The Chi Machine!

BENEFITS

·       It reduces problems caused by the lack of physical exercise

·       It vitalizes the whole body and energy system

·       It corrects and eliminates left and right dislocation of the spine

·       It improves bad posture and backache

·       It improves blood circulation

·       It improves the drainage of lymph and lactic acid

·       It reduces body weight and tones muscles

·       It aids poor digestion

·       It triggers cellular memory

·       It clears headaches and migraines

·       It greatly helps neuron problems (strokes, MS, Etc.)

·       It helps with depression and stress

·       It balances the autonomic system

·       Reports of it helping with Jet Lag, swollen limbs, sports injuries, congested lungs, asthma, cold sensitivity, impaired immune function, arthritis, insomnia, period pains, osteoporosis and many more conditions too numerous to mention. The Chi Machine's ability to oxygenate, tone and strengthen the body, increases the feeling of vitality and well-being. It increases the Chi (energy) for those who use it on a daily basis.

·       Cellular Activation: The Chi Machine activates the sympathetic nervous system, which opens up the bronchioles promoting movement of oxygen into the lungs. As a result oxygen exchange is increased, providing additional oxygen to the cells.

·       Spinal Balancing: The undulating movement decompresses vertebra and helps straighten out kinks, reducing tightness and allowing chiropractic adjustments to hold longer.

·       Exercising Internal Organs and Generating Chi: The "rush" of Chi after the motion of the Chi Machine has ceased massages your internal organs, and rearranges the way the body utilizes Chi, putting it back into balance

·       Stimulates globulin production
which increases the immune system’s defense
capacity thereby providing greater freedom from disorders and disease

·       Blood is produced in the spleen and spinal bone marrow. Reduction of spleenal blood production can arise from the spleen’s susceptibility to damage. The massager’s action on the spine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system which increases spinal ‘marrow’ blood production. Any form of anemia can be benefited by this massage action

·       Western medical science is beginning to consider ancient eastern traditions that focus healing and good health on a life force energy which flows in channels through all living forms. Acupuncture and associated therapies are being increasingly used by western practitioners to ‘invigorate’ the life4orce energy flow to restore health to unhealthy organs.The Chinese refer to this energy as ‘Chi’. The Sun Ancon CHI Machine will aid in unblocking the ‘Chi’ pathways and ensure a maximum flow of this heating source, through all body organs, to restore normal or improved functioning to Impaired organs and body systems related to such organs.

·       Balancing the Autonomic Nervous System: The pressures and stress of our "modern world" often produces an imbalance of the autonomic nervous system, which can result in insomnia, digestive difficulties, heart palpitations, constipation, and other "diseases of civilization".
The balancing of Chi by the Chi Machine brings the autonomic nervous system back into balance, minimizing and/or eliminating those bothersome and dangerous affliction.
 
 

WHO CAN USE THE CHI MACHINE?:

The Chi Machine is suitable for anyone over four years of age. 
 
However, the use of the Chi Machine is contraindicated in the following situations and should not be used:

During pregnancy; less than 3 months after major surgery or bone fracture;
with serious heart disease;
with serious infection or bleeding injuries or with epilepsy.

The Chi Machine should not be used within 30 minutes of eating - longer for large meals. If severe pain occurs during its use, this should be properly investigated before continuing. Temporary tiredness and headaches can result from the release of toxins from the tissues. Should these symptoms occur, reduce the time and be sure to drink plenty of water.  If mild discomfort, nausea or dizziness occur during use, simply reduce the time to one or two minutes only and then increase again slowly.  For dizziness, a small pillow can be placed under the head until the problem resolves. 

 

JUST ONE 5-MINUTE SESSION WITH THE
CHI MACHINE WILL:

Rejuvenate your body
Provide an all-natural surge of healthy energy
Relieve chronic, nagging back pain
Flush harmful toxins from your body
Strengthen your immune system
Increase blood and oxygen circulation
Leave you feeling strong and limber
 


THE GOLDFISH METHOD:

Anyone who has used the Chi Machine can tell you - when you lie on your back with your feet elevated on the Chi Machine's footrest, with your legs swinging gently from left to right in that regular, relaxing pattern - you swivel from foot to waist, from waist to chest, and from the chest to the cervical vertebra and the head. The entire spinal column and all of its muscles are exercised. The Chi Machine drives the two rotating regions (the neck and the waist) and causes a motion much like that of a fish swimming in water.  We have all noticed when a fish swims, its tail gently swings and generates movement of the entire spinal column and all muscles.

 

 THE ROLE OF FULL SPINAL MOVEMENT:

Human spinal design permits lateral twisting - a fish-like movement that serves to relieve vertebral joint pressure and promote a sense of well-being.  Unlike children, adults seldom realize the benefit of this bodily movement. Consequently, stress and tension simply accumulate in the body. Observe how a baby stretches and twists in its crib.
This is a natural human movement that simultaneously relaxes and relieves minor muscle aches and pains.

When we observe animals or sea creatures we notice the serpentine movement in their walking, running and swimming motion. 
This natural action helps maintain health.    

The Wall Street Journal: The Meditation Cure: When the Buddha Meets Darwin

By Robert Wright
July 28, 2017 11:23 a.m. ET
The Wall Street Journal
A basic practice of Buddhism turns out to be one of the best ways to deal with the anxieties and appetites bequeathed to us by our evolutionary history

Much of Buddhism can be boiled down to a bad-news/good-news story. The bad news is that life is full of suffering and we humans are full of illusions. The good news is that these two problems are actually one problem: If we could get rid of our illusions—if we could see the world clearly—our suffering would end.

And there’s more good news: Buddhism offers tools for doing that job. A good example is the type of meditation known as mindfulness meditation, now practiced by millions of people in the U.S. and other places far from Buddhism’s Asian homeland. Mindfulness meditation, Buddhists say, can change our perspective on feelings such as anxiety and rage and thereby sap their power to warp our vision and make us suffer.

These claims—the bad news and the good—are more than two millennia old, but they’re now getting important support from evolutionary psychology, the modern study of how natural selection engineered the human mind. Evolutionary psychology gives Buddhism’s diagnosis of the human predicament a back story. It explains why humans are prone to illusions and to suffering and why the two problems are related. And this explanation can strengthen the Buddhist prescription, adding to the power of mindfulness meditation in particular.

Mindfulness meditation is an exercise in attention. It involves calming the mind—typically by focusing on the breath—and then using the resulting equanimity to observe things with unusual care and clarity. The things observed can include sounds, physical sensations or anything else in the field of awareness. But perhaps most important is the careful observation of feelings, because feelings play such a powerful role in guiding our perceptions, thoughts and behavior.

And here is where an evolutionary perspective can be helpful. Mindfulness calls for a kind of skepticism toward feelings. Rather than automatically following their guidance, you critically inspect them and decide which ones to trust. Evolutionary psychology helps to explain why this skepticism is warranted—why so many human feelings are unreliable guides. We don’t generally think of Darwin and the Buddha as being on the same wavelength, but in this and other ways their worldviews turn out to harmonize nicely.

The Darwinian account of the human situation, like the Buddhist account, begins with bad news. The process that created us, natural selection, is indifferent to whether we are happy or sad, enlightened or deluded. Ultimately, natural selection only cares about one thing (or, I should say, “cares”—in quotes—since natural selection is just a blind process, not a conscious designer). And that one thing is getting genes into the next generation. Genetically based mental traits—including particular feelings—that in the past contributed to genetic proliferation have flourished, while traits that didn’t have fallen by the wayside. Whether those feelings—and the thoughts and perceptions those feelings shape—give us a true view of reality is, strictly speaking, beside the point. So is whether they make us happy or miserable.

Take anxiety, for example. Evolutionary psychologists consider anxiety to be natural, grounded in our genes. After all, worrying about things can lead you to do something about those things. If you worry that your toddler, who seems to have wandered off somewhere, may get devoured by a beast, you’ll go make sure your toddler is safe—which, not incidentally, means making sure that copies of your genes are safe.

Of course, anxiety is unpleasant. But natural selection doesn’t care about that. It doesn’t even care that some of this unpleasantness will be for naught—that your toddler turned out to be in the hut next door, and the nightmare scenario that for a moment seemed so real was all in your head. Better safe than sorry, from natural selection’s point of view. “False positives” are a feature, not a bug, even though they make you suffer by fostering an illusion.

According to evolutionary psychology, our natural anxieties include social anxieties. The ancestral environment—the hunter-gatherer milieu in which humans evolved—featured lots of social interaction, and this interaction had consequence for a person’s genes. If you had low status in the group and few friends, that cut your chances of spreading your genes, so impressing people mattered.

Similarly, if your offspring didn’t thrive socially, that boded ill for their reproductive prospects, and hence for your genes. So it made sense, in Darwinian terms, for our ancestors to worry about what people thought of them and their offspring.

Here, too, false positives could arise. Our ancestors presumably worried about some things in their social environment that turned out not to be worth worrying about. But we moderns have things even worse. The false-positive problem can be compounded by the fact that anxiety no longer operates in the environment for which natural selection designed it.

Consider an artifact that has never been found by archaeologists unearthing the remnants of a Paleolithic hunter-gatherer village: PowerPoint. One thing our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t do was give presentations to an audience consisting largely of people they didn’t know. Maybe that’s why the prospect of doing this fills some people with overwhelming anxiety: Anxieties designed for a small and fairly intimate social environment get amplified by an environment that is neither.

This doesn’t mean that anxiety about public speaking is worthless. Worrying about your PowerPoint presentation can lead to a better presentation.

But let’s face it: Though this anxiety is sometimes productive, it often isn’t. There are people who, before a presentation, are beset by images of themselves spontaneously vomiting while talking to a crowd—even though, come to think of it, they’ve never spontaneously vomited while talking to a crowd. In a particularly perverse twist on PowerPoint anxiety, I’ve been known to lie awake the night before a big presentation worrying that if I don’t get to sleep I’ll do a bad job the next day.

I defy anyone to argue that this is natural selection’s way of increasing my chances of surviving and reproducing. So too with other modern social anxieties: a sense of dread before going to a cocktail party that, in fact, is unlikely to lead to anything worth dreading; or worrying about how your child is doing at her first slumber party, something you’re powerless to influence. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors didn’t have to navigate roomfuls of people they had never met, or send their children off to sleep in homes they had never seen—and that, presumably, is why these occasions can bring powerful yet typically unproductive anxiety.

This mismatch between our evolved nature and the environment in which we find ourselves isn’t just a modern phenomenon. For thousands of years, there have been social environments that weren’t the ones people were designed for. The Buddha was born to a royal family, which means that he lived in a society with clusters of population much bigger than a hunter-gatherer village. And there is evidence that people were being called on to speak before large audiences and that something like PowerPoint anxiety had taken shape. In one discourse, the Buddha’s list of common fears included the “fear of embarrassment in assemblies.”

That people were, even in the Buddha’s day, experiencing an uncomfortable mismatch between the environment their feelings were engineered for and the environment in which they found themselves may help to explain Buddhism’s early emphasis on meditative practice. The meditation that is described in ancient texts would have made people more aware of their feelings—in a sense more objectively aware of them—and so less reflexively governed by them. This remains a central goal of mindfulness meditation today.

And it can work. I have a daily meditation practice—periodically recharged by silent meditation retreats of a week or more—and I have more than once used meditation to deal with intense anxiety. In the middle of the night before a big talk, I have even sat up in bed, meditated, and gotten to a point where I viewed a knot of anxiety with such calm objectivity that it might as well have been a piece of abstract art I was contemplating in a museum. It entirely lost its grip on me, after which it disappeared. Perhaps Buddhists more than two millennia ago had much the same experience when meditating on “fear of speaking in assemblies.”

There is no doubt, however, that the modern environment surpasses the Buddha’s environment in its power to warp our feelings about, hence our perception of, the world. Consider powdered sugar doughnuts.

I have warm feelings toward them—so warm that, if I were guided only by my feelings, I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and between-meal snacks. Yet I’m told that eating that many doughnuts would be bad for me—that my feeling of attraction to powdered-sugar doughnuts is not to be trusted. This is hard news to take.

How could natural selection let something like this happen—give me feelings that don’t even do a good job of taking care of the body containing my genes? Well, natural selection designed our feelings for an environment with no junk food, an environment in which the sweetest thing available was fruit. So a sweet tooth, and the feelings it inspires, served us well. But in the modern world, which features the achievement of culinary science known as “empty calories,” these feelings become misleading.

Or, I should say, more misleading. Fundamental to Buddhism is the idea that craving in general—tanha, as it’s called in ancient texts—is inherently misleading. Regardless of what we thirst after—junk food, healthful food, sex—the thirst, the tanha, fosters an illusion of enduring gratification. When I see anything tasty, I imagine how good it will taste, not how that satisfaction will inevitably fade, leading to the desire for more.

This was one of the Buddha’s main messages: that the pleasures we seek evaporate quickly and leave us thirsting for more. We spend our time looking for the next gratifying thing—the next doughnut, the next sexual encounter, the next status-enhancing promotion, the next online purchase. But the thrill always fades, and it always leaves us wanting more. The old Rolling Stones lyric “I can’t get no satisfaction” is, according to Buddhism, the human condition. Though the Buddha is famous for asserting that life is full of suffering, some scholars say that’s an incomplete rendering of his message and that the word translated as “suffering,” dukkha, could be translated as “unsatisfactoriness.”

From natural selection’s point of view, dooming an animal to relentlessly recurring unsatisfactoriness is a wonderful idea. After all, if pleasure didn’t subside, we’d never seek it again. Our first meal would be our last, because hunger would never return. So too with sex: a single act of intercourse, and then a lifetime of lying there basking in the afterglow. That’s no way to get lots of genes into the next generation! Contentment is nice while it lasts, but it evaporates by design.

Much in the modern world—from junk food to pornography to nicotine to the Facebook algorithm that governs your news feed—has been engineered to intensify tanha, our unquenchable desire for more.

What to do? One approach is to meditate: Observe particular cravings mindfully, thus weakening them. This is challenging—more challenging than meditating on anxiety, I’d say—but there’s evidence that it can work. A study involving 88 smokers, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence in 2011, found that this kind of mindfulness training more effectively treated nicotine addiction than the American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program, which offers group counseling and a menu of therapies such as nicotine patches.

Regular mindfulness meditation can also undermine craving in a more general way. It can lessen the urgency of finding the next big thing by deepening your appreciation of things that you already have.

Buddhism’s list of unfortunate human illusions is long. It includes misconceptions about the “self” that we think of as being at our core and misconceptions about the nature of the things that we see in the world, including other humans. And many of these illusions can plausibly be explained as having been implanted in us by natural selection to serve its agenda—an agenda that doesn’t put a priority on seeing the world as it actually is or on finding lasting happiness in the world that we do see.

It is a tribute to Buddhism that it sized up the human predicament more than two millennia before science got around to discovering the origins of that predicament. But it would be unlike the Buddha to boast about this. If he were around today, he might instead thank Darwin for the corroboration, for explaining how humans wound up being prone to illusion and to attendant suffering. And if Darwin were around today, and joined the mindfulness meditation movement, he might thank the Buddha for coming up with a way to address the problem.

This essay is adapted from Mr. Wright’s new book, “Why Buddhism Is True: The Science and Philosophy of Meditation and Enlightenment,” which will be published by Simon & Schuster on Aug. 8. His previous books include “The Evolution of God,” “Nonzero” and “The Moral Animal.”

Proven Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation

By: Joe Leech

The ancient practice of meditation – particularly mindfulness meditation – has recently surged in popularity.

In fact, in the U.S. about 8 percent of adults and 1.6 percent of children have tried it already.

This is because the health benefits of mindfulness meditation are incredibly impressive… and supported by scientific studies.

This article explores the health conditions and diseases it may help with.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?

Meditation is the ancient practice of connecting the body and mind to become more self-aware and present (1).

There is a range of different meditation styles, but the most popular are:

  • Focused Attention (Vipassana)
  • Transcendental
  • Mindfulness

Most techniques emerged from a religious or spiritual context, but most now practice outside of these traditional settings.

Mindfulness is a specific approach that can be used alone or with other meditation techniques.

It’s most commonly defined as “paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness meditation is the most well-studied in health research. Scientific literature may also refer to it as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) or Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), which are types of mindfulness training.

I’ll refer to it as mindfulness in this article from here on.

Summary: Mindfulness is a form of meditation that is the most well-studied in health literature. It’s an ancient practice that emphasizes presence of mind and focus.

Reducing Stress is the Secret Sauce

Mindfulness appears helpful in a wide spectrum of health conditions.

It’s not understood why, but stress reduction appears to be the common link.

Stress is associated with decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, thought to be problematic. Mindfulness allows for conscious thinking in the prefrontal cortex, which may reverse this pattern of brain activity under stress (2).

 

Under high stress there are high levels of catecholamine release in brain, which weaken prefrontal cortex function. Click to enlarge. Image source.

It makes sense then that those who regularly practice mindfulness tend to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. At least, that’s what early research indicates (34).

For these reasons most experts suspect the ability of mindfulness to reduce stress is the key reason to its benefits.

Summary: Mindfulness appears to reduce stress and markers of stress. This is important as many health conditions are worsened by stress.

Mindfulness Meditation For Anxiety and Depression

Mindfulness has a direct effect on mental health.

Evidence is strongest for anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder) and depression, two of the most common mental health conditions worldwide.

Anxiety

Anxiety causes chronic, excessive, and often uncontrollable worry.

Unfortunately up to 60 percent of patients do not improve with conventional treatment, such as medications and psychotherapy (5).

Studies show mindfulness can help.

In one clinical trial of 89 patients with anxiety, one group undertook an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR), while the other group received 8 weeks of stress management education.

Members of both groups who participated in just one or more sessions showed symptom improvement, assessed by the Hamilton Anxiety Scale.

However, the MBSR group showed much greater improvement than the stress management group when additional anxiety symptom scales were used (5).

 

Change in symptom scores for three anxiety measures after Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. The lower the number the better. Click to enlarge.

Other studies have found similar benefits, particularly when mindfulness is used alongside anxiety medication (6).

Depression

Clinical depression is complex disorder characterized by low mood and avoidance of usual activities.

Conventional care includes medication and psychotherapy. Unfortunately, many patients relapse with this protocol or do not comply with medication regimens (7).

Research suggests that mindfulness can help prevent relapse for those who do not wish to use maintenance antidepressants.

In one study (7):

  • One group of 28 patients with major depressive disorder in remission received maintenance antidepressants
  • The second group of 26 patients gradually discontinued antidepressants while receiving an 8-week Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) program
  • The third group of 30 patients gradually discontinued medications while receiving placebo pills under clinical supervision.

Compared to the placebo group, the mindfulness and antidepressant groups showed equally reduced likelihood of relapse. Keep in mind the mindfulness group were weaned off antidepressants.

 

Proportion of unstable remitters who survived without relapse during maintenance/follow up. M-ADM = maintenance antidepressant pharamacotherapy, MBCT = taper + Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy and PLA+CLIN = taper + pill placebo and clinical management. Click to enlarge.

Data from several studies suggests mindfulness and antidepressants are comparable for treating mild to moderate symptoms of depression (8).

This certainly does not suggest those with depression should discontinue medications. However, mindfulness does show promise as an alternative, and certainly as therapy alongside antidepressants.

Summary: Studies indicate it’s useful for managing anxiety compared to conventional stress management practices. It may also be an effective alternative to antidepressants for those at risk of depression relapse.

Mindfulness Meditation and Weight Loss

Obesity rates worldwide have more than doubled in the past 36 years.

Research is now heavily focused on prevention and treatment strategies.

Mindfulness is promising as it has been shown to help limit stress and stress-related overeating (1011).

It can also increase awareness of hunger and satiety cues, a concept known as mindful eating (12).

A very large observational study showed a relationship between mindfulness and reduced risk of being overweight or obese. Although it was not able to prove that mindfulness causes lower body weight (13).

Results from smaller clinical trials are promising, but we can’t make solid conclusions yet (1415).

 

Average weight change by group condition among overweight versus obese participants. Mindfulness dramatically reduced cortisol awakening response in obese but not overweight subjects. Click to enlarge.

It makes sense that mindful eating is beneficial for weight loss given our modern, fast-paced, fast food lifestyles.

Summary: Research has shown a link between mindfulness and healthy body weight, but more research is needed.

Mindfulness Meditation and Metabolic Risk Factors

Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms that raise risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

You are considered to have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of the following symptoms:

Observational studies have shown that metabolic syndrome is less common among those who use mind-body practices, including mindfulness (16).

Smaller clinical studies have explored the cause-effect relationships between mindfulness and metabolic risk. Interestingly, improvements to metabolic risk were seen in studies that showed no significant reduction in body weight (15).

In one study of 194 obese adults, the first group received diet and exercise advice, and the second received that same advice plus an all-day mindfulness retreat.

Compared to the first group, the mindfulness group showed significantly improved cholesterol and triglycerides after 12 months, and better fasting glucose levels after 18 months (15).

 

Changes in weight, fasting glucose, and triglyceride/HDL ratio for mindfulness and control groups from baseline to 18 months. Lower values are better for all 3 measures. Click to enlarge.

Other studies have shown mindfulness may improve blood pressure in those with hypertension, as well as exercise capacity and heart rate in those with heart disease (1718).

The mechanism for these changes is still unknown, but it’s suspected that mindfulness can alter the autonomic nervous system, which regulates blood pressure, breathing, and heart rate (17).

Summary: Mindfulness appears to improve certain metabolic risk factors, even without weight loss. In particular triglycerides, cholesterol ratios, blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Mindfulness Meditation and the Gut Microbiome

The human body is full of bacteria.

These bacteria make up the human microbiome, mostly located in the large intestine or “gut”.

Alterations and imbalances in the microbiome may contribute to inflammation, weakened immunity, and maybe even weight gain (19).

Very small, early studies on humans have shown a correlation between psychological stress, stress hormones, and changes in microbial composition (20).

In theory then, mindfulness based stress reduction could be a way to help prevent negative changes in the microbiome.

This has so far been tested in rodent studies designed to place mice in stressful situations (1921).

Increased stress seems to dramatically alter the types of bacteria in a mouse’s gut, which has been observed multiple times.

Interestingly, this shift in bacteria does indeed increase inflammatory marker levels in the blood, which has huge implications for many common health conditions.

Summary: Research has linked psychological stress to changes in the microbiome, which could theoretically contribute to illness. But more human studies are needed to determine if mindfulness can help maintain a healthy microbiome.

Mindfulness Meditation and Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common health problem, affecting 7-10 percent of the world population (22).

The exact causes of IBS are unknown, but it’s likely multifactorial. Gut microbiome imbalance, stress and other psychological issues are suspected triggers (19232425).

Considering the potential benefits of mindfulness on each of those triggers, it makes sense it helps with IBS management.

In one study of 43 IBS patients, the group who received mindfulness training showed significantly greater reductions in IBS symptoms than the group who received standard medical care (26).

These benefits were still noticeable after 6-months.

Other small studies have shown 30 minutes of mindfulness activity per day to help with IBS symptoms, although these weren’t well-designed (2728).

Summary: Small studies indicate that mindfulness may help relieve IBS symptoms. This makes sense given the suspected triggers of IBS are stress and psychological-related.

Mindfulness Meditation and Pregnancy

Stress during pregnancy has been associated with negative health outcomes, including preeclampsia, hypertension, and low birth weight (293031).

Small studies have shown that mindfulness may lessen pregnancy-related stress.

In one study of 74 pregnant Indian women, participants who received twice-weekly mindfulness sessions for 5 weeks showed significantly reduced perceived stress than the control group (32).

This suggests mindfulness could very well be beneficial in reducing day-to-day perceived stress during pregnancy, but much more research is needed.

Summary: A small study shows that mindfulness reduces perceived stress in pregnant moms at 12 weeks gestation. More research is needed though.

Mindfulness Meditation and Cancer

In 2012, there were 14.1 million new cases of cancer worldwide.

The number of new cases per year is expected to increase 68 percent by 2030.

Mindfulness has been shown to significantly improve symptoms and side effects from cancer and its treatment. This includes stress, anxiety, depression, vitality, fatigue, and sleep levels (3334353637).

Newer studies suspect that mindfulness may also help to treat cancer progression in the first place. In particular, markers of cancer activity in breast cancer.

The mechanism for this is still under investigation, but stress reduction appears to play a key role (3839).

In one study of 128 stage I to III breast cancer patients who had completed standard medical treatment:

  • One group of 53 patients attended eight, 90-minute mindfulness-based educational sessions, plus a 6-hour mindfulness retreat.
  • The second group of 49 patients attended a 90-minute group supportive-expressive therapy (SET) sessions once a week for 12 weeks.
  • The third control group of 26 patients attended single 6-hour stress management session.

Compared to the mindfulness and SET groups, the control group had significantly shorter telomeres following the intervention.

Telomeres protect the structure of DNA. Shorter telomeres have been linked to disease progression and mortality in breast cancer and leukemia (3940).

Although it could have exciting implications for cancer treatment, it’s important to remember this is an emerging area of research. Mindfulness should not replace standard cancer care, but instead be used alongside it.

Summary: There is potential that mindfulness can positively influence cancer progression, or at least breast cancer. At a minimum, mindfulness appears to improve certain cancer symptoms and treatment side effects.

Mindfulness Meditation For Beginners

The potential health benefits of mindfulness meditation are very impressive.

It’s a harmless practice that can only be good for us.

If you are a beginner looking to explore the benefits of mindfulness, many free resourcesare available online.

I personally use Headspace, which is a guided meditation app for beginners available on iPhone and Android. It’s free for 10 sessions, and is a great way to understand what it’s all about.

This post originally appeared on Diet vs Disease as Science Confirms: Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation Are Legit

PLEXIS’ Meditation Courses are Transforming its Employees

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How PLEXIS’ Maui Mindfulness COURSE is Enhancing my Effectiveness at Customer Care in Tech Support - By Michael Meenaghan

The awareness and equanimity I have gained from this retreat have helped every aspect of my life. You don’t hear many people say I love my job, but I really, really love my job!

Six Plexicans recently attended a free, 10-day PLEXIS Mindfulness Course held on Maui. All six of us received an enormous range of benefits from the retreat, and I would like to share a little about my experience and how it has transformed my effectiveness at customer care through my work in Technical Support at PLEXIS.

The PLEXIS Mindfulness Courses

Jorge Yant, the CEO and founder of PLEXIS, recently published a post, On Mindfulness in the Workplace, announcing several exciting new employee mindfulness opportunities. One of these additional opportunities is the nonsectarian PLEXIS Mindfulness Course which is hosted free of charge in Ashland, Oregon, and on Maui, Hawaii.  Jorge created a nonprofit called The Quepasana Foundation for the purpose of “expanding awareness through silent meditation in the Vipassana style.” Vipassana, meaning, “to see things as they really are,” is a meditation practice with over 2,500 years of history. Learn more about Vipassana retreats as taught by S.N. Goenka.

For Plexicans, Jorge not only extends the company-wide invitation to attend these courses free of charge, but he also devotes an enormous amount of his personal time and energy to personally lead these retreats. To me it really says a lot about Jorge. He doesn’t just talk about mindfulness; he is investing a lot of time and money into this and into us. This is clearly his passion. To me this is truly progressive leadership, and I have seen definite results already.

Quepasana as Jedi Warrior Training

The mindfulness course, Quepasana, is a unique and creative combination of classic Vipassana meditation along with three different types of yoga and sustainable living practices. Just as in the Vipassana tradition, participants commit to Noble Silence during the entire course. This includes not only verbal and nonverbal communication, but it also means we were not allowed to use any electronic devices. We lock up our cell phones, tablets, and computers before the retreat. When I got my phone back at the end of the retreat I realized this is the longest period I have spent away from my car and phone since I was a child.

Jorge told us with a smile that the Quepasana course is Jedi warrior training. By about Day 6 I realized this isn’t a metaphor. It takes tremendous strength and courage to undertake the challenges of a retreat like this. And each one of us rose to the challenge to come out of this completely transformed and enlivened. This retreat is excruciating and exquisite and magical all at once.

Practical Takeaways for PLEXIS Tech Support

After my first week back at PLEXIS in Tech Support I realized I had come back to PLEXIS as a different person with a distinctly stronger set of skills.

First, I believe I have a greater capacity to speak the language of empathy and compassion in addition to the technical jargon needed to address an issue. What I’ve noticed about Tech Support in general is that it’s a lot easier for someone to answer technical problems in technical terms, but it makes a tremendous difference if you have the capacity to drop in a few, well-placed words of compassion and empathy. It creates a human-to-human interaction that is sadly too often missing in many companies’ busy tech support services.

Additionally, I am positive that this course helped me become faster and more efficient in my turnaround time. Over the past year I have utilized quite a few of the PLEXIS wellness offerings for stress reduction, peace of mind, and enhanced productivity. This retreat gave me even more tools for this. A lot of people don’t realize how much work Tech Support does behind the scenes. When I have an issue that needs to be resolved I set up a series of scientific tests to try to discern the problem, and it frustrates me when the results don’t arrive after, say, 15 trials. Now I know that I can literally take a five-minute break when I’m feeling overwhelmed by this sort of thing, and that’s all I need to get really centered and get back to work tackling the problem.

Josh Goodwin ~ Your Light Will Always Shine Bright!

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Loving letter to all from his Father...

Dear friends of Josh,

As you can imagine, learning that Joshua was missing while visiting a remote coast in Maui plunged us into a hurricane of emotion; shock, bewilderment, disbelief, numbness, sadness, and hope. Yet through the raging emotional turbulence, there have been, and continue to be, moments when the light of deep gratitude shines brightly. A lighthouse in stormy seas, it brings momentary respite and peace.

Following the notification of Josh’s disappearance Jorge, Libby, my wife, Cindy and I flew to Maui to meet with the commander of the Coast Guard Search & Rescue mission already engaged in a full-out campaign to find Josh. The commander was accompanied by officials representing S&R teams of the Navy, local police, fire department, State Park Rangers and a Private Detective. Meeting them, we were immediately touched by their sincere compassion and commitment to service.

We learned that over 90 searchers, specially trained and knowledgeable of the area, were working around the clock using helicopters, airplanes, scuba divers, several boats, jet skiers, and trackers. In all, they, with the help of local volunteers, combed over 1700 square miles of coastline water, shores, coves, inlets and accessible inland terrain monitoring all continually for three days. The men and women of these agencies are practiced experts and passionate about saving lives, and they know that they are racing the clock. Thus, in accordance with Coast Guard regulations based on calculated survival probability, their search mission was suspended after three days. We are so very grateful for their compassion and dedication.

Meanwhile, we, along with local volunteers, neighbors, and friends, including his “brother”, Robert who was last to see Josh, continued the search scouring every possibility again and again in the fervent hope that he would suddenly appear wondering what the fuss was about. Despite all efforts, no sign of Josh has been found. Presently he remains, officially, a “Missing Person.”

We stayed another three days on the gorgeous jungle coast retreat where Josh lived and worked. He was thriving, radiant and living his dream from his storybook Thai cottage embraced by nature at its finest where raw jungle meets the primordial sea. He was with friends he loved and doing work that fired his passion. All could see that Josh was a very happy man.

Josh's life and love touch so many people. Even in his short time on the island his humor, warmth, kindness, and epic bear hugs have become legendary and his absence is felt deeply by all.

The night before he came to the island Cindy and I hosted a send-off dinner wherein most all of his beloveds were at the table together. His daughters, nephews, sister and brother-in-law came together to celebrate an adventurous new chapter in his life. We are so very grateful that he got to experience it fully and from the pinnacle of joyfulness.

On a wall of Josh’s cottage, I found a photo that I’d given to him not long ago. It’s a favorite image of mine showing a content, peaceful, loving man, my son, beaming proudly behind the beautiful daughters who adore him. Seeing it filled me to tearful overflow with gratitude for the richness of Josh’s life and the boundless, eternal Grace of his presence.

For now, there are no answers, no trace, and no closure. Even so, as we continue to hold him in our hearts and thoughts, we know his is not far. He's in our stories, our tears and in our laughter.

I cannot thank you enough for continuing to surround Josh in love and light and for all the support you have been sending to all of Josh’s family. It is deeply felt and we are grateful.

With love, David

Mindfulness Online Articles and Resources

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Online resources are plentiful and inspiring.  The below list is intended to get you started and we will add new ones as we find them.  Be sure to comment below if you find any additional ones that be helpful additions to the list!

Stillness and Samadhi: My Quepasana Story

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To share one’s story about an experience of Samadhi is not easy. Even Rumi said this is a place that is beyond language: When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about. Ideas, language, even the concept “each other” makes no sense

I define Samadhi as an awakened state of consciousness found in stillness. I can’t speak for all 21 of the participants at my recent Quepasana, but I believe all of us experienced many moments of this expanded awareness. When I returned home it was difficult to summarize the depth of this experience for family and friends. The breadth of such an experience cannot be conveyed by words, photos, or even videos. Nevertheless, this story is my way of sharing little views into the heart of my Quepasana journey. I hope it serves as a thank-you note to everybody who made this retreat possible including all of my new Quepasana friends.

Aloha!

I haven’t spent much time at the Quepasana retreat center in Ashland, but it was immediately apparent that Hale Mana is what I call sacred space. As a former artist’s colony it is lovingly immersed in art and creativity. Everywhere you look there’s another semi-hidden jewel. My favorites were the conjunctions of something alive and something practical, like the kitchen counter sculpted around a living tree.

One translation of the Polynesian phrase, Hale Mana, could be the “house of sacred power.” I understand “mana” as a universal energy that can be manifested as authority, competence, and effectiveness. I think that once someone embodies the courage and vulnerability to accept an opportunity to become something more than they were before then a place like Hale Mana is awaiting with open arms. Synchronicity, mystery, and magic will follow.

For example, one day during our two-hour yin yoga class the lyrics for the music which was playing were saying something about giving love. At the same time we could hear noises from what sounded like a large tour group next door at Charles Lindbergh’s grave. It sounded like the tour guide was taking a group picture, so three times in a row the group gave a loud cheer, “Aloha!” That invisible cheer sounded like a perfect representation of the original etymology of aloha as love and presence. Here was this big group on their whirlwind tour of the island making the most of that one little moment in time that the photographer was capturing. And here we were next door on our mats opening ourselves to our own moment of aloha, all of us fully cognizant of the brevity of these experiences.

There is far more to be said about the surreal magic and beauty of the sacred space that everyone has co-created at Hale Mana. The red ball of the sun cresting the horizon at sunrise and then immediately disappearing into the clouds above it. Sumptuous teaspoons of cacao pudding-bliss. Rainbows and the sound of whales breaching, salty ocean spray, and the chorus of birds awakening just before dawn. But I want to tell the tougher parts of the story, too.

Noble Silence

I’d had one previous experience of Noble Silence at a week-long dathun at the Shambhala Mountain Center around 2004. At that time I think I fell prey to a victim mentality, and I took on a depressed, overwhelmed, fearful energy. It’s very challenging to be immersed in a micro-culture of downcast eyes, no words, no physical touch. Thankfully Quepasana purposefully set the stage differently.

When the weather was beautiful I would soak up the sun or sit at the cliff overlooking the ocean and absolutely revel in the beauty. But when the weather turned colder I would sit around the dinner table with my retreat friends eating meals with downcast eyes. At first I felt like I was taking on an old depressed energy or attitude, but I was able to quickly throw that off and say, “no, that doesn’t fit.” I can’t communicate, but there’s no reason I can’t be happy. There’s no reason I can’t smile to myself and enjoy the multitude of blessings that are so abundant here. I think most of my retreat friends were able to say this for themselves, too. For me to have the strength to say this required all of the following pieces of the puzzle to fall into place.

Equanimity

In simplest terms, equanimity means “I don’t mind what happens.” One night during yoga nidra we listened to a recorded talk by S.N. Goenka about clinging to pleasure and our aversion to suffering. This message could not have been more timely. We had all heard numerous references to the warrior spirit, Jedi warrior training, and similar affirmations asking us to rise up, stay strong, and not be blindly reactive to perceptions of pain or pleasure. As Jorge would sometimes say, this is “Simple. Not easy. But Simple.”

Noble Silence honed our awareness, but without equanimity it was hard not to flounder on the shoals of suffering. For example, I had enormous sensations I would identify as pain coming from the area of my left knee. Raising awareness about this particular sensation sometimes created more panic as my mind raced around the arena of speculation and worry. One early-morning sitting of “strong determination” left me covered in sweat, feeling faint and dizzy, overheated from the over-exertion of trying too hard. Thankfully I was able to regain equanimity through gentle reminders like the Goenka talk and through the structure of the meditation we practiced after Anapana such as the body scans.

From resistance to surrender

Resistance is an enormous force at any mindfulness retreat worth its salt. In retrospect I am glad we were not pampered any more than we were. It’s tough love to do this work from 4:20 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. There’s a good reason the setting is not at a luxury spa. And yet we were immersed in greater natural beauty than some spas may offer. It’s beautiful, but it’s work.

My personal resistance was the strongest in the first two days as my ego discovered things it did not like. At that point in the struggle there were things to complain about. Luckily Noble Silence meant nobody else had to listen to this drivel. Eventually through Jorge’s guidance—he is all too familiar with this phenomenon—I was able to separate myself from the chatter and watch thoughts and sensations passing through like clouds moving across the sky.

The death-knell for my resistance rang loudly during a kundalini yoga class on about the second day thanks to Noa’s orchestration of asana practice, kriyas, mindfulness affirmations, and transformative music. For Jorge to invite us to move our bodies through these mindfulness practices made all the difference in my overall retreat experience.

During that yoga class I remember the lyrics for one of the songs saying something about “playing the victim card.” And I remember feeling a wave of gratitude for the combination of supportive elements that was keeping me free from feeling victimized or oppressed. For the remainder of the retreat the yoga classes continued to be my principal crucible for daily transformation and awakening. For me, to move my body consciously is to move my soul.

Mehta

Our final meditation practice of the retreat was the loving-kindness meditation, Mehta. I don’t think it’s possible for someone who has not participated in Quepasana to understand the depth of how we were touched by this meditation, this entire experience. At no cost whatsoever we were given this enormous gift to be fully loved and supported in a conscious and creative experience of transformation. I don’t think it’s possible to finish such an experience and take this for granted.

The responsibility I carry forth from the retreat is to continue the practices of inviting the sacred dimension of stillness and Samadhi into my life. To remember Nature’s Starbucks. To lay under the stars and breathe. To engage the mula bandha “anytime.” To trust whatever unfolds with the equanimity of the warrior’s spirit.

I am filled with loving kindness. I am well. I am peaceful and at ease. I am happy and content

 

Strengthening Our Commitment to Mindfulness in the Workplace

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One of the most exciting developments in the business world is the recent focus on the principle of mindfulness in the workplace. Nationally, major developments are taking place at the intersection of technology and health, involving industry giants such as Aetna, Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Remarkable transformations are taking place at both the organizational level for these companies and on the individual level for a growing number of employees. But first, a few things on mindfulness in the workplace…

What is mindfulness and what are the benefits of engaging in mindfulness in the workplace?

As the phenomenon of mindfulness in the workplace sweeps across some of the most forward-thinking companies in the nation, two common questions arise: what is mindfulness, and what are the benefits of mindfulness practices?

As a leading progenitor of mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of such books as Mindfulness for Beginners, defines mindfulness as “paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” This is a practice, a skill, and an awareness that can be honed to serve us well in our lives and in our workplaces. For example, if one’s mind is wandering during a meeting, we can choose to indulge in those thoughts and miss essential information and participation, or we can practice the discipline of bringing our awareness back to the present moment. Other examples of practical applications of mindfulness in the workplace include:

  • Meditation to reduce stress, improve concentration, and boost the immune system
  • Yoga to promote flexibility, focus, good posture, healthy circulation, and more
  • Breathwork to calm the nervous system, release tension and provide peace of mind

Advanced mindfulness programs such as Google’s “Search Inside Yourself” employee program seek to improve everything from overall wellbeing to focus, creativity, and productivity. Most mindfulness initiatives include practices such as meditation, yoga, breath work, and guided self-inquiry. Although many of these practices have an Eastern, religious origin, their application in the workplace is non-sectarian.

A recent article via Wired.com about the surge of mindfulness in tech attests to the effectiveness of meditation:

“Repeated studies have demonstrated that meditation can rewire how the brain responds to stress. Other research suggests that meditation improves working memory and executive function. And several studies of long-term practitioners show an increased ability to concentrate on fast-changing stimuli. One paper cited by the Google crew even implies that meditators are more resistant to the flu.”

Regular mindfulness practice in the workplace is effectively managing stress, worry, lack of focus, addictions, and more.  Employees at Google, and other companies report that mindfulness in the workplace is benefiting them by increasing their creativity, collaboration, peace of mind, and productivity.

How can businesses integrate mindfulness within the fabric of our culture?

In order to lead the change we want to see in the world, healthcare and technology executives must spark the mindfulness revolution through holistic organizational initiatives—setting the standard for leadership by giving our employees the resources and the education they need to open the doors for mindfulness. Healthcare and technology are already pioneering the integration of mindfulness practices within our corporate culture.

For example, Mark Bertolini, the chief executive officer of the health insurance giant, Aetna, is one of the leaders of the workplace mindfulness revolution. After a near-death experience, Bertolini transformed his personal health and well-being through mindfulness practices, and then he shared those gifts with his company. The New York Times reports that more than 13,000 of his employees have participated in his free yoga and meditation classes, and the employees describe enjoying “a 28 percent reduction in their stress levels, a 20 percent improvement in sleep quality and a 19 percent reduction in pain. They also become more effective on the job, gaining an average of 62 minutes per week of productivity each, which Aetna estimates is worth $3,000 per employee per year.”

The results are clear that mindfulness in the workplace has significant benefits for both employees’ well-being and the overall health of the company.

 

Sources

“The Neuroscience of Meditation, and the Virtues of Shutting Up.” Newsweek

“At Aetna, a C.E.O.’s Management by Mantra.” The New York Times

“In Silicon Valley, Meditation Is No Fad. It Could Make Your Career.” Wired

“What is Mindfulness?” Wildmind Buddhist Meditation