inner balance the simple way

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NY Daily News: US marines learn meditation to reduce stress

Here is a very interesting article from the NY Daily News about US marines who learn meditation to reduce stress. It is a good example that meditation is more and more de-mystified and used in all areas of life to find balance.

According to the article the US military is facing a record suicide rate and thousands of veterans are seeking treatment for  post-traumatic stress. Because of that the military has been searching for ways to reduce strains on service members burdened with more than a decade of fighting in Iraq  and Afghanistan.

Many soldiers were skeptic in the beginning but the course brought amazing results.

Read more:


Photo taken from Thank you.



Students meditate to relieve stress

Here is a very interesting article in the ‘Minnesota Daily’ about a group of students who meditate regularly to reduce their stress level. The group has existed since 2005 as more than 26 percent of students on the Twin Cities campus are unable to manage their stress levels. Read more about how meditation and mindulness practices help them in the ‘high stress’ environment’.


Photo taken from: Thank you.

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Remember they are the ones who love you – how to relax this Christmas

How did it happen again?

You were looking forward to this day all year, you sent the cards in time, you made an extra effort with everyone’s presents this year. You didn’t even buy any vouchers. And now? Your presents didn’t really have the desired effect – everyone thought you were trying a bit too hard and really just trying to be different. It turned out that really they liked the familiarity of your presents and it was always good to have the vouchers for the January sales. That was just the start! Discussions over cooking, housework, TV, card/ board games can quickly descend into arguments. Soon everyone is scattered across the house retreating to their own corner or  just leave early.

The festive period  is for some, to quote Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, ‘the best of times’ and others ‘the worst of times’. Some people bask in ‘the season of light’ and others suffer in ‘the season of darkness’. But why? What makes it different for people?


This Christmas don’t end up like Bad Santa!

Christmas is usually the one time in the year that families and loved ones come together and this can be challenging. Add to that the commercial circus that surrounds christmas and the media messages that assume that everyone is living a conventional perfect life. Not to mention the social engagements (or lack of), the general excess and over indulgence and the uneasy pressure of not being at work! For many people the holiday period is a time they dream of to relax for months and then find themselves wishing it was over and they could return to a normal routine.

If you can identify with any of the above here are some simple tips on how to relax this christmas:

Try not to have too many expectations for yourself or for others – it usually only leads to disappointment or argument. So if you don’t get that invitation you wanted or someone doesn’t buy you the gift you wanted it won’t matter so much. You won’t have to be disappointed because you didn’t have a fixed expectation.

Don’t think too much about what other people are doing or not doing. Everyone does things differently and they each have their own merit. Comparing yourself to others can drive you crazy. Remember that nothing is perfect no matter how it looks from the outside.

The grass will always be greener – you can find contentment by accepting what you have.

Be optimistic. Having a positive attitude towards things encourages other people to have a positive attitude too. Thinking negatively can only bring out the worst in the situation or the other people around you. Give it a chance and think positively – the worst thing that can happen is that it doesn’t go well but at least you tried.

Take time for yourself  – most of us need time for ourselves and in our normal daily routine we create this whether its at work or at home. If we deprive ourselves of this time during the holiday period then it is only natural that we might become more irritable, less patient etc Make time for yourself whether its watching a movie/reading a book alone, a short walk, a drive or even a bath. Log onto soulrefresher and learn about mediation or enjoy a laugh with Puppetji. By changing our environment we can also change our mood and shift our perspective.

Remember its a holiday not the rest of your life! If you find yourself becoming stressed or agitated, relax and try to find the positive in your situation and focus on what you have not what you don’t have – replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.  Project yourself into the future and how you’ll feel when its over. All thoughts and situations pass and once they’re gone we don’t usually think they were that bad!

Remember what christmas is:

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”
― Calvin Coolidge

So, remember what a holiday should be:








And though you might say ‘never again’, rest assured – this time next year you’ll be in the same situation again. Why? Because they are the ones who love you.

Happy Christmas and please enjoy the Muppets!

soulrefresher x


VIDEO: Meditation under the spotlight Part 6 – Meditation can change our brain – getting ready for our own journey of exploration!

With this 6th installment our documentary series about meditation and science comes to an end. BBC reporter Kathy has gone a long way looking into scientific research and studies and making her own personal experiences. She started her journey talking to monks in Nepal and ends her journey in the research labs of the West. All throughout her journey she has been searching for proof that meditation really is for everyone and that it can alter our brains positively, having particular effect on our emotional behaviours.

In part 6 Kathy talks to the scientists of The Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where they conducted a study with ordinary people (lawyers, street workers, doctors) who practised a form of breathing meditation  for 35-40 minutes a day. With an MRI- scanner the scientists compared their brains with those of people who have never meditated. The result concluded that the part of the brain, which amongst other things processes our emotions, was significantly thicker for the people who meditated, even when this was just for a short time. The longer that people meditated, the thicker this part of the brain became.

This result reinforces what Kathy heard from the many people she met during her journey. All of them, from the monk Matthieu Richard to the western scientists  told her that that meditation can effect the brain. Now she has found the proof that she has been looking for – that meditation can change our brain structure. With this thought the circle of her journey becomes complete;  bringing East and West together. Kathy summarises that the scientific research into meditation is still in the early stages but already there has been some conclusive scientific proof for the beneficial effects of meditation. Also, the more mainstream neuro-scientists are starting to take notice of  meditation and the positive effects it can have on people.

In the words of Kathy:

“If i could sit still for just 30 minutes a day and calm my mind it could help me with everything. Could help me think better, see things in perspective, even love better. But that is just my experience. But it helped ME.”

We hope that you enjoyed our series and you have gained more insight into meditation and the sense of wellbeing which it brings to people.

Are you ready to go on your own adventure ?

Contact us for more information about meditation and relaxation or find out more here.

Thanks to runi toconillo for this. Watch more great videos on his You Tube Channel.

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VIDEO: Meditation under the spotlight Part 5 – Is there scientific proof that meditation really can help everyone?

The ideas and therapies of Prof. Williams (University of Oxford) fascinate BBC reporter Kathy more and more as there seems to be proof of the positive effects of MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy). She is especially fascinated by the focus to bring ‘mindfulness’  into our daily lives.

In the words of Kathy:

“The thought that meditation might help us to have a better control of our emotions has to be worth exploring.”

The idea which Prof. Williams holds, that meditation can help us to be more content, brings Kathy back to the beginning of her journey  in Nepal.  The monk that she met there told her:

“The real benefit of meditation is to become a better human being and it  brings with it emotional balance, happiness and compassion and a decrease of anxiety “.

However this still sounds a little bit  ‘new age’ for Kathy and she continues her search for scientific proof. At the University of Wisconsin-Madison/USA she looks into a study which deals with changes in brain activity through meditation. Watch for  yourself…

In the 6th and final part of our series Kathy summarises  her experiences and the results of scientific research.

Thanks to runi toconillo for this. Watch more great videos on his You Tube Channel.


VIDEO: Meditation under the spotlight Part 4 – How meditation can help to cure mental health problems

In part 4 of our 6 part documentary series BBC reporter Kathy tries ‘Yogic flying’. She finally leaves the Maharishi Vedic City, not really convinced about the methods taught there or the results of the research that is carried out there. Although she doesn’t reject everything completely and likens the experience of ‘trying yogic flying’ with ‘trying jogging’!

The next step on her journey brings Kathy back to a therapy that seems to be more ‘normal’ and easier to comprehend for the Western mind: MBCT = ‘Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy’. She meets a woman who has suffered from depression and whose psycho therapist was not able to help her any further. He suggested  that she try a new therapy – MBCT, which combines 80% meditation with 20% cognitive therapies which are widely used in Western psychotherapy.

Kathy is surprised as the techniques used are based on Buddhist practises similar to those she experienced in Nepal with a focus on breathing. The idea behind MBCT is that we should look at our problems without trying to fix them and to look at our thoughts as what they are –  simply thoughts. On her search for scientific proof Kathy finds four trials about MBCT which all suggest that MBCT reduces the chances of depression re-occurring by 50% for people who have suffered from depression multiple times.

In part 5 Kathy investigates MBCT further and considers that meditation and combined therapies can help everyone, not only those who are ill.

Watch for yourself and make your own mind up.

Thanks to runi toconillo for this. Watch more great videos on his You Tube Channel.

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Meditation under the spotlight Part 3 – Kathy learns to “fly” through meditation

Not really, of course. Although the man who tells her about the effects of “Yogic flying” promises:

“when you are good at it, you will fly above the ground !”.

In part 3 of our 6 part series, “meditation under the spotlight”, BBC reporter Kathy continues to make her own experiences with meditation in order to find out about it’s physical and mental effects. In Part 3 she opens herself up to a special experience. Her travels take her to the Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa/USA to explore TM (Transcendental Meditation). TM is pretty well known in the West and is practised by about 5 million people worldwide. It has also gained fame mainly because of the Beatles’ experience at The Maharishi Ashram in Rishikesh in 1968, where they wrote tons of songs there –  many which have been published on the “White Album”.

Kathy is especially interested in the center as the US government has already  spent millions of US$ to support the research into meditation that is carried out there. Kathy has a very mixed experience at the center, as on the one hand she is fascinated by the meditation practice but on the other hand  paints a picture of a sect where the people are brainwashed. We invite and encourage our readers to form their own opinion and offer their comments for discussion. TM is not a part of soulrefresher’s services but it is our intention to give an overview of the different methods of meditation and the research that has been carried out on them.

Choosing your own personal method of meditation is a process of trial and error and it is beneficial to  experiment with different techniques as you search for the right one – even the ‘strange’ ones!

So, get ready to “fly” and watch Kathy’s experiences in the Maharishi Vedic City.

In part 4 Kathy will try “yogic flying” herself and asks how meditation can help in cases of depression and other mentally related illnesses.