Glide Lunch & Learn: Benefits of Meditation

I was honored to be invited to give a presentation at Glide about the benefits of meditation.

Glide’s clinic provides health care to the residents of San Francisco in the Tenderloin District, with intention to break the cycle of poverty and marginalization.

Here is a summary of the information I covered.

I have been meditating since 2008 and learned from a Zazen practitioner, Gabriel Rogers.

Yoga as it pertains to meditation:

Yoga has eight limbs, many of which encapsulate aspects of meditation. Asanas focuses on mastering the body by way of holding poses.

Limbs five, six, seven, and eight; Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samadhi (respectively) may be interpreted as practices of different types of meditation.

5 – focuses on controlling senses

6 – involves concentration & cultivating inner perceptual awareness

7 – specific meditation on the Divine

8 – union with the Divine

The practice of Yoga has a similar culminating journey toward Nirvana (bliss) in Buddhist meditation.

Scientific Benefits of Meditation

Sourced from links on Dr. Emma Seppala’s webpage. I found it to be an excellent source of scientific research and evidence of the many benefits of meditation.

  • Increases Immune Function – subjects meditating in a compassionate, mindful manner demonstrated increase antibody production to combat influenza.
  • Decreases pain – guides our mental processes to interpret the experience of pain in a more manageable way.
  • Decreases Inflammation on a cellular level – participants at suffering from cardiovascular disease demonstrated a decrease of stress and CRP (c-reactive protein) levels.
  • Improves memory, creativity, and attention span – subjects who meditated for four continuous days for twenty minutes each day showed an improved capacity for memory construction, creativity, and focus.
  • Increases grey matter – subjects who meditate show a measurable increase in grey matter density in certain cortices.
  • Increases volume of brain tissue in centers of emotional regulation, self-control, and positive emotions.
  • Increases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention.

Summaries from the ArtofLiving.org list these benefits and more:

  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Regulates seratonin production
  • Boosts energy levels
  • Lowers blood lactate; reducing anxiety.

The question was posed: What are some different ways to meditate?

My answer: there is no wrong way to meditate. One can meditate laying down, seated, in traditional full/half-lotus postures, on a seiza (meditation bench). One can meditation by focusing on breath, with prayer beads, counting finger segments, using a mantra (focus phrase), holding a mudra (hand position), or an combination of these and more.

Conclude with a brief meditation exercise. Follow-up with insights and observations from group.

Thank you for your warm welcome, attention, and participation in today’s presentation.

Medical Journals and Articles sourced

Psychoneuroendocrinology

Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune & behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. 2009

Journal of Neuroscience

Brain Mechanisms Supporting Modulation of Pain by Mindfulness Meditation. 2011

Brain, Behavior, and Immunity

Workplace based mindfulness practice & inflammation: a randomized trial. 2013

Neuroimage

The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter. 2009

Psychosomatic Medicine

Alterations in Brain and Immune Function Produced by Mindfulness Meditation. 2003

Neuroreport

Meditation experience is associated with increased cortical thickness. 2006

Cognitive Therapy and Research

The effects of mindfulness meditation on cognitive processes and affect in patients with past depression. 2004

General Hospital Psychiatry

Three-year follow-up and clinical implications of a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction intervention in the treatment of anxiety disorders. 1995

Extraordinary Energy in You

Understanding our unseen selves is a pursuit long practiced by Eastern cultures.  In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the twelve primary meridians are well known and commonly taught. More than these twelve meridians exist and flow through us.  Yuichi Kawada’s “Essential Shiatsu: The Eight Extraordinary Meridians”, identifies and explains these pathways summarily. The author elaborates a comprehensive flow of yin and yang energy through the body directed by the extraordinary meridians.

As a practitioner of Shiatsu, this information broadened my perspective on the energetic flow occurring in the human body and helped me to understand the unending cycle of transforming energy circulating through us. When working with clients, I  use this knowledge to deepen the insight gained during a session and increase my awareness of the rhythms of my clients. An expanded knowledge of energetic movement throughout the human body improves the overall efficiency of its flow.

From a TCM perspective, the flow of chi revolves around the body starting from its most Yin zone in the front right foot. It accumulates Yang energy as it zig-zags to the left and upward from the right foot to left, up to the right shoulder and over to the left. It then travels to the back to become our most Yang aspect in the upper left region of the back. The Yang energy zig-zags downward gaining Yin as it flows to the back of the right foot.

Understanding this continuous movement of Qi in our bodies helps stay in tune with ourselves. When our lives are out of balance, this knowledge helps us identify where energy may be stagnate or blocked. We can direct our energy more ably as a result.

Below are diagrams of the extraordinary meridians. All images are courtesy of “Essential Shiatsu: The Eight Extraordinary Meridians”.

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A Healthy Holiday Treat

Body Awakening has got just what you need to keep you feeling great despite undue holiday stress: Massage, Peace bar by Lush, Organic Chocolate.10846500_772060692888534_4174779812552672561_n

Our massage is specifically designed to bring out the best in you. Our approach takes an integrated view of the body, maximizing the overall benefit to you. Whether you want to zen-out with Shiatsu, be invigorated with kick-ass Russian Sports, or take the weight of the world off your shoulders with deep techniques and Trigger-Point, we have a massage for you. Reverberating rhythms from a Beats Pill supply a complimentary resonant energy. A West-facing view over San Francisco five stories up makes this an ideal space to let your stresses drift over the bay, leaving you renewed.

We want your holidays to be extra special. So, during this giving season, when you book a session or buy a gift certificate between now and January 12th, we’ll enhance and your euphoria with a Peace massage bar from Lush, and a delectable organic chocolate. Wishing you Healthy Holidays!

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