Meditation and Baby Goats

Meditating with frolicking ruminants and doctors prescribing walks in the park, keep up with the latest in mindfulness.

Reynold Sumayku/Alamy

Meditation meets baby goats

Every meditator knows what it’s like when your mind simply won’t slow down. Now a mindfulness teacher in Brisbane has taken that inner challenge and put it out there…by having new students meditate with baby goats. 

“It’s a metaphor. Your meditation is not going to be perfect, and it certainly won’t be still,” Berenice Tan told Yahoo 7 Australia. 

The rescued kids are brought in halfway through Tan’s popular “Breathe In & Bleat Out” introduction to mindfulness meditation events. And they offer a powerful teaching in self-compassion, she said.

“Beginner meditators have tremendous expectations the first time they attempt to sit, and it very rarely goes the way they hope,” she continued. “You’ll have thoughts, feelings, memories, fantasies, dreams jumping over you, gnawing at you, and hollering for your attention—just like the little goat.”

Skating on thin ice

Canadian hockey player Ben Meisner penned an online article about his lifelong anxiety and fear of failure, offering help to other young athletes— and within three days, he got over 1,000 responses. That’s a goal scored for ending the harmful silence around mental illness in sports. 

Gaming for good

 There is plenty of hand-wringing these days about the supposed dangers of adolescents playing video games. But some games, it seems, can actually foster empathy and positive brain changes. 

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin developed a video game in which players had to identify the intensity of emotions on the faces of human-like aliens. After just two weeks, the researchers found that the middle schoolers who played the game had more activity in brain regions linked to empathy and perspective-taking than kids who played a typical video game. 

Could a park a day keep the doctor away?

Not every health issue has an easy fix, but one DC pediatrician believes that kids today suffer from a lack of outdoor play. Robert Zarr, MD, founder of Park Rx America, a nonprofit that encourages doctors to prescribe time in parks, told the New York Times he writes at least one prescription a day for park time, with a suggested activity, duration, and frequency. Evidence shows that spending time in nature has positive impacts on physical and mental health, including common childhood and teenage problems of obesity, diabetes, depression, and anxiety. 

The art of taking a walk 

“Answers are everywhere”: Such is the promise of Street Wisdom, a nonprofit urging pedestrians to wander mindfully and, in so doing, amp up their creative problem-solving skills. Through its volunteer-run “walkshops,” which happen all over the world, Street Wisdom encourages participants to tune in to their senses, and then—while taking a mindful stroll around their city—employ this heightened awareness to see where the streets offer “hidden messages, chance meetings, and unexpected discoveries.”

It’s OK to take it back

Dana Carney and colleagues created a stir in 2010 with a Psychological Science paper claiming that power poses—e.g., standing with legs apart and hands on hips like Wonder Woman—induce positive behavioral and hormonal changes. After a TED talk went viral, power posing was touted at conferences for years, including many mindfulness gatherings. In 2016, Carney walked it back: The results could not be replicated. Many psychologists feel that far too many studies cannot be replicated, and yet few, like Carney, come forward to inform the world. Now, several psychologists have started the Loss-of-Confidence Project, which collects accounts of research findings that have not been borne out in an effort to “destigmatize declaring a loss of confidence in one’s own research.”

Waste not wear not

For 30 days, Rob Greenfield lived like an average American, save for one detail: Every piece of garbage he generated, he wore on his body. The end result was a massive suit that makes a big fashion statement about how much trash we produce—in 2015, according to the EPA, nearly 4.5 pounds per day, per American.

Mindfulness-based therapy may keep depression at bay

 In a study of people in remission from major depression, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) prevented relapse just as well as traditional cognitive therapy. While both treatments teach people to observe how their thoughts, feelings, and habits fuel depression, MBCT adds meditation to the mix.  

In the study, Canadian researchers asked 166 adults in remission from major depression to attend either an MBCT group or a standard cognitive therapy group for eight weeks. Two years later, fewer than a quarter of people in both groups had suffered another bout of major depression. 

Those in the standard group were better at managing distressing thoughts and emotions, but both groups got better at not believing all of their thoughts. This particular skill, called decentering, can be helpful in managing a negative mood. What’s more, people who got good at decentering were less likely to relapse. 

Experts have cautioned that mindfulness-based therapies may not be suitable for treating people in the midst of a depressive episode. But MBCT, it appears, can provide real protection against relapse.

Time to get off your phone?

Are the days of mindless scrolling coming to an end? With concern growing around “phone addiction,” Facebook and Instagram have rolled out new time-control features, allowing users to monitor how long they use the apps and set custom reminders to stop for the day. Instagram Product Director Ameet Ranadive says users should feel like “they can be mindful and intentional about how they’re spending their time” on social media. Psychologists say these tools will help some users, but others may need a bigger intervention to curb their unhealthy Insta-habits.

To get happy, connect

Your loved ones may be the key to happiness. German researchers asked more than 1,000 people to identify ways they thought they could be happier. Then the scientists followed up a year later to see whose lives had actually improved. Turns out the only people who got happier were those who’d planned to spend more time with friends and family—and followed through on their intentions. Focusing on individual goals like quitting smoking didn’t lead to greater happiness. 

Bikes and Beers with a Mindful Twist

Harley-Davidson offers a two-minute meditation, grounded by the sound of a revving motorcycle engine throughout, to help Harley riders de-stress. Compared to the “complete freedom” of the open road, Harley’s marketing director says, it’s “the next best thing.”

Stella Artois has created an audio guide to mindfully enjoying a beer. The 20-minute track is narrated by actor Luke Evans, who invites listeners to discover the “complexities” of the brew “through attentive, mindful sipping.”  

Extra­ordinary Acts of kindness

When a betrothed couple’s wedding officiant broke a leg during the rehearsal dinner, the event’s catering manager happened to be a licensed officiant, so he stepped in and married them.

A Tennessee truck driver bought a school bus to rescue animals during natural disasters. When Hurricane Florence hit, he rescued 64 dogs and cats from South Carolina shelters that were in the storm’s path.

Over the last 10 years, a 93-year-old man in Iowa has bought about 6,000 chocolate bars and handed them out to friends and strangers.

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