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Feel More Compassionate

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

meditation increases compassion

meditation increases compassion

Maitryadisu balani

The cultivation of friendliness creates inner strength. (Yoga Sutra III.24)

We typically think of our emotional range as something that is fixed and unchanging—a reflection of the personality we’re born with. But research is revealing the possibility that we may be able to cultivate and increase our ability to feel the emotional state of compassion. Researchers have found that feeling connected to others is as learnable as any other skill. “We are trying to provide evidence that meditation can cultivate compassion, and that you can see the change in both the person’s behavior and the function of the brain,” Lutz says.

So what does compassion look like in the brain? To find out, Lutz and his colleagues compared two groups of -meditators—one group whose members were experienced in compassion meditation, and the other a group whose mambers were not—and gave them the same instructions: to generate a state of love and compassion by thinking about someone they care about, extend those feelings to others, and finally, to feel love and compassion without any specific object. As each of the participants meditated in-side the fMRI brain scanners, they were occasionally interrupted by spontaneous and unexpected human sounds—such as a baby cooing or a woman screaming—that might elicit feelings of care or concern.

All of the meditators showed emotional responses to the sounds. But the more experienced compassion meditators showed a larger brain response in areas important for processing physical sensations and for emotional responding, particularly to sounds of distress. The researchers also observed an increase in heart rate that corresponded to the brain changes. These findings suggest that the meditators were having a genuine empathic response and that the experienced meditators felt greater compassion. In other words, compassion meditation appears to make the brain more naturally open to a connection with others.

These meditation techniques may have benefits beyond the experience of spontaneous compassion. A study by psychology professor Barbara Fredrickson and her colleagues at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and the University of Michigan, found that a seven-week lovingkindness meditation course also increased the participants’ daily experience of joy, gratitude, and hope. The more participants meditated, the better they felt. Participants also reported a greater sense of self-acceptance, social support, purpose in life, and life satisfaction, while experiencing fewer symptoms of illness and depression. This study provides strong evidence that chipping away at the illusion of separation can open us up to a far more meaningful connection to life.

adapted from Yoga Journal by Kelly McGonigal

Zen Timepiece, a brass singing bowl clock and timer for meditation

Zen Timepiece, a brass singing bowl clock and timer for meditation

Now & Zen

743 Pine St.

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

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


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


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, Well-being, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers, mindfulness practice


Compassionate Listening Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Sousaku Hanga woodblock print by Yoshida Toshi, ca. 1970

Sousaku Hanga woodblock print by Yoshida Toshi, ca. 1970

Compassionate Listening Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh

When we speak of listening with compassion, we usually think of listening to someone else.  But we must also listen to the wounded child inside of us.  The wounded child in us is here in the present moment.  And we can heal him or her right now.

Practice: “My dear little wounded child, I’m here for you, ready to listen to you.  Please tell me all your suffering, all your pain.  I am here, really listening.”  If you know how to go back to her, to him, and listen like that every day for five or 10 minutes, healing will take place. … Do that for a few weeks or a few months, the wounded child in you will be healed.  Mindfulness is the energy that can help us do this.  The Tibetan Bowl Timer will gently bring your practice to an end after 10 minutes.

—Thich Nhat Hanh, from Anger: Wisdom to Cool the Flames

Zen Alarm Clock for a Gentle Awakening with a Bowl Gong and Mindfulness Timer

Zen Alarm Clock for a Gentle Awakening with a Bowl Gong and Mindfulness Timer

Now & Zen

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Tools, Natural Awakening, Progressive Awakening, Yoga Timer, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers, mindfulness practice


Mindfulness – Use Your Chime Meditation Timer from Now & Zen, Inc.

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

“Mindfulness” is the spiritual practice of being aware of your present moment.

Take a moment to be still

Take a moment to be still

World famous Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh has developed the use of the bowl/gong in a practice he calls the “mindfulness bell.” When you hear the sound of the mindfulness bell, you are invited to take a moment to breathe in and out and center yourself in the present.  During this practice, the resonating sound of the bowl/gong periodically connects you to the peace and tranquility that resides inside you right now.  This delightful practice reduces stress and improves your overall health.

Zen Enso

Zen Enso

Zen Timepiece, Zen Alarm Clock and Digital Zen Alarm Clocks can serve as a mindfulness bell in two ways:  it can be set to strike on the hour (providing an hourly moment of stillness), or it can be set to strike at a programmed interval, such as every twenty minutes, or even every three hours.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Further Reading:

  • Thich Nhat Hanh Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life.  Bantam Books 1992
  • Tolle, Eckart The Power of Now.  New World Library 1998
  • Kabat-Zinn, Jon Wherever You Go There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life.  Hyperion Press 1995
  • Fontana, David The Meditator’s Handbook: A comprehensive guide to Eastern and Western meditation techniques.  Element, Inc. 1992.
  • Brooke, Avery Learning and Teaching Christian Meditation. Cowley Publications 1990.
Hokusai Wave
Hokusai Wave

The Zen Alarm Clock is a consciousness-raising tool.  No material object can actually raise your consciousness, but you can use information and devices such as this clock to stimulate your growth.  The Zen Alarm Clock can effect your awareness in a variety of positive ways, all of which require your participation.

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.

Gradual Chime Clock Store and Meditation Timer Shop

Gradual Chime Clock Store and Meditation Timer Shop

Now & Zen – Meditation Timer and Gentle Chime Alarm Clock Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

Posted in Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Tools, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


Practice: Step-by-Step Meditation Guide – Use Your Singing Bowl Meditation Timer

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

meditation guide

meditation guide

With practice, this beginner meditation will hold the mind steady even during periods of stress.

A well-trained, stable, and focused mind is an asset in every sphere of life, and essential for any spiritual endeavor. The practice below will develop your concentration, clarity, and inner stability, by providing a single object as the resting place for your mind’s awareness—the universal mantra soham. Practice daily at about the same time, set your Meditation Timer by Now & Zen for 10 minutes, starting with 10 minutes, and gradually increasing to 20–30 minutes, or longer.

Step  1.

Begin by training your body to be still and comfortable in a sitting posture. When the spine is erect with the pelvis, chest, and head vertically aligned, the breath becomes smooth, and the mind alert and relaxed. Sit on a chair, or cross-legged on the floor with a cushion or a folded blanket under the hips. Use enough support to lift the hip joints slightly higher than the knees. This minimizes the effort needed to keep the lower back from rounding.

Step  2.

Close your eyes and mentally draw a circle of light around yourself. The circle separates you from the world of daily life—both the outer world of perceptions and activities, and the world of your familiar preoccupations and thinking patterns. With this intention, see yourself sitting inside this circle of light. It delineates a space in which you can contain your awareness; let it protect you from disturbances, distractions, and mental dissipation.

Step  3.

Feel the entire body sitting comfortably still, release any unnecessary tension, and pay attention to the movement of the breath. Refine your awareness as you feel the breath become smoother and more subtle, expanding from the solar plexus into the limbs on the inhalation, and releasing back to the solar plexus on the exhalation. Be aware of the touch of the breath everywhere in the body.

Step  4.

Making sure the body and breath stay relaxed, focus your attention at each of the following energy centers, moving systematically through the body and inhaling and exhaling once at each point: eyebrow center · throat center · right shoulder · right elbow · right wrist · each of the right fingertips, starting with the thumb · right wrist · right elbow · right shoulder · throat center · left shoulder · left elbow · left wrist · each of the left fingertips, starting with the thumb · left wrist · left elbow · left shoulder · throat center · heart center · navel center · center of the pelvis · pelvic floor · center of the pelvis · navel center · heart center · throat center · eyebrow center.

Step  5.

Now rest your attention at the eyebrow center. Feel the ebb and flow of the breath through the inner space of the whole body, while maintaining your focus on the eyebrow center. Sense the vibration of a slow wave of breath. This vibration is the mantra soham (pronounced so-hum). Hear the sound so on the inhale, and the sound ham on the exhale. The breath is subtle and slow, so let your concentration be fine and sensitive, becoming more and more one-pointed, and gradually drawing deeper into the mind. Rest in this awareness as long as you like.

To finish the practice, gradually return your awareness to the flow of the breath in the body, the physical presence of the body, and the space around you. Remain aware of the breath and your inner connection as you release the body from your sitting posture. You may want to open your eyes into the palms of your hands, massage your face, and stretch your arms and legs before getting up.

Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga 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.

Meditation Timers with Singing Bowls & Chimes

Meditation Timers with Singing Bowls & Chimes

adapted from Yoga International Magazine, by Sandra Anderson

Zen Alarm Clock, Ukiyo-e Hokusai Wave Dial Face, mediation timer and clock

Zen Alarm Clock, Ukiyo-e Hokusai Wave Dial Face, mediation timer and clock

Now & Zen’s Meditation Timer Store

1638 Pearl Street

Boulder, CO  80302

(800) 779-6383

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


Meditate to be More Compassionate – Use Your Meditation Timer with Chime

Monday, October 8th, 2012
meditation may increase compassion

meditation may increase compassion

Meditation might be your prescription for a happier mind and kinder heart, a new University of Wisconsin-Madison study shows. Scientists worked with 16 Tibetan monks and 16 meditation novices, giving the beginners lessons on compassion meditation two weeks prior to a series of brain-scan experiments. Those brain scans — taken while the participants responded to different emotional cues — revealed that the monks had more activity in certain brain regions involved in processing empathy. The findings, according to study authors, suggest that meditation may train the brain to increase feelings of compassion and happiness.

To start your own meditation practice, try this exercise created by “Untrain Your Parrot” author Elizabeth Hamilton:

  • Set your Zen Meditation Timer with Gong for 20 minutes.
  • Sitting with your spine erect, breathe deeply, placing your fingertips over the center of your chest if you like.
  • As you inhale, picture a person to whom you want to extend compassion. As you exhale, silently say, “May compassion awaken.” Inhale and exhale for several breaths, focusing on the center of your chest.
  • Recalling the person, silently say, “May whatever clouds compassion be healed.” Repeat this cycle with the phrase, “May this moment be experienced, exactly as it is,” and finally, “May compassion be extended to all.”
  • Repeat the exercise for 20 minutes until your Zen Timer Gongs.

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.

    adapted from Body + Soul Magazine, August 2007

    Zen Timepiece, a brass singing bowl clock and timer for meditation and yoga

    Zen Timepiece, a brass singing bowl clock and timer for meditation and yoga

    Now & Zen – The Zen Timer Store

    1638 Pearl Street

    Boulder, CO  80302

    (800) 779-6383

    Posted in Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, Now & Zen Alarm Clocks, Well-being, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers, intention, mindfulness practice, zen monks


    Body, Mind & Spirit – Use Your Yoga Timer with Gentle Chime

    Wednesday, September 19th, 2012
    yoga practice in bamboo

    yoga practice in bamboo

    As Robert Svoboda attempts to summarize the three major paths of the Vedic knowledge, he writes:

    Because every embodied individual is composed of a body, a mind and a spirit, the ancient Rishis of India who developed the Science of Life organized their wisdom into three bodies of knowledge:  Ayurveda, which deals mainly with the physical body; Yoga, which deals mainly with spirit; and Tantra, which is mainly concerned with the mind.

    The philosophy of all three is identical; their manifestations differ because of their differing emphases.  Ayurveda is most concerned woth the physical basis of life, concentrating on its harmony of mind and spirit.  Yoga controls body and mind to enable them to harmonize with spirit, and Tantra seeks to use the mind to balance the demands of body and spirit.

    Use our unique “Zen Clock” which functions as a Yoga 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.

    adapted from wikipedia.org

    Meditation & Yoga Timers and Clocks

    Meditation & Yoga Timers and Clocks

    Now & Zen’s Yoga Timer Store

    1638 Pearl Street

    Boulder, CO  80302

    Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Meditation Timers, Meditation Tools, Progressive Awakening, Well-being, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers, mindfulness practice


    Tibetan Singing Bowl Alarm Clocks – Never Hit Your Snooze Button Again

    Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
    Zen Timepiece, tibetan singing bowl timer and clock

    Zen Timepiece, tibetan singing bowl timer and clock

    Singing bowls (also known as Himalayan bowls, rin gongs, medicine bowls, Tibetan bowls or suzu gongs in Japan) are a type of bell, specifically classified as a standing bell.  Rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, standing bells sit with the bottom surface resting.  The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound.

    Singing bowls were traditionally used throughout Asia as part of  Bon and Tantric Buddhist Sadhana.  Today they are employed worldwide both within and without these spiritual traditions, for meditation, trance-induction, relaxation, healthcare, personal well-being and religious practice.

    Singing bowls were historically made in Tibet, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Japan, and Korea.  Today they are made in Nepal, India, Japan and Korea. The best known type are from the Himalayan region and are often termed Tibetan singing bowls.

    Our Zen Timepiece’s acoustic 6-inch brass bowl-gong clock is the world’s ultimate alarm clock, practice timer, and “mindfulness bell.”

    Singing Bowl Alarm Clocks - Never Hit Your Snooze Button Again

    Singing Bowl Alarm Clocks - Never Hit Your Snooze Button Again

    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.

    adapted from wikipedia.org

    Zen Timepiece, a bowl/gong alarm clock and timer in cherry finish

    Zen Timepiece, a bowl/gong alarm clock and timer in cherry finish

    Now & Zen’s Singing Bowl Clock Store

    1638 Pearl Street

    Boulder, CO  80302

    (800) 779-6383

    Posted in Chime Alarm Clocks, Japanese Inspired Zen Clocks, Well-being, Yoga Timer, Yoga Timers by Now & Zen, Zen Clocks and Dream Recall, Zen Timepiece by Now & Zen, Zen Timers


    Meditation Helps Us Overcome All Obstacles in Life – Set Your Singing Bowl Meditation Timer

    Thursday, September 13th, 2012
    Meditation Timers and Chime Alarm Clocks

    Meditation Timers and Chime Alarm Clocks

    An accomplished meditator is capable of overcoming every obstacle in life. Developing this level of confidence requires an approach that goes beyond simply resting in a state of repose. It is not sufficient to learn a few techniques and practice meditation just to relax and quiet your mind. To sit calmly in your room, still your thoughts, and drift into a state of torpidity is not meditation. A cow may sit still and breathe quietly when its stomach is full, but can we call this meditation?Meditation is not just for relaxation; its primary purpose is to develop the capacity to respond skillfully and gracefully to life’s difficulties as well as its joys

    Followers of the spiritual path must proceed in this way. Only then will we have the opportunity to experience the real essence and value of our human life. It is our chance to be reawakened, our precious opportunity to enjoy boundless energy and employ consummate skill for our own well-being and for the well-being of others.

    The nature of the mind is unobstructed. Moment by moment, one thought is born, while another one dies. This energy is unceasing, and it springs from primordial wisdom. This energy is the essence of what we are. This essence manifests, but not in any solid or substantial way. We cannot imagine it or express it. It transcends imagination and expression.

    adapted from Natural Solutions Magazine by Shyalpa Tenzin Rinpoche, 3/2012

    Although meditation can be done in almost any context, practitioners usually employ a quiet, tranquil space, a meditation cushion or bench, and some kind of timing device to time the meditation session.  Ideally, the more these accoutrements can be integrated the better.  Thus, it is conducive to a satisfying meditation practice to have a timer or clock that is tranquil and beautiful.  Using a kitchen timer or beeper watch is less than ideal.  And it was with these considerations in mind that we designed our digital Zen Alarm Clock and practice timer.  This unique “Zen Clock” features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings the meditation session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal.

    Singing Bowl Meditation Timers and Alarm Clocks

    Singing Bowl Meditation Timers and Alarm Clocks

    Now & Zen’s Singing Bowl Timer Store

    Meditation Timer Shop In Boulder, Colorado

    Meditation Timer Shop In Boulder, Colorado

    1638 Pearl Street

    Boulder, CO  80302

    (800) 779-6383

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


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