meditation

Practice, practice, practice!

I’ve been working with a couple of clients lately, who have issues in their lives (who doesn’t?), and they somehow expect that a few sessions with me will just fix everything. I do help — I walk my clients through processes that lessen the hold of the past — and as a coach, I give them homework. The homework is important, just like it was in school. You have to learn to do something yourself in order to make it yours, in order to have a lasting effect on your own life.You have to create something new to replace what used to be there.I’m sure you’ve heard the old joke:

A man is walking down 7th Ave. in Manhattan, and stops a stranger, obviously local, to ask, “How do I get to Carnegie Hall?”

The stranger replies with a smile, “Practice, practice, practice!”

It’s like that for everything else in life, too. Research shows that the difference between a good musician, who graduates conservatory to teach music, and a great one, who goes on to solo in a major orchestra, is simply how much the musician practices. The good musician has practiced less than 5,000 hours in his or her lifetime; the great one has practiced over 10,000 hours. Talent only goes so far.

It’s true in sports, too. Larry Bird, the famous basketball player, grew excellent at scoring baskets by shooting thousands upon thousands of shots — by himself, after everyone else had gone home.

Practice is necessary for the creation of habits, too, whether those are physical habits, like exercise, or emotional habits, like serenity. Those habits create the quality of your life. If you have bad habits, like being a couch potato or worrying, which you created and practiced without any conscious awareness, then you can change the habits to better ones to create a happier, healthier life in the long run.

You create a habit by having a cue (aka a trigger), an action (the habit) and a reward — and then by using the cue and the reward to motivate your practice, until the habit happens automatically. If you want to walk every morning before you do anything else, you need a cue to remind you, like putting your sneakers by the side of the bed, where you can’t miss them. Then you have to actually go walk. At first, you may need to promise yourself some sort of reward, like 10 minutes to do nothing when you get back, or something else small that you can do right away, and do regularly. If you do this for a while, you’ll eventually begin to notice that your body wants to walk when you get up, that you feel so much better when you do that you no longer need the reward — or even the cue. This is when you’ll know you’ve created a new habit.

That said, here are some really good habits everyone should have:

Both have been shown, in thousands of studies, to improve everything from depression and anxiety to heart disease and diabetes. (Click on words above for links to research.)

In order to make these work for you, you have to find something you like to do. Hate to run? Try walking. Hate to walk? Try swimming. Hate to swim? Play golf — but walk between the holes and carry your own bag. You get the idea.

It’s like this for mediation, too. Don’t like to sit when you meditate? Lie down (just make sure you are uncomfortable enough to stay awake.) Don’t like to lie? Walk — or run, and clear your mind while you do it. Here are a bunch of ideas on meditation — some of them may surprise you.

Pick a type of exercise, a type of meditation, and then pick regular times and places for them. You can even do them simultaneously! Set up cues so you remember to do these things. Set up rewards for doing them. Keep tweaking till you’ve created something you can sustain — a new, positive habit. See how the rest of your life improves!

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

High medical costs decrease 28% after 5 yrs of TM (meditation) practice

According to a study published this week in the September/October 2011 issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion (Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 56-60), people with consistently high health care costs experienced a 28 percent cumulative decrease in physician fees after an average of five years practicing the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique compared with their baseline. Both between and within group comparisons were statistically significant. This study has major policy implications.

In most populations, a small fraction of people account for the majority of health care costs. In the U.S., the highest spending 10% in the general population incurred 60% to 70% of total medical expenditures annually. In the Medicare population, the highest spending 5% incurred 43% of total Medicare costs, and the highest spending 25% of seniors accounted for 85% of total expenses. A large number of these people have consistently high medical bills over many years. (References in article, available upon request.)

Chronic stress is the number one factor contributing to high medical expenses. Stress reduction may help reduce these costs.

This new study compared the changes in physician costs for 284 consistent high-cost participants—142 Transcendental Meditation practitioners with 142 non-practitioners, over five years in Quebec, Canada. The non-TM subjects were randomly selected from Quebec health insurance enrollees with the same age, sex, and region to match the TM participant profiles. The TM participants decided to begin the technique prior to choosing to enter the study. In the year before the intervention began, there were no significant differences between the groups in payments to physicians.

During the five-year assessment period, the TM group’s annual rate of change in payments declined significantly (p = 0.004), while the comparison group’s payments showed no significant changes. After the first year, the TM group decreased 11%, and after 5 years, their cumulative reduction was 28% (p = 0.001).

The primary measure for assessing the effectiveness of TM practice in decreasing medical costs was the fees paid by the Quebec health insurance agency to private physicians in all settings for treating study participants. In Canada and U.S., physician payments have been 20% of national health expenditures. This study’s results are important because doctors’ decisions determine most medical expenses: tests, prescription drugs, hospitalization, surgery, and other treatments.

The paper’s sole author, Robert E. Herron, Ph.D., is an independent researcher, and director of the Center for Health Systems Analysis. Dr. Herron was the first to describe the impact of the Transcendental Meditation technique on health care costs.

This study’s findings were similar to earlier ones. In a previous Canadian study, the TM group exhibited reduced medical expenses between 5% and 13% relative to comparison subjects each year for 6 consecutive years.

In a subsequent Canadian study of senior citizens, the TM group’s five-year cumulative reduction for people aged 65 years and older relative to comparison subjects was 70%.

In a sample of American health insurance enrollees, the TM participants had reduced rates of illness in all disease categories. An eleven-year, cross-sectional study in Iowa found that subjects age 45 and over who practiced the TM technique had 88% fewer hospital days compared with controls. Their medical expenditures were 60% below the norm.

Other studies, including randomized clinical trials, indicate the TM technique can improve physical and mental health, decrease tobacco use, reduce substance abuse, and decrease other unhealthy habits and risk factors that lead to chronic disease and costly treatments.

“This article has major policy significance for saving Medicare and Medicaid without cutting benefits or raising taxes,” said Herron. “Almost no intervention for cost containment has decreased medical expenditures by 28% over 5 years from a baseline. Now, it may be possible to rescue Medicare and Medicaid by adding coverage for learning the Transcendental Meditation technique.”

[I got this from Bayho, which sells supplements.]

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

Meditation May Have Anti-aging Effectsw

Meditation increases the amount of activity of telomerase, which protects genetic material during cell division. If I remember correctly, the telomeres degrade with age, which would mean that improving telomerase activity would decrease the effects of aging at a cellular level.

UC Davis: Center for Mind and Brain : Overview of the Shamatha Project

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

Are All Meditations the Same?

Fascinating look at how different types of meditation affect the brain, both during and after meditation:

Are All Meditations the Same?
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Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.

New Meditation Research: Putting the ‘Om’ in ‘Chromosome’

Have a seat… you may end up living longer:

Wray Herbert: New Meditation Research: Putting the ‘Om’ in ‘Chromosome’

Hollis Polk is a personal coach (www.888-4-hollis.com), who has been helping people create lives they love for 15 years, using neurolinguistic & hypnotherapy techniques, decision science, clairvoyance & the common sense learned in 20+ years of business. She is an NLP Master Practitioner, hypnotherapist & has a BSE in engineering from Princeton & a Harvard MBA. She is also a successful real estate broker, investor & business owner.