Friday, February 26, 2016
Those who score high on mindfulness are significantly more likely than people with low scores to have healthy glucose levels.
That is the finding of a new study published in the American Journal of Health Behavior.
The researchers also sought to identify factors that might explain the connection they saw between higher mindfulness and healthier glucose levels.
Here is a link to the research.
Journal article: Loucks E, Gilman S, Britton W, Gutman R, Eaton C, Buka S. ‘Associations of Mindfulness with Glucose Regulation and Diabetes.’ . 40:2, Mar 2016, pp .
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Having conducted mindfulness courses and seminars for not only law firms but firms of all shapes and kinds I am not surprised to read in the Australasian Lawyer today that one international law firm has actually demonstrated that mindfulness really makes a difference in the workplace. Not that I am surprised to hear that.
Listen to these results from a six-week program in mindfulness run by the major law firm Herbert Smith Freehills:
* a 12 per cent increase in employee focus
* a 10 per cent increase in employee performance
* a 10 per cent increase in employee efficiency
* a 17 per cent increase in employee work/life balance
* an 11 per cent increase in employee communication skills
* a 14 per cent decrease in employee multitasking (yes, out with multitasking).
Here’s the link to the article.
Friday, February 12, 2016
The great theme throughout the ages is this---look within.
For years and years I looked outside of myself for the answer to life’s problems. I looked to others for help, especially my friends. I demanded their approval, attention and admiration. Not surprisingly, I lost most of them a few decades ago. I also beseeched a deity I thought was outside of myself for deliverance from my woes. Nothing happened. No, that’s not actually correct. Quite a bit happened. My problems and woes greatly increased in number and intensity.
When Gautama Buddha was on his deathbed he noticed that one of his ten principal disciples was weeping. 'Why are you weeping, Ananda?' Buddha asked. 'Because the light of the world is about to be extinguished and we will be in darkness.' Buddha replied: 'Ananda, be a light unto yourself.'
The same theme is present in Christianity as it also is in the other major religions of the world. Jesus may have said, ‘I am the light of the world’ (cf Jn 8:12) but he is also reported as having said, ‘You [that is, you and me] are the light of the world’ (Mt 5:14). He never claimed anything for himself that he didn’t also claim for you and me. Never forget that.
Here’s something else Jesus reportedly said: ‘The kingdom of God is within you’ (Lk 17:21). In Matthew's Gospel the expression 'kingdom of heaven' is used (cf 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand' [Mt 3:2]) but it means the same thing as the expression 'kingdom of God'. 'Heaven', as Jesus used the term, refers not to some future place but to an inner and very present potentiality and power. It is within all of us, whether we be Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists or something else altogether. The kingdom of God is like the oak tree which is always present within the acorn---both presence and potentiality. In one of his many parables Jesus used this analogy: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches’ (Mt 13:31-32). In other words, we are talking about the invisible essence of reality. So, when Jesus said that 'your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom’ (Lk 12:32) he was saying that the creative spirit of life (the 'Father') indwells everyone. It is individualized in you as you and in me as me.
The Japanese swordsman and rōnin Miyamoto Musashi [pictured above], in his wonderful text Go Rin No Sho (The Book of Five Rings), said more-or-less the same thing, albeit in different words and thought forms:
There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, stronger, richer, quicker, or smarter. Everything is within. Seek nothing outside of yourself.
Look within; within is the fountain of all good. Such a fountain, where springing waters can never fail, so thou dig deeper and deeper.
I also like this Sufi saying:
Within your own house swells the treasure of joy, so why do you go begging from door to door?
You see, the theme of 'look within' is truly universal. I think it must be part of the phylogenetic heritage of the human species.
Be a light unto yourself. Look within. The answer to all your problems and woes is within you. More importantly, the power to solve and overcome those problems is also within you. And don’t listen to anyone who says anything to the contrary.
Friday, February 5, 2016
New research from Carnegie Mellon University, published in Biological Psychiatry, reports on the actual brain changes that occur as a result of practising mindfulness meditation.
The study shows that training in mindfulness meditation training, compared to relaxation training, reduces Interleukin-6 (‘IL-6’), an inflammatory health biomarker, in high-stressed, unemployed community adults.
The biological health-related benefits occur because mindfulness meditation training fundamentally alters brain network functional connectivity patterns and the brain changes statistically explain the improvements in inflammation.
‘We've now seen that mindfulness meditation training can reduce inflammatory biomarkers in several initial studies, and this new work sheds light into what mindfulness training is doing to the brain to produce these inflammatory health benefits,’ said Dr David Creswell [pictured left], lead author and associate professor of psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.
For the randomized controlled trial, 35 job-seeking, stressed adults were exposed to either an intensive three-day mindfulness meditation retreat program or a well-matched relaxation retreat program that did not have a mindfulness component. All participants completed a five-minute resting state brain scan before and after the three-day program. They also provided blood samples right before the intervention began and at a four-month follow-up.
The brain scans showed that mindfulness meditation training increased the functional connectivity of the participants' resting default mode network in areas important to attention and executive control, namely the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Participants who received the relaxation training did not show these brain changes. The participants who completed the mindfulness meditation program also had reduced IL-6 levels, and the changes in brain functional connectivity coupling accounted for the lower inflammation levels.
‘We think that these brain changes provide a neurobiological marker for improved executive control and stress resilience, such that mindfulness meditation training improves your brain's ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,’ Dr Creswell said.
Journal article: Creswell, J D et al. ‘Alterations in resting state functional connectivity link mindfulness meditation with reduced interleukin-6: a randomized controlled trial.’ Biological Psychiatry. Publication stage: In Press. Accepted Manuscript. Published online: January 29, 2016. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.01.008
IL-6 Crystal Structure