2020 July 21 by Dr. Randy
I am teaching a regular meditation session for children aged 8- 15 years old on Tue and Thu mornings at 10:00 PT through Zoom. These classes should be fun and lead to an online community of friends. No commitment is necessary and there is no fee. These sessions are open to attend at any time, although regular practice will garner the most benefit. Have your kids bring their friends and try it out. Everyone is welcome.
This is a nonsectarian meditation of mind training with no reference to any religious viewpoint. It is known as “calming the mind” or “stillness” in different traditions, intended to improve attention and stabilize the mind. It is not MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) or visualization. It is based on the principle of settling body, speech, and mind in their natural states. The body is relaxed, and in this practice speech represents the motion of the mind usually expressed as the arising of thoughts. And Mind represents awareness of what the mind is doing. The natural state is calm, relaxed, and stable.
Beneficial effects that one could expect are improvement of attention and sleep, and the symptoms of anxiety, nervousness, anger, and sadness if those are problems. Parents could expect to see an improvement in disruptive behavior if that is a problem.
These sessions are open for drop-in on Zoom. We will typically check in at the beginning, have a short talk about meditation, and then have a 12 minute guided meditation. Here is the Zoom link.
2016 October 16 by Dr. Randy
Life has many stresses, and often we are juggling tasks, rushing to activities, and putting out fires in a busy schedule. All of these activities stimulate the sympathetic nervous system. They keep us in a mode of constantly handling emergencies.
The sympathetic nervous system is the fire fighter that responds to demands and perceived threats. This is a very useful function for keeping us safe and alive in dangerous situations. We respond almost instantaneously to a threat. Our foot hits the brake before we think about it, our hand recoils from a hot pan without our conscious intent. People who can handle a barrage of daily crises are often seen as efficient. But persistent stimulation and vigilance creates tension, and that tension can take its toll on bodily functions, resulting in high blood pressure, headaches, inflammation, heart disease, and anxiety.
The parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) calms the mind and body. It provides a counterbalance to the many distractions and calamities of the day. It is exceedingly simple to activate the PNS through a whole range of nurturing activities: meditation, deep breathing, yoga, and even just being in nature. These relaxing activities cause a release of tension and its harmful effects. If we incorporate these activities into our daily routine the result will be a sense of ease, comfort, and increased happiness.
Just doing deep breathing will cause a shift from tension to relaxation. Deep abdominal breathing is a simple technique that can be done at a desk several times a day, at a red light in traffic, or during any short break in a hectic schedule. Sit for one minute and just focus on the in and out of breathing. Make this a habit through the day to relieve stress.
More formal meditation sessions in the morning and evening provide a powerful tool for activating the PNS, resulting in long-term benefit for muscular tension, anxiety, and adrenal stress. It will help keep blood pressure under control and calm the mind to become more efficient with a relaxed and less frenetic pace. Many guided meditations are available online. Those from Insight Meditation Centers are especially helpful and easy to access.
For those who prefer a more active form of relaxation practice, yoga or tai chi may be a better fit. Yoga provides the benefits of meditation with a stretching and energetic practice. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are moving forms of meditation. These will require regular classes, but the popularity of yoga has created many opportunities and choices through yoga studios and classes at fitness centers in most communities. Tai Chi and Qi Gong are often offered as a series through local recreation centers. They are especially suitable for older patients who need gentle movement forms.
Getting out into nature has been documented in countless studies to counteract stress. Any form of exposure through hikes, walks outdoors, the ocean, or the forest will benefit physiological functions and relieve tension. Similarly, exposure to animals is beneficial whether they are pets, wild birds, or squirrels. Take breaks from work and get outdoors. Take children to the park. It’s good for them too. Put these activities into your calendar and make time to just enjoy the trees and clouds.