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Archive for January, 2013

Mindfulness Meditation By Frank Jude Boccio

Thursday, January 31st, 2013
mindfulness meditation

mindfulness meditation

Put it into Practice.

Mindfulness requires concentration, but rather than concentrate on any one object, we concentrate on the moment and whatever is present in that moment.

To begin, take a comfortable seat.  Set your Zen Timer for 20 minutes.  Bring attention to your breath by placing your awareness at your belly and feeling it rise and fall. This will help you tune in to the sensorial presence of the body. Once you 
feel settled, widen your awareness to include all the sensations in your body as well as any thoughts or feelings.

Imagine yourself as a mountain. Some thoughts and feelings will be stormy, with thunder, lightning, and strong winds. Some will be like fog or dark, ominous clouds. Inhaling, note “mountain.” Exhaling, note “stable.” Use the breath to focus on the present moment; cultivate the ability to weather the storm. If you find yourself swept up in 
a thought or emotion, notice it and simply return to the breath. The key is to pay attention to the ever-changing process of thinking rather than to the contents of your thoughts. As you begin to see that they are indeed just thoughts, they will begin to lose their power. You will no longer believe everything you think! Continue to watch and become mindful of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations for 5 to 20 minutes.  Remember to set your Zen Timepiece to signal the end to this meditation.

adapted from Yoga Journal, by Kelly McGonigal

Zen Timepiece, a meditation timer with bowl/gong

Zen Timepiece, a meditation timer with bowl/gong

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, intention, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Well-being, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


Healthy thinking: Praying

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

mediation and prayer

mediation and prayer

Praying has a healing power.

A study by the Californian cardiologist Randolf Byrd helped inspire Larry Dossey to get involved in the healing power of prayer. In 1988 Byrd studied 393 heart patients. They were randomly divided into two groups using a double-blind technique, which means that neither the patients, nor the doctors or nurses knew to which group the patients belonged. Catholic and protestant prayer groups were given the names and health conditions of patients from the first control group and every day they directed their prayer to someone from that group. No prayers were said for the patients from the second control group. The group for which prayers were said needed five times fewer antibiotics than the other group, had three times less lung oedema and no one needed intubation to help them breathe, as opposed to 12 people in the other control group.

Larry Dossey has since become an authority in the area of ‘medicine at a distance’. He is more than convinced that prayer works: ‘Studies have irrefutably proven that people on a spiritual path – whereby meditation or prayer play a role – live an average of 7-13 years longer than those who are not. Moreover, cancer and heart disease are significantly less prevalent among those who pray or meditate. Prayer has an effect on nearly every living organism it has been tried on: people, various cells and tissue, animals, plants and organisms such as bacteria, fungi and yeast. At least 130 controlled laboratory experiments have been done.’

‘Prayer is communicating with the creative powers of the universe, with the extrasensory. There are different types of prayer: the appeal for something for yourself, the meditation in which you ask something for someone else, veneration, plea… In every case we go beyond our mind, which tends to think that it can solve everything by itself.’

Prayer to Dossey is not something holy that is only reserved to pious churchgoers: ‘Everyone can pray, even if you don’t believe in God. A friend of mine prays to “To whom it may concern”. Research clearly indicates that the intention of the prayer is important to the result. When you pray, do so with your whole heart, like a child, from a place of wonder, innocence and sincerity.’ One more tip: ‘There is not just one good way to pray. You can pray for something specific, give thanks or simply ask for help. When facing something difficult, for instance: “Come on God, help me out here.” It works! Try to find your own way to pray. If your wording becomes too formal, it often loses its power.’ Dossey remembers once sitting in a room during a lecture by a theologian. Someone asked: ‘How exactly should you pray?’ Her answer: ‘It’s very simple, ask God.’

Dark Oak Zen Alarm Clock with Chime, a Meditation Timer

Dark Oak Zen Alarm Clock with Chime, a Meditation Timer

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, Well-being, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


Pamper yourself with a Watsu Treatment

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

watsu

watsu

Watsu, a portmanteau of water and shiatsu, is a form of body massage performed while lying in warm water (around 35 °C or 95 °F). The receiver of Watsu treatment is continuously supported by the therapist while he or she rocks and gently stretches the body. Because it is performed in the water, the body is free to be manipulated and stretched in ways impossible while on the land. A normal session would a professional hour of 50 minutes.  Many Watsu practitioners us the Zen Timer to end their sessions.

Bamboo Digital Chime Clock, a Watsu Timer and Clock

Bamboo Digital Chime Clock, a Watsu Timer and Clock

Watsu was created by therapist Harold Dull in the early 1980s, then director of the Harbin School of Shiatsu and Massage in northern California. The technique slowly evolved as he began to incorporate aspects of Zen Shiatsu into his therapy. Watsu pools have now been introduced as a therapeutic passive massage tool as in the 2008 Turkish hamams Lake Conroe resort project.

adapted from wikipedia.org

watsu

watsu

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Chime Alarm Clocks, Hot Springs, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, mindfulness practice, Well-being


Buddhist Alarm Clock

Monday, January 28th, 2013
zen appreciation

zen appreciation

If you have been browsing on-line you may have seen a Google Ad-words for the search term “Buddhist alarm clock” that leads to our website www.Now-Zen.com.

“Buddhist Alarm Clock” is not a product name or search term we created, but instead one that people have been using on their own.  We are the makers of the world famous “Zen Alarm Clock” and although we are using the word “Zen” as part of our trademark, we are not trying to associate directly with Buddhism or any other organized religion. We have no control over “Buddhist Alarm Clock” being used by Google.

The founders of our company have great respect for the spiritual teachings and the aesthetic achievements of Buddhism, but we also respect and appreciate a wide variety of other spiritual paths as well. Zen is the name of an ancient form of Japanese Buddhism, but ever since Robert Pirsig’s famous book, Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, was published in 1974, the word “Zen” has come to have a larger meaning within American popular culture. Zen also connotes a sort of nondenominational metaphysical quality that transcends any particular spiritual forms or teachings. The word evokes the image of a beautiful rock garden or a weather beaten pine tree on a windswept mountainside.

The timeless aesthetics of Zen Buddhism did provide inspiration for our Zen Alarm Clock, but the design also arose from other influences, such as the sublime patterns of sacred geometry.  We thus use the word “Zen” in the name of our product as a kind of lighthearted tribute to progressive spiritual culture.  But, as we have been careful to explain over the 15 years we have been in business, we make products for both spiritual and non-spiritual people and we are not directly associated with Buddhism or any other specific form of spirituality.

Our motto is “quality of thought, stillness of being” and we hope that this is the kind of spiritual message that everyone can appreciate.

We apologize any confusion that the Ad-words search term “Buddhist Alarm Clock” may have caused. If you continue to have any questions at all, please contact us or visit www.now-zen.com for more information.

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Progressive Awakening, zen


Exhaustion Cure #2: Extend Your Exhalations

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
Well-being
Well-being

Exhaustion Cause: Shallow Breathing

Breathing is our most elemental and immediate need. But there’s a big difference between breathing to survive and breathing to thrive. “Most people I meet take shallow, rapid breaths, using only about a third of their lung capacity,” says Weil. You need oxygen to metabolize your food so your body can produce energy. “Not breathing fully and efficiently has a huge effect on your vitality.”

Most of us don’t often stop to consider the way we breathe. “We don’t pay attention to it because we’re never taught to,” explains Weil.

Exhaustion Cure: Extend Your Exhalations
If you make a conscious effort to deepen your breathing, says Weil, “you’ll sleep better, gain more control over your moods, experience less fatigue, and have better energy overall.” Rather than start by taking a big, deep inhalation, increase your breathing efficiency with a focus on breathing out. “We have more voluntary control over the exhalation,” he explains. By learning to use the intercostal muscles (between the ribs) to expel more air from the lungs, “inhalation will automatically increase.”

For best results, Weil recommends spending a little time every day on breathwork. “Keep it very simple. For several minutes, simply squeeze at the end of every exhalation. You don’t have to sit in any special posture. You can do this anywhere, but lying in bed is a good place to start. Over time, your breath will become more regular, quieter, and deeper.” And your energy level will grow stronger.  Remember to set your Zen Timer for a several minutes to remind yourself when to end your practice with a sweet chime sound.

adapted from Body + Soul, September 2009

Dream Kanji Zen Alarm Clock with chime in Dark Oak Finish, a wellness tool for remembering dreams

Dream Kanji Zen Alarm Clock with chime in Dark Oak Finish, a wellness tool for remembering dreams

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks


Mindful Walking, a Spiritual Practice

Sunday, January 27th, 2013
mindful walking

mindful walking

When you apply a few simple techniques, you can turn your daily walk into a rewarding practice.

What is mindful walking? It’s a technique that uses awareness of the mind/body connection to improve the quality of your walking experience on all levels. By approaching a walk in a mindful way, you make it a practice like yoga, meditation, or tai chi; every session brings new insights and challenges. As in yoga, you think about your body position, breathing, movements, and awareness, turning inward and outward at the same time. You’re working to get fit, and to improve your life as a whole. Treat walking as a practice, and it will become not only something you do with your legs but also a way to bring your mind, body, and spirit into balance.

Five Steps to Make Walking a Mindful Practice

Identify your intention. The key to any mindful activity, intention provides focus and motivation, elevating your practice from routine to ritual. What is your intention? To walk for an hour every day? To develop a sense of centeredness and calm? To reduce stress? Your goals and intentions will evolve as you evolve. Let them, as long as they keep you in line with your higher sense of purpose — and keep you moving forward.

Be consistent. A true practice requires ongoing attention. Of course, it’s natural to feel resistant at times, no matter what kind of activity you do. Your mind will create a thousand excuses not to walk today. Don’t let these passing thoughts distract you from your deeper intention. Get moving; start walking around your office or home, or wherever you are. You can quiet the mind by moving your body and get yourself back on track.

train your mind to focus

train your mind to focus

Train your mind to focus. The mind loves — and craves — engagement. Without something to focus on, it will tend to wander, taking your practice with it. By learning to focus, you will be able to walk more efficiently.

Listen to your body. As with any relationship, the connection between mind and body depends on how well one listens to the other. Our tendency is to try to rule the body with the brain; however, they are more like equal partners, offering feedback and direction as you go. Listen to what your body is trying to tell you by noticing any sensations that come up while you’re walking. You may feel energized as your leg muscles engage or relaxed as your breathing deepens. If you detect any complaint from your body, such as pain or discomfort, identify the source. Then make small adjustments in your technique and see whether the sensation lessens.

Embrace the process. Goals provide a greater context for your practice. But building patient awareness of the process is even more important. Sometimes walking will feel easy and rewarding; other times, more like a chore. As part of a mindful practice, you accept the challenge as part of the process and continue to stick with it. My tai chi master sees difficulty as an opportunity — a lesson to be learned. Accepting all of these parts of the process lies at the heart of making walking a mindful exercise.

adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, April/May 2006

Meditation Timer, The Digital Zen Alarm Clock in Solid Walnut

Meditation Timer, The Digital Zen Alarm Clock in Solid Walnut

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO 80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, mindfulness practice, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Uncategorized, Well-being, Zen Timers


The Wabi-Sabi Garden

Saturday, January 26th, 2013
zen-like garden, a perfect meditation space to use your Zen Meditation Timer

zen-like garden, a perfect meditation space to use your Zen Meditation Timer

A couple of years ago, I heard Diane Ackerman, who writes beautifully about gardens and gardening, discussing her ­passion on National Public Radio. She and the host agreed that our gardens reflect ourselves, our way of looking at life. I thought about my own garden, and I liked the idea. My lavender was just plumping with sweet-smelling buds, the vinca was fresh and green with perky purple flowers, and the peonies held promise in their tight little fists.

That was in June. By August, the thought of my wild, out-of-control garden reflecting anything about me was slightly horrifying. The lemon balm had run amok; the peony bush—never caged—was limp and trampled. In my backyard, a virulent type of Japanese knotweed had grown into a jungle. As it does every year, nature had taken its course in my yard, and I hadn’t managed to keep it in check. Oh, the temptation to just call it wabi-sabi and leave it at that. It was, after all, very natural in its untidy way.

But I know better. Wabi-sabi is tamed, subdued, and serene. I know that the natural gardens I inevitably fall for—which feel almost untouched by human hands—actually owe their serenity and peace to hours of hard labor. There’s a fine art to creating a garden that feels close to nature but also offers carefully thought-out spots for meditation and reflection, just the right combination of color and blooms throughout the season, and enough structure and muscle to provide interest even in December.  One where I can use my Zen Timepiece to each day to do my mindfulness practice.   A truly wabi-sabi garden is a creative endeavor of the highest sort. (And some day—when my kids are older and my work life slows down—I vow I’ll ac­complish that.)

Zen Timepiece with brass singing bowl, a meditation timer

Zen Timepiece with brass singing bowl, a meditation timer

I’m slowly working toward my wabi-sabi paradise by putting in plants that are native to my place: slightly weedy black-eyed Su­sans and columbine, wild rosebushes dug up from my neighbor’s yard, heat-loving yar­row. I’ve welcomed intruders, if they have something to offer and don’t get too pushy. The chokecherry that made its way down from the foothills near my house provides long, delicate white blossoms in springtime and brilliant red-orange leaves in the fall (great branches to bring inside). The mullein that planted itself in my flower garden is tough and phallic, but the bloom of tiny yellow flowers around its stalk in late summer expresses its feminine side.

These indigenous species, adapted to my brutal high-desert climate, can take care of themselves and manage to look good—even in August—without a lot of care and attention. The creative part, for me, is mapping out where they’ll thrive and how they’ll interact with each other and with the humans who visit. And this is where the wabi-sabi spirit really comes in. The wabi-sabi garden em­braces and enhances the delicate balance between nature and nurture. It’s not formal and prissy like an English garden—but it’s not overrun with lemon balm and knotweed. Plants are chosen because they belong in that garden, in that climate. They’re allowed to strut their stuff, but they’re expected to be considerate of the plants around them—or be tamed. Brash, blowsy blooms, which generally require a high degree of maintenance, are used sparingly, if at all.

Just as important as what plants are chosen and where they’re placed are the garden’s bones: the stones and pebbles used to create winding paths and delineations, the rusty iron gate beckoning entrance, the trellis teasing vines up its length. In this aspect, gardens offer all sorts of wabi-sabi opportunity. Place an old, broken-down chair in the flowerbeds; let the weather work its magic and the plants grow up around it until it seems rooted and organic to that place. Plant gourds in an old wheelbarrow and let them spill languidly over the sides. Build a stone wall; the very act of placing stone upon stone is a satisfying meditation. Create paths that encourage guests to meander, with stopping points where the vista is ideal.

With the right structure in place, the wabi-sabi garden is as beautiful—if not more so—in December as it is in June. The sculptural bare branches, brittle seedpods, and somber palette of the winter garden are as wabi-sabi as it gets. Stark and naked, the plants stand as vivid symbols of nature’s way: birth, death, rebirth. The blossoms of life are easy to admire; the quiet integrity of plants gathering energy for rebirth takes a deeper appreciation. A stroll through the garden in the dead of winter is a fine place to cultivate that depth.

Adapted from Natural Home Magazine, March/April 2005 Reprinted with permission from The Wabi-Sabi House: The Japanese Art of Imperfect Beauty by Robyn Griggs Lawrence (Clarkson Potter, 2004).

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, wabi-sabi


Aromatherapy and Pure Essential Oils Promotes Sounder Sleep

Saturday, January 26th, 2013
Sleep sounder

Sleep sounder with pure essential oils

Studies indicate that certain aromas may promote sounder sleep, enhance dreaming, and improve awareness and receptivity the following day. EEG (electroencelphalogram) tests at the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Center in Chicago indicate that lavender increases alpha wave activity in the posterior portion of the brain and helps induce sleep. “Alpha wave activity increases when you are relaxed,” says Alana Hirsch, M.D., medical director at the Center. “Put a few drops of lavender pure essential oils on your pillowcase before going to bed,” Hirsch recommends. Studies also show that vanilla helps people fall asleep quicker and promotes faster movement into the REM or dream state, he adds. In addition, research at the Society of Psychophysiological Research found that sleepers in jasmine-scented rooms enjoyed better quality sleep and morning-after alertness than those that slept in a non-scented room. To start sleeping sounder, purchase organic vanilla essential oil at your local natural food store or online at http://homespaorganics.com; pure essential oils of lavender and jasmine are also available at natural food stores and at www.aveda.com.  Sweet dreams…
adapted from Healing Lifestyles & Spas, Kyle Roderick, Sept./Oct. 2005
Bamboo Zen Alarm Clock with Chime

Bamboo Zen Alarm Clock with Chime

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Natural Awakening, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Sleep Habits, Well-being


How Can We Cultivate a Kinder, More Compassionate Relationship with Ourselves and Others? Set Your Meditation Timer

Thursday, January 24th, 2013

how to cultivate compassion

how to cultivate compassion

Cultivate equanimity in the face of life’s ups and downs, and find deeper access to joy.

A lot of people I know avoid reading the paper first thing in the morning—being confronted with all of the injustices and bad deeds in the world is an unsettling way to start the day. It’s difficult to read about the latest corporate finance scam or the obscenity of human trafficking and keep your peace of mind, and it’s even harder to know how to respond. The conflict feels even more immediate when you witness an unjust act firsthand, or are yourself the recipient of one, whether it’s having your wallet stolen, your car broken into, or any sort of hurtful behavior directed your way. The answer to this problem could be upeksha, the fourth of the brahmaviharas.

This understanding of upeksha as equanimity stresses the importance of balance. A balanced heart is not an unfeeling heart. The balanced heart feels pleasure without grasping and clinging at it, it feels pain without condemning or hating, and it stays open to neutral experiences with presence. Insight meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg speaks of equanimity as a “spacious stillness of mind,” within which we can remain connected to others and all that happens around us, while remaining free of our conditioned habit of grasping at the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant.

Calm Within

One way to experience equanimity is to experiment with mindfulness meditation. Rather than fixing attention on a single object such as the breath or a mantra, mindfulness meditation involves the moment-to-moment awareness of changing objects of perception. Mindfulness is like a floodlight, shining awareness on the whole field of experience, including sensations, emotions, and thoughts as they arise and pass away in the dynamic, ever-changing flux that characterizes the human experience of body and mind. Mindfulness allows you to see the nature of the unfolding process without getting caught in reactivity, without identifying with your sensations, emotions, and thoughts. This insight changes your relationship to the mind-body. The waves keep coming, but you don’t get swept away by them. Or as Swami Satchidananda often said, “You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf!” This ability to remain balanced amidst ever-changing conditions is the balance of equanimity.

How to be calm within

How to be calm within

There’s an old story that illustrates the wisdom of this state of mind. A farmer’s most valuable asset is the one horse he owns. One day it runs away. All the townspeople commiserate with him, “Oh, what terrible luck! You’ve fallen into poverty now, with no way to pull the plow or move your goods!” The farmer merely responds, “I don’t know if it’s unfortunate or not; all I know is that my horse is gone.”

A few days later, the horse returns, and following it are six more horses, both stallions and mares. The townspeople say “Oh! You’ve struck it rich! Now you have seven horses to your name!” Again, the farmer says, “I don’t know if I’m fortunate or not; all that I can say is that I now have seven horses in my stable.”

A few days later, while the farmer’s son is trying to break in one of the wild stallions, he’s thrown from the horse and breaks his leg and shoulder. All the townspeople bemoan his fate: “Oh, how terrible! Your son has been so badly injured, he’ll not be able to help you with the harvest. What a misfortune!” The farmer responds, “I don’t know if it’s a misfortune or not; what I know is that my son has been injured.”

Less than a week later, the army sweeps through town, conscripting all the young men to fight in a war…all except for the farmer’s son, who is unable to fight because of his injury.

The fact is, you can’t know what changes your life will bring or what the ultimate consequences will be. Equanimity allows for the mystery of things: the unknowable, uncontrollable nature of things to 
be just as they are. In this radical acceptance lies peace and freedom—right there in the midst of whatever pleasant or unpleasant circumstances we find ourselves in. When we open to the truth that there is actually very little we can control other than our own reactions to circumstances, we learn to let go. Cultivating the qualities of kindness, compassion, and joy opens your heart to others. Equanimity balances the giving of your heart’s love with the recognition and acceptance that things are the way they are. However much you may care for someone, however much you may do for others, however much you would like to control things or you wish that they were other than they are, equanimity reminds you that all beings everywhere are responsible for their own actions, and for the consequences of their actions.

Without this recognition, it’s easy to fall into compassion fatigue, helper-burnout, and even despair. Equanimity allows you to open your heart and offer love, kindness, compassion, and rejoicing, while letting go of your expectations and attachment to results. Equanimity endows the other three brahmaviharas with kshanti: patience, persistence, and forbearance. So, you can keep your heart open, even if the kindness, compassion and appreciative joy you offer to others is not returned. And when you are confronted with the nonvirtuous deeds of others, equanimity allows you to feel compassion for the suffering that underlies their actions as well as for the suffering their actions cause others. It is equanimity that brings immeasurability or boundlessness to the other three brahmaviharas.

adapted from Yoga Journal Magazine, by By Frank Jude Boccio

Frank Jude Boccio is a teacher of yoga and Zen Buddhism and the author of Mindfulness Yoga. Find him at mindfulnessyoga.net

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga & Meditation Timer.  It features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings your meditation or yoga session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal. Our Yoga Timer & Clock can be programmed to chime at the end of the meditation or yoga session or periodically throughout the session as a kind of sonic yantra. The beauty and functionality of the Zen Clock/Timer makes it a meditation tool that can actually help you “make time” for meditation in your life. Bring yourself back to balance.

Zen Clock with Gentle Chime to Awaken You Gradually

Zen Clock with Gentle Chime to Awaken You Gradually

Now & Zen’s Clock and Meditation Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Goodness, intention, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, prayer, Well-being, Zen Timers


Korin

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Irises by Ogata Korin Edo 1700s, Tokyo

Irises by Ogata Korin Edo 1700s, Tokyo

Ogata Kōrin (1658 –  1716) was a Japanese painter and lacquerer.

Zen Chime Alarm Clock, Digital Black Lacquer Chime Clock

Zen Chime Alarm Clock, Digital Black Lacquer Chime Clock

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

Posted in Bamboo Chime Clocks, Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Tools, mindfulness practice, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Progressive Awakening, Zen Timers


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