim of mindfulness is the opposite. If a person finds discontent in their current state, mindfulness can help them understand why there is discontent, and ultimately, find their way out of the discontent,” he says.

The orginal article.