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With hellish hours and info overload now the norm, the C-Suite set is turning to extreme meditation to cope, says Fortune’s Oliver Ryan.

FORTUNE Magazine
By Oliver Ryan, Fortune writer-reporter

July 20,2007 9:05 AM EDT

(Fortune Magazine) — The crowd of Harvard Business School alums who gathered at their reunion to hear networking expert Keith Ferrazzi speak earlier this summer might have expected to pick up strategies on how to work a room, remember people’s names, or identify mentors. But tactical skills, it turns out, aren’t what turned Ferrazzi into a bestselling author or sought-after speaker.

Instead Ferrazzi let his fellow alums in on a little secret. The key to connecting, he told the group, is “not being an a**hole.” And the most effective path he’s found? Meditation. Exercise and prayer work too, he said, but meditation has been so effective that he now spends ten days every year at a silent meditation retreat. In other words, the man whose latest book is “Never Eat Alone” credits much of his success to alone time.

Meditation has been around for thousands of years, but not so long ago extended retreats or programs that banned speech were reserved for aging rock stars or college students on the ten-year plan. And while the practice isn’t exactly mainstream in corporate America, more and more executives are open to anything that might help them thrive in – or temporarily disconnect from – today’s BlackBerry-addled ADD business climate.

Meditation devotees include junk-bond-king-turned-philanthropist Mike Milken; Bill George, the former Medtronic (Charts, Fortune 500) CEO; ad industry mogul Renetta McCann; and NBA coach Phil Jackson. Silicon Valley is full of meditators, such as Marc Benioff, the CEO of Salesforce.com (Charts), and Larry Brilliant, head of Google’s philanthropic efforts. Naturally, a crew of Google (Charts, Fortune 500) employees has organized twice-weekly open meditation hours, at which it has hosted Tibetan monks and a team of mind-science researchers.

Particularly hard-core is Bob Shapiro, the former CEO of Monsanto (Charts, Fortune 500), who has done three ten-day silent retreats and is considering a 30-day tour. He must certainly be the first person to serve simultaneously on the boards of the New York Stock Exchange and the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society.

Shapiro says that meditation has improved his ability to listen and to think creatively – and there’s an increasing amount of scientific evidence to back that up. Dr. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin at Madison has, among other experiments, used cranial electrodes and MRI scans to study Tibetan monks on loan from the Dalai Lama. His basic finding: The brain functioning of serious meditators is “profoundly different” from that of nonmeditators – in ways that suggest an elevated capacity to concentrate and to manage emotions. He calls meditation a “kind of mental training.”

Like Ferrazzi and Shapiro, the most intrepid corporate types gravitate toward vipassana meditation centers (the term translates to “insight”), founded by S.N. Goenka, an 83-year-old ex-Burmese businessman. Though inspired by Buddhism, Goenka centers are secular, and the introductory retreat features ten days spent in “noble silence.” “It takes that much time for people to calm down,” says Andrew Cherng, the chairman of Panda Restaurant Group (as in Panda Express).

Life at a Goenka center is communal; the morning bell sounds at 4 A.M. and lights are out at 9:30 P.M. In between are meals, lectures and nearly 11 hours of private and group meditation. “I’ve found that you’re so sharpened by the ten days alone that you recover that lost time in the next ten days,” says Subhash Chandra, founder of Indian media giant Essel Group, who has “sat” 15 retreats.

The retreat, however, is only the start. Back home, students are advised to meditate twice a day. Shapiro admits he struggles to find the time, but he also notes an old saying: “If you can’t spend half an hour meditating, you need an hour.”

Author’s Bio (thanks Bill)

Bill Douglas is the Tai Chi Expert at DrWeil.com, and is the Founder of World T’ai Chi & Qigong Day (held in 60 nations each year). Bill has authored and co-authored several books including a #1 best selling Tai Chi book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to T’ai Chi & Qigong.” Bill’s been a Tai Chi source for The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The South China Morning Post, Reader’s Digest, etc.

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You don’t have to be a CEO or have a crazy life to meditate but either way meditation sure helps to create a more satisfying life. Learn to Meditate with Marie Favorito. Her guided Meditation CD’s are professionally mastered and easy to use. Just sit back and listen.

by the Mayo Clinic – Sept. 12, 2007

Tai Chi
Stress reduction, balance, agility and more.

Tai chi is a series of gentle movements that can bring about stress reduction, improved balance and many other health benefits. Find out what tai chi is all about.

Tai chi (ti-CHE) is sometimes described as “meditation in motion.” Originally developed in China as a form of self-defense, this graceful form of exercise has existed for about 2,000 years. It’s becoming increasingly popular around the world, both as a basic exercise program and as a complement to other health care methods. Health benefits include stress reduction, greater balance and increased flexibility — especially for older adults.

What is tai chi?

Tai chi is a noncompetitive, self-paced system of gentle physical exercise. To do tai chi, you perform a defined series of postures or movements in a slow, graceful manner. Each movement or posture flows into the next without pausing.

Who is tai chi for?

If you’re trying to improve your general health, you may find tai chi helpful as part of your program. Tai chi is generally safe for people of all ages and levels of fitness. Studies have shown that for older adults tai chi can improve balance and reduce the risk of falls. Because the movements are low impact and put minimal stress on your muscles and joints, tai chi is appealing to many older adults. For these same reasons, if you have a condition such as arthritis or you’re recovering from an injury, you may find it useful.

Tai chi appears to offer both physical and mental benefits no matter what your age. It’s used to:

Reduce stress
Increase flexibility
Improve muscle strength and definition
Increase feelings of well-being

Tai chi hasn’t been studied scientifically until recently. Preliminary research shows that for older adults, in particular, practicing tai chi regularly may:

Reduce anxiety and depression
Improve balance and coordination, reducing the number of falls
Improve sleep quality, such as staying asleep longer at night and feeling more alert during the day
Slow bone loss in women following menopause
Reduce high blood pressure
Improve cardiovascular fitness
Relieve chronic pain
Improve everyday physical functioning

Types of tai chi

Like yoga, many styles of tai chi exist. Some of these styles include:

Chen
Hao
Sun
Wu
Yang
Zhao Bao

The intensity of tai chi varies somewhat depending on the style. For example, the Chen style may be more fast-paced than other styles. However, most styles are gentle and suitable for everyone. Talk to your doctor and tai chi instructor to make sure the style you’re using is appropriate for your physical capabilities.

When learned correctly and practiced regularly, tai chi appears to be a very positive form of exercise:

It’s self-paced and noncompetitive.
You don’t need a large physical space or special clothing or equipment.
You can do tai chi anytime, anyplace.
It’s easy to do in groups as well as by yourself.
You can add new movements as you become more proficient.

Because tai chi is slow and gentle, it has virtually no negative side effects. It’s possible you could strain yourself or “overdo” things when first learning, but with proper instruction, this shouldn’t pose a barrier to practicing tai chi.

How to learn tai chi

To gain the full benefits of tai chi and reduce the small risk of injury, learn the correct way to do the postures and movements. Strict attention to your body position and breathing are critical, so it’s best to study directly under a teacher rather than with a book or videotape. As you attend a series of classes, the instructor can give you personal guidance and correct any errors in your approach before they become habit. As you practice, you learn how to do tai chi without straining your muscles and joints.

Once you’re comfortable with the tai chi basics, you can do it by yourself. You may find it helpful to practice tai chi in the same place and at the same time every day. You’ll likely experience some health benefits right away, but they probably won’t be dramatic. Be patient. Health benefits accumulate over time.

You can find tai chi classes in cities throughout the United States. To locate a class in your community, contact your local senior center, YMCA or YWCA, health club or wellness center.

Although tai chi is generally safe, consider talking with your doctor before starting a new program. This is particularly true if you have any problems with your joints, spine or heart.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Come here for more info on Tai Chi being taught
at the Boston Healing Tao visit our web site
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by Fox News Article

The darker the berry, the sweeter the juice, so goes the saying.

But it turns out the darker berry or plum or grape, for that matter, the stronger the cancer-fighting properties.

Researchers conducting a recent study found that the compounds that give some fruits and vegetables their rich colors are powerful cancer deterrants.

Evidence from laboratory experiments on rats and on human colon cancer cells also suggests that anthocyanins, the compounds that give color to most red, purple and blue fruits and vegetables, also slow the growth of colon cancer cells.

“These foods contain many compounds, and we’re just starting to figure out what they are and which ones provide the best health benefits,” said Monica Giusti, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of food science at Ohio State University, in a news release.

The findings, which Giusti presented August 19 at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, also bring scientists a step closer to figuring out what gives fruits and vegetables their cancer-fighting properties.

Giusti and her colleagues found that in some cases, slight alterations to the structure of anthocyanin molecules made these compounds more potent anti-cancer agents.

In their studies on human colon cancer cells grown in laboratory dishes, the researchers tested the anti-cancer effects of anthocyanin-rich extracts from a variety of fruits and vegetables. They retrieved these anthocyanins from grapes, radishes, purple corn, chokeberries, bilberries, purple carrots and elderberries.

The plants were chosen due to their extremely deep colors and high anthocyanin content.

The researchers found that the amount of anthocyanin extract needed to reduce cancer cell growth by 50 percent varied among the plants. Extract derived from purple corn was the most potent and used the least amount of extract (14 micrograms per milliliter of cell growth solution) to cut cell numbers in half.

Chokeberry and bilberry extracts were nearly as potent as purple corn. Radish extract was the least potent and it took nine times as much (131 milligrams per milliliter) of this compound to cut cell growth by 50 percent.

“All fruits and vegetables that are rich in anthocyanins have compounds that can slow down the growth of colon cancer cells, whether in experiments in laboratory dishes or inside the body,” Giusti said.

In additional laboratory studies, researchers found that anthocyanin pigments from radish and black carrots slowed the growth of cancer cells anywhere from 50 to 80 percent.

Pigments from purple corn and chokeberries not only completely stopped the growth of cancer cells, but also killed almost 20 percent of the cancer cells while having little effect on healthy cells.

Our favorite Dark Fruit is called Mangosteen.
A small exotic fruit from Southeast Asia that fits in the palm of your hand.
Find out how you can get some Whole Fruit Mangosteen juice to drink by visiting: http://www.wayofthefruit.com
 



by Science Daily

Research Reinforces Findings

That Chinese Exercises Benefit Older Adults
Science Daily — New work by researchers at the University of Illinois lends strength to previous research documenting the health benefits of Qigong and Taiji among older adults who practice these ancient Chinese martial-arts forms.

Visiting kinesiology professor Yang Yang leads a group of residents of Clark Lindsey Village in Urbana in Qigong and Taiji. Yang has found that healthy seniors who practiced a combination of Qigong and Tai Chi three times a week for six months experienced significant physical benefits after only two months. (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

Qigong (chee-kung) and Taiji (tye-chee) – or Tai Chi, as it is more commonly known in the U.S. – combine simple, graceful movements and meditation. Qigong, which dates to the middle of the first millennium B.C., is a series of integrated exercises believed to have positive, relaxing effects on a person’s mind, body and spirit. Tai Chi is a holistic form of exercise, and a type of Qigong that melds Chinese philosophy with martial and healing arts.

“Traditional Tai Chi training includes Qigong, but most contemporary Tai Chi researchers have omitted Qigong from their research,” said visiting kinesiology professor Yang Yang. “As a result, previous researchers may not have documented all of the health benefits possible from traditional Tai Chi training.”

Yang, a Tai Chi master with three decades of experience, said Tai Chi and Qigong are relatively simple, safe and inexpensive, and require no props or special equipment, making them easily adaptable for practice by healthy senior citizens.

In two studies – one quantitative, one qualitative – presented recently at the North American Research Conference on Complementary & Integrative Medicine, lead researcher Yang found that healthy seniors who practiced a combination of Qigong and Tai Chi three times a week for six months experienced significant physical benefits after only two months.

Not only did participants demonstrate noticeable improvements in laboratory-controlled tests designed to measure balance, lower body strength and stance width, a subset of participants who contributed responses in the qualitative study provided dramatic evidence of how Tai Chi and Qigong practice had also enhanced their lives from a mental, emotional and spiritual perspective.

“Seniors said, ‘Now I can put my socks and jeans on just like I always used to, standing up instead of sitting down,” said Yang, who published the results of the studies as his doctoral dissertation. Yang said a woman noted that she had reduced the number of strokes required to swim across the pool – from 20 to between 11 and 14. Another said she was more confident of her ability to climb the stairs to her attic.

Other evidence pointed to improvements in sleep quality, concentration, memory, self-esteem and overall energy levels.

Other positive statements by participants regarding how they generally felt better mentally and physically:

• “I have the sense that I’m not going to go downhill nearly as quickly as I might have. It’s a very positive way to feel.”
• “I feel more upbeat … more optimistic … more hopeful. I upped my lifespan from 80 to 100.”
• “You don’t think about 70-year-olds learning new things they can carry on … this is so unexpected. This has made me feel much younger … much younger, let’s say, 10 years. Someone who hasn’t done this has no comprehension about how much better it has made me feel.”

The quantitative study included 39 participants and a control group of 29; the average age of participants was 80. Each was given a battery of physical performance tests in the beginning as a baseline, then again after two-month and six-month intervals. The smaller qualitative study consisted of in-depth interviews with four of the exercise participants described by Yang as “very enthusiastic about their Tai Chi and Qigong practice.”

“At present, Yang is the only one who has been putting those two things – the quantitative and the qualitative – together,” said kinesiology and psychology professor Karl Rosengren, Yang’s Ph.D. adviser and contributing author of the U. of I. studies.

“Usually they are not seen together in the same research.”

Yang and Rosengren said the quantitative study is the first, to their knowledge, to employ a randomized control trial (RCT) designed with testers blind to group allocation and to combine laboratory platform balance measures with multiple measures of functional balance and physical performance.

“It is also the first Tai Chi RCT to evaluate potential sensory organization improvements in elderly practitioners, to evaluate whether balance and strength improvements are significant predictors of a laboratory loss of balance measures, and to evaluate stance width as a possible learned strategic mechanism for improved postural stability,” Yang said.

In real-world terms, improvements in these areas are believed to reduce seniors’ risks of falling and suffering potentially catastrophic consequences.

Yang, who also is the director of the Center for Taiji Studies and the author of the book “Taijiquan: The Art of Nurturing, The Science of Power” (Zhenwu Publications), said one of the facets of the studies most interesting to him is how comments collected from the interviews correlated with the quantitative data gathered in the lab.

For example, in assessing the effects of Tai Chi and Qigong practice on participants, the researchers used a number of standard physical-activity measurements, among them, the single leg stand, or SLS. The SLS measures the length of time an individual can stand on one leg, with eyes closed and eyes open.

“With eyes open, we saw an 83 percent improvement after two months,” Yang said. “With eyes closed, we did not see results – 29 percent improvement – until the end of six months.

Numbers alone don’t tell the full story of the results, however, Yang said.

“But when you see how it translates to functional performance … how meaningful it is to their daily life – putting on jeans, taking groceries out, even the posture you have when you hold your grandchildren – the results are significant.”

Also telling, he said, is the strong desire among study participants to continue practicing Tai Chi and Qigong beyond the bounds of the research.

“The program has demonstrated its sustainability at one of the senior-living facility instruction sites, where an enthusiastic activities director has continued classes and actually expanded participation since the completion of the study, he said.”

Rosengren said the U. of I. research team plans to continue studying the links between Tai Chi and Qigong and the benefits of their practice for older adults.

“We plan to focus on trying to understand the mechanisms more,” he said. “We’ll also try to investigate more closely the effects of the expertise of the instructor by looking at other research that’s been done and trying to get measures of expertise in training.

“One of the things I think gets lost in a lot of the Tai Chi research is that the quality of the instructor matters. We’ve seen programs where they don’t really care about that. They’ll have someone who’s had six months of Tai Chi experience, and they think they can teach Tai Chi.

“Having watched Yang and having seen videotapes of instructors with minimal experience, there’s a huge difference,” Rosengren said.

“It’s the wealth of knowledge he brings and the combination of the science from the West and the traditions from the East that actually bring together things in a very positive way.”

Co-authors with Yang and Rosengren on the quantitative study include Jay Verkuilen, Scott Grubisich and Michael Reed. Additional co-authors on the qualitative study are Reed, Sharon DeCelle, Robert Schlagal and Jennifer Greene.

Note: This story has been adapted from a news release issued by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

~~~~~~~ Learn Tai Chi! ~~~~~~~~~~

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Tai Chi Boosts Immunity
Submitted by Bill McGowan

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
NIH News National Institute on Aging (NIA)

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, April 6, 2007

CONTACT: Susan Farrer or Linda Joy,

TAI CHI BOOSTS IMMUNITY TO SHINGLES VIRUS IN OLDER ADULTS, NIH-SPONSORED STUDY REPORTS

Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese form of exercise, may help older adults avoid getting shingles by increasing immunity to varicella-zoster virus (VZV) and boosting the immune response to varicella vaccine in older adults, according to a new study published in print this week in the “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society”. This National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded study is the first rigorous clinical trial to suggest that a behavioral intervention, alone or in combination with a vaccine, can help protect older adults from VZV, which causes both chickenpox and shingles.

The research was supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), both components of NIH. The study’s print publication follows its online release in March. The research was conducted by Michael R. Irwin, M.D., and Richard Olmstead, Ph.D., of the University of California at Los Angeles, and Michael N. Oxman, M.D., of the University of California at
San Diego and San Diego Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

“One in five people who have had chickenpox will get shingles later in life, usually after age 50, and the risk increases as people get older,” says NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “More research is needed, but this study suggests that the Tai Chi intervention tested, in combination with immunization, may enhance protection of older adults from this painful condition.”

“Dr. Irwin’s research team has demonstrated that a centuries-old behavioral intervention, Tai Chi, resulted in a level of immune response similar to that of a modern biological intervention, the varicella vaccine, and that Tai Chi boosted the positive effects of the vaccine,” says Andrew Monjan, Ph.D., chief of the NIA’s Neurobiology of Aging Branch.

The randomized, controlled clinical trial included 112 healthy adults ages 59 to 86 (average age of 70). Each person took part in a 16-week program of either Tai Chi or a health education program that provided 120 minutes of instruction weekly. Tai Chi combines aerobic activity, relaxation and meditation, which the researchers note have been reported to boost immune responses. The health education intervention involved classes about a variety of health-related topics.

After the 16-week Tai Chi and health education programs, with periodic blood tests to determine levels of VZV immunity, people in both groups received a single injection of VARIVAX, the chickenpox vaccine that was approved for use in the United States in 1995. Nine weeks later, the investigators did blood tests to assess each participant’s level of VZV immunity, comparing it to immunity at the start of the study. All of the participants had had chickenpox earlier in life and so were already immune to that disease.

Tai Chi alone was found to increase participants’ immunity to varicella as much as the vaccine typically produces in 30- to 40-year-old adults, and Tai Chi combined with the vaccine produced a significantly higher level of immunity, about a 40 percent increase, over that produced by the vaccine alone. The study further showed that the Tai Chi group’s rate of increase in immunity over the course of the 25-week study was double that of the health education (control) group. The Tai Chi and health education groups’ VZV immunity had been similar when the study began.

In addition, the Tai Chi group reported significant improvements in physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality and mental health. Both groups showed significant declines in the severity of depressive symptoms.

“This study builds upon preliminary research funded by NCCAM, and we are delighted to see this rigorous trial of Tai Chi for varicella zoster immunity come to fruition,” said Ruth L. Kirschstein, M.D., NCCAM Acting Director.

Shingles, or herpes zoster, affects the nerves, resulting in pain and blisters in adults. Following a case of chickenpox, a person’s nerve cells can harbor the varicella-zoster virus. Years later, the virus can reactivate and lead to shingles.

More information about shingles is available from the NIA at http://www.niapublications.org/agepages/shingles.asp

a website for older adults developed by the NIA and the National Library of Medicine, also a part of NIH.

More information on Tai Chi can be found on NCCAM’s website at:

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/taichi

To reach Dr. Michael Irwin, University of California at Los Angeles, contact Mark Wheeler at :

mwheeler@mednet.ucla.edu

The NIA leads the federal effort supporting and conducting research on aging and the medical, social and behavioral issues of older people. For more information on research and aging, go to http://www.nia.nih.gov.

Publications on research and on a variety of topics of interest on health and aging can be viewed and ordered by visiting the NIA website or can be ordered by calling toll-free.

The NCCAM’s mission is to explore complementary and alternative medical (CAM) practices in the context of rigorous science, train CAM researchers, and disseminate authoritative information to the public and professionals. For additional information, call NCCAM’s Clearinghouse toll-free at, or visit .

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation’s Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases.
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REFERENCE: Irwin, M.R., et al. Augmenting immune responses to varicella zoster virus in older adults: A randomized, controlled trial of Tai Chi. “Journal of the American Geriatrics Society” (2007), 55(4):511-517.
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