Category: Movement + Mindfulness

5 Steps to Feeling Good

Feelings. The senses. Our emotions. Being aware of your feelings can have a directly positive influence on your health and wellbeing. I’ll share a couple of exercises with you here, visual and physical, to help you hone that influential connection between feelings and health.

For more detailed information about this and other topics, consider subscribing to our Nutrition + Health video library, which gives you access to all of the videos of classes I’ve presented on nutrition and health.

For now, let’s look at connecting to your feelings. Here is a very effective visualization exercise for you to try.  To prepare, begin by writing any physical symptoms that cause you discomfort. Also write down a few things that symbolize your ideal of wellbeing (for example, clear thinking).

Now, look at the first item on your symptoms list. With that in mind:

  1. Connect to the symptom. Close your eyes, breathe easily and allow any feelings, emotions and/or images related to this symptom and this part of your body to rise up, without judgment.
  2. Connect with the feeling or image. Clearly identify what’s coming up for you. What are you feeling? (For example, “My knee gives me pain when I walk; it makes me feel unworthy, and incapable of moving forward.”)
    Stay with the feeling. Resist avoiding it and instead just be there with it, allowing it to exist for what it is. Be open to what it has to teach you. Then open your eyes slowly and write down the feelings that came up for you.
  3. Track the feeling to its origin. Close your eyes again and return to the feeling or image. Once it’s clear in your mind, ask yourself: Where is this coming from? When have I felt this before? Does it relate to a past experience?
  4. Learn from the feeling. How is this feeling or image preventing you from enjoying optimal health? What past experience or belief is standing in the way of you feeling your best? What is the payoff for you holding onto this feeling? What can you learn from it? What will it take for you to resolve this feeling, or dissolve this image? What do you have to let go of in order to change?
  5. Take action. You have the power to decide to let go of this feeling.

Repeat these steps with something from your list that symbolizes wellbeing, shifting the focus in step 4 to what is preventing you from having the sense of wellbeing that the image or feeling gives you. What barriers are in the way? And what is the payoff to staying within those boundaries?

You may want to repeat this for other symptoms of disease and symbols of vitality on different days, focusing in on one pairing at a time.

This also relates to a physical exercise we want to share with you. The exercise is part of the body of the Being Energy work. The following video takes you through this simple exercise, called a Being Energy pass.

In the video, you’ll notice me mention “recapitulation”—this word in the Being Energy work means to look back to the past to the root experiences of behaviors and beliefs that are blocking you in the present. Recapitulate, as defined in Merriam-Webster and how we use it in Being Energy, means: “To give new form or expression to.”

6 Windows to Perception: Overcome Sensory Overload and Optimize Your Awareness

It’s almost here! Being Energy’s next Nutrition class—all about the senses. I invite you to join me live, online on Saturday, October 3rd. We’ll explore the importance of the five senses and how to optimize them, and even give you an exercise for activating your 6th sense for expanded perception.

So why are we doing a class all about the senses? The senses are our windows to the world. They give us information that we use to stay safe, interact with others, experience our world and understand life (the hallmark of our species).

The challenge is that we’re so constantly bombarded with a stunning array of input, that most of us suffer from sensory overload. What we register consciously at any given moment is but a fraction of what is coming at us. So what should we pay attention to? How do we prioritize? How can we focus on what is important and ignore the rest?

The art of developing our attention is perhaps more important than ever before in human history because we are faced with more sensory information than ever before.

We do have a natural filter, the reticular activating system (RAS), that enables us to sort out what information to pay attention to and what to prune so that we don’t go crazy. Moreover, it is a filter that is trainable. We can consciously engage our awareness to manage our sensory perceptions.

An important thing to understand is that our beliefs and past experiences shape how we filter sensory input. The great news about this is that we can focus on the senses to quiet the mind (and vice versa) to affect our interpretation of what we are sensing. We can free ourselves from belief systems that don’t serve our overall wellness to activate a greater awareness of what is both seeable and un-seeable around us.

The eyes are especially important. They are often more fatigued by overstimulation than any other sense organ. We make countless decisions each day based on what our eyes are telling us. There is a voluminous amount of information to process. Computers, smart phones and TVs vie for our attention and cloud our visual sensibilities.

In the Being Energy Nutrition class on Saturday, I’ll teach a technique to soften the eyes, and relax and release the eye muscles to open up your perception.

Relaxing is a key thing for all of our senses, in fact. When we can quiet down the way we normally use our senses, we make way for opening to a more expansive way of interpreting sensory data. When you relax your eyes, for example, you’re able to see other aspects of the world. When your eyes become silent, you can see silence. This is true of all five senses. It is also a key for waking up the 6th sense.

When we activate our 6th sense, we have the capacity to apprehend what isn’t commonly available to us—something that we sometimes feel in our gut or our heart.Nutrition 2015_Featured_2

I’ll talk more about the 6th sense and how to cultivate it on Saturday. I hope you can join me!

The class airs live on September19 at 8:30am Pacific Time. For more information, and to register, please see beingenergy.com.

GONGS: Creating Balance, Health and Harmony with Sounds

We are beings of energy, and we are vibrational Beings. Because we are energy, we vibrate. Everything in the Universe is vibrating, moving all of the time. This motion generates frequencies, which become sounds.

A sound, vibration or frequency can be harmonizing for us, or can create disharmony, leading to physical and mental dis-ease. Conversely, a vibration that has a certain resonance can spark a fundamental balance in our being, affecting powerful healing for our bodies, minds and emotions.

Enter gong healing. We’ll be featuring this transformational and time-tested healing experience during our October workshop weekend in Amsterdam. We think you’ll all love the feeling of harmony and Inner Silence that the gongs so immediately activate.

Gongs have been made and used by people from a variety of cultures for many centuries, dating back to at least the Bronze Age. Yet their demonstrated ability to create a sense of peace has never been more needed. We are bombarded by all manner of vibrations in our modern lives. The sound frequency of the gongs can help us feel more harmonious, and balance the experience of energetic chaos that puts roadblocks in the way of our true energy shining forth.

The ripples of sound from gongs that are played with intention bathe your body in waves of balancing vibration. You can think of it as a sound massage that has a positive impact at the cellular and even molecular levels. The effect can be both subtle and dramatic.

The vibration of the gong creates a bridge to connect to your energy being. It penetrates to the subtlest levels of our physiology. We could compare the effect of gongs to the flow of energy crossing the assemblage point and illuminating a segment of fibers.

Christof Bernhard, the gong master who will be with us in Amsterdam, says that, “Every sound we encounter is a painting, a painting created by vibrations of varying complexity. These paintings act on our bodies, minds and emotions.”
Every sound has an effect on us. The sounds that gongs create resonate in a very positive way. We can use the sound of Gongs to dissolve blockages that prevent our full expression.

Learn more about our Amsterdam workshops, where Christof Bernhard and Viviana Molinari will bathe us in the transformational sounds of gongs.

Change, Release and Free Your Story: Teaching on the Path with Heart

As a BE teacher, I often have to face all of my fears and insecurities when I begin to plan a class. I find myself asking: Who am I to be offering instruction to others in something so elusive and difficult to talk about as turning the wheel of time? How do we create a pause in the seemingly unceasing repetition of our own stories? How can I honestly stand before others when I really don’t understand anything myself?

Carlos Castaneda used to say that no one “understands” anything. A real understanding would require going behind or beyond the assumptions on which all attempts at understanding are based—something that we can never do because at the base of everything is pure mystery, the unknowable. It’s like the child who responds to every step of an adult’s explanation with “Why?” until finally his parent has to tell him that there is no “why” for some questions. However, even without understanding anything, we can handle and enjoy life and the world perfectly well; we can function wonderfully.

Tom Detail BE Energy PassWhen I guide Being Energy classes or teach it to others, my only option is to suspend my own story—which includes plenty of self doubts about handling something that can’t be reduced to logic or reason—and let the spirit channel through me, even if only for a while. Under the pressure of my commitment to present something, I have to relax at some point and let ideas flow—what to emphasize, how to express it, what sequences of movements to do—and then connect to the energetic feeling that the movements and practices create. This is especially true when presenting the Code or guiding a recapitulation session. It is a complete mystery why the movements of the Code silence the mind, but I do experience that silence and I feel it as a direct connection between me and those who I am guiding, even when we are on different parts of the globe, communicating by Internet but also through our energetic link.

Recapitulating in a group is even more mysterious. If each one of us is reviewing his own distinct life experiences, what is the value of pursuing this as a group or class activity? For one thing, we are conditioned to the discipline of a schedule and an agreement to meet together, so the class format helps us take that initial step—just do it! Beyond this practical advantage, the group format helps create and reinforce a certain mood—of silence, of courage and determination to face ourselves without judgment. The suspending of judgment also applies to the act of recapitulation itself. Even when nothing comes to us as an experience worthy of recapitulation, we accept this without self-criticism and with a mood of curiosity and wonder. Even the most seemingly mundane experience we happen to remember can lead to discovery and self-knowledge.

Tom TeachingThe challenge of integrating our innermost core, the essence of our being, with our behavior and choices is not a goal against which we judge ourselves as winners or losers. It is a path, a process that continues throughout our lives. Everyone has doubts, and each of us loses the feeling of fluid energy and silence over and over. However, if we have tasted this energy and silence, we know how to find it and keep coming back, trying to go deeper and maintain this position longer.
By deciding to teach, you are committing yourself. You are choosing to put yourself on the line and rally your energy each time you lead others, even though you have no guarantees that you will succeed. When a class approaches and you feel lost, the commitment comes to your aid. It focuses your attention and activates your intent so that you can genuinely connect to the inexhaustible source of life and creativity. You stand before others not knowing exactly what you will say, but with a feeling of certainty that expresses itself in your voice, your eyes and your movements. And in that moment you have changed your story—you are someone or something else, an expression of the infinite.

What a great gift is this opportunity to share beauty of spirit with others!

Tom Reavley

Note: You won’t want to miss Being Energy’s BE Skilled! workshops and training programs this fall. Dive in on September 26th for Turning the Wheel of Time and on November 7th for The Crack Between the Worlds!

Advanced registration required.

We’d love to see you there.

Aerin and Miles

Power Nap, Part I: 7 Simple Steps to Boost Your Energy

Feeling a little fuzzy? Not as clear-headed as you know you can be? Maybe you could use a nap!

Though there’s long been debate, the science is now in: There is such a thing as sleep debt, and it is a debt that you can, at least in part, repay. So how does that work? First, it’s important to recognize that there is such a thing as both short-term and long-term sleep debt.

Short-term debt includes things like staying up late one or two nights in a row for a work project or to cram for an exam, or waking up extra early to catch a flight. When you fall short of the recommended 7 – 9 hours of sleep on one night, you can effectively make up for it over the coming nights or on the weekend (studies show that people tend to sleep more on the weekend and less during the week). For every hour of sleep that you lost during the week, try to make up an hour, either in one night or incrementally over several nights.

What happens when you can’t catch up? We call that long-term sleep debt—a debt accumulated over weeks, months or even years. To give your body and mind a rest after such sleep deprivation, try giving yourself a few days with a light schedule in which you can turn off your alarm clock and sleep every night until you wake naturally—a retreat, if you will. If you can manage to truly take a rest during those days without worrying about work, or being on the computer and so on, you’ll be taking a big and valuable step for your health and wellbeing.

Something else that can give you a boost of energy while helping you put money in your sleep bank is a Power Nap. This is a really effective nap technique that my patients around the world have benefited from. You can think of it as boosting your vitality in just seven steps. It goes like this:

  1. Take off your shoes (if you have shoes on) and make sure that you’re feet are warm, keeping or putting on a pair of socks as needed. Have a blanket handy in case you feel cold.
  2. Lie face down on your bed so that your feet just hang off the bed comfortably—if your bed isn’t handy, you can lie on the floor on a mat or blanket and put a pillow or cushion under your ankles so that they can hang over that (you don’t want to have any pressure on the tops of your feet).
  3. Put a pillow on your shoulder blades—not too high so that it is up at your neck and not too low so that it is below your shoulder blades. It’s nice if the pillow has some weight to it.
  4. If you feel cold, cover yourself and the pillow with the blanket.
  5. Turn your head to rest your cheek on the bed or mat.
  6. Let your arms rest comfortably at your sides, or raise them above your head if that is more comfortable for you.
  7. Rest there for 20 – 40 minutes. (Set your alarm as needed so that you don’t sleep longer than you wish.)

You may or may not fall asleep during this Power Nap. Sometimes, people tend to fall asleep just in the last few minutes of the rest period. It doesn’t matter. Whatever happens, you’ll probably be surprised at how energized you’ll feel later in the day.

If you feel even more tired in just the few minutes after the Power Nap, don’t worry. This will likely soon dissipate and then you’ll be energized.

And remember, as research documented in the journal Sleep found, the more tired we get, the less tired we feel. So why not give that nap a try?

Aerin is also offering a sleep class series just for women in October. Hormonal and life shifts can strongly impact a woman’s sleep cycles, and this class will give you helpful information and tools so that you can get good sleep and wake up feeling refreshed. The classes will take place in the peaceful environment of our LA offices, and will be supportive, and fun. Bring your pillow and a friend!

Energy Redeployment: More Energy! Reclaiming Your Vitality through Movement

During our apprenticeship, Carlos Castaneda emphasized practicing sequences of movements to regain focus and alertness.

“When paying attention, not only to what movement comes next in the sequence, but even more importantly to ‘how’ you are practicing each movement,” he said during a class break, “you align your mind and body, working in unison with a clear purpose. That is what don Juan called energy redeployment— bringing back one’s energy flow to the center of the mind-body unit.”

It was a hot, dry summer evening in LA; my mind was meandering and inner thoughts jumping while I watched myself performing movements in the mirror, trying to not mess up the sequence. For several months, I had followed the practice of not watching myself in the mirror, even when brushing my teeth or applying facial lotion. It was Castaneda’s suggestion, and I found it very liberating. Looking at myself in the mirror had become torture—I couldn’t stop judging myself. However, in the yoga studio in Santa Monica were Castaneda used to teach his classes, there was a long mirror and it was difficult to avoid watching myself as I practiced and getting lost in thoughts such as, “I am good at this move,” or “Oh, I can’t get this move like he is doing it”—an endless comparison.

“Energy redeployment is required to meet It,” he said, interrupting my thoughts. “LO Infinito,” he added, with piercing eyes looking towards me. A shiver ran through my sweaty spine.

He went on to say that seers of his lineage described “Infinity” as a field of infinite energy where we can expand and evolve as beings of awareness. Infinity, the universe or source, as named by other traditions, is where our lives originate, and where we return after our journey of awareness on earth has ended.

Castaneda came closer and almost whispered in my ear, “redeployment of energy beings about your energy body.” I didn’t understand it and felt a bit spooked by the idea of another body that resembles me, but is not really me.

He then continued telling the rest of the class that there are caches of energy that exist within the self. Don Juan told him that these caches are composed of energy that originates in the body itself and becomes displaced, pushed out of reach by the circumstances—the wear and tear—of daily life. In this sense, the practice of movement sequences with focus, precision and alertness, gives us a means for redeploying our unused energy.

“In the alignment of mind and movement, pay attention to your breath,” he said to all. “That is when Spirit whispers you.”

In Being Energy’s upcoming workshop in Amsterdam, we will practice the same movement sequences that Carlos Castaneda taught to me (Aerin Alexander) and Miles Reid.

Redeploy your energy to bring daring and purpose to your actions and allow the Spirit to speak through you.

BE in Bulgaria!

Hello Friends,

I am writing to you to let you know about our most recent workshop in Bulgaria. I can say that it was the most successful event led by BE instructors in Bulgaria. We were able to procure a beautiful event site, which served good food at a reasonable price of 45 EUR for the workshop, accommodation and full board. Have you heard of such a price? It is possible here. And half of the price covered the workshop, which was a normal hourly rate for yoga studios here.
We are, of course, just beginning on our path as BE Instructors in Bulgaria, so we did not ask for a higher price. Patience. Our group consisted of 12 practitioners plus the two Being Energy Instructors, Sergey Velev and me.

Let me say a little about the event site. It is a little rustic, but a very pleasant place in a small town with mineral springs. It is actually a small ceramic factory where there is a studio for designing different figures from clay. Every year the factory holds seminars for children, which gives them the opportunity to work with their hands in the studio. They also hold seminars for different kinds of artists—painters, sculptors, etc. There are beautiful pieces of art all around the studio that were made during these seminars.

Participants 1We had the whole place for the weekend, and we ate meals cooked especially for us, based on a menu we provided to them.

The mood was heartfelt and sincere; everybody worked hard and got the best for themselves from the event. There were six newcomers who expressed excitement and happiness to be there.

At the end of the workshop we left some time for everyone to ask questions or just to say how he/she felt. Most people shared that they now had a new vision for their lives. One of the newcomers explained that she was expecting to practice yoga, since we also announced the event through our yoga teacher friends. At first the movements confused her. She was astonished when we spoke about Carlos Castaneda, as she had recently begun reading Castaneda’s books. Upon making that connection, between reading the books and this event, she realized that she was not here by chance.

Participants In Studio 2

The theme of the workshop was “In the flow of Power.” That theme was generated by me and Sergey before hearing about the next Path With Heart series theme! During lunch, I heard a practitioner report about a video clip she had seen on YouTube about a mother duck that led her ducklings across a very busy, 6-lane highway. This story hit me. When, at the end of the event, we redefined for ourselves the meaning of personal power, I wrote in my notebook, “Personal power is to lead your little ducks across a busy six lane highway to get to the other side together.” And, why not through the Unknown?

Participants In Studio 5Can you imagine this bird passing through, flying and killing monsters with her ducklings? What can drive this incredible act? After the workshop, I found the clip and shared it on the Being Energy – Bulgaria Facebook page. You can see it here https://www.facebook.com/BeingEnergyBulgaria – A CNN Report.

I even bought a ceramic family of ducks that are in front of the tree house in the forest now, next to where I am writing this blog post to you—a beautiful chain of ducks. And of course it is now my desktop picture.Make_way_for_ducklings_statue

During the preparation of the workshop, I had a very strong feeling that I had to keep certain the intent about the theme and then develop everything around it. It definitely came, but at first I felt my energy was scattered and things didn’t go as smoothly as I would have liked. It is a learning process, and I am grateful to my dear teachers, Aerin, Miles and all the incredible beings of the lineage, whom I feel are supporting me, and all of my comrades from BE Skilled!

Pavel Pavlov

Personal Power, Leaving the Cult

Carlos Castaneda would often talk, and even joke about the cult of “me, me, me”—the self-centered, human, ego-driven obsession of self-importance.

In my years of training with him, I had the opportunity to observe myself worry and be obsessed with my “self-presentation”—taking extra time to fix the way I looked, which I judged harshly. I spent so much energy in seeking external approval, and in trying to “fit in” with friends and people at work. The self-presentation, the idea I created about myself, was a heavy load to carry around. I could never feel fully satisfied. In fact, it made me feel joyless, worried and stressed out.

“There is a way out of this,” Castaneda told me one day, smiling at me, aware of my misery. “You need to leave the cult of Me, Me and create a new reference point for yourself, a new way of being by thinking of yourself as a mystery, as something to be discovered, unfolded.”

He taught me endlessly about dropping off the mask that I used to wear and to dream a new mask for myself, a new mask that would make me feel lighter, joyful, and more open. “You need to build your personal power,” he said, “and that is something that you intend, that you call upon, that you dream about.”

It has been almost 20 years since that conversation. I have been practicing tools and recapitulation to free myself from ideas of unworthiness and feeling unlovable—slowly releasing my “idea of myself,” the “me, me, me” inside me. Then something special happened to me just a few weeks ago.

Recently, I have been taking my son to the ocean for daily swims. He loves the water, and I get great pleasure watching him swim. However, every time my son asked me to join him, I resisted getting my head under the water.

I made the decision to look deeper into what was preventing me from submerging myself in the water. I immediately started remembering a time in childhood when I really enjoyed swimming. Then a memory came up about an experience in the ocean: One afternoon when I was 14, vacationing with my family, I got in the ocean and got paralyzed. I remember standing on my tippy toes, with the water just below my nose, being completely unable to move. After 20 minutes of struggling, I was able to wave my arms and was rescued by a lifeguard. It was scary, embarrassing and traumatic. I knew how to swim, but I got paralyzed by fear.

Since then, my relationship with water had somehow been frozen in time. I realize now that I’ve always found excuses for NOT going swimming. “Too cold,” “too hot,” “my hair is done,” “I don’t look good in a bathing suit,” etc, etc. It turns out that I was numbed by fear, not able to enjoy the water for more than 30 years.

Personal Power BlogSo this is what I did last Friday: I went into the ocean, and I recapitulated right there in that spot, my experience as a 14-year-old. I called on my “personal power”—the part of myself connected to Spirit—and I cried (and didn’t care about people watching me). I prayed to Mother Ocean and I released a big chunk of self-defensiveness and stress. I’d been holding fear deep down in my bones without even being consciously aware of it. After that experience, which lasted around an hour, my body completely changed. I felt much more relaxed and my belly was softer. I have been sleepier and have allowed myself to take naps (something unthinkable to me just a few months ago!). I am still processing, but something fundamental shifted in a very deep way.

Getting out of the cult of “me” and awakening to my higher self has been a journey. It’s a process. It doesn’t get done in one weekend. But I can say that thanks to the consistent practice of movements and knowledge given to me by Carols Castaneda and inherited from his teacher, and to the Path with Heart classes that I have been guiding with my husband for the last five years, I have been able to release this thing that was so old and deep.

Our Path with Heart series has been especially effective in supporting this process and sustaining my energy levels and my commitment to transformation, growth and expansion of awareness.

I am a happy fish again, free from the obsession of the Me, Me, Me.

Love,
Aerin

How to Be Flexible to Stay Strong

Movement. Energy. Health. Vitality. It’s all tied together. At Being Energy, we think it’s important to take the whole into consideration. But to understand the whole, you must look at the parts, and vice versa.

Movement is a key part of what we teach in our classes and workshops because movement, in one way or another, is a fundamental part of life, and a key for staying healthy and happy.

We want to cultivate flexible movement. To be flexible is also to be strong. So we offer the practices we do ourselves every day in Being Energy’s live online daily Mind + Body + Spirit classes.  We also just launched a new Video Library, with a collection of daily 30-minute classes, many of which focus on movement.

In a presentation during one of Being Energy’s Nutrition + Health classes this year, our colleague Jordan Hoffman shared some philosophy and simple exercises of Aikido. Jordan is a longtime Aikido practitioner, and 2nd Degree black belt, in addition to being an outstanding acupuncturist. He shared some valuable insights.

Aerin and YelenaBecause the class theme was bones, tendons and muscles, Jordan spoke about keeping the tendons and ligaments nice and open, and how this enables energy to flow throughout the body.  In every healthy joint there is space. That space allows for comfortable, easy movement. When we’re stressed, tight or tense, we tend to contract, reducing that space, which results in more tightness and tension. This also slows us down, and creates an environment ripe for injury. But if we’re supple, we can move faster with more fluidly and grace. When presented with an obstacle, the more supple we are, the better we can navigate in the situation.

Think about the branch of a young tree. You can bend it and it won’t break; it remains flexible; but an old branch can snap. Just so, we want to keep our bones and joints supple. We want to be able to move easily with the winds of change and challenge.

An inspiring example of flexibility and grace at any age is Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba (December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969). In this video from 1935, these qualities, and more, are made clear.

Here, you can see his last public demonstration, in 1969, at the age of 85 (it’s a little fuzzy, but nonetheless worth watching).

So how can we embody this? What can we do to meet the challenges of life with power and grace? We can start with awareness.

At the end of every day, you might notice that you feel shorter, tighter, contracted, more compressed. Cultivating awareness is an important step in remaining strong yet flexible. Hold the image in your mind of spaciousness in your joints. Think of elongating your spine. If you’re standing and notice that your knees are locked, soften them, letting the energy flow through the joint and through your body.

To your health, strength and suppleness,
Dr. Miles Reid

8 Great Reasons to Meditate Today

You can enjoy positive effects from even just one meditation, and the long-term benefits multiply with continued practice.

Recent studies show that meditation not only reduces stress—which would certainly be enough reason to try it—but it actually affects our DNA, protecting the life of our cells and slowing aging. One study showed that just one meditation session can have a positive impact.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Meditation can give you a sense of calm, peace and balance that benefits both your emotional well-being and your overall health.”

Scientists are just beginning to understand how and why meditation works, but its mental, physical and emotional benefits have been appreciated since ancient times.  It has been proven to lower stress and to help combat illnesses such as:

 

  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Pain
  • Sleep problems

The greatest benefit comes from a daily practice, and there are many forms of meditation to try. From Mindfulness and Transcendental Meditation to Tai Chi and yoga, it can involve movement or stillness, attention or transcendence.

Meditation is something that helps you turn the volume down internally, and shift away from the stress response toward a parasympathetic response. It may include breathing in a purposeful way, using guided imagery and your imagination or focusing on an object. I often coach patients in meditation techniques to address their particular situation.

The effects can be very powerful.

Here are eight scientifically proven benefits of meditation:

  1. Stronger immunity. Multiple studies show that meditation improves immunity in a variety of ways, from boosting antibodies to slowing down the production of CD-4 cell counts to stimulating the brain areas that control the immune system.
  2. Less pain. Meditation can reduce the experience of pain and lower activity in the brain’s pain-processing regions.
  3. Stronger and faster mental function. Meditation strengthens the connection between brain cells and may lead to increased gyrification (cortical activity linked to the brain’s ability to process information more quickly).
  4. Brain restructuring. It’s amazing to consider, but meditation can change your brain structure—brain scans of longtime meditators show increased gray matter, which is associated with intelligence, sensory perception, emotional stability and stress response.
  5. Increased learning ability. Research shows that students who meditate have better test scores, improved attendance rate, increased intelligence and creativity and less stress.
  6. Emotional stability. It appears that when exposed to stress, long-time meditataors show less activity in the right amygdala—the part of the brain that plays a key role in processing emotions.
  7. Better focus. A University of Washington study conducted by Dr. David Levy showed that those who are trained in meditation experience less negative emotion in multi-tasking tests and can switch tasks less often and more effectively. Meditators also showed improved task-related memory.
  8. Weight control. It turns out that meditation can actually help reduce belly fat. Increased stress increases certain hormone activity that can lead to weight gain, and study after study shows that meditation can significantly reduce the body’s response to stress as well as increase serotonin, a hormone that influences sleep, mood and appetite.

Meditation, in whatever form we choose, can play an effective and enjoyable role in our health and wellbeing.

If you participate in our upcoming LA retreat Radiant Health + Radiant Energy, you can experience the benefits of meditation in a fuller context. Or join us in Amsterdam in October!