Shyft Launches On-Site Group Mindfulness Meditations for the Workplace

I sure wish they’d had this when I was working in the corporate world. All I got were shin splints from doing aerobics on the cement cafeteria floor and brisk walks around the parking lot. I certainly don’t miss those days! Working at home I can set my own schedule to include breaks, some of which do include walking but others are meditation time. Both have their place and help to keep me “in the zone.”

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Sept. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Shyft today announced the launch of its operations in California, offering its signature 30-minute guided on-site meditation program to promote mindfulness and reduce stress in the workplace. Developed by an experienced team of HR professionals, physicians and meditation experts, the Shyft meditations help improve corporate wellness and maintain productive and engaged employees.

Stress: Silently Costing Your Business

Stress has been called “the Black Plague of the 21st century.”  Studies indicate that 66% of employees suffer productivity loss due to stress in the workplace. Problems attributed to stress include poor employee health, missed deadlines, absenteeism, strained relations at work, and ultimately, employee attrition. The cumulative impact of stress costs US businesses over $300 billion every year. Shyft helps companies manage and minimize employee stress with a range of specially designed corporate meditation programs that can be easily integrated into existing employee wellness programs.

Our New Normal

Unlike other meditation programs, Shyft classes were specifically created by former corporate executives, physicians, and mindfulness experts to meet the needs of today’s employees.  “This is our new normal. In the Knowledge Era,  products and services are more intellectual, making human capital more important than ever.  An organization’s people, and their knowledge, skills, and imagination, are its primary asset.  The changing nature of our work, requires us to also shift our perspective of work, and how we can improve the mental, physical, and social health of our employees,” says Niosha Shakoori, attorney and HR Expert, and co-founder of Shyft.

“I equate our program to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — after the basic needs of safety and security are met, we can move to the top level of the triangle — self-actualization or consciousness. Conscious people are self-aware, concerned with personal growth, and interested in fulfilling their potential.  We believe this happens best in real time and in person,” says Dr. Monisha Vasa, psychiatrist and co-founder of Shyft.

Small Shifts – Big Change

Shyft classes occur on a weekly basis, and provide a consistent opportunity to minimize stress, as well as enhance clarity and awareness.  “Our program is based on the premise that small shifts lead to big change,” according to co-founder and meditation teacher, Ayesha Soni.  She adds, “We don’t believe in overnight change. The most important shifts happen with regular doses of learning and effort. Week by week, meditation can create a cultural shift so that both employee and employer can better contribute to the well-being — physical, emotional, financial — of one another.”

As employers look for ways to ease the anxieties of overworked employees, workplace mindfulness meditation is spreading from Silicon Valley to old-school corporate America. Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, Google, and Apple offer in-house meditation classes.  Shyft provides a solution for companies also looking to incorporate a mindfulness based meditation program as part of their overall employee wellness program.

Learn more about Shyft at http://shyftwellbeing.com/.

About Shyft

Shyft offers a corporate mindfulness based meditation program to help companies manage and reduce employee stress. Their curriculum is designed by a team of physicians, HR experts, therapists, and experienced meditation teachers. For more information, visit http://shyftwellbeing.com/.

Media Contact: Niosha Shakoori; Email; (949) 436-6906

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It’s Not Just For Your Brain: Meditating Can Actually Change Your DNA

I’ve been saying this for years, not because I already knew the science of meditation, but because I knew the reality in my life of how my mind affects my body. It just made sense, y’know? It’s nice to have third party support!

Meditation is good for you. We don’t need to tell you that. The chorus of voices extolling the virtues of mindfulness is never-ending: It decreases stress. It helps you focus. It can even rewire your mental circuitry. But it’s not just your synapses that see the benefits: As it turns out, meditating can physically change your DNA.

In a recent study, the use of mindfulness meditation was shown to have an impact on certain types of DNA in breast cancer patients. Specifically, the length of telomeres—these are the tiny protective caps on the end of chromosomes—was physically altered as the result of this type of meditation.

The study, which was published in the Canadian journal Cancer, showed that the length of telomeres was preserved by meditation. Why does that matter? Shorter telomeres aren’t explicitly problematic, but they do tend to correlate with things like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. So, if we can manage to keep these microscopic structures from whittling down in size, our health is better off.

Explains Scientific American:

In Carlson’s study distressed breast cancer survivors were divided into three groups. The first group was randomly assigned to an 8-week cancer recovery program consisting of mindfulness meditation and yoga; the second to 12-weeks of group therapy in which they shared difficult emotions and fostered social support; and the third was a control group, receiving just a 6-hour stress management course. A total of 88 women completed the study and had their blood analyzed for telomere length before and after the interventions. Telomeres were maintained in both treatment groups but shortened in controls.

This isn’t the first time that Buddhist-style mindfulness meditation has been linked to the molecular goings-on of our biological makeup. A December 2013 study from the University of Wisconson-Madison demonstrated that the DNA of subjects who meditated “showed a range of genetic and molecular differences, including altered levels of gene-regulating machinery and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.”

The telomere length correlation goes back to 2008, when a study found that stress management, aerobic exercise, and a vegan diet had an impact on telomere length in prostate cancer patients.

Pretty nuts. So if the neurocircuitry-boosting, focus-enhancing wonders of meditation weren’t enough to sell you, perhaps the promise of physical health benefits will rope you onto the bandwagon. And just in time for the New Year’s resolution season, no less.

7 scientifically backed simple tricks to relieve stress now

 There are some great tips here that we can all benefit from during the holidays.

SALT LAKE CITY — Your normal life is already busy so it’s no wonder when you add in extra demands for the end-of-year holidays, stress levels skyrocket.

But why are we so stressed? During the holidays, 69 percent of Americans are stressed about lack of time and 69 percent are stressed about lack of money, according to the American Psychological Association. There’s a lot of added pressure for parents to make sure their children have “the best Christmas ever.”

Americans spend about 42 hours a year on holiday activities, including buying and wrapping presents, attending holiday parties and traveling to and from family gatherings. While it may be possible to opt out of some events, other celebrations may be non-negotiable.

When the stress gets to be too much, instead of turning to holiday treats, try these scientifically backed simple tricks to keep your sanity.

Meditation has deep roots in Southeast Asia and was made popular in the 1960s by The Beatles, according to project-meditate.org. Studies have shown that meditation can decrease cortisol, the stress hormone, by helping people to better cope when stressful situations occur.

There are many types of meditation, including self-guided and mantra meditation and yoga. If you need more instruction, you can also use an online-led meditation guide.

Double your pleasure and potentially triple your fun this holiday season. Add a pack or two next time you’re checking out at the grocery store. A 2008 study showed that people who chewed gum had lower cortisol levels and felt less anxiety than those who didn’t. As an added bonus, chewing gum can also make you more alert.

You might want to put the mistletoe up early this year. Kissing someone can increase oxytocin and decrease cortisol and spending quality time with a romantic partner has also been shown to reduce stress levels.

 

The science of sleep

I don’t know about you but I’m often plagued by difficulty falling asleep, and staying asleep. It’s been especially problematic since owning my own business, and reaching middle age has certainly acerbated it further. I’ve been considering getting one of the several fitness bracelets which monitor sleep as well as food and fitness activities. This article was really helpful for me; hopefully, it will be for you, too.

Spend a little time perusing the wares of the App Store or Google Play and you’re sure to find your eyes drawn to the myriad wonders of the health and lifestyle sections, where all manner of miraculous personal transformations and rejuvenations are promised by some very sophisticated-looking ‘brain science’ apps. One recurring focus in this category, among others, is apps dedicated to solving sleeping difficulties and insomnia.

And we ought to know. After all, we recently brought you a roundup of some of the more popular snooze-assisting apps available (see TechLife magazine February issue, page 34), which utilize a number of methods to help people get to sleep: sound effects apps that play soothing audio or ‘binaural’ beats to help induce sleep; meditative music apps; Yoga trainers; sleep, activity and dream trackers; power-nap helpers and so on.

binaural-apps

There’s a host of ‘binaural beats’ apps available to help you get to sleep, but do they really do what they claim?

But while these kinds of programs are certainly fun to play with, and definitely worth a shot if you’re having difficulty dropping off, it’s also important to understand that sleep is an incredibly complex part of our lives — a major chunk of our existence, in reality — and there’s no ‘silver bullet’ app for controlling, triggering, regulating or manipulating it.

That’s the message from Dr Dev Banerjee, medical director and sleep expert with the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

“Regarding sleep apps, like the beats apps,” Dr Banerjee says, “They are a way of distracting the racing mind. A common cause of difficulty in initiating sleep is due to inability to relax and switch off. [Binaural beats apps] are not hypnotic as such, like sleeping medications, and therefore cannot in my opinion technically alone induce sleep. But in some patients they may be a useful aid to focus away from a busy day and switch off by listening to monotonous sounds. They are akin to relaxation tapes, that is, part of psychological self-hypnosis therapy.”

dev-banerjee-profile-photo

Dr Dev Banerjee of the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

Meanwhile, sleep-tracker apps — which monitor your sleeping patterns and purport to provide an assessment of the quality of sleep you get each night — can be useful as a guide, but Dr Banerjee cautions not to expect too much from the level of analysis provided.

“The smartphone senses movements by means of accelerometer techniques, ie. any movements will register as a ‘blip’ on the data collection. The overall overnight data will therefore show a bar chart type of picture, where bars on the summary chart indicate movement.

“They are useful as an indirect measure of sleep, on the assumption that sleep equates to low activity/movement, and awake is equivalent to movement artefact on the data page. They will give an indirect measure of time in bed spent asleep, ie. sleep efficiency. They will not indicate whether the sleep is deep sleep, light sleep or dream sleep. Only electrical leads attached to the scalp measuring electrical activity of the brain [Electroencephalography, or ‘EEG’] — can determine this.”

sleep-tracking-apps

Sleep-tracking apps are useful as a guide to your body movement during the night, but they can’t truly offer an accurate assessment of the quality of your sleep.

In light of the above, the more ambitious claims made by some ‘lucid dream’ apps (like Adam Siton’s DreamZ, for example), which promise to help you control and enhance your dreams, should be taken with a grain of salt.

“Dreams occur in a sleep phase called ‘rapid eye movement’ sleep. The times and lengths of REM sleep are determined biologically by the cycling of different sleep phases. In other words, when we go to sleep, we go into non-REM sleep, and when the brain cycles into REM sleep, will do so when the brain is ready. There is no evidence that apps can regulate dream sleep, particularly frequency or length or content whilst one is asleep. The mechanism of this app is unclear.

“When we go into sleep, there is a tendency for imagery formation, but this is not related to dream sleep of REM sleep. The images are very uni-dimensional, abstract and short-lived, and may not be like REM sleep, which is purposeful and story-like in many cases. It may be that the individual listens to the audio, and this is at the same time as falling asleep, which may alter their experience of the imagery formation, as the individual is half-asleep and half-awake, and therefore will have some conscious awareness before heading into deeper non-REM sleep. However, there is no evidence that this app in my opinion increases content or quality of sleep, once asleep.”

At the end of the day, sleep apps won’t hurt you, Dr Banerjee says, but they should be viewed more as relaxation aids rather than fail-proof cure-alls for any serious sleeping issues you may suffer.

“It is important that apps do not claim to provide outcomes that are not clinically and scientifically proven. There is a market as a relaxation tool, as music or monotonous sounds. There is a big market of self-hypnosis tapes, for example. To prove apps are a cure for insomnia needs to be tried and tested in clinical trials. For many such gadgets, there is a strong placebo effect as well. At the end of the day, it’s a bit of fun, and for many who suffer from sleep issues, there’s no harm in trying if they are prepared to make a loss if the app does not work. If individuals are struggling with their sleep, the best advice is to seek assistance from a sleep clinic.”

Meditation Part I: Biology of Stress

r-MEDITATION-MADE-SIMPLE-large570I don’t know about you but I’m so relieved that spring has finally come to my neck of the woods. The short days and long nights, not to mention the cold and snow, have left me feeling stressed and depleted. So glad to be seeing so much more sunlight. But that brings with it the urging to go out and do…and do…and do… If you’re like me, as enjoyable as some of those things are, that pace is very stressful. I love all things medical and biological so knowing just what’s going on in my body helps me to be aware and keep things in perspective.

Today’s world is fast paced and full of stress, not exactly what our bodies were designed for. So if we are living in an environment that can lead to chronic stress and fatigue, how do we fight back? Since knowledge is power so one of the first things to do is better understand how your body reacts to stress.

Ask yourself, “Am I relaxed?” Ask this question during random times of the day. Think back to the last time you were cooking or washing dishes, were you relaxed or still brooding over the comment your boss made today? Did the kids send you over the edge this afternoon and are you still thinking about how angry you are as you prepare for bed?

These chronic levels of stress prevent the body from relaxing. The body is designed to function regularly in a state of relaxation, known as the parasympathetic nervous system. This “rest and digest” system is activated when we are in a state of calm, it always our body to heal and digest foods. Our bodies are designed to spend most of its time in this state. The sympathetic nervous system is “the other” system which is activated during times of stress. It reduces the energy spent on digesting food and increases the blood flow to the extremities in preparation for fight or fight. The cardiovascular system is engaged, increasing heart rate, and rate of breathing. The endocrine system is activated releasing adrenaline, noradrenaline, and gluocorticoids in to the body. These systems do not work together, they function in an either or capacity. That being said, if you are not relaxed your body is activating the stress response.

In the short run, activation of the sympathetic nervous system is not damaging to the health of the body. However, over a long period of time these elevated levels of stress can cause damage. Here is an abbreviated list of the health effects that can result from chronic stress: heart disease, kidney failure, fatigue, cell damage, increased lung infections, gastrointestinal problems, decreased immune system, insomnia, and enlarged adrenal glands. Additionally, being genetically predisposed to a disease can lead to increased chances of developing the disease because of a reduced immune system and slower cell regeneration.

With all of these health risks associated with elevated levels of stress, it has become a necessity for people today to make conscious efforts to reduce their stress levels. There are many avenues in which one can reduce stress, but a favorite of mine is meditation. Not only has the practice been around for hundreds of years, but it can be utilized anywhere anytime. You can take five minutes to meditate while sitting at your desk, waiting in the elevator, lunch breaks, or any other time you feel the need arise. Practicing the techniques used in meditation will allow a person to improve their abilities and eventually slip into a meditative state quickly thus effectively utilizing every minute.

With time, meditation can result in overall improvement of health, relaxation, improved sleep, and better gastrointestinal health. Learning to meditation is simple, and can be tailored to fit your needs and preferences. Through practice you will learn what aspects work best for you, and what elements you prefer to include in your regular routine.

Next week: Meditation Part II: Breathing

 

Mindfulness meditation strives for living in the moment

Do you have trouble wrapping your head around “mindfulness”? I’d heard it used many times and still I wondered- what does that really mean anyway? And how could it help me in real life? Hopefully you’ll find this Q & A helpful in answering those questions.

Q: I’ve heard a lot about “mindfulness meditation.” Does it really help relieve stress and anxiety?

A: Mindfulness meditation has become quite popular in recent years. The practice involves bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future.

Many people practice it hoping to stave off stress and stress-related health problems. As with other practices that are labeled “alternative and complementary medicine,” there is increasing research into the effects of mindfulness meditation.

As a Western scientist and physician, I believe treatments and practices need to be validated by the scientific method. At the same time, I think it is foolish for physicians to dismiss out of hand Eastern treatments and practices that people have found valuable for thousands of years.

Researchers recently reviewed 47 meditation trials that met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their findings suggest that mindfulness meditation can help ease anxiety, depression and pain.

Other research has found that mindfulness meditation may help treat heart disease and high blood pressure. It may alleviate chronic pain, sleep problems and gastrointestinal difficulties. And it may help prevent relapse in people who have had several episodes of depression.

Mindfulness is the practice of focusing attention on what is happening in the present. And — importantly — accepting it without judgment. One of the goals of mindfulness is to enhance your appreciation of simple, everyday experiences.

By learning to focus on the here and now, you are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets over the past.

Mindfulness is often learned through meditation. That is a method of regulating your attention by focusing on your breathing, a phrase or an image.

To get started with mindfulness meditation, sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor. Focus on an aspect of your breathing. For example, the sensation of your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale.

Once you’ve narrowed your concentration, begin to widen your focus. Become aware of sounds, sensations and ideas. Embrace and consider each without judgment.

If your mind starts to race, return your focus to your breathing. Then expand your awareness again. Most of my patients (and friends) who engage in mindfulness meditation try to meditate for 20 minutes each day.

You can also take a less formal approach to mindfulness. Choose any task or moment to stay in the present and truly participate in your life. Eating, walking, or playing with a child or grandchild, for example, are all good opportunities.

I’m not a practitioner of mindfulness meditation, so I can’t speak about its virtues from personal experience. However, I have been greatly impressed by the accounts of my patients and friends who practice it. Almost to a person, they believe that it has brought balance and peace into their lives.

So I’m considering it. I’d like to transition from a life constantly living simultaneously in many moments to a life of truly “living in the moment.”

• Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. To send questions, go to AskDoctorK.com.

Meditation App ‘Headspace’ Founder On What He Does

The following article gives us a great look into how one of the movers and shakers of the wellness industry manages his time, energy and focus on a daily basis.  Do you follow any of his techniques?

What Does the Founder of  the ‘Headspace’ App Do When He Gets Stressed?

Rich Pierson is the other half of Headspace, the online meditation company that brings wellbeing, meditation and mindfulness to the masses. At HuffPost UK Lifestyle we’re massive fans – you can start a free 10 day trial online (or download it to your smartphone) and it just involves 10 minutes of meditation each day.

Rich is one of the nine panelists at the Third Metric conference on 30 July in London, who are discussing – along with founder Arianna Huffington – the redefining of the word success to include wellbeing as well as money and power.

We were most curious however, to find out how Rich takes time out for himself and stays balanced.

You bring mindfulness and meditation to the masses – but how do you make time for yourself?
I have a little routine that I am pretty strict about. I get up about 6am for 45 minutes of meditation and then I surf for an hour, have breakfast and then get to the office for around 9.

I find that the combination of that routine coupled with regular annual leave really make a huge difference.

What do you do for a time-out when you feel like things are getting on top of you?
I go for a walk, turn my phone off and if I can, I grab my surfboard. If time is limited I take 10, which is part of our meditation programme.


How would you describe mindfulness to someone who has no clue what it is?

It’s so difficult to explain an experience in words, but I will give it my best shot as a total beginner.

In it’s simplest form, I think it’s a skillful way to learn how to train your mind. in learning how your mind works, you learn how to react more effectively in the moment, which in turn allows you to handle and accept life as it comes. it really is the most profound, yet brutally simple technique. Almost too simple for our minds to understand. My biggest advice is try it and learn for yourself.

rich pierson

What are the main challenges with running a global business and grounding yourself? How do you manage it?
It really is tricky and I definitely struggle with it. The travel and the time differences wreak havoc, sometimes with my surf schedule, which is very upsetting.

On the whole, the biggest thing is my commitment to my meditation practice, 45 minutes in the morning followed by 45 minutes as soon as I finish my work, really help to segment my day.

RICH’S TOP TIPS FOR TIME-OUT

  • I have periods of the day where I duck out of technology completely
  • I never have my phone or laptop in my bedroom
  • I never check emails until I get to work
  • I never check emails on annual leave

I genuinely feel that we will look back in 10 years time at technology and it will be viewed in the same way we view cigarettes today, and people will say: “What the hell were we doing?”. It obviously has an important role to play in the modern world, but it’s definitely out of balance.

What are the small ways in which we can start giving back to our families, our communities and the world on a daily basis?
I think the most profound effect of meditation is that it teaches you to listen and be patient. I think the kindest thing you can do for anyone is be completely present and listen. Listening without any intention to force yourself on a situation is so simple, but so powerful. That has a huge ripple effect beyond the person you have been patient with.

Do you have a mantra on how to keep balanced and happy?
Meditate, then surf, then meditate and then do some surfing.

MORE ON THE THIRD METRIC:

 

Do you feel like you get everything you need to do done?
There is always more to do, the key is accepting you’re not superman. Once you get that and realise the world doesn’t revolve around your ability to make stuff happen, you don’t mind having a long to-do list.

How do you like to unwind?
Hang out with my amazing girlfriend, surf, meditate, cook, ski and hike.

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