Archive | Meditation


The Power of Paying Attention

Several days ago, I was having lunch at a Wegman’s when suddenly a woman came rushing by the table where I was sitting and went through a door with a large bright red sign that read “Emergency Exit Only. Alarm Will Sound If Opened”. The woman stopped briefly after walking through the door and appeared […]

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Neuroscience Is Learning From Mindfulness Meditation

Neuroscience Can Gain Essential Wisdom from Meditation Molecular biologist Matthieu Ricard believes the habit of “rumination,” or dwelling on one idea, especially a negative thought, is a factor in depression. Ricard built on the foundation of his scientific training as he shifted the focus of his attention to a more metaphysical approach when he became […]

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How Meditation Can Help Us Let Go of “Perfection”

“There is something wonderfully bold and liberating about saying Yes to our entire imperfect and messy life.” Tara Brach Letting Go of Perfection with Mindfulness There is a strange paradox in the ideas we hold for ourselves in terms of perfection. On the one hand, when we expect nothing less of ourselves than perfection, we […]

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perfect waterdropdrop reflection

Developing Insight Through Mindfulness Meditation

Insight Meditation One of characteristics of mindfulness meditation that makes it different from other forms of meditation is insight. Sometimes called Vipassana or insight meditation, mindfulness meditation moves beyond calming the mind to observing how it functions. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn mindfulness meditation “is the embrace of any and all mind states, without preferring one […]

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Boston Meditation & Mindfulness Therapy

Serenely meditating on beach

Credit:: pixabay

We Need All the Help We Can Get

Being human can be considered a lot of things-a blessing, a curse, an experience filled with abundance and joy, and experience filled with loss and suffering.  Most of us feel all of this at some point in our lives.  We have times when life is good-everyone we love is healthy, we feel good about our lives, and we are engaged in work and activities that we feel are meaningful.  We have times when we experience loss, everything seems to have gone to hell, and we are thrown into crisis.  Those are the times when we reach out and try to find some help to ease our suffering and again experience wholeness and health.  One route to achieving our goals is through counseling services with a qualified therapist.

Methods of Counseling

There are numerous reasons we might seek counseling.  Circumstances, such as divorce, job loss, of the death of a loved one, may be the impetus.  Then again, we may struggle with our own mental health issues such as depression or an eating disorder.  Whatever prompts us to seek counseling, there are many methods a counselor might use to help us.  Among the approaches to therapeutic counseling are cognitive behavioral therapy, narrative therapy, humanistic therapy, and positive psychology.  A trend is emerging in these and other counseling approaches to complement methods of treatment with mindfulness and meditation training. 

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation is the practice of quieting the body and mind in such a way that we are able to be “present” in the moment.  To do this, we sit and focus our minds on one thing-our breath, a mantra, or the sounds in the room.  As we do this, our “monkey” mind will intrude and remind us of the bills we have to pay, the way our performance at work tanked this week, the food that’s going bad in the refrigerator- in other words, anything but the present moment.  During meditation, we (patiently, without judging ourselves) bring our attention back to our focus.  During a ten-minute meditation, this process may happen a hundred times.  Meditation practice means accepting that that process is the actual practice.  Even if we feel we are doing it wrong, or it feels weird, or we feel restless, continuing to try to focus our minds during meditation practice will allow us to bring that focus, that mindfulness, into our daily lives.

We can think of meditation as the practice sessions and mindfulness as the application of the practice.  Meditation is the actual sitting and quieting down part of the equation.  Mindfulness is remembering, while we pay our bills or clean out the refrigerator, to interrupt our monkey mind and focus on the present moment.   We learn to say, “Oh, there I am, worrying about tomorrow,” or, “Oh, there’s some doom and gloom,” and let it go.  We learn to notice what is present.  Maybe we are paying bills while our child practices their clarinet and we notice the sounds.  Maybe we are cleaning out the fridge, and instead of worrying about the bills, we notice the fresh fruit we forgot about.  Being mindful in these moments allows us to experience the moments of our lives more fully.

The Benefits of Meditation and Mindfulness

Recent years have seen a flood of scientific studies done on the mental and physical benefits of meditation and mindfulness.  Meditation and mindfulness training have been found to increase feelings of well-being, reduce stress, and result in a stronger ability to tolerate distress.  Improved focus, less emotional reactivity, and less rumination, a habit among those experiencing depression, have been observed as well.  Studies point to actual physical changes in the brain that can occur as a result of mindfulness and meditation training.  Such changes include a reduction in size of the amygdala, an area of the brain associated with processing stress, a size increase in the brain stem and hippocampus, both associated with positive emotions.  There have been long term studies done on regular meditators as well which indicate that as long as the practice is maintained, these brain changes would remain. 

Mindfulness Practice as an Adjunct to Therapy

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness training can be evident whether we are in need of counseling services or not.  It’s not hard to recognize that slowing down and “being” instead of doing would be good for us.  For those seeking counseling, meditation and mindfulness training could be one of the many techniques a skilled counselor would employ in helping us achieve our goals in therapy.   After all, there are times we need all the help we can get.


“Different Approaches to Psychotherapy” American Psychological Association

Rodrigues, MF et al. “Mindfulness in Mood and Anxiety Disorders: A Review of the Literature,”

Trends in Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, July 31, 2017.

Meditating Boy with Red Umbrella

Meditation Types – Choose Your Style of Meditation

Which Type of Meditation Should I Choose? Meditation has been around for thousands of years. Although no one knows exactly when it began, variations of the practice were recorded in India, China, and Japan around 1500 BCE. Today, there are dozens of different styles of meditation – so many that it can be hard to […]

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Thought Patterns That Keep Us From Meditating

3 Thoughts that Keep Us from Meditating Meditation is the practice of “cultivating” our minds to be aware of our experiences as they happen and to gain an understanding of how our minds function. There is a bit of a paradox involved in the effort, however. While practicing meditation can help us train our minds […]

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Children meditating in school - Dharma Primary School

Mindfulness in School to Improve Concentration

Mindfulness for Students Can Improve Concentration and Regulate Emotions The waterfall of mindfulness training that’s pouring into sports, the military, mental health therapy and business has dipped down into younger generations. Mindfulness is in schools. Mindfulness meditation is the practice of quieting the mind to bring awareness and attention to the present moment. It’s increasingly being […]

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Benefits of Meditation: Brain Exercise

Can We Change Our Minds? No one doubts that we can improve our physical health by exercising regularly. We know that if we lift weights we will build muscles. We see them and feel them and know that change is occurring. Wouldn’t it be nice to know if mental health “exercises” were making tangible, physical […]

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Lit candle balanced on palm

Downsides of Mindfulness Meditation Without Guidance

Mindfulness Meditation: The Good, the Bad and the Dangerous Mental health professionals and people around the globe have increasingly been embracing the positive benefits of mindfulness and guided meditation for several decades. But like all good things, there can be a down side. So beginners to mindfulness, especially those who browse online meditations and experiment […]

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