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

Wellness Workshop to Menlo School Students

In February, Founders Megha and Wendell presented a workshop to the students of Menlo School at the San Francisco Buddhist Meditation Center. Our workshop presented global cultural practices for self-care that help us understand the self better.

Throughout the course, we taught the students about different systems and multi-cultural perspectives of the human body. Everything from cardiovascular pathways to primary meridians of Traditional Chinese Medicine was covered. We learned and put into practice Thai Foot reflexology and Shiatsu techniques. And, we balanced our chakras and conjured our ability to heal the self through some basic Reiki skills.

We hope that the students that came to learn about the Ancient Wellness Arts will take the knowledge and experience they acquired and implement it into their own lifestyles.

It is our great honor to transfer the knowledge of caring for the self the student that attended our wellness workshop. Thank you!

See what they have to say about their Body Awakening Wellness Workshop!

Wellness workshop reviews

Mesmerizing mural for your musing mind

Body Awakening's Mural

An epic elaboration of archetypes, heroes, and gods awaits your presence in Body Awakening’s Studio. As many civilizations have looked to the heavens for inspiration, we beckon you to look above for the same spark.

As you enter our space, Ganesha, the Gatekeeper and overcomer of obstacles greets you warmly.

Keeping watch over the entryway and overcoming all obstacles

Hanuman leaps an unfathomable distance to pluck the sun out of the sky as if it were fruit.

Leaping a million yojanas to pluck the sun out of the sky as if it were fruit

Krishna charms all with his lyrical flute and cheery demeanor.Charming all with his lyrical flute and cheery demeanor

The sage sits contemplating the rhythms of the universe, while the poet writes the messages of the muses on the sage’s beard.

Contemplating the rhythms of the universe while the poet writes the muses' messages on his beard

Theseus, Greece’s greatest hero, emerges from defeating the minotaur in the maze; bringing his truth to light.

Emerging successfully from the maze, bringing truth to light

Shiva sits, meditating, observing peace during our era.Meditating on mountain peaks in observation of peace in our era

Silhouetted lovers embrace affectionately with our best energy.Earth's perfect duo in love

Artemis draws her bow exemplifying graceful feminine strength.The huntress draws her bow in honor of feminine strength

A majestic sun beams enlightening the cosmos.Enlightening the cosmos

Fierce Durga sits poised on her tiger, ready to provide feminine protection.

Fierce protectress on her powerful tiger

A bastion of peace exudes calming energy from his nirvanic state.An ever-present bastion of calm in his nivanic state

The dream of the universe is brought into existence by Vishnu, sleeping pleasantly on his bed of nagas in the sea of infinity.Dreams the universe into existence on his bed of nagas in the sea of infinity

All this, a stunning Westward San Francisco view, vibrant colors, and more beckon you for a truly inspired state of relaxation with a Body Awakening session.

We’d like to offer a special thanks to San Francisco’s Sonya Genel for bringing our vision of interweaving of myth, legend, gods, and cosmos into such a wonderful artistic manifestation: Shukriya, Shukriya, Shukriya!