There is some conjecture as to whether this quote is from this amazing man, but it’s certainly worthy of this great human being.

Despite the superficial interpretation of the major beliefs and religions, at their heart is a universality that transcends all of humanity. 

Daring to live means daring to die at any moment but also means daring to be born, crossing great stages of life in which the person we have been dies, and is replaced by another with a renewed vision of the world, and at the same time realising that there will be many obstacles to overcome before we reach the final stage of enlightenment. 

Arnaud Desjardins.

Confined in the dark, narrow cage of our own making which we take for the whole universe, very few of us can even begin to imagine another dimension of reality.

Sogyal Rinpoche

 The Washington Post : Harvard neuroscientist: Meditation not only reduces stress, here’s how it changes your brain

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them in brain scans. What she found surprised her — that meditating can literally change your brain. She explains:

Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to take the anecdotal claims about the benefits of meditation and mindfulness and test them in brain scans. What she found surprised her — that meditating can literally change your brain. She explains:

Mindfulness Meditation – the Washington Post

Q: Why did you start looking at meditation and mindfulness and the brain?

Lazar: A friend and I were training for the Boston marathon. I had some running injuries, so I saw a physical therapist who told me to stop running and just stretch. So I started practicing yoga as a form of physical therapy. I started realising that it was very powerful, that it had some real benefits, so I just got interested in how it worked.

The yoga teacher made all sorts of claims, that yoga would increase your compassion and open your heart. And I’d think, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m here to stretch.’ But I started noticing that I was calmer. I was better able to handle more difficult situations. I was more compassionate and open hearted, and able to see things from others’ points of view.

I thought, maybe it was just the placebo response. But then I did a literature search of the science, and saw evidence that meditation had been associated with decreased stress, decreased depression, anxiety, pain and insomnia, and an increased quality of life.

At that point, I was doing my PhD in molecular biology. So I just switched and started doing this research as a post-doc.

Q: How did you do the research?

Lazar: The first study looked at long term meditators vs a control group. We found long-term meditators have an increased amount of gray matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex. Which makes sense. When you’re mindful, you’re paying attention to your breathing, to sounds, to the present moment experience, and shutting cognition down. It stands to reason your senses would be enhanced.

We also found they had more gray matter in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making.

It’s well-documented that our cortex shrinks as we get older – it’s harder to figure things out and remember things. But in this one region of the prefrontal cortex, 50-year-old meditators had the same amount of gray matter as 25-year-olds.

So the first question was, well, maybe the people with more gray matter in the study had more gray matter before they started meditating. So we did a second study.

We took people who’d never meditated before, and put one group through an eight-week mindfulness- based stress reduction program.

Q: What did you find?

Lazar: We found differences in brain volume after eight weeks in five different regions in the brains of the two groups. In the group that learned meditation, we found thickening in four regions:

1. The primary difference, we found in the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering, and self relevance.

2. The left hippocampus, which assists in learning, cognition, memory and emotional regulation.

3. The temporo parietal junction, or TPJ, which is associated with perspective taking, empathy and compassion.

4. An area of the brain stem called the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.

The amygdala, the fight or flight part of the brain which is important for anxiety, fear and stress in general. That area got smaller in the group that went through the mindfulness-based stress reduction program.

The change in the amygdala was also correlated to a reduction in stress levels.

Q: So how long does someone have to meditate before they begin to see changes in their brain?

Lazar: Our data shows changes in the brain after just eight weeks.

In a mindfulness-based stress reduction program, our subjects took a weekly class. They were given a recording and told to practice 40 minutes a day at home. And that’s it.

Q: So, 40 minutes a day?

Lazar: Well, it was highly variable in the study. Some people practiced 40 minutes pretty much every day. Some people practiced less. Some only a couple times a week.

In my study, the average was 27 minutes a day. Or about a half hour a day. There isn’t good data yet about how much someone needs to practice in order to benefit.

Meditation teachers will tell you, though there’s absolutely no scientific basis to this, but anecdotal comments from students suggest that 10 minutes a day could have some subjective benefit. We need to test it out.

We’re just starting a study that will hopefully allow us to assess what the functional significance of these changes are. Studies by other scientists have shown that meditation can help enhance attention and emotion regulation skills. But most were not neuroimaging studies. So now we’re hoping to bring that behavioral and neuroimaging science together.

Q: Given what we know from the science, what would you encourage readers to do?

Lazar: Mindfulness is just like exercise. It’s a form of mental exercise, really. And just as exercise increases health, helps us handle stress better and promotes longevity, meditation purports to confer some of those same benefits.

But, just like exercise, it can’t cure everything. So the idea is, it’s useful as an adjunct therapy. It’s not a standalone. It’s been tried with many, many other disorders, and the results vary tremendously – it impacts some symptoms, but not all. The results are sometimes modest. And it doesn’t work for everybody.

It’s still early days for trying to figure out what it can or can’t do.

Q: So, knowing the limitations, what would you suggest?

Lazar: It does seem to be beneficial for most people. The most important thing, if you’re going to try it, is to find a good teacher. Because it’s simple, but it’s also complex. You have to understand what’s going on in your mind. A good teacher is priceless

Q: Do you meditate? And do you have a teacher?

Lazar: Yes and yes.

Q: What difference has it made in your life?

Lazar: I’ve been doing this for 20 years now, so it’s had a very profound influence on my life. It’s very grounding. It’s reduced stress. It helps me think more clearly. It’s great for interpersonal interactions. I have more empathy and compassion for people.

Q: What’s your own practice?

Lazar: Highly variable. Some days 40 minutes. Some days five minutes. Some days, not at all. It’s a lot like exercise. Exercising three times a week is great. But if all you can do is just a little bit every day, that’s a good thing, too. I’m sure if I practiced more, I’d benefit more. I have no idea if I’m getting brain changes or not. It’s just that this is what works for me right now.

This article was written by Brigid Schulte for The Washington Post and the original can be read here

When we hear Ayurveda, we quickly associate Ayurveda with herbs and ‘jaddi-puddi’, don’t we? But it isn’t all true. In fact, the truth about Ayurveda is that it is governed by the fact of what we eat, how we live, in which environment we live, and the state of our mental health. Ayurveda tells us of the framework in which we can modify our lifestyles to optimize our bodily functions. Ayurveda teaches us how to age with dignity and grace as Ayurveda emphasizes the role of mental health in maintaining physical health. Today, we share 15 simple and easy Ayurveda principles which you can add in your daily routine to help you feel fitter, healthier and happier. *Images courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images
Ayurveda everyday tips 1-15

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Finding peace in a stressed-out digitally dependent culture may just be a matter of thinking differently. Kate Pickert

It’s painful to face how we harm others, and it takes a while. It’s a journey that happens because of our commitment to gentleness and honesty, our commitment to staying awake, to being mindful. Pema Chodron

Pictures by Danielle & Oliver Follmi.


The professors say that modern lifestyles are heaping too many pressures on children, without taking care of their development. The professors say that modern lifestyles are heaping too many pressures on children, without taking care of their development
By Laura Donnelly, Health Editor

The Telegraph

10:00PM GMT 14 Feb 2015
Major new report says every child in Britain should receive a weekly lesson in how to be happy, and schools should stop acting as ‘exam factories’
Children of all ages should be given an hour’s “happiness lessons” every week to nurture their development and stop schools behaving as “exams factories,” a major report will warn this week.
It comes as separate figures show the numbers of children receiving counselling sessions because of exam stress has tripled in just one year.
Former ministers and Government advisors are calling for radical changes in the way British pupils are brought up, with accusations of a “grossly inhumane” failure to care for children’s wellbeing.
Their report, due to be presented to a global health summit this week will say mental health problems among children and teenagers have become “a massive problem” with one in 10 now suffering from diagnoses such as anxiety and depression.
The study by Prof Lord Darzi, a former Health Minister, and Prof Lord Layard, an economist and former Government advisor, calls for sweeping changes in the education of all children, so that “life skills” are given the same attention as reading and writing.
Under the proposals, school pupils from the age of 5 would spend at least one hour a week discussing their emotions, setting positive life goals, and learning how to cope with everyday pressures and social media.
Such approaches – dubbed “happiness” lessons – were pioneered by Wellington College in Berkshire, one of Britain’s best-known boarding schools by Dr Anthony Seldon, but are not used in most schools.
The new report, which will be presented to the World Innovation Summit in Health in Doha on Tuesday, says such lessons should be offered to every child, from the start to the end of their time at school.
It also says help should be offered far earlier to children showing signs of mental distress.
The damning report warns that the failure to offer counselling is not only “grossly inhumane” but economically inefficient, because well-rounded children are more likely to succeed in life, while those in distress are more likely to end up on benefits.
The professors say that modern lifestyles are heaping too many pressures on children, without taking care of their development.
“Our schools need to adopt children’s wellbeing as one of their major objectives – both in their ethos and their teaching. Life skills can and should be taught as professionally as mathematics or literature,” they said.
International research involving 270,000 children enrolled in programmes to develop social and emotional skills found a 10 per cent gain in their skills, behaviour and academic performance, the study says.
The report suggests schools which push children too hard can end up getting worse academic results, as well as damaging their pupils.
“Increasingly in many countries, schools are becoming exam factories,” the authors say.
“To improve child wellbeing, this must be reversed, and schools must address the emotional and spiritual needs of their children, as well as their intellectual development,” they add.
The report will be presented to health experts at the global health forum, which opens in Doha on Tuesday.
New figures from national helpline Childline show a steep rise in the number of children receiving counselling who say their anxiety is caused by exams.
The charity’s annual statistics show a tripling in the number of counselling sessions relating to exam stress in just one year, with 7,546 cases in 2013/14, plus 87,500 views of online advice on the topic.
In total, 43 per cent of those receiving counselling about school and education problems were under the age of 11.
Last week Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary, said the Government had a “moral mission” to provide compassion and support to children struggling with mental health problems.
Ms Morgan said that preparing “well-rounded young people” to be ready for adult life is one of her department’s key aims, since she made it a priority, soon after her appointment last year.
Next month the Personal, Social and Health Education Association will produce guidance for schools, funded by Government, on how to teach mental health issues.
Earlier studies have suggested that child development in in Britain is languishing behind most western countries, with standards of literacy, numeracy and physical skills far behind those of almost every western country.

Researchers from University College London’s Institute of Health Equity said the figures suggest many children in Britain are left damaged by early years in which they did not get enough time cuddling, chatting or reading with their parents.
A Department for Education spokesman said:“As part of our plan for education, we are placing a fresh focus on improving young people’s mental health and providing opportunities for young people to develop the character and resilience they need to succeed in modern Britain.
“Good schools recognise the importance of children and young people’s wellbeing on their attainment and have a duty to promote mental and physical development.”


International Yoga Day 21 June

United Nations has passed a resolution declaring June 21 every year as the International Yoga Day (World Yoga Day). India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged the International Community to adopt 21 June as the International Yoga Day.

Every year in Northern hemisphere, the Summer Solstice falls on June 21. It is the day when Day is longest and the night is shortest. It is the day when Earth is at its closest distance from the Sun on its orbit.
From the perspective of yoga, the Summer Solstice marks the transition of Sun from Uttarayana to Dakshinayana, according to ancient Vedic Calendar. According to Vedic Books, it was the day when Lord Shiva, first taught Yoga to his disciples. The knowledge of Yoga first descended from Shiva on this day. We can say, June 21 as the Birthday of Yoga. This is the reason why several Yogic Preachers had advocated celebrating June 21 as the International Yoga Day.
Baiju Solan

Yoga in Sanskrita means to yoke together, join, unite, become one. It implies the Union of the 3 worlds – physical, subtle & causal of which everything (all beings), including us are made.