There’s no scientific consensus that meditation can cure your mind, body or soul - so don’t swallow By Catherine Wikholm the idea that there is a Buddha Pill
Meditation is becoming increasingly popular, and in recent years there have been calls for mindfulness (a meditative practice with Buddhist roots) to be more widely available on the NHS. Often promoted as a sure-fire way to reduce stress, it’s also being increasingly offered in schools, universities and businesses.
For the secularised mind, meditation fills a spiritual vacuum; it brings the hope of becoming a better, happier individual in a more peaceful world. However, the fact that meditation was primarily designed not to make us happier, but to destroy our sense of individual self – who we feel and think we are most of the time – is often overlooked in the science and media stories about it, which focus almost exclusively on the benefits practitioners can expect.
If you’re considering it, here are seven common beliefs about meditation that are not supported by scientific evidence.
Myth 1: Meditation never has adverse or negative effects. It will change you for the better (and only the better)
Fact 1: It’s easy to see why this myth might spring up. After all, sitting in silence and focusing on your breathing would seem like a fairly innocuous activity with little potential for harm. But when you consider how many of us, when worried or facing difficult circumstances, cope by keeping ourselves very busy and with little time to think, it isn’t that much of a surprise to find that sitting without distractions, with only ourselves, might lead to disturbing emotions rising to the surface.
However, many scientists have turned a blind eye to the potential unexpected or harmful consequences of meditation. With Transcendental Meditation, this is probably because many of those who have researched it have also been personally involved in the movement; with mindfulness, the reasons are less clear, because it is presented as a secular technique. Nevertheless, there is emerging scientific evidence from case studies, surveys of meditators’ experience and historical studies to show that meditation can be associated with stress, negative effectsand mental health problems. For example, one study found that mindfulness meditation led to increased cortisol, a biological marker of stress, despite the fact that participants subjectively reported feeling less stressed.
Myth 2: Meditation can benefit everyone
Fact 2: The idea that meditation is a cure-all for all lacks scientific basis. “One man’s meat is another man’s poison,” the psychologist Arnold Lazarus reminded us in his writings about meditation. Although there has been relatively little research into how individual circumstances – such as age, gender, or personality type – might play a role in the value of meditation, there is a growing awareness that meditation works differently for each individual.
For example, it may provide an effective stress-relief technique for individuals facing serious problems (such as being unemployed), but have little value for low-stressed individuals. Or it may benefit depressed individuals who suffered trauma and abuse in their childhood, but not other depressed people. There is also some evidence that – along with yoga – it can be of particular use to prisoners, for whom it improves psychological wellbeing and, perhaps more importantly, encourages better control over impulsivity. We shouldn’t be surprised about meditation having variable benefits from person to person. After all, the practice wasn’t intended to make us happier or less stressed, but to assist us in diving deep within and challenging who we believe we are.
Myth 3: If everyone meditated the world would be a much better place
Fact 3: All global religions share the belief that following their particular practices and ideals will make us better individuals. So far, there is no clear scientific evidence that meditation is more effective at making us, for example, more compassionate than other spiritual or psychological practices. Research on this topic has serious methodological and theoretical limitations and biases. Most of the studies have no adequate control groups and generally fail to assess the expectations of participants (ie, if we expect to benefit from something, we may be more likely to report benefits).
Myth 4: If you’re seeking personal change and growth, meditating is as efficient – or more – than having therapy
Fact 4: There is very little evidence that an eight-week mindfulness-based group programme has the same benefits as of being in conventional psychological therapy – most studies compare mindfulness to “treatment as usual” (such as seeing your GP), rather than one-to-one therapy. Although mindfulness interventions are group-based and most psychological therapy is conducted on a one-to-one basis, both approaches involve developing an increased awareness of our thoughts, emotions and way of relating to others. But the levels of awareness probably differ. A therapist can encourage us to examine conscious or unconscious patterns within ourselves, whereas these might be difficult to access in a one-size-fits-all group course, or if we were meditating on our own.
Myth 5: Meditation produces a unique state of consciousness that we can measure scientifically
Fact 5: Meditation produces states of consciousness that we can indeed measure using various scientific instruments. However, the overall evidence is that these states are not physiologically unique. Furthermore, although different kinds of meditation may have diverse effects on consciousness (and on the brain), there is no scientific consensus about what these effects are.
Myth 6: We can practise meditation as a purely scientific technique with no religious or spiritual leanings
Fact 6: In principle, it’s perfectly possible to meditate and be uninterested in the spiritual background to the practice. However, research shows that meditation leads us to become more spiritual, and that this increase in spirituality is partly responsible for the practice’s positive effects. So, even if we set out to ignore meditation’s spiritual roots, those roots may nonetheless envelop us, to a greater or lesser degree. Overall, it is unclear whether secular models of mindfulness meditation are fully secular.
Myth 7: Science has unequivocally shown how meditation can change us and why
Fact 7: Meta-analyses show there is moderate evidence that meditation affects us in various ways, such as increasing positive emotions and reducing anxiety. However, it is less clear how powerful and long-lasting these changes are.
Some studies show that meditating can have a greater impact than physical relaxation, although other research using a placebo meditation contradicts this finding. We need better studies but, perhaps as important, we also need models that explain how meditation works. For example, with mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), we still can’t be sure of the “active” ingredient. Is it the meditation itself that causes positive effects, or is it the fact that the participant learns to step back and become aware of his or her thoughts and feelings in a supportive group environment?
There simply is no cohesive, overarching attempt to describe the various psychobiological processes that meditation sets in motion. Unless we can clearly map the effects of meditation – both the positive and the negative – and identify the processes underpinning the practice, our scientific understanding of meditation is precarious and can easily lead to exaggeration and misinterpretation.
• Catherine Wikholm is the co-author, with Dr Miguel Farias, of The Buddha Pill
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I used to be the Crown Cardinal Isabel Cutter Retired
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Edinburgh long drive with Dad
Missed Rave in knave neighbour from Stretham went at Ely Cathedral
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Matthew 6:5-6 New International Version (NIV)
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
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Becoming a Sister or Nun Religious Life
The terms "nun" and "sister" are often used interchangeably. However within Roman Catholicism, there is a difference between the two. Here's a simple summary of the differences.
A Catholic nun is a woman who lives as a contemplative life in a monastery which is usually cloistered (or enclosed) or semi-cloistered. Her ministry and prayer life is centered within and around the monastery for the good of the world. She professes the perpetual solemn vows living a life according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. Check out the Carmelite Nuns of Baltimore for example.
A Catholic sister is a woman who lives, ministers, and prays within the world. A sister's life is often called "active" or "apostolic" because she is engaged in the works of mercy and other ministries that take the Gospel to others where they are. She professes perpetual simple vows living a life according to the evangelical counsels of poverty, celibacy, and obedience. Check out the IHM Sisters of Monroe, Michigan for example.
Because both nuns and sisters belong to the church life form of Religious Life, they can also be called "women religious."
As you might have noticed, there is a difference in the type of vows, solemn vs. simple. The New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law explains the distinction this way:
"The older religious orders (monastic, canon regulars, mendicants, Jesuits) have perpetual solemn vows, and the more recent apostolic congregations have perpetual simple vows. The chief juridical difference between the two is that religious who profess a solemn vow of poverty renounce ownership of all their temporal goods, whereas religious who profess a simple vow of poverty have a right to retain ownership of their patrimony (an estate, endowment or anything inherited from one's parents or ancestors) but must give up its use and any revenue."
In ordinary conversation, the terms "nun" and "sister" are used interchangeably. Both nuns and sisters are addressed as "Sister."
In popular culture, the term "nun" is often more widely accessible and immediately understood to refer to women who have professed the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
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A father who the stars to his daughter #Fairytale,myths that become legend. Venus was the goddess of Love and her father Jupiter was good of War. Jupiter was a role model for his daughter, a god of prowess. He gave offerings to his daughter so she should pray for his warriors before battle, and so married warriors. She was an intercessor to the God of the Universe Zeus. Yahweh Allah as we now know him. God maintains order in the stars.
The universal is ever expanding with us and we are evolving as it expands. We make pieces of art to capture its beauty. ISECUTE has captured a glimpse of hope in the ever growing darkness to light the way. The night sky is a perfect a masterpiece of creation captured in the ring above.
The ring captures our humanity, we look to night sky, to the stars at nights to dream of fairy tales, which become legends like Orion's belt. A belt of that leads us home to God in the heavens. Our is reality shaped with hope from the bright skies. We built pyramids using mathematics from the stars. We tell time by stars in our galaxy a small part of of universe.
These rings are a masterpiece of HOPE in our universe by June
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Most of us speak first, then think; or we omit the thinking altogether and just burble on, convinced that what we have to say is worth saying, or, at any rate, not doing any harm to anyone. We have become, quite literally, careless about our use of speech.
St Benedict is not particularly novel in his teaching about speech. He urges restraint, as one might expect, but he doesn’t expect the monk to inhabit an entirely silent world. In the ninth step of humility he warns against letting our tongues run away with us and suggests we ought to be sparing in our use of words, waiting for the superior to invite us to speak, or so I take his usque ad interrogationem, ‘until spoken to,’ with its echoes of the rather more severe stance of the Rule of the Master.
But he doesn't really have anything very profound to say on the subject. The next two steps of humility will also be concerned with speech and laughter, and I think it is clear that Benedict is primarily concerned with the way in which humility is manifested exteriorly. We give ourselves away by what we say and how we say it, so the monk must be aware of the importance of guarding his tongue.
I daresay we can all think of occasions when we have spoken or written something we later regretted, or when we have judged someone harshly because of what they said or their manner of speaking. Language has enormous power and we are very quick to register when something is not quite right, when a false note is sounded or words and deeds are in opposition. I read this ninth step of humility as an invitation to integrity, to a consistency of purpose and action which goes beyond words. It may not be very novel or very profound, but it certainly challenges me.
By Crown Cardinal Issy
An American Prophet By David Cloutier Liturgical Press
When I read Dorothy Day’s journals, I am struck by something different: a relentless dedication in the face of every challenge — a total refusal to retreat and a remarkable lack of bitterness. Nearly every page of her journals testifies to her commitment to live the Gospel where she already is, and to discover joy there.
This juxtaposition of personalities is appropriate, because one of Day’s great gifts — and one of the best things about Patrick Jordan’s new biography of her, in Liturgical Press’ People of God series — is her unexpected and ever-challenging personality. Jordan, a longtime Commonweal editor, writes as one who knew her well, and so the book is able to convey a vivid sense of Day as a person. The Day we meet had a remarkable ability to be attentive to everyone she met and to the beauty appearing in ordinary life. Yet she could also be “short, overbearing or even cantankerous.” She possessed a kind of worldliness that enabled her to accept all things with mercy and love, but also a severity of perspective, never more severe than when she trained it on herself. She was a person who loved as few have loved, and yet, Jordan writes, “in a very real sense, she remained a single, solitary figure.”
Jordan brings an ease to his subject that comes from genuine friendship — it has the honesty of a companion, not that of a reporter. His book is not hagiography, but neither does it pretend to an objective distance. He remarks on the first page, “She was delightfully down-to-earth and a pleasure to be with — most of the time.” Such a remark, combining knowing and heartfelt praise with a gentle poke, typifies the book.
It isn’t only Jordan’s tone that hits the mark. Instead of offering a chronological narrative, he weaves together his living sense of Day’s personality with some of the major themes of her work. The result is illuminating, even for those who already know a lot about Day. Jordan includes not only what you might call “Day’s Greatest Hits” but a wide set of lesser-known insights and episodes from her diaries, letters, archives, and acquaintances. Still, the book’s very brevity requires him to focus on the essential — on what mattered most to her, and about her.
And what was that? In a closing chapter on Day’s candidacy for sainthood, Jordan calls her “a complex, compelling, and sometimes contradictory person,” and these qualities made her a “real” rather than a “plaster” saint. Jordan’s biography draws attention to three aspects of Day’s life that, taken together, make it impossible to understand her either as a standard-issue social-justice activist or as just another libertine-turned-ascetic on the model of St. Augustine. She was not reducible to any Catholic stereotype.
First, Day’s love of others, the poor, and the church was remarkably lacking in sentimentality. Jordan quotes her saying she “cannot bear the religious romantics,” preferring a realism that “prays to see things as they are and to do something about it.” Too often, we are presented with a false choice between a tug on the heartstrings and a presumably hard-nosed realism. Tough and tender are treated as opposites, even in terms of ecclesial style — for example, in the frequently drawn contrast between Popes Benedict and Francis. Day combined toughness and tenderness, giving us a compelling example of the challenges of real mercy. Her toughness began with a stringent self-awareness: “I see only too clearly how bad people are,” she said. “I wish I did not see it. It is my own sins that give me such clarity.” Jordan writes that Day was “the most self-reflective and consistently self-aware person I have known.”
The same lack of sentimentality was related to a second unusual quality: Day’s ability to communicate love and attention to all, even to those with whom she had clear disagreements. Jordan often describes Day as “inclusive” and illustrates this quality with a story of a Catholic Worker who enlisted in World War II, fought bravely, and — despite Day’s consistent pacifism — was encouraged to rejoin the Catholic Worker community afterward.
He went on to become “a mainstay of the movement” before becoming a Trappist monk. The story is remarkable in an age of blog and Twitter “flamewars,” in which strong commitments like Day’s pacifism invariably come with a desire to castigate and expel those who are unfaithful to the cause. Too often, being “inclusive” can seem to require an abandonment of strong principle. For Day, it did not. Jordan emphasizes her principled respect for conscience, but she also seems to have been able to imagine a Catholic Church in which forthright disagreement did not require anathemas or schisms — a characteristic especially apparent in her ability to combine both charitable respect for bishops and vocal disagreement with them.
That brings us to a third remarkable trait: Day’s life was guided by firm principle and animated by an extraordinarily deep passion. As a 1969 profile of Day put it, her daily life embodied “the truth of a love that categorically refused to deny the irreducible humanity in every talking creature.” This makes it sound like a bloodless doctrine, but Jordan notes a diary entry from the same year in which Day compares her experiences at the Catholic Worker to “falling in love,” a “quality of in-loveness that may brush like a sweet fragrance,” a feeling that “may be an intuition of immortality.” Many of the stories about Day in this book reflect a level of Catholic learning that is almost miraculous, given her lack of any formal Catholic education and her lifetime of daily activism.
Where did she learn all this spiritual wisdom? More to the point, how did she manage to embody it with a practical immediacy most of us can’t match? In another remarkable diary entry, Day attempts to sum up the Catholic Worker, noting that some say it is about peace, while others “go deeper” and see the mystery of voluntary poverty and still others move beyond that to a recognition of the profound trust in Providence that voluntary poverty requires. But finally, she says, “love is the reason for it all.” There is a simplicity and a fierceness about this passage that almost embarrasses me as an academic theologian. In Day, piercing intellect and passionate practicality build on each other.
Such a sense of stability looks more and more remarkable in the context of a culture that celebrates, or at least accepts, perpetual transition. In an era when people are expected to cycle through many careers and even many selves, Day’s example is compelling precisely because, once she found her calling, she stuck to it, even as many others in the Catholic Worker movement came and went. Day thus exemplifies the virtue of “sobriety” as Pope Francis describes it in Laudato si’: people with this kind of spiritual sobriety are not “dipping here and there, always on the lookout for what they do not have”; instead, they live out the conviction that “less is more” and “experience what it means to appreciate each person and each thing.”
Day’s own ideas, grounded both in her activist background and in the “personalist communitarianism” of Peter Maurin, continue to challenge the tendencies of both conservative and progressive Catholics. She was critical of usury, pacifist even during “the good war,” skeptical of government welfare programs, averse to institutionalizing the Catholic Worker, and insistent on the importance of personal responsibility. Jordan quotes something she wrote in 1969: “Necessary for people to change. Quit worrying about popes, cardinals, bishops, structures, institutions.” The statement “we begin with ourselves” appears twice in the book.
Jordan, whose voice remains admirably muted throughout, concludes by suggesting that Day be seen as an “American prophet” — with prophecy understood not only as offering an urgent message but also as embodying a whole “way of being in the world.” Day’s prophetic message, Jordan writes, sought “a closing of the gap between private and public morality… and questioned both our materialism and militarism.” She was, he concludes, “someone who kept pushing us.”
But Jordan’s biography also suggests why Dorothy’s significance is not reducible to the Catholic Worker program: she succeeds in pushing even those whom she does not entirely persuade. Her real significance is to challenge us at a level more fundamental than policy. One is tempted to call it “holiness” even though that word, so easily misunderstood, may make her sound like a “sacristry Christian.” It should instead indicate her willingness to treat as a daily imperative what most of us treat as a noble but impractical ideal: seeing Christ in all others, affirming their dignity with every fiber of one’s being, and living totally for God.
Jordan’s book is a very fine introduction to Day’s life and work, and an outstanding reminder of the challenge she still poses to Catholics everywhere. It helps us understand why she was one of the two American Catholics Pope Francis cited last year in his address to Congress. The other? Thomas Merton.
David Cloutier is associate professor of theology at Mount St. Mary’s University.
We all went to the mountain with our holy scrips to chant Praises.
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Definition: A charism is a gift of the Holy Spirit, given to an individual or group for the purpose of serving the Church, in which God is at work.
"There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit."
1 Cor 12:4-7 #dancingbare
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A life of devolution of faith the heart of Christ
The life of a child devoted to serving
May God give you vision to live a devoted life.
The Sacred Heart of Christ
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