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

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: 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 realizing 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...
Sound’s amazing power to heal and transform

Sound’s amazing power to heal and transform

The gong is one of the oldest instruments of healing and has been used for thousands of years in meditation, ceremony and rituals. Today they are used in yoga and meditation classes, sound therapy practice, group gong bath meditations and in palliative and cancer treatment centers to promote health and well-being.  They are also a wonderful addition at weddings, family celebrations, workshops, and music festivals. Grand Gongmaster Don Conreaux  According to Don Conreaux “The secret of the gong is its tremendous potential for healing and rejuvenation.” “Because the gong covers the full spectrum of sound, it vibrates all the cells and bones and organs, some more than others, depending upon the pitch of the gong. You feel an influx of energy coming from it in your body as well as hear it.” “The gong is more accurately a force of energy, “like a divine engine, affecting the body’s meridians. By and large, after it’s over, you just feel great,” he says. “You feel like you’ve been healed by the spirit of nature. And the wonderful thing about it is that the instruments heal the player while the player is playing the instrument.” The sounds from the gongs travel from the outer ear throughout the body via the vagus nerve — impacting brain waves, respiratory rate and heart rate. Sound and vibration help facilitate a deep sense of peace, release tension and blocked energy, and balance the energy centers in the body.  They are working at a cellular level to rebalance the physical, emotional and spiritual bodies. “We call it the Music of Wholeness,” Don explains. “Whereas a lot of...
Top Health Benefits For Using Palo Santo In Your Home

Top Health Benefits For Using Palo Santo In Your Home

Where does palo santo come from? Deep in the dry tropical forests of South America lay an ancient tree by the name of Palo Santo (which translates to Holy Wood) that’s been used for centuries dating back to the era of the Incas. Known for it’s indigenous medicinal purposes it has been cultivated for its incense and oil properties. Be it the wood shavings burned for smudging, the oil that’s distilled to be used in massaging/diffusing or boiled in water for tea, Burserea Graveolens has highly spiritual purifying and healing properties. What is palo santo wood? With an ancient lineage native to Mexico, Mexico, Yucatán Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Ecuador and Galapagos Islands the Palo Santo tree falls into the same family as frankincense and myrrh. The mystical ‘Holy Wood’ tree has an element of citrus and emits succulent hints of sweet lemon, pine and mint. The wood is used in a variety of ways to cleanse energy and improve health. What is Palo Santo essential oil? Ethically harvested from dead wood, the essential oil goes thru a chemical-free process of distillation. The therapeutic properties of the oil range from the ability to heighten positive moods, increase vitality and aid for protection against negative energies. The simplest way to use the essential oil is through simple massage and skin absorption and can also be used in your diffuser. How to use in your meditation practice? As in all meditation, there are numerous accompaniments that can be incorporated into the healing process. The use of Palo Santo helps in the vibrational...