MIND OVER MAT­TER

ZOOMER Magazine - - ZOOM IN | VITALITY - www.mind­set­braingym.com; con­so­nantskin­care.com; www.choose­muse.com —Vi­vian Vas­sos

WHAT DOES IT SAY about us as a so­ci­ety when a guided med­i­ta­tion app is ranked, ac­cord­ing to Ap­ple, high­est in the health and well­ness cat­e­gory? Yes, a med­i­ta­tion app. It’s called Calm, and it has noth­ing to do with count­ing calo­ries, steps or pounds lost. And Headspace, its Brit pre­de­ces­sor, has had a re­ported 11M down­loads since de­but­ing in 2010. Heady stuff? Or just where our heads are at now? Mind­ful­ness is a buzz­word of the mil­len­nium but, con­sid­er­ing be­ing in the mo­ment can be traced back to Hindu tra­di­tions in In­dia circa 1500 BC, fol­lowed by Taoists and Bud­dhists and the med­i­ta­tion halls of Japan mak­ing it part of ev­ery­day life, we’ve had plenty of time to adopt the prac­tice.

And adopt we have, as boomers in the West were awak­ened to it by, among other in­flu­ences, Jack Ker­ouac’s Dharma Bums Bud­dhist ex­plo­ration i n the ’50s and the Bea­tles trip­ping to In­dia and Om­ming out with the Ma­har­ishi Ma­hesh Yogi in the ’60s, to Deepak Cho­pra build­ing his well­ness cen­tre upon its prin­ci­ples in the ’90s to Oprah, Clint East­wood, Madonna and Jerry Se­in­feld among to­day’s devo­tees.

But be­yond “ev­ery­body’s do­ing it,” there’s good rea­son. Sean Fin­nell, co-founder of Toronto’s new Mind­set brain gym, says the neu­ro­science be­hind the ben­e­fits of med­i­ta­tion can’t be ig­nored. “[They’re] do­ing MRI scans of peo­ple’s brains and see­ing in­creased cor­ti­cal thick­ness in the pre­frontal cor­tex and a few other ar­eas, which is ac­tu­ally what you see thin out in older adults,” he says, cit­ing a Har­vard Med­i­cal School study of med­i­ta­tion’s af­fect on the ag­ing mind.

A mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sional by day, Fin­nell also holds a cer­tifi­cate in ap­plied mind­ful­ness med­i­ta­tion from the Univer­sity of Toronto School of Con­tin­u­ing Stud­ies. In­struc­torled classes cover ev­ery­thing from ba­sic fo­cus train­ing to im­prov­ing mem­ory and de­ci­sion-mak­ing to re­duc­ing stress and anx­i­ety. Even those look­ing to sleep bet­ter can pop in for evening classes de­signed to quiet the mind for bed. Fin­nell has also part­nered with Muse, a Cana­dian com­pany that makes brain ac­tiv­ity-track­ing head­bands de­signed to en­hance med­i­ta­tion.

Con­so­nant, the Cana­dian award­win­ning nat­u­ral skin-care com­pany that be­lieves “what goes on your body goes in your body,” has just opened its flag­ship on Toronto’s Queen Street West, geared for shop­pers seek­ing a holis­tic life­style. Yes, there are shelves and sam­ples of creams and con­coc­tions but, along with that, treat­ments and health and well­ness pro­gram­ming are of­fered. As are mind­ful­ness classes, com­plete with the op­por­tu­nity to also take a fo­cused breather uti­liz­ing the Muse head­bands.

“All in your head, that’s our motto,” Fin­nell says. “We’re flip­ping that dis­mis­sive phrase on its head. It is all in your head; your abil­ity to re­ally af­fect your per­for­mance, lower your stress and more just with some­thing as sim­ple as med­i­ta­tion.”

And if you’re not in Toronto, luck­ily, there’s an app or a head­band for that.

Ma­har­ishi Ma­hesh Yogi

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