Orienting to stillness, orienting to motion

I started this blog to document meditating every day in 2010. My blog posts got kind of boring and I ended up broadening the topic, but before the year ended, I had made some big decisions, changing my approaches to work and home that resulted in living a more authentic, self-realizing life.

Selling my house and quitting my job with no clear path ahead were not changes I would have undertaken had not my meditation practice compelled me to make them for my own well-being and trust that the Universe and my own capabilities would come through. There was uncertainty along the way, and luck, but I figured I could always rent a room and do temp jobs to support myself, and that gave me courage. (I rented a room and did a few temp jobs on my path!)

However, I really wanted more than that for myself: I wanted to own an affordable, paid-for home in Austin, Texas, and I wanted to do work that I really loved. And I got those things.  Meditation helped me understand that not living authentically was no longer possible for me, and I’m happy with those decisions. Continue reading

New findings on how meditation changes the brain

Peg Syverson, Zen priest and my meditation coach at the Appamada zendo, sent out an email with a link to a New York Times article on meditation, saying “We told you!”

The article, How Meditation May Change the Brain, is by a writer whose husband went on a 10-day vipassana meditation retreat. He came back so energized and enthusiastic that he vowed to meditate for two hours a day through the end of March.

She wrote:

He’s running an experiment to determine whether and how meditation actually improves the quality of his life.

Sound familiar, those of you who followed this blog last year???

The writer admits she’s a skeptic — and then cites studies and researchers on how meditation changes the brain. The latest research shows measurable changes in gray matter that affect memory, learning, anxiety, and stress in a group that meditated for 30 minutes a day for eight weeks, compared to a control group not meditating that had no such changes.

Other studies have shown meditation increasing empathy and compassion.

What the writer believes is that through meditation, her husband became empathetic enough that he now takes out the trash and puts gas in the car because he knows she doesn’t like to do those chores.

She can go with that.

Oh, and here’s a link to the abstract of the findings about gray matter.