Tagged With meditation

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When you just want to turn your brain off and sleep, meditation apps are perfect. A guiding voice, or the sounds of something peaceful such as rain, helps to fill the silence so your thoughts can’t creep in. The best ones strategically bore you into drowsiness. (You can look for sleep-focused meditation tracks, but I’m guilty of misusing the Headspace intro lessons for this purpose.)

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Meditation (and specifically mindfulness meditation) has become increasingly popular, thanks to apps such as Headspace and studies touting the lasting effects of mindfulness on the mind and body. But are these apps really as effective as serious meditation training? And do these studies’ findings have any basis in reality?

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Even before you download an app to help you meditate, or to manage your depression, it's speaking to you. Apps' marketing often implies that everyday stresses should be seen as mental health issues, and that you're on your own (with the help of the app, of course) to fix whatever is wrong with you.

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The hardest task on most to-do lists is the invisible one: Getting motivated to do anything at all. And the more important your tasks are, the more you can scare yourself out of even starting. One trick to fight this, according to the producers of the YouTube channel How to ADHD, is a simple meditation-like technique.

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In this episode we talked with author and psychiatrist Mark Epstein, whose books include Thoughts Without a Thinker, and Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart. His latest book, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself, uses Buddhism's Noble Eightfold Path as a roadmap for spiritual and psychological growth. According to Mark, Buddhism and psychotherapy arrive at the same conclusion: When we give the ego free rein, we suffer, but when the ego learns to let go, we are free.

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iOS/Android: When I run, my inner monologue sounds like an argument between a good coach and a bad coach. One voice tells me to take it easy, find my best pace, not to look at my watch, just find the right level of effort. Then the other voice butts in to say something like "Oh, look at you, running so slow, and you're already tired! You suck!"

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Relaxation? Productivity? These don't go together... normally. If you just want to put butt to couch and think of nothing, that's fine. On the other hand, if you have a few drops of energy in reserve and wouldn't mind spending them while you chill, that's possible too.

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Mindfulness can be as powerful for children as it is for adults - it can help them regulate their emotions and respond more calmly when life gets stressful. But simply telling your kids to "clear your thoughts!" or "be present!" will probably just make them more confused (and therefore more stressed).