A New Year, A Meditation Challenge and The Grad Studies


I love December. Work typically slows down, festivities abound and it’s a time filled with lots of food, warmth and loved ones. I also love December because it’s a time to reflect on the year and look forward to a new start. Cliché, I know, but there is something to be said for taking a deeper look at yourself and making improvements.

Every arrival implies a journey; and, with the close of the year, it’s the perfect time to look at where you’re at and the path to take moving forward.

One resolution of mine is to integrate a solid meditation practice into my daily routine. As a working mom, I’m essentially a professional multi-tasker. I’m constantly tapped in, spinning 12 plates at once. My thoughts are scattered and cluttered and I have a tendency to get too deep into my own mental chatter further blurring the lines between my own self delusion and reality.

I’m not sharing new information here and it’s widely known that meditation leads to a reduction in heart beats, breath rate and blood pressure which results in stress relief, mental clarity and a general sense of well-being. Meditation is also a form of prayer that provides the ability to merge with something greater. But a daily practice can be a hard commitment and I have a tendency to get sidetracked. Starting January 1st, I raised my hand to join the 40 Day Benshen Meditation Challenge led by the beautiful, Desirée Pais. I’ve been a follower of her blog; and, as a fellow natural skincare crafter, I have a respect for her offering and work.

Desirée practices Kundalini yoga. While, I’ve dabbled in Kundalini, I’d say that dance has been my moving meditation. The challenge seems quite simple: 3 minutes of “Ego Eradicator” meditation practice a day. For me, this entails waking up 30 minutes earlier than my family to practice. I’ve also integrated a 5 minute meditation to settle in and 5 minutes of loving prayer meditation to close.

Within a 48-hour period and a fresh start to the year, I’ve had quite an interesting experience with choice information coming to light. This information has led to a deep reassurance and knowing that it’s essential to take responsibility for our mental states, projections, intentions and emotions….this is the essence of our magic. To harness this energy, is to live beautifully.

So what happened on January 1st?

I spend a good amount of my personal time reading about the human experience, esoteric studies, love and the extraordinary. Last night, while charging my Kindle, I picked up a book that was given to me by my Aunt months ago. I hadn’t given much time to the book but I figured I’d dive in. While reading a few passages, I stumbled upon the research work of Bernard Grad from Montreal’s McGill University. A biologist, Grad’s initial work was fairly conventional and involved research related to cancer, aging and the endocrine system. Grad’s work shifted after studying with Wilhelm Reich and his controversial work related to the concept of life energy and body armoring. (Side note – I studied the work of Reich in a weeklong intensive workshop at Esalen at the age of 24 and it profoundly shifted my perspective on emotional energy having an effect on our physical bodies).


Grad’s research and laboratory studies related to nonlocal healing intention have been recognized and honored by Harvard University. His work was able to show in a laboratory setting that our thoughts, emotional states and intentions are powerful enough to influence other living things while explaining away the placebo effect.

To start, Grad tested whether or not our moods can have an effect on others who are near to us. He tested his theory using water. In a controlled experiment, Grad took three subjects: two were clinically depressed and one had an upbeat, positive personality. Each person held a sealed bottle of water for a half hour and then watered barley seeds. The depressed female happened to be in a positive mood that day and actually held the bottle as if she was cradling a child. Consequently, her seeds grew quickly. Otherwise, you can probably guess the rest of the results. The seeds watered by the upbeat man grew the fastest and the seeds watered by the depressed man grew the slowest. The findings suggest that our emotions do have both a negative and positive influence and objects we hold can pick up this energy.

Grad also studied nonlocal healing intention and the ability to physically heal trauma. He conducted experiments in which mice had a small piece of skin removed. The mice were then divided into three groups. In one of the three groups a healer (using his/her mental ability and intentions) would hold the cage of the wounded mice for fifteen minutes twice a day for two weeks. The second group of mice were placed in a heated cage. The third group received neither heat nor healing intentions. The results showed that the mice who received the loving care from the healer actually healed significantly faster than the other two groups.

What Grad’s work has shown is something we all intuitively understand. The sentiment stretches beyond just moods. Think about the healing power of homemade chicken soup. Or the warmth from a blanket that was knitted by a relative. Or simply the unexplainable power of loving touch.

After swimming in excitement for what I had just read, I ended my evening with a meditation on my Grandparents. It had been a long time since I really took the time to remember them and I was missing that connection. I sat and visualized their memory, their walk, how it felt to hug them and the sound of their voices. It was a lovely meditation and my memories were so vivid that it didn’t seem like it had been over 11 years since they passed. To my wonder, I woke in the morning to a 6am text message from my Aunt who simply sent an undiscovered photo of my Nanny with our female lineage (pictured below). I hadn’t spoken to my Aunt in about a month and she had no idea I started to read the book she gave me, or the fact that I had intentionally been thinking about my Grandparents the evening before. My Aunt and I have always functioned on a similar wavelength intuitively, so I took this as a loving sign from beyond.


In summary, the work of Grad echoes the sentiment of quantum physicist, Albert Einstein that all life is connected and therefore we need to be mindful and compassionate towards all living beings. And on that note, I look forward to the mental and energetic shift that results from this 40-day meditation challenge.

Thank you Benshen