meditationsThis post concludes my promise to share monthly exercises throughout the year helping you connect with your inner divine.

What do UCLA, Stanford, Oxford, Duke, Penn State and the University of Massachusetts have in common? These are just a handful of prestigious universities offering programs on mindfulness, a self-controlled state of mind known to reduce stress and enhance happiness.

While many relate mindfulness to the Buddhist tradition of having awareness without judgment, mindfulness was first translated into English in 1530 from the French word pensee, meaning thought. So, why are so many universities now making mindfulness a part of their programming? Berkeley newsletter Greater Good suggests that the secular use of mindfulness has increased tremendously during the last decade because study after study demonstrates the positive effects it has on its subject, regardless of age. Benefits reported include decreased depression and stress and enhanced attention, self-control, social participation, and respect for others. Not only were these benefits noted during studies, but they were still noted several months post study as well.

Free Meditations

Anyone can reap the benefit of mindfulness practice through a number of free courses offered by several reputable universities and organizations. Want to learn how to be happier, less stressed and more focused? Check out any of these free resources and don’t forget to say, “om!”

UCLA Mindfulness Awareness Research Center (8 free guided meditations)

University of VA School of Medicine: Mindfulness Center (5 free meditations, including Forgiveness)

University of Massachusetts Medical School: Center for Mindfulness (19 free audios on better sleep, mindfulness, relaxation and stress relief)

Mindful Self Compassion (18 free guided meditations)

Whether you are a mindfulness master or a novice, you will enjoy these free resources. When you choose to live mindfully, not a moment is wasted because you know how to make every moment count!

Additional Resources

Read previous postings on deepening the connection to your inner divine:

Image found here.

Sheila Callaham is an author, speaker, and coach living in Chapel Hill, NC. This is her last post for this year but Sheila will be back the first Thursday in January with the top posts for 2013 and another great year of weekly reading. Happy holidays!

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