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How Can Meditation Help You Become Less Stressed and More Focused?

Italian neuroscientist Guiseppe Pagnoni explains how....

By Hanna Kim - September 14, 2018

Meditation has gained popularity in recent years in many different spheres. Daily meditation practices have been shown to help students focus in school and prison inmates experience less stress and mental health issues. 

As adults we have a wide array of tasks to get done each day, but the stressors of life and an array of distractions can sometimes get in the way of our responsibilities. World Mental Health Day on October 10th is a reminder to take care of our mental well-being. Meditation can be used as part of a self-care routine to help us ease our stresses and focus on the immediate tasks at hand.


The Science Behind Meditation

Italian neuroscientist Guiseppe Pagnoni conducted a study on how meditation changes brain patterns. He compared the brain scans of 12 Zen meditators who had been regularly meditating for at least 3 years to a control group of 12 adults in the same age group with a similar education to the study group. 

MRI imaging was run while study participants were instructed “not to engage in any mental act” and also while participants were given a rapid visual information processing test, where one would have to spot the right number sequences as numbers would quickly flash on a screen.

Theses scans showed the meditators had more stability in their posteromedial cortex (vPMC), the region of the brain linked to “spontaneous thoughts and mind-wandering.” Lower activity in the vPMC may mean a stronger ability to be more attentive and less distracted.
 
This study shows there may be positive implications for meditation for people experiencing mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD, where impulsive or unwanted thoughts can be more pervasive. Meditation is also a safe, inexpensive, and easily accessible tool for anyone who wishes to improve their mental function. 

From the finding from this study, if you are distracted, stressed, or simply could benefit from increased focus, adding meditation to your daily routine is benefital. 

 
Simple Meditation Techniques

All you need is some time to find your breath and listen to your body. A big advantage of meditation is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. As any other practice, regular meditation is more likely to lead to better results, and it can be helpful to have a quiet space and a set time to practice meditating each day.

The Free Mindfulness Project is a free resource available for those who want some more direction and information about how to meditation works and how it could benefits your life. 
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Importance of Positivity and Peace

International Day of Peace

By Hanna Kim - September 10, 2018

The United Nations declared September 21st as the International Day of Peace to promote positive actions and non-violence around the world. Peace Day has made meaningful impact on reducing violence around the world. Millions are doing their part to behave more peacefully- not just for the day, but also by finding long-term peacebuilding solutions.

Although we live in a country that is relatively stable, we can still think about how we can live more peacefully with those we encounter each day in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and society at large.


Begin With A Peaceful Mind

Greater peace in your community starts within your own mind. Sometimes we don’t realize how exactly we are feeling if we are busy with deadlines at work, chores piling up at home, and events with family and friends.

Instead of just going through the motions each day, try taking a small pause every now and then to see how you are feeling. Check what’s on your mind - are you thinking about the next ten things you need to get done before the day is over, or focused on the task at hand? Next, notice your breath and see if it is sharp and ragged, or deep and smooth. If you are leaning more towards the former, you may find it helpful to try breathwork meditation to relieve stress and feel more at peace.

When you feel more at peace yourself, it is easier for you to act with peace and kindness towards others around you.


Get to Know Your Neighbor

It can be easy to see someone everyday for years and know little about them other than perhaps their name. Get to know those around you, both the neighbors living next door as well as the co-worker sitting across from you at the office. Taking the time to learn about your neighbors as individuals builds a sense of camaraderie and helps create a friendlier atmosphere.

Some ideas to build a more peaceful and welcoming environment around you are:
  • Offer assistance - instead of expecting kindness from others, invite kindness in through your actions. When you see your co-worker looks tired, offer to bring them some tea or coffee. If you notice your neighbor has a lot of groceries to lug in, ask if they would like some help.
  • Have lunch together - breaking bread is one of the oldest practices people have been using to bond and develop friendships.
  • Plan a meditation routine - chances are, your neighbor feels stress from time to time, just as you do. Invite them to try a short breathwork exercise with you.

We can build a more peaceful environment by simply getting to know those around us and showing we care with small acts of kindness.

 
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Ideas for Genuine Encouragement at Work

In Celebration of National Encouragement Day, how can leaders encourage employees to be more productive?

By Hanna Kim- August 31, 2018

September 12th is National Encouragment Day!
 

With multiple upcoming deadlines and target goals to reach, it can be easy to forget to take a moment to acknowledge the accomplishments that have already been made. The National Day of Encouragement was launched in 2007 to remind us of the importance of showing we appreciate the good work that those around us are doing. In order to continue doing good work, people need to feel their contributions matter and that they are an invaluable part of the organization.

 

Here are some ways leaders can encourage employees to stay motivated at work:

 

Ask and Listen

 

A simple way to begin motivating employees is to find out what you can do for them to help them succeed. It is impossible to know how to make the most meaningful impact without knowing what is on your employees' minds. Set up a time to meet with each team member regularly so they can share any ideas or concerns they have. Use your eyes as well as your ears to really hear what employees mean. It is encouraging for employees to know that their managers truly care about them on an individual level.

 

Recognize and Reward

 

It is the small, everyday objectives that are met which turn into the big wins. When employees do something well, take the time to notice the job well done to facilitate further progress towards a bigger goal. You can go further by sharing your team members accomplishments with one another, as well as others in your organization to help them shine. Remember to reward your team in meaningful ways as well.

 

Creativity and New Skills

 

Businesses are always adapting to stay current and it starts with the people. If you notice an employee seems frustrated by a particular assignment, start by reminding them of their past successes. Then work with them to see what could be done differently to work through the problem. Consider additional training or skill building opportunities as necessary. Foster creativity in your team members by holding a brainstorming session where no ideas are wrong.

 

Encouragement fosters a positive work environment necessary to give people a reason to come to work each day and be ready to go beyond expectations. It is crucial for a leader to continuously find ways to motivate employees to be their best. Their successes mean success for you and your business.

 
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