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Archive for June, 2012

Get the Rest and Relaxation You Need – The Natural Sounds Alarm Clock

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

foot massage

foot massage

The senses can offer a shortcut to rest.

Massage comes to mind. So does aromatherapy; lavender essence in particular, small studies have shown, has a relaxing effect, even reducing stress hormone levels. Visual cues can raise or ease tension, depending on what you’re looking at. It’s a principle of design, for example, that horizontal lines are restful while vertical ones stir up power and tension (think a bed versus prison bars), and cool colors (blue, green) are said to induce more serenity than hot ones (red or orange). Views of nature have helped hospital patients heal faster. Gazing at an aquarium has been shown to slow the pulse.

Carved Wooden Thai Buddha with Singing Bowl

Carved Wooden Thai Buddha with Singing Bowl

Sound, too, can be a potent relaxant, and tempo is a key player. Using various genres from classical to techno and rap, researchers found that, regardless of what music the subjects liked to listen to, an adagio (such as that from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony) and an Indian raga physically decelerated the body into a calm state, compared with faster pieces like a Vivaldi presto (L’Estate) or a song by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. One reason for this may be respiratory entrainment, the tendency of the listener’s breath to rise and fall with the music’s beat. But another theory explains that putting on music—of any kind—can recharge you: When the tempo is brisk, it arouses our engagement; then when it slows or pauses, there’s a release of attention that leads to relaxation.

Lhasha Tizer, a wellness coach who teaches sound meditation at the Miraval Resort in Catalina, Arizona, believes that listening to nature’s sounds, a kind of music in itself, may have been the way our earliest ancestors meditated away stress. “Those rhythms create a trancelike state,” she says. (In fact, researchers at the University of Louisville School of Medicine found that a CD of natural sounds—birdsong, ocean surf—markedly shortened the amount of time it took people to physiologically recover from a stressful stimulus when compared with white noise.) “Today, with the way we work and the cacophonic noise we’re exposed to, we don’t have such an automatic gateway to help us focus and settle down,” Tizer points out.

To re-create that trancelike feeling through music, she suggests building up a sound repertoire. Start by being receptive to the sounds around you. Notice how noises affect you—children playing, horns honking, wind blowing through the trees. Gradually begin seeking out simple music with a clear percussive element. Pay attention to the beats you like, identifying the moods they evoke, and use those to guide you in choosing increasingly advanced melodies that carry away your anxiety.

In time, you’ll not only have a database of meditative music but, within it, be able to match your playlist to the mood you want to be in. Ultimately, a good rhythmic rest—and for that matter, any brief escape from a world where you always have to do to a place where you can just be—should make you feel like getting up and dancing.

Our Zen Timepiece’s acoustic 6-inch brass bowl-gong clock is the world’s ultimate alarm clock, practice timer, and “mindfulness bell.” It has the most beautiful natural Singing Bowl Sounds.  It is not only an Alarm Clock by a Countdown timer for meditation and yoga.

The Natural Sounds Singing Bowl Alarm Clock from Now & Zen, Inc.

The Natural Sounds Singing Bowl Alarm Clock from Now & Zen, Inc.

It fills your environment with beautifully complex tones whenever it strikes. In the morning, its exquisite sounds summon your consciousness into awakening with a series of subtle gongs that provide an elegant beginning to your day. Once you experience the Zen Timepiece’s progressive awakening, you’ll never want to wake up any other way. It also serves as the perfect meditation timer. Available in 5 wood styles, including bamboo.
By Sara Reistad-Long
O, The Oprah Magazine
Now & Zen’s Natural Sounds Alarm Clock Shop
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO  80302
(800) 779-6383
Sound Therapy Alarm Clock with Tibetan Singing Bowl

Sound Therapy Alarm Clock with Tibetan Singing Bowl

Posted in Natural Awakening, sleep, Sleep Habits


Tired of Being Shocked by Your Alarm Clock?

Friday, June 29th, 2012
Isoda Koryusai, Japanese (active c. 1764–1788)

Isoda Koryusai, Japanese (active c. 1764–1788)

Change Your Alarm Clock…

The Digital Zen Clock’s long-resonating Tibetan bell-like chime makes waking up a beautiful experience – its progressive chimes begin your day with grace. When the clock’s alarm is triggered, the acoustic chime bar is struck just once … 3-1/2 minutes later it strikes again … chime strikes become more frequent over 10 minutes … eventually striking every 5 seconds until shut off. As they become more frequent, the gentle chimes will always wake you up – your body really doesn’t need to be awakened harshly, with a Zen Clock you’re awakened more gradually and thus more naturally.  Unlike artificial recorded sounds coming out of a tiny speaker in a plastic box, natural acoustic sounds transform your bedroom or office environment.

The Digital Zen Clock also serves as a countdown and interval timer for yoga, meditation, bodywork, etc.; and it can also be set to chime on the hour as a tool for “mindfulness.”

Digital Zen Clocks feature a “high” and “low” chime strike volume control, which allows you to adjust the sound of the chime to suit your needs. The Digital Zen Clock runs on 2 AA batteries (not included) and can also be plugged in with the included AC jack. The clock includes a lighted digital display (which can be set to be lit full-time when plugged in).

change your alarm clock so you eliminate the shock in your life

change your alarm clock so you eliminate the shock in your life

Now & Zen’s Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, sleep, Sleep Habits


Not Getting the Rest You Need? Instead Look Forward to Waking Gently with Our Soothing Alarm Clocks

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

harunobu suzuki, Beauty at the Veranda

harunobu suzuki, Beauty at the Veranda

The things you do when you’re tired—like reaching for the fourth cup of coffee, the remote, the cupcake(s)—are almost never the things that’ll get you untired. We’ve got a radical new idea: How about a real rest? Do you even know what that means?

For most women who chronically bump along on near empty, it’s no mystery that getting to bed a little earlier would help. “The sleep system really does work like a bank,” says William Dement, MD, PhD, who—as chief of the sleep medicine division at the Stanford University School of Medicine—should know. “We can keep going for a long time on borrowed energy because our survival mechanisms kick in. At some point, however, every hour lost needs to be paid back.” But instead of the pillow, we’ll often reach for coffee—37 percent of American women chug more than three caffeinated beverages a day, according to the National Sleep Foundation—or a glass of wine, or something sweet, or the remote control to “wind down” with Anderson Cooper, who’s inevitably reporting from a war zone with things blowing up in the background. None of these efforts restores energy—some, in fact, do the opposite. Even when you do finally climb into bed, there are times when anxiety invades your sleep, leaving you bleary-eyed and dragging day after day. So we decided to investigate what—short of permanent residency at a spa—gives you a real rest.

Paradoxically, according to the newest research, when you’re looking for a profound rest cure, rather than trying to tune out, you may be better off tuning in and anchoring your awareness in the present moment. You can approach such engagement through various routes, like fully using your senses, practicing mindfulness, getting into a flow state, and—most difficult for many, but perhaps most effective—giving up the need to be in control.

tune in

tune in

Loch Kelly, A New York Buddhist-trained psychotherapist and meditation teacher, uses a technique called “resting in the heart space” to help people relinquish the reins; in his experience it provides the deepest rest in the shortest amount of time. “Traditionally, meditation focuses on getting to a state so neutral that there isn’t a problem to solve. Some monks spend 20 years in isolation working on just that.” But anyone, Kelly claims, can attain a sense of flow—and many of us already do through ordinary activities like gardening, knitting, working, or driving. When you’re in a car, for example, you have to focus on the road as it looks in the moment and, at the same time, stay alert to continually anticipate the next move. Eventually, your brain resolves the two directions it’s working in by falling into a rhythm, which leads to an open state of awareness that Kelly calls flow. You’re most likely to feel it after an unfettered drive in the country—no urgent sense of time passing or future demands impinging, but rather a merging into the current, a harmony with the environment as the present unfolds. “There’s something that’s unhooked from the mind, prior to thought, and at the same time intelligent,” Kelly says. “You can respond quickly.” Entering this flow state signals the brain that you’re safe, not in danger mode.

Once you’ve gotten a sense of what flow is, you’re ready for the heart space meditation. Kelly suggests deciding ahead of time how long you can allow yourself to rest—people usually do it from one to 20 minutes, but you may want to go longer. To prepare, take a big inhalation, filling your stomach from the bottom to the top like a water pitcher. Exhale as you normally would. Next, look up and gradually allow your peripheral vision to expand, a gesture intended to keep you engaged with your surroundings. Smile to tell yourself that you’re doing something you enjoy.

get the rest you need

get the rest you need

Boulder, Colorado—an innovative company has taken one of life’s most unpleasant experiences (being startled awake by your alarm clock early Monday morning), and transformed it into something to actually look forward to. “The Zen Alarm Clock,” uses soothing acoustic chimes that awaken users gently and gradually, making waking up a real pleasure.  Rather than an artificial recorded sound played through a speaker, the Zen Clock features an alloy chime bar similar to a wind chime.  When the clock’s alarm is triggered, its chime produces a long-resonating, beautiful acoustic tone reminiscent of a temple gong.  Then, as the ring tone gradually fades away, the clock remains silent until it automatically strikes again three minutes later.  The frequency of the chime strikes gradually increase over ten-minutes, eventually striking every five seconds, so they are guaranteed to wake up even the heaviest sleeper.  This gentle, ten-minute “progressive awakening” leaves users feeling less groggy, and even helps with dream recall.


By Sara Reistad-Long
O, The Oprah Magazine

Now & Zen's Family of Alarm Clocks

Now & Zen's Family of Alarm Clocks

Now & Zen’s Chime Alarm Clock Shop
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO  80302
(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Chime Alarm Clocks, Natural Awakening, sleep, Sleep Habits


Walking Meditation

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
What is a Walking Meditation

What is a Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation
What is it?
This component of numerous meditation traditions slows the walking process with the intention of bringing into awareness its most basic parts—lifting the foot, swinging it, placing it down—in order to bring a greater consciousness to daily life. When we break down the motion of walking, we realize how each action is a collection of sub-actions, and how the mind and body work together to create movement. “This is not walking for transportation, it’s walking as a tool for developing mindfulness in the present moment,” says John LeMunyon, L.M.T., co-owner of Heartwood Yoga in Birmingham, Ala., and a meditator for 30-plus years. You can practice walking meditation by itself, or combine it with one of the seated styles on the preceding pages. Used as an interlude, the walking technique is a good way to embody the insights gained during seated practice and to heighten their relevance in your daily life. Walking meditation shows clearly the Buddhist precept that “all action is preceded by intention,” says LeMunyon. “There’s always an intention; and when we are present to the moment, there is always a choice. It’s at the level of intention that we make our choices of how skillfully we want to live our lives.”

What’s it good for?
When you find yourself feeling restless or agitated, a physical practice like walking is a great way to quiet your mind and find grounding in your body. It can also help ease your transition from sitting meditation to the motion of “real life,” and vice versa.

Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation

How long does it take?
To begin, try walking for about 15 steps in two directions, about five minutes total. Or try interspersing this with five minutes of seated meditation.

How do I do it?
1. Find a private indoor or outdoor place with level ground and at least 20 feet of space to move.
2. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet parallel, shoulders loose, arms draped at your sides or clasped lightly in front of or behind you. Focus your eyes softly on the ground about 6 to 8 feet ahead (looking right at your feet can be distracting).
3. Breathe in as you lift your right heel. Pause and breathe out, leaving your toes resting on the ground.
4. Breathe in again as you slowly swing your right foot forward. Place the heel of your right foot on the ground as you exhale and roll the rest of the foot down, transferring your weight so it’s balanced between both feet. Pause for a full breath.
5. Repeat the entire sequence with your left foot, again matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation, alternating for 15 steps. The goal is to keep your mind fully focused on your bodily sensations; it may help to think or softly say, “Lift, pause, swing, place, transfer, pause,” as you perform these movements.
6. When you’ve completed your paces in one direction, come to a stop with your feet parallel and pause for a few breaths. Then turn slowly, using the same movement pattern and matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation. Pause again, facing the path you just walked. End by retracing your steps back to where you started.

adapted from naturalhealthmag.com By Frances Lefkowitz

Zen Alarm Clocks and Meditation & Yoga Timers with Acoustic Sounds

Zen Alarm Clocks and Meditation & Yoga Timers with Acoustic Sounds

Now & Zen – The Chime Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Meditation Tools, Walking Meditation


Meditation a Quick Fix for Stress – Set Your Gong Meditation Timer

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Meditation is a Quick Fix for Stress

Meditation is a Quick Fix for Stress

Meditating for just 20 minutes a day for five days helped to increase energy and decrease anxiety and stress, as measured by levels of stress hormones, a small study found.

Using the so-called integrative body-mind training method, which comes from traditional Chinese medicine, the study participants reported better attention and control of stress than those relying on relaxation training, which is popular in the West.

Although derived from Chinese medicine, integrative body-mind training uses aspects of other meditation and mindfulness training, the study authors said.

“A meditation method developed in China showed remarkably better performance among those who went through the training compared with those who used relaxation training,” said lead researcher Michael Posner, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon’s Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences.

In the study, published in this week’s issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers assigned 40 undergraduate students from China to either integrative meditation or relaxation therapy.

Meditation

Meditation

Posner’s group found the students who used integrative meditation for 20 minutes a day for just five days showed greater improvement in conflict scores on a test of stress levels, lower anxiety, depression and anger. Conversely, they displayed more energy, less fatigue, a significant drop in levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and an increase in immunoreactivity, compared with students receiving the relaxation therapy.

Integrative body-mind training was developed in the 1990s, and has been studied in China since 1995. Based on the results from hundreds of adults and children ranging from 4 to 90 years old in China, the practice appears to improve emotional and cognitive performance and social behavior, the study authors said.

Because the study was done in China, Posner said he’s not sure if the same meditation method would work in the United States.

“This is a kind of scientific demonstration about the possible advantage of meditation, at least for the Chinese undergraduates,” Posner said. “It could be culturally specific.”

Posner does think, however, that the study shows it’s possible to change the levels of stress hormones with training.

More information

To learn more about meditation, visit the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Once you experience the Zen Timepiece's progressive tones, you'll never want to meditate  any other way.  It serves as the perfect meditation timer.

Once you experience the Zen Timepiece's progressive tones, you'll never want to meditate any other way. It serves as the perfect meditation timer.

Now & Zen – The Gong Meditation Timer Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice


Sleeplessness and Stress – Set Your Chime Zen Alarm Clock

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness

Finding yourself wide awake after a few hours of sleep, or waking often during the night is called “parasomnia” or “sleep maintenance insomnia,” and it’s much more common than people think. A 2005 National Sleep Foundation poll found that 75 percent of adults frequently have symptoms of sleep dysfunction, including waking during the night.

Just as the victims in slasher flicks make fatal errors (why are you running up the stairs?), we are often our own worst enemies when it comes to a solid night of sleep. “People think that because they’re able to fall asleep they’ll stay asleep, even if they’ve had too much caffeine,” says Rubin Naiman, Ph.D., a sleep and dream specialist at Andrew Weil’s Program in Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona.

But for most of us, trouble sleeping isn’t usually caused by that espresso at 5 p.m. “The root of most sleep problems is stress,” says Jeffrey Thompson, director of the Center for Neuroacoustic Research and creator of an audio sleeping aid called the Delta Sleep System.

We’re overloaded, over-stimulated, and overwhelming our bodies’ ability to relax. “Our nervous system is built for a sprint, but we’re living in a stress marathon,” he says. “If you go to bed worried you’re probably going to wake up in the middle of the night,” Dr. Naiman adds. And when sleeplessness happens, as you probably know, the next day is pretty much shot.

A new generation of sleep scientists are overturning the conventional wisdom about parasomnia. (Counting sheep? Out.) The doctors say: You can do it. With a few simple changes in your routine, a little visualization, a couple of surprisingly counter-intuitive moves and perhaps an attitude adjustment, a peaceful night of slumber can be yours. Here’s their best advice:

Throw out your definition of a good night’s sleep
Just as three meals a day has given way to all-day grazing and smaller portions, “what’s good for you” has changed here, too.

“Thinking it’s necessary to stay asleep for 8 hours straight may be unrealistic,” says David Neubauer, M.D., associate director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center and author of Understanding Sleeplessness: Perspectives on Insomnia. “Just as we experience a dip in alertness mid-afternoon, the inverse is a dip in sleepiness in the middle of the night. There’s strong evidence that there’s a kind of awakening that’s totally normal.” History supports this take, Dr. Naiman says. “Before the industrial revolution, people had their first sleep for 3 to 4 hours, awoke for an hour or two, then slept for another 3 or 4 hours.”

Even waking every 60 to 90 minutes can be part of a healthy sleep pattern. The deeper stages of sleep, or REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, occur about every 90 minutes and get longer as the night goes on, so your brain might become more alert between those cycles.

Sleeplessness

Sleeplessness

Since we’re conditioned to think that waking during the night is a problem, when it happens, we panic. That reaction causes our brains to awaken even further, Dr. Neubauer explains.

If you find yourself awake in pre-dawn hours, Dr. Naiman advises first assessing your physical state. Do you have an ache, a cramp, or need to go to the bathroom? If so, take care of it.

If you don’t have a physical complaint, then chances are you are experiencing a normal stage of the sleep cycle. Knowing this “helps replace worries that you’ll be useless without 8 solid hours of sleep with more neutral thoughts,” suggests Sat Bir Khalsa, Ph.D., instructor in medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School. “The useful thought is: ‘I can handle the disruption and still feel rested.'”

Get bed-ready
After an action-packed day (or one equally packed with worry), our brains need some time to catch up, to make order of things, and to slow their frenetic firing before we’re ready to sleep. Pure bodily exhaustion can probably get you at least that first hour of dozing, but then worries will rise to the surface and cause you to stir. How can you get your mind to chill?

“We need to learn to apply the brakes before the car is in the garage,” Dr. Naiman says. “Clearing your head is key to a good night of sleep.” Simply taking 15 minutes to sit quietly, meditate, pray, or do rhythmic breathing can allow your mind to slow down enough to sleep through the night.

Establishing any ritual that you do before bed—anything but checking your e-mail!—will do more than relax you right then and there. The repetition also conditions your brain and body for sleep, Thompson explains.

While you’re transitioning to Z-mode the same way night after night, you’re also creating a Pavlovian response to your ritual. So simply sitting in the spot where you do your breathing or turning on the shower water signals your mind that it will be sleeping soon, Thompson says.

Another way to condition yourself sleepward is by playing off the body’s internal clock. Dr. Naiman suggests simulating dusk about an hour before you plan to go to bed and dimming the lights significantly. This triggers natural circadian rhythms that help us prepare for sleep.

adapted from Women’s Health Magazine, by BY LIESA GOINS

Wake up refreshed, love your alarm clock, transform your mornings with The Zen Alarm Clock's progressive awakening with gentle chimes.

Wake up refreshed, love your alarm clock, transform your mornings with The Zen Alarm Clock's progressive awakening with gentle chimes.

Now & Zen – The Chime Alarm Clock Shop
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO  80302
(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks


Yawning May Cool the Brain When Needed

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Yawning May Cool the Brain

Yawning May Cool the Brain

Study also found sinuses act like a bellows, help keep brain the right temperature

Yawning helps keep the brain cool, and the sinuses play a role in that process by acting as bellows, a new report suggests.

Yawning isn’t triggered because you’re bored, tired or need oxygen. Rather, yawning helps regulate the brain’s temperature, according to Gary Hack, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Andrew Gallup, of Princeton University.

“The brain is exquisitely sensitive to temperature changes and therefore must be protected from overheating,” they said in a University of Maryland news release. “Brains, like computers, operate best when they are cool.”

During yawning, the walls of the maxillary sinuses (located in the cheeks on each side of the nose) flex like bellows and help with brain cooling, according to the researchers.

They noted that the actual function of sinuses is still the subject of debate, and this theory may help clarify their purpose.

“Very little is understood about them, and little is agreed upon even by those who investigate them. Some scientists believe that they have no function at all,” Hack said in the news release.

The researchers said their theory that yawning helps cool the brain has medical implications. For example, excessive yawning often precedes seizures in people with epilepsy and pain in people with migraine headaches.

Doctors may be able to use excessive yawning as a way to identify patients with conditions that affect temperature regulation.

Yawning May Cool the Brain

Yawning May Cool the Brain

“Excessive yawning appears to be symptomatic of conditions that increase brain and/or core temperature, such as central nervous system damage and sleep deprivation,” Gallup said in the news release.

The paper appears in the December issue of the journal Medical Hypotheses.

More information

The American Rhinologic Society has more about sinuses.

— Robert Preidt

SOURCE: University of Maryland at Baltimore, news release, Nov. 14, 2011

The Zen Alarm Clock transforms mornings, awakening you gradually with a series of gentle acoustic chimes Once you use a Zen Clock nothing else will do

The Zen Alarm Clock transforms mornings, awakening you gradually with a series of gentle acoustic chimes Once you use a Zen Clock nothing else will do

Now & Zen – The Chime Alarm Clock Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in sleep


Trouble Sleeping? Choosing Alternative Alarm Clock May Just Do the Trick

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012
trouble sleeping?

trouble sleeping?

By John D. Sutter, CNN

There’s growing concern that the glowing screens of laptops and the iPad may affect sleep if used right before bedtime.

J.D. Moyer decided recently to conduct a little experiment with artificial light and his sleep cycle.

The sleep-deprived Oakland, California, resident had read that strong light — whether it’s beaming down from the sun or up from the screens of personal electronics — can reset a person’s internal sleep clock.

So, for one month, whenever the sun set, he turned off all the gadgets and lights in his house — from the bulb hidden in his refrigerator to his laptop computer.

It worked. Instead of falling asleep at midnight, Moyer’s head was hitting the pillow as early as 9 p.m. He felt so well-rested during the test, he said, that friends remarked on his unexpected morning perkiness.

“I had the experience, a number of times, just feeling kind of unreasonably happy for no reason. And it was the sleep,” he said. “Sure, you can get by with six or seven hours, but sleeping eight or nine hours — it’s a different state of mind.”

Moyer may be onto something.

More than ever, consumer electronics — particularly laptops, smartphones and Apple’s new iPad — are shining bright light into our eyes until just moments before we doze off.

Now there’s growing concern that these glowing gadgets may actually fool our brains into thinking it’s daytime. Exposure can disturb sleep patterns and exacerbate insomnia, some sleep researchers said in interviews.

“Potentially, yes, if you’re using [the iPad or a laptop] close to bedtime … that light can be sufficiently stimulating to the brain to make it more awake and delay your ability to sleep,” said Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University and director of the school’s Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology.

“And I think more importantly, it could also be sufficient to affect your circadian rhythm. This is the clock in your brain that determines when you sleep and when you wake up.”

Such concerns are not entirely new: One sleep researcher said Thomas Edison created these problems when he invented the light bulb.

Zen Alarm Clocks

Zen Alarm Clocks

Choosing an alternative to your i Pad alarm clock just may help to sleep better.

“The Zen Alarm Clock,” uses soothing acoustic chimes that awaken users gently and gradually, making waking up a real pleasure.  Rather than an artificial recorded sound played through a speaker, the Zen Clock features an alloy chime bar similar to a wind chime.  When the clock’s alarm is triggered, its chime produces a long-resonating, beautiful acoustic tone reminiscent of a temple gong.  Then, as the ring tone gradually fades away, the clock remains silent until it automatically strikes again three minutes later.  The frequency of the chime strikes gradually increase over ten-minutes, eventually striking every five seconds, so they are guaranteed to wake up even the heaviest sleeper.  This gentle, ten-minute “progressive awakening” leaves users feeling less groggy, and even helps with dream recall.

In the morning, its exquisite sounds summon your consciousness into awakening with a series of subtle gongs that provide an elegant beginning to your day. Once you experience the Zen Timepiece’s progressive awakening, you’ll never want to wake up any other way.

Zen Alarm Clock Shop - Boulder, Colorado

Zen Alarm Clock Shop - Boulder, Colorado

Now & Zen’s Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, sleep, Sleep Habits


Meditation Helps Increase Attention Span – Set Your Gong Meditation Timer

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012
Meditation - A Wellness Practice

Meditation - A Wellness Practice

It’s nearly impossible to pay attention to one thing for a long time. A new study looks at whether Buddhist meditation can improve a person’s ability to be attentive and finds that meditation training helps people do better at focusing for a long time on a task that requires them to distinguish small differences between things they see.

The research was inspired by work on Buddhist monks, who spend years training in meditation. “You wonder if the mental skills, the calmness, the peace that they express, if those things are a result of their very intensive training or if they were just very special people to begin with,” says Katherine MacLean, who worked on the study as a graduate student at the University of California – Davis. Her co-advisor, Clifford Saron, did some research with monks decades ago and wanted to study meditation by putting volunteers through intensive training and seeing how it changes their mental abilities.

About 140 people applied to participate; they heard about it via word of mouth and advertisements in Buddhist-themed magazines. Sixty were selected for the study. A group of thirty people went on a meditation retreat while the second group waited their turn; that meant the second group served as a control for the first group. All of the participants had been on at least three five-to-ten day meditation retreats before, so they weren’t new to the practice. They studied meditation for three months at a retreat in Colorado with B. Alan Wallace, one of the study’s co-authors and a meditation teacher and Buddhist scholar.

Meditation for Wellness

Meditation for Wellness

The people took part in several experiments; results from one are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. At three points during the retreat, each participant took a test on a computer to measure how well they could make fine visual distinctions and sustain visual attention. They watched a screen intently as lines flashed on it; most were of the same length, but every now and then a shorter one would appear, and the volunteer had to click the mouse in response.

Participants got better at discriminating the short lines as the training went on. This improvement in perception made it easier to sustain attention, so they also improved their task performance over a long period of time. This improvement persisted five months after the retreat, particularly for people who continued to meditate every day.

The task lasted 30 minutes and was very demanding. “Because this task is so boring and yet is also very neutral, it’s kind of a perfect index of meditation training,” says MacLean. “People may think meditation is something that makes you feel good and going on a meditation retreat is like going on vacation, and you get to be at peace with yourself. That’s what people think until they try it. Then you realize how challenging it is to just sit and observe something without being distracted.”

This experiment is one of many that were done by Saron, MacLean and a team of nearly 30 researchers with the same group of participants. It’s the most comprehensive study of intensive meditation to date, using methods drawn from fields as diverse as molecular biology, neuroscience, and anthropology. Future analyses of these same volunteers will look at other mental abilities, such as how well people can regulate their emotions and their general well-being.

By Keri Chiodo, Association for Psychological Science

Now & Zen – The Gong Meditation Timer Shop

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Gong Meditation Timer for Your Wellness Practice

Gong Meditation Timer for Your Wellness Practice

Posted in Meditation Tools


More Evidence That Exercise May Keep The Brain Sharp

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Exercise May Sharpen Your Brain

Exercise May Sharpen Your Brain

Even if you start late in life, physical activity can help preserve mental ability, study finds

Older adults who keep active may be helping to reduce their odds of losing their mental abilities, two new studies suggest.

Both reports were published online July 19 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, to coincide with presentations scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the International Conference on Alzheimer’s Disease in Paris.

“We looked at an objective measure of physical activity — most previous studies looked at self-reported levels of physical activity, which always has some inherent error,” said the lead researcher of the first study, Laura E. Middleton, from the Heart and Stroke Foundation Center for Stroke Recovery at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto.

Using this measure, the researchers found that those who were the most physically active had a 90 percent lower risk of developing significant cognitive decline, compared with those who had the least physical activity, she said.

“This suggests, because this method is able to capture all types of physical activity, that low-intensity physical activity may be important,” Middleton said. “So not just jogging, swimming or biking, but maybe just moving around the house, doing chores, walking outside, may also be important for protection against cognitive impairment.”

Exercise May Sharpen Your Brain

Exercise May Sharpen Your Brain

“We shouldn’t just be encouraging people to exercise, we should discourage them from being sedentary,” she added.

For the study, Middleton’s team collected data on 197 men and women who took part in the ongoing Health, Aging and Body Composition study. The participants had an average age of 74 when they started the study and none had any cognitive difficulties, the researchers noted.

To determine the effects of activity on mental ability, the researchers measured the total amount of energy the participants used. To do this, they used a method called “doubly labeled water,” which shows how much water a person loses, which is an objective measure of a persons metabolic activity.

Over two to five years of follow-up, Middleton’s group found that those with the highest levels of physical activity had the lowest odds of developing any cognitive impairment, compared with those who had the least amount of physical activity.

These findings were confirmed by having participants take the Modified Mini-Mental State Examination. The researchers also took factors such as Modified Mini-Mental State Examination scores at the start of the study, demographic factors, body mass, sleep, self-reported health and diabetes.

Middleton noted that while these findings cannot be said to be causal, but it “is an association between physical activity and cognitive change.”

In the second study, a team led by Marie-Noel Vercambre, from the Foundation of Public Health, Mutuelle Generale de l’Education Nationale in Paris, looked at the effect of physical activity among women who were part of the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study, which included women with vascular disease or three or more risk factors for heart disease.

Vercambre’s group determined the level of physical activity among 2,809 women at the start of the study and every two years thereafter. In addition they conducted phone interviews with the women that included tests of mental ability and memory. These tests were given at the start of the study and three or more times over the next 5.4 years.

Expert yoga pose

Expert yoga pose

The researchers found that women who were most physically active had the lowest rate of developing cognitive decline. In addition, women who took a brisk 30-minute walk every day, or its equivalent, had the lower risk of cognitive impairment.

Dr. Eric B. Larson, from the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle and author of an accompanying journal editorial, commented that the association between physical activity and mental ability probably had to do with overall vascular health.

“As we get older, our brains are probable less able to withstand stress,” he said. But exercise improves vascular health, he added.

Larson thinks the benefits of exercise on mental ability can accrue even if one starts exercising later in life. “There may be even more benefit, because your state is more risky,” he said. “Just keeping up walking for an older person is a huge benefit.”

Even after dementia has started, exercise can be a benefit, Larson said. “Walking once, twice or four times a week with a caregiver leads to a better outcome and a happier person,” he said.

More information

For more on dementia, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

SOURCES: Laura E. Middleton, Ph.D., Heart and Stroke Foundation Center for Stroke Recovery, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto; Eric B. Larson, M.D., M.P.H., Group Health Research Institute, Seattle; July 19, 2011, Archives of Internal Medicine, online

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