Alaska Rain

a group dedicated to mindfulness and meditation

Author: Julian Prescott

Everything You Need to Know about Vipassana Meditation

Meditation and contemplation have been proven to have positive effects on our mental health. Most meditation practices derive from the confluence of meditation techniques and focuses that developed through Buddhism. Vipassana meditation is one of the main meditation techniques that can help you understand and empower yourself better.

What Does Vipassana Mean?

Vipassana draws its meaning from the Sanskrit word for insight. The aim of vipassana is to see things as they really are by gaining insight into the true nature of reality. Many Westerners are more familiar with Samatha meditation, where you are given a mantra, prayer or medium to focus upon. Vipassana meditation focuses upon the senations of the body in order to understand our selves and reality better. It is one of the oldest traditions of Buddhist meditation, and has been taught through a line of teachers over the centurities that started with Buddha himself.

What Does Vipassana Meditation Do?

Vipassana meditation focuses on the sensations of breath rather than turning a mantra or prayer over in our minds continuously. Rather than trying to understand the underlying concept of an object or sound, Vipassana seeks to clearly see the world around us. It allows us to develop an increasing awareness of the world so that we can break free of whatever we let hold us back. It’s not a short-cut, though; Vipassana meditation can take several years of practice before you stumble upon its truths.

How Can Vipassana Meditation Help You?

Any kind of meditation is beneficial. While a Samatha meditation practice may help you refocus your mind for a bit, Vipassana meditation teaches you how to see through illusions in order to emerge as a better person. As you learn what are illusions and what are truths, you can integrate this knowledge into yourself making a conscious effort to change behaviors for a positive outlook. Vipassana will allow you to see yourself as you really are while showing you how you can change. By focusing on your breath and its sensations you’re really peering into the reality of you.

How To Start Vipassana Meditation?

The path of Vipassana Meditation is truly a journey of 1,000 steps. The hardest part will be in the beginning as you train both your body and your mind to the meditation.
There are several great guides and teachers available, but keep in mind the basics.

  • Choose a comfortable, cross-legged sitting position next to a tree or wall. Be sure to keep your back straight and aligned.
  • Focus upon the rise and fall of your breath and how this moves your body. What do you feel? Make note of that and let it go.
  • If something comes up during your meditation, focus upon and label that sensation. This includes loud noises, thoughts, and any other sensations that you may experience.

Your meditation practice can help you create a better you, but don’t expect it to move quickly. Just relax into your practice and let the work begin.

Understanding Transcendental Meditation


As life gets busier and the unfortunate happens with alarming frequency, many of us begin to feel stressed and disconnected, even from ourselves. When that happens, it’s important for our physical health and our emotional well being to find relief. Stress can instigate a number of physical illnesses, including weight gain and heart problems,so it’s importamt to manage it on some way. One method, which is not new, but may be unfamiliar to you, is Transcendental Meditation, or TM.

What is Transcendental Meditation?

Unlike other types of meditation, which can seem challenging for beginners, Transcendental Meditation is a simple, effective way of relaxing the body and easing the mind. The technique is no more complicated than sitting in a comfortable position for twenty minutes a day with your eyes closed. This method allows your mind to settle naturally, letting you explore inner peace and tranquility, until you’re aware of nothing, except your own consciousness.

TM is so simple that it has proven effective even with children who suffer from ADHD. People familiar with other forms of meditation may expect the normal “empty your mind” dogma, but there’s none of that with Transcendental Meditation. There also isn’t any monitoring, forced thought processes, or deep concentration. Just simple relaxation.

Introduced to western society by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1959, Transcendental Meditation is now taught by trained masters of the discipline and can only be learned through accredited schools. This is because instructors personalize the technique for each individual. Certification of instructors ensures each master was appropriately trained, so be wary of imposters. Likewise, there are instructors of other forms of meditation who claim their way is just as effective, but that’s simply not true. Nothing offers the same benefits as TM.

What Can Transcendental Meditation Do For You?

We already know TM can deliver you to a tranquil, stress-free state of mind, but how else can it benefit you? It has been proven that TM also enhances brain function, giving practitioners clearer mental capacities and stronger analytical thinking abilities. It does as much for the heart as it does for the head. When practiced regularly, Transcendental Meditation reduces blood pressure, reduces risks of heart attacks and strokes, lowers cholesterol, and decreases the chances of developing atherosclerosis.

Those advantages to TM are already enough to convince most people to give it a try, but there’s still more ways in which TM can enrich our lives. It has been shown to reduce the symptoms of a variety of mental illnesses, including depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Patients suffering from addiction, PTSD, ADHD, and autism spectrum have all been helped through the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation. As more people pursue this form of relaxation, society is sure to discover even greater benefits to practicing this time-honored technique.

So, how does one get started? The official TM website offers four day courses, which is enough to learn everything you need to know. To find a Transcendental Meditation insyructor in your area, just visit their page.



How to Be in a Meditative State of Mind Throughout the Day

Meditation is about a state of mind. It’s not about just waking up and sitting quietly for ten minutes before you walk into the chaos of your life and get caught up in it. If you are in the right mindset, you can meditate at any time, anywhere you are. This can be a great technique to learn, especially if you are in a stressful job or you are in a stressful academic environment. But how can you meditate wherever you are? Here are NUMBER steps you can take.

1. Just breathe.

Breathing is one of the most important things that you do every second of every day. Taking a few conscious breaths where you place your awareness on your breathing can be the first step in having a meditative mindset wherever you go. It’s hard to be worried about things when you are focused on inhaling and exhaling.

2. Find a mantra.

Mantras can be excellent tools. Repeating a mantra in your mind like “God is, I am” can be incredibly helpful. Mantras are a tool used in many forms of meditation. If you have a favorite mantra, try saying it to yourself several times throughout the day.

3. Be in the moment.

One of the best things about meditation is that it forces us to be present. If you stop in the middle of a stressful situation and ask yourself what the problem is at this moment, you will find that most of your problems are created in your mind. They are either projections of a fictional future or recreations of a past that may or may not have been real.

4. Close your eyes.

One of the best ways to reset is to close your eyes for a moment. This can get you into the meditative mindframe you need to be in. There is also less stimuli in front of you, less distractions.

You can always go into a space of quiet and centered meditation. You just have to make it a regular practice throughout your day.

Staying in the Moment with Adult Coloring Books: Guest Blog Post by Sheila Jones

I have a very stressful job. I work 50 hours a week, sometimes more, for a very highly trafficked sales company. My boss can be very hard on me. For a long time, the only thing I could do when I got home was zone out in front of the television. I never felt like I was able to be in the moment. I was always worried about the next day or stressing over everything I had done that day. It was hard for me to be present.

I always knew I needed to develop a meditation habit. I had seen the power of meditation and what it could do in many of my friends’ lives, the life of my husband, the life of my mother, etc. I have seen the power of staying present. Even the people I know who don’t have a specific meditation habit still have something they do in which they are able to meditate, like hiking or swimming. I didn’t think I would ever be able to find something like this for me, and anytime I tried to just sit down and meditate, I found that I wasn’t able to.

Then, my good friend, Asha, who runs Alaska Rain, gave me an adult coloring book. It had a ton of mandala designs that I was able to color. I found that I was able to really stay in the moment and be extremely mindful of each section I was coloring, the way I was holding the pencils, the colors I was using. And then I realized: this is my version of meditation.

I know some artists who are a little snobby about adult coloring books. One of them even told me adult coloring books are to art what karaoke is to music. I disagree. Maybe it’s not the same as creating a drawing or a painting from scratch, but that’s not the point.

The point is that everyone needs to find the activity that works for them, the activity that feels like meditation. And for me, adult coloring books can be just that. Since I’ve started using them, I’ve developed a way to really deal with my stress and stay in the moment. And I cannot say enough positive things about that. So pick up an adult coloring book today and give it a shot. What do you have to lose?

Meditation and Recovery for Addiction: What You Need to Know

Contrary to what some people think, addiction to drugs and alcohol is a disease. It’s a very complex issue that cannot be treated simply by remaining abstinent from the drug or the alcohol. There is a comprehensive treatment plan that is required to help many addicts recover, and this typically requires rehabilitation of some kind.

One tool that many rehabilitation and recovery programs are beginning to use to help addicts combat their disease is meditation. Meditation is a practice going back over thousands of years, and it is used by many different people for many different reasons. While some people use meditation as a way to connect with God or Spirit as they understand Him, other people simply use meditation as a tool to sharpen their minds and rejuvenate their bodies.

Meditation can be practiced alone or in groups. It can be done in complete silence, or a guided meditation can be used. Some people meditate while chanting. Some people meditate while playing bells or wind chimes. Some people meditate while walking, dancing in the rain, or just breathing.

There are many studies that support the addition of meditation as a tool for addicts and alcoholics who are in recovery and trying to learn ways to live clean and sober lives. When people practice meditation (especially daily), they develop more wisdom, more clarity, more of a sense of focus, and essential skills they need to cope with life in a way that won’t require them to choose to use drugs or drink alcohol. Meditation provides addicts and alcoholics with tools they need to stay sober and clean over a long period of time.

This is why meditation is now such an integral part of so many different recovery programs. Whether you are going through a traditional recovery program or focusing more on something like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), there is a good chance that you will be asked to develop your meditation practice in your recovery program.

While meditation is a very positive thing for all recovered addicts and alcoholics, it should not be a substitute for an actual treatment program. If you or someone you love is struggling with drug addiction or alcoholism, please consider contacting an alcohol treatment center or a 12-step program like Alcoholics Anonymous.

If you are struggling with alcoholism or addiction, it’s important to remember never to give up on yourself. You can live a life free of drugs and alcohol. You are stronger than you know! And meditation can be an excellent way for addicts and alcoholics to find that strength within themselves.

Top 5 Reasons You Should Meditate

We are obviously big fans of meditation here in the Alaska Rain group. But did you know about all of the benefits associated with meditation? There are about a million reasons to meditate that we have all helped each other discover over the last six months, and we wanted to share a few of those reasons with you.

1. Meditation reduces stress.  Studies show that meditation can reduce your blood pressure and your resting heart rate. In today’s society, everyone is always stressed out about work or school or family obligations or a thousand other commitments. But people who meditate for at least 20 minutes a day are more likely to live longer and less likely to develop diseases.

2. Meditation helps you focus. We live in an environment where information is constantly being thrown at us. Facebook, CNN, billboards, Twitter, Instagram, Taylor Swift, Starbucks. Will it ever end? It’s very easy to get caught in the shuffle and develop focus issues or a short attention span. When you take the time to be quiet and go within, you can greatly improve your sense of focus.

3. Meditation helps you relax. So many of us have issues shutting down our minds or not worrying about all of the stressful events of the day. We are all so consumed with the million thoughts and responsibilities and emotions, and sometimes it just gets so cloudy. Meditation helps us to clear our minds and bodies so we are able to relax.

4. Meditation re-aligns you with Spirit. Regardless of your religious beliefs, meditation is an excellent way to reconnect with God, Spirit, Jesus, Budha, whatever you want to call it. Even if you are an atheist and don’t believe in any particular religious or spiritual figure, meditation can make you feel more connected to your brothers and sisters in the human race, your loved ones, and all living beings.

5. Meditation makes you more present. We live in a very fast-paced world. Meditation can give us a little bit of time to slow down and take time for ourselves. Meditation is a great practice to develop throughout your life because it is so beneficial for your body, mind, and soul.

There are so many different reasons why you may want to try meditating. Try the various different meditation methods for some variety and see which method works the best for you. I guarantee you that you will feel a lot better once you start the daily practice.

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