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University of Pittsburgh Research Assistant and Technical Writer

Third annual Mindfulness Fair on April 7 – Update

The third annual Mindfulness Fair, sponsored by the Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Falk Laboratory School on the Pitt campus. This free, all-ages event will run from 10am-4pm. The theme this year is “Mindfulness in Our Community.”

Through this theme, the Fair will explore ways in which mindfulness- the conscious awareness of the moment is informing compassionate activities in our homes and communities, and will feature local and regional organizations that support these activities. A keynote speaker will be featured, along with breakout sessions of talks, mindful movement activities, panel discussions and “all ages” activities. There will also be a meditation room in which different varieties of shrines and meditation techniques will be demonstrated. Information tables of local non-profit and campus organizations will be available.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. All ages are welcome, and the event is open to everyone in this region. The Falk School is located at 4060 Allequippa Street in Oakland. Free parking is available at the school or the nearby Veterans Hospital. Please join us for a day of interesting and inspiring activities.

Download the 2018 Wellness Fair schedule and event flyer.

You can also visit our Facebook event page or email us at MindfulnessPitt@pitt.edu.

 

Call for Proposals: Religion, Technology, and Human Relationships

by Steven Barrie-Anthony

The Institute of Buddhist Studies, with the support of the Henry Luce Foundation, invites proposals from scholars across the academic disciplines specializing in any religious traditions, and from theologians from all religious traditions, to participate in a three-year research initiative and series of meetings addressing the impacts of technologies on human relationships.

This program seeks to identify and cultivate new models of public theology (broadly construed) that powerfully address a central concern of contemporary life: The ways in which technologies reshape human relationships and alter how people are or are not “present” to each other.

Thirteen scholars of religion and theologians will receive grants of $10,000 each to support individual research projects on technologies and interpersonal presence. Grantees will gather yearly to share and hone their research and its applications, explore opportunities for collaboration, and take advantage of significant Silicon Valley and media resources.

The detailed request for proposals is available here.

The deadline for the submission of proposals is May 7, 2018.

Address questions about the program or the application process to Program Director Dr. Steven Barrie-Anthony: stevenba@shin-ibs.edu, (510) 500-9722.

 

Save the date: Mindfulness Fair 2018

The third annual Mindfulness Fair, sponsored by the Center for Mindfulness and Consciousness Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, will be held on Saturday, April 7, 2018 at the Falk Laboratory School on the Pitt campus. This free, family friendly event will run from 10am-4pm. The theme this year is “Mindfulness in Our Community”.

Through this theme, the Fair will explore ways in which mindfulness- the conscious awareness of the moment- is informing compassionate activities in our homes and communities, and will feature some of the organizations that support these activities. A keynote speaker will be featured, along with breakout sessions of talks, mindful movement activities, panel discussions and “all ages” activities. There will also be a meditation room in which different varieties of shrines and meditation techniques will be demonstrated. Information tables of local non-profit and campus organizations will be available.

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. All ages are welcome, and the event is open to everyone in this region. The Falk School is located at 4060 Allequippa St 15213, and free parking is available at the school or the nearby Veterans Hospital. For more information, visit our website at mindfulnesspitt.org; our Facebook page (facebook.com/mindfulnesspitt); or email us at mindfulnesspitt@pitt.edu. Please join us for a day of interesting and inspiring activities!

Yoga & Writing Workshop – Center for Creativity

The Stress Free Zone and Center for Creativity team up for a Yoga & Writing Workshop on January 22, 2018 between 6 and 8 p.m. 

 

Co-led by Hallie Stotsky (Stress Free Zone) and Erik Schuckers (Center for Creativity), this unique workshop begins with 60 minutes of yoga for all levels where participants practice moving their bodies and connecting their breath to clear their minds. The group then moves through creative sequences with modifications for all body types. Notebooks are provided so that participants can make brief notes of images, thoughts, and feelings that arise as they practice. These notes then serve as the basis for two to three guided creative, expressive exercises following the movement practice. After the yoga and writing, stay around to enjoy refreshments and reflect on your experience with other participants!

Could mindfulness benefit breast cancer survivors?

From the Dailystar.net

Linda Larkey, a professor at Arizona State University’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation, defines mindfulness as being present in the current moment and aware of our inner and outer environments, as well as being aware of the movement of the body.

She states that practicing mindfulness activities such as qigong and tai chi, traditional Chinese exercises which focus on posture, movement, breathing and meditation, can help to relieve symptoms and improve overall quality of life for breast cancer survivors by having an effect on the body’s usual responses to stress.

By using these methods to calm the mind, deepen the breath and relax the muscles through gentle movement, the biochemicals in the body that support health and immune function increase, while the biochemicals that produce inflammation, pain and depression/anxiety are decreased.

Her own research is also backed up by other studies, with a UCLA study published earlier this year also finding that tai chi could be beneficial for breast cancer survivors by helping to relieve insomnia as well as feelings of depression and fatigue, common problems for the 30 percent of breast cancer survivors who suffer from the sleep condition. A lack of sleep can also lead to an increased risk of disease.

The team found that after participants had completed weekly tai chi classes for three months, nearly 46.7 percent showed a strong, clinically significant improvement in insomnia symptoms as well as improvements in symptoms of depression and fatigue.

The team also found in their previous research that tai chi could help reduce inflammation in breast cancer survivors and may have potential to help lower the risk of the disease and its recurrence.

Research looking at the effects of practicing mindfulness using methods such as yoga and meditation as part of a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program also revealed positive results, helping to improve the cognitive impairment that often occurs as a result of cancer treatment.

Read the full article.

Just 25 minutes of mindfulness boosts brain function and energy

From ScienceDaily.com

Practicing Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation for just 25 minutes can significantly improve brain function and energy levels, compared with spending 25 minutes quietly reading, according to new research from Canada.

Kimberley Luu and associate professor Peter Hall, of the School of Public Health and Health Systems at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, report their study in the journal Mindfulness.

Of the many styles of yoga, the one most commonly practiced in the West is Hatha yoga, which combines breathing with meditation and movement and concludes with relaxation. Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga are examples of Hatha yoga.

Mindfulness meditation is an approach that emphasizes paying attention to what is going on in the mind without evaluating or judging it. While yoga often includes some aspects of mindfulness, it can also be practiced on its own.

Prof. Hall explains, “Hatha yoga and mindfulness meditation both focus the brain’s conscious processing power on a limited number of targets like breathing and posing, and also reduce processing of nonessential information.”

Read the full article.

Forest Bathing: A retreat to nature can boost immunity and mood

From NPR… (Allison Aubrey reporting on Morning Addition)

[…] The aim of forest bathing, Choukas-Bradley [certified Forest Therapy guide] explained, is to slow down and become immersed in the natural environment. She helped us tune in to the smells, textures, tastes and sights of the forest. We took in our surroundings by using all our senses.

As we passed through a stand of pawpaw trees, we touched the bark. We smelled the black walnuts, which give off a lovely citrus fragrance. We got a little shower of ripe mulberries, too.

“Close your eyes and just breathe, just breathe,” Choukas-Bradley intoned. It felt a bit like a meditation retreat.

It took me a few minutes to clear out the clutter in my brain, and tune in to the natural world. “When you open your eyes, imagine you’re seeing the world for the very first time,” Choukas-Bradley told us.

[…] The Associations of Nature & Forest Therapy plans to train and certify about 250 new guides next year. “We’re aiming to have 1,000 trained guides within three years,” Clifford says.

There’s a growing body of evidence that the practice can help boost immunity and mood and help reduce stress. “Medical researchers in Japan have studied forest bathing and have demonstrated several benefits to our health,” says Philip Barr, a physician who specializes in integrative medicine at Duke University.

One study published in 2011 compared the effects of walking in the city to taking a forest walk. Both activities required the same amount of physical activity, but researchers found that the forest environment led to more significant reductions in blood pressure and certain stress hormones.

On average, the forest walkers — who ranged in age from 36 to 77 — saw a reduction in their systolic blood pressure from 141 mmHg down to 134 mmHg after four hours in the forest.

Read the full article on NPR.

To train an athlete, add 12 minutes of meditation to the daily mix

From the New York Times

If athletes practice meditation for a few minutes a day, they may become better able to withstand the mental demands of hours of strenuous physical training, according to an interesting new study of Division I college football players.

The study, which compared different types of mental training for stress resilience, could have relevance for anyone planning to start exercising or competing more intensely this summer.

Exercise, as most of us know, is a form of stress. The demands of exercise require our bodies to respond and adapt, and the greater the intensity of the exercise relative to our current fitness, the greater the level of stress it generates.

Much of this strain is physical, but some of it also involves the mind, says Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami in Florida, who led the new study. Prolonged, strenuous training “requires attention,” she says, and a stern focus on continuing to exercise when it might be more pleasant to stop.

Read the full article.

Meditation and Yoga may change how stress affects our DNA, study finds

From NBC News

New research published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology looked at over a decade of studies, analyzing how our genes are affected by different mind-body interventions including mindfulness, yoga, meditation and Tai Chi. What they found is that these activities don’t simply relax us — they may actually have the ability to reverse molecular reactions to stress in our DNA that can lead to poor health and depression.

When we encounter a stressful situation (or prolonged periods of stress) our sympathetic nervous system is triggered. In reaction, our genes produce proteins called cytokines that cause inflammation at a cellular level — which, over time, increases our risk of health issues like cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression.

Read the full story on NBC online.