Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation

Mindfulness Meditation And The Great Outdoors: A Winning Combination For Mental Health

If you have already booked your freediving or yoga course in Bali, chances are, you are well aware of the immense benefits the Great Outdoors can bring. One well-known study by the Loyola University Health System found that nature has a powerful effect on our physical and mental health. “When we walk in a forest or park, our levels of white blood cells increase and it also lowers our pulse rate, blood pressure and level of the stress hormone cortisol,” noted Dr. Aaron Michelfelder, researcher. However, when we include mindfulness-based practices such as yoga and meditation into the experience, the results are all the more beneficial.

Mindfulness meditation vs anxiety and depression

Depression and anxiety are the two most common mental conditions faced by human beings on a global scale. A study published inJAMA Internal Medicine found that mindfulness meditation improves symptoms of anxiety, depression, and pain. It also reduces levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) and boosts quality of life. The scientists concluded that doctors “should be prepared to talk with their patients about the role that a meditation program can have in addressing psychological stress.” Mindfulness meditation, like other spiritual practices, boosts mental health by keeping the mind in the present moment. During a session, practitioners are encouraged to recognise and feel all emotions, even the difficult ones, yet understand that these emotions are impermanent and do not define who they are.

Mindfulness meditation and brain function

A study by scientists at Massachusetts University showed that taking part in an eight-week mindfulness meditation program fostered measurable changes in the parts of the brain associated with memory, sense of self, empathy, and stress. The study showed that among meditators, grey matter density was increased in the hippocampus, which is vital for learning and memory, as well as in structures that play a role in self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.

Meanwhile, those who meditated had decreased grey matter in the amygdala, which is involved in anxiety and stress. The scientists said that their results demonstrate “that the first-person experience of stress can not only be reduced with an eight-week mindfulness training program but that this experiential change corresponds with structural changes in the amygdala, a finding that opens doors to many possibilities for further research on (meditation’s) potential to protect against stress-related disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder.”

 

The vital role that nature plays

There is a reason why the world’s most highly solicited yoga and meditation retreats take place by majestic natural settings such as mountains, lakes, forests, or seas. Nature boosts the effects of meditation because simply visiting a green area or seaside setting lowers levels of stress hormone, cortisol. Various studies have been carried out on this subject, with amazing results. For instance, one study found that people who exercised by looking at natural scenery enjoyed their workout much more. Another found that when offices were filled with plants, employees improved their performance. Still, other studies have focused on the role that time in nature can help children with ADD/ADHD.

Mindfulness meditation and other types of meditation, including transcendental meditation, wields countless benefits, including greater vitality, better mood, a heightened sense of empathy, and more. However, nature experiences have similar effects. Imagine the combined power of joining these two activities. Most interestingly of all, the benefits you will receive will last for years after intensive meditation training. Of course, because meditation is so beneficial, it is a practice we should keep up for our lifetime.

Post written by Cassie Steele

Freediving champion Davide Carrera is in Amed, Bali

More cool stuff happening…

Wise-man of free-diving, ocean yogi and multiple national and world record-holder Davide Carrera is in Amed.

Breaking records for over 20 years, this gifted freediver has a wealth of knowledge which he is happy to share. All are welcome, free of charge, in Blue Earth village 6pm thursday 14th.

You dont have to be a freediver or a yogi, just curious.. Come and meet a water jedi…

Check out his profile here.http://www.davidecarrera.com/

The last week has been full of cool stuff, yoga, meditation and mind/body  workshops, pub quizes, SUP and freediving adventures… And all free. (with any donations going to the evacuees)

We want to give a big thanks to all of those have been sharing their skills, time and energy.

You know who you are👍

 

Free Yoga classes in Amed Bali

Free Yoga classes in Amed Bali

Instead of forking out hundreds of dollars for a high end retreat, come and join us for free in Amed and spend your money with the locals.

To show our appreciation for the volunteers who are working with the evacuees  and intrepid travllers unfazed by scaremongering, we’re offering a full and on-going schedule that’s free. All are welcome and 100 % of donations will go to evacuees.

The schedule is flexible and we’re happy to hear from passionate teachers who want to get involved. This iniciative will be ongoing while we have teachers who are prepared to share their skills in the spirit of  Karma Yoga. There is no ash in Amed and even when the column of ash was 3 km high it there was still no noticeable amounts.

Come and share your practice.

Is Amed safe?

Is Amed safe?

Again today the Volcano is silent, and no steam or ash is spewing.

The sun is shining and the water is flat, but there are almost no tourists. Just some intrepid travelllers and volunteers helping out with camps.

There are many opinions online regarding the safety of tourists coming to Amed, some working from tabloid sources, such as the express.uk. (blatant fear-mongering)

According to the Volcanologist Devy Kamil Syahbana from Indonesia’s volcanology center, volcanologists are working on a model that predicts a potential eruption VEI 3 compared to one of 5 in 63. (VEI= Volcanic explosivity index)Doctor Syahbana is at the Rendang post working on this every day. There are other possible projection models but so far none of them in Bali are predicting a larger eruption than 63.

To clarify, Amed was considered safe in 63, according to people who lived through it and are quite calm at the moment. ’63 was a VEI 5 eruption and the present potential is projected on the ground as being VEI 3.
No-one is pretending that a large eruption will be pretty, including outside of the redzone. There might be significant ashfall and definitely more evacuees, at least. That said we have made a decision to stay open based on various factors-

  • Talking to people who lived through the 1963 eruption, they had minimal ash in Amed area.
  • Looking at the topography of the land between the Amed coast and mount Agung, protecting us from lava and pyroclastic flows.
  • Taking into account prevailing winds in this area, winds coming due east from Agung are very rare.
  • Listening to the voices of the experts, none of whom are predicting and eruption as big as 63.

That said, if the eruption happens there is a small chance the road around Tulamben and Amlapura will be blocked, in this situation the only course of action is to wait till they are cleared or for evacuation by sea. For this reason we don’t recommend package tourists or people on a very tight schedule in and out of Bali.

We invite independent travellers to visit this beautiful area at this historic moment, when the Holy mountain is waking up. We are still freediving and are now offering free yoga and mind/body workshops.

The effects of scaremongering

The effects of scaremongering

The effects of scaremongering is a mass exodus of tourists from the Amed area, (amongst other areas) and an overall drop in tourist numbers coming to Bali.

Historically, Amed is a very poor area. In recent times it had begun to catch up economically with other areas in Bali. Many locals stopped migrating South and developed their own tourist industry.

This has been mostly financed by credit from banks. If Amed turns into a ghost town, many of these businesses will close with huge loss of livelihood and even the family land (offered as security).

There are reports that some hotels and drivers in other areas of Bali are telling guests that Amed is closed and unsafe. This is untrue.

The local authorities are monitoring the situation and following government guidelines. Amed is in the safe zone and has NOT been evacuated, the roads are not closed to and from Amed, only the evacuated zones are off limits to the public.

Balinese have been displaced from the their homes closer to Gunung Agung and the local communities are doing their best to prepare for the worst and help those in need. Many businesses are closing due to lack of guests but many are open and desperate not to let go of staff, so please correct any disinformation you hear and share this post with anyone with an interest in Amed.

Amed is beautiful, come and check it out, you can get involved with the evacuee camps and help those who are most affected by this powerful natural phenomena. Just by being here you are supporting the local economy which depends now on low impact tourism.

Be Here Now: Cancer, Samadhi and Freediving

Be Here Now: Cancer, Samadhi and Freediving

I’m old. I have cancer. I’m a yogi. And I just learned to freedive.

I just threw in the old thing because last night I learned that I’m the oldest person to complete two levels of training at Apneista. But age is just a number, so we’ll let that one go.

Two years ago, almost to the day, I was diagnosed with cancer. In the process of working that up, a second, more dangerous cancer was found. I did a full year of treatment, the usual stuff you, your friends, or your family have endured: surgery, chemotherapy. radiation. Now I’m a year into recovery, and feeling good; appreciating the gift of every day, every moment.

 

Yoga helped save my life. Even when I was too weak to do asana, the physical practice, I would still do other forms of yoga. Breathing practices, pranayama, helped muster and balance my energy. I set intentions, sankalpas, to guide me on my path. I did yoga nidra, sometimes called yogic sleep, for deep relaxation and rest. Every day my meditation brought me to samadhi, a place where my mind was still, free from the past or future. That carried on into my days. As Alan Watts said, I was able to “Be Here Now”, enjoying every moment no matter the circumstance.

After a year of essentially being house-bound during treatment, I started thinking about mixing things up a bit. My friend Ashley said it was a no-brainer since I loved both the ocean and yoga: come to Bali, specifically come to Amed where she taught freediving at Apneista. I’m a scuba diver since way back and I brought my scuba gear, but Ash offered a chance to sample freediving too. One dive and I never looked back.

 

The connections between freediving and yoga practices were emphasized during training; I’m very comfortable in the water so it all seemed natural to me, though I had problems equalizing my ears. As I am still recovering from treatment I am mildly anemic. Freediving causes the release of red blood cells as part of the mammalian dive response, and I was feeling great.

The real shift was in my mind. Freediving brought me to the same places that helped me so much with cancer. The shared emphasis on breath was natural. I learned to create an intention for each dive, perhaps to move slowly conserving energy, or maybe just enjoy the view. Relaxation was paramount, and I would sometimes find myself repeating a mantra, moving back into meditation while in the water.

Each dive brought me into the present moment, never mulling over how I could have prevented my illness, or worrying about what may lie ahead for me and my cancer. Underwater I was totally in the present moment, knowing myself, the one pointed mind. I’d look up through the blue water toward the light of the sun, a timeless view. Like meditation, freediving brought me to samadhi.

— Tom —