Mindfulness Day

Mindfulness Day is celebrated annually on September 12. It was created by Wisdom Publications in 2011 to raise awareness  about the profound value and benefit of mindfulness. Mindfulnessis the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment and can be developed through the practice of meditation and other training. The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, which is a significant element of Buddhist traditions. In Buddhist teachings, mindfulness is utilized to develop self-knowledge and wisdom that gradually lead to what is described as enlightenment or the complete freedom from suffering. The recent popularity of mindfulness in the West is generally considered to have been initiated by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Research studies have indicated that the practice of mindfulness is strongly correlated with greater well-being and perceived health. Studies have also shown that rumination and worry contribute to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in the reduction of both rumination and worry.

Clinical psychology and psychiatry have developed a number of therapeutic applications based on mindfulness which can help alleviate the symptoms of a variety of psychological conditions Such as depression, reducing stress or anxiety Mindfulness can help in the treatment of drug addiction, mindfulness also appears to provide numerous therapeutic benefits to people with psychosis, and may also be a preventive strategy to halt the development of mental health problems. Clinical studies have documented both physical and mental health benefits of mindfulness in patients and healthy people. Programs based on Kabat-Zinn’s have been widely adopted in schools, prisons, hospitals, veterans’ centers, and other environments, and mindfulness programs can assist healthy aging, weight management, athletic performance, children with special needs, perinatal periods. The necessity for more high-quality research in this field has also been identified – such as the need for more randomized controlled studies, for providing more methodological details in reported studies and for the use of larger sample sizes.

Mindfulness meditation involves the process of developing the skill of bringing one’s attention to whatever is happening in the present moment. There are several meditation exercises designed to develop mindfulness meditation. One method is to sit on a straight-backed chair or sit cross-legged on the floor or a cushion, close one’s eyes and bring attention to either the sensations of breathing in the proximity of one’s nostrils or to the movements of the abdomen when breathing in and out. In this meditation practice, one does not try to control one’s breathing, but attempts to simply be aware of one’s natural breathing process/rhythm. When engaged in this practice, the mind will often run off to other thoughts and associations, and if this happens, one passively notices that the mind has wandered, and in an accepting, non-judgmental way, returns to focusing on breathing.

Other meditation exercises to develop mindfulness include body-scan meditation where attention is directed at various areas of the body and noting present body sensations. Engaging in yoga practices, while attending to movements and body sensations, as well as walking meditation are other methods of developing mindfulness. One could also focus on sounds, sensations, thoughts, feelings and actions that happen in the present. Meditators start with short periods of 10 minutes or so of meditation practice per day. As one practices regularly, it becomes easier to keep the attention focused on breathing.

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Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy, Mötorhead)

best known as a member of Thin Lizzy and Motörhead, the Scottish rock guitarist Brian David Robertson was born 12 February 1956 in Clarkston, Renfrewshire (now part of East Renfrewshire), where he was educated, attending Eastwood High School and became a musician. He studied cello and classical piano for eight years before switching to the guitar and drums. He played in gigs around his local area with bands like Dream Police, who later evolved into the Average White Band. Robertson was significantly influenced by earlier blues guitarists. Robertson’s influences include Freddie King, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and Peter Green. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons is also mentioned as a later influence.

In June 1974, Thin Lizzy were auditioning for two new guitarists and a try-out for Robertson was arranged. Aged 18, Robertson was taken on along with Scott Gorham on the other lead guitar. The two lead guitarists provided a critical part of Thin Lizzy’s signature sound, referred to by critics as their “twin guitar attack”. During his time in the band, Robertson was a contributing member to five studio albums released by Thin Lizzy: Nightlife (1974), Fighting (1975), Jailbreak (1976), Johnny the Fox (1976), Bad Reputation (1977) and a live album Live and Dangerous (1978).

Most of Thin Lizzy’s material,was written by frontman bassist/lead vocalist Phil Lynott, however Robertson contributed a substantial share of songwriting for the band, sometimes collaborating with Lynott and the band. Nightlife and Bad Reputation were the only records that did not feature his songwriting and he performed only on selected tracks from the latter album. In Thin Lizzy, the unique twin harmony lead guitar sound instigated by Robertson and Gorham, contributed much to the distinctive sound of the band and influenced subsequent bands such as, Iron Maiden, Metallica, The Darkness and Velvet Revolver. Robertson’s pioneering, unconventional use of the wah-wah pedal as an extension of the instrument during soloing rather than as a purely rhythmic effect provided a boost to the band as well.

Robertson’s young age, however, proved a hindrance to the band, as he struggled to deal with Lizzy’s newfound fame after the release of the hit single “The Boys Are Back in Town” and the accompanying Jailbreak LP. Sadly He began drinking heavily in 1976. Until Eventually Robertson got fired from Thin Lizzy after he and Frankie Miller got involved in a fight the Speakeasy Club in London where Robertson was badly injured while protecting Miller from getting bottled The bottle cut straight into Robertson’s hand, injuring him badly causing Thin Lizzy to postpone the American tour. Lynott subsequently replaced Robertson with Gary Moore, whom he had replaced in 1974, for a tour supporting Queen.

While Robertson recuperated from his injury, Lizzy flew to Toronto in May 1977 to record the Bad Reputation album with American producer Tony Visconti, with Gorham ostensibly taking all of the guitar parts. However, at Gorham’s insistence, Lynott allowed Robertson to rejoin the band that June as a guest in Toronto. Gorham had left the songs “Opium Trail” and “Killer Without a Cause” without solos so that Robertson could contribute; the two also played lead together on one song, “That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart. Robertson was fully reinstated for the remainder of 1977 and into 1978, during the recording of thelive double LP “Live and Dangerous”. Robertson finally left the band for good in 1978, due to his drink habits once again spiraling out of control, as well as irreconcilable differences with Lynott, and was again replaced by Gary Moore.

Robertson formed Wild Horses along with Rainbow bassist Jimmy Bain in 1977, while recovering from his injury. After his final exit from Thin Lizzy in 1978, he returned to the band. Achieving only partial success in the UK, the band split up after releasing two albums, Wild Horses (1980) and Stand Your Ground (1981). In 1980 Robertson was featured on the Eric Burdon album Darkness Darkness. Robertson appeared for one performance of Thin Lizzy’s final tour in 1983, alongside other former guitarists. He was featured on the recording of the tour, Life, appearing on the songs “Emerald” and “The Rocker.” In 1986 he recorded a cover of “Still in Love with You” as a tribute to Phil Lynott, appearing alongside Bobby Tench.

Robertson joined Motörhead in May 1982, replacing “Fast” Eddie Clarke as the band’s lead guitarist. He recorded the band’s 1983 King Biscuit Flower Hour sessions, remaining to record the album Another Perfect Day, his only studio album with the group. His last appearance with Motörhead was at the Metropol in Berlin, on 11 November 1983. After leaving Motörhead, Robertson joined Gary Barden’s band Statetrooper. In 1992 Robertson appeared with the band Skyclad at the Dynamo Open Air Festival, in Eindhoven, Netherlands. In 2004 he also made a guest appearance with the band Ash at the Oxegen music festival in Ireland, playing guitar on their version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town”. He was reunited with Lizzy band mates in August 2005 for a tribute show in memory of Phil Lynott, in a line fronted by Gary Moore. Robertson and Moore appeared with Brian Downey, Scott Gorham, Eric Bell and Jethro Tull bassist Jonathan Noyce. In 2008 Robertson returned to the studio to work on new material. He also made a guest appearances on The Bitter Twins 2009 debut album Global Panic!

His first solo album Diamonds and Dirt, was released 2011 and features Ian Haugland of the band Europe, Nalle Pahlsson from Treat, Leif Sundin from MSG and Liny Wood, was recorded in Stockholm at Polar Studios and features thirteen songs, written by Robertson and others including Phil Lynott, Frankie Miller and Jim White

Neil Peart (Rush)

Neil Peart the drummer, percussionist and lyricist with Canadian rock band Rush, was born September 12 1952. Rush were formed in August 1968, in the Willowdale neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario. The band is composed of bassist, keyboardist, and lead vocalist Geddy Lee, guitarist and backing vocalist Alex Lifeson, and drummer, percussionist and lyricist Neil Peart. The band and its membership went through a number of re-configurations between 1968 and 1974, Neil Peart replaced original drummer John Rutsey in July 1974, two weeks before the group’s first United States tour, during which they played Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, which also became Rush s very first radio broadcast and the concert is featured on the Album “ABC 1974″.

Since The release of the band’s self-titled debut album ABC 1974 in March 1974, Rush have released many great albums inluding Moving Picture, Fly by Night, 2112 , Hemispheres, Presto, Signals, The Wreckers, Test for Echo, Vapour Trails, Farewell to Kings, Caress of Steel, Hold your Fire, Snakes and Arrows and Clockwork Angels. They have become known for their musicianship, complex compositions, and eclectic lyrical motifs drawing heavily on science fiction, fantasy, and philosophy. Rush’s music style has changed over the years, beginning with blues-inspired heavy metal on their first album, then encompassing hard rock, progressive rock, and a period with heavy use of synthesizers. They have been cited as an influence by various musical artists, including Metallica Primus, and The Smashing Pumpkins, as well as progressive metal bands such as Dream Theater and Symphony X.

Rush have also won a number of Juno Awards, and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994. Over their careers, the members of Rush have been acknowledged as some of the most proficient players on their respective instruments, with each band member winning numerous awards in magazine readers’ polls. As a group, Rush possesses 24 gold records and 14 platinum (3 multi-platinum) records. Rush’s sales statistics place them third behind The Beatles and The Rolling Stones for the most consecutive gold or platinum studio albums by a rock band. Rush also ranks 79th in U.S. album sales, with 25 million units. Although total worldwide album sales are not calculated by any single entity, as of 2004 several industry sources estimated Rush’s total worldwide album sales at over 40 million units.They released their latest studio album, Clockwork Angels In 2012. It was first album in five years since, 2007’s “SNAKES & ARROWS.” and is the band’s 20th studio album.

Stanislaw Lem

Described as the most widely read science fiction writer in the world, Polish author Stanislaw Lem was Born September 12 1921 in Lwow, Poland (Which is now Ukraine), During World War II, Lem, due to being a Polish citizen with Jewish ancestry, had to survive using fake papers, and worked as a car mechanic and welder. After the war he relocated to Krakow, where he studied medicine.

In 1946, Shortly after the war , a selection of Lem’s poetry, was first published as well as a series of US popular fiction ‘dime novels’. In that same year, Lem’s first science fiction work, Czlowiek z Marsa (The Man from Mars), was also serialised in the magazine Nowy Swiat Przygód (New World of Adventures). His first novel, Astronauci (The Astronauts) was written in 1951, during the Stalinist era, and he was forced to include many references to the “glorious future of communism” in order for his published work to be approved by the Communist authorities, later in 1961 he published the novel Solaris, which focuses on the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. Since then, this novel has been made into a feature film three time, most recently in 2002 starring George Clooney. Many of His novels featured elaborate word formation, humour, puns and alien/human interaction

In 1973, he was made an honorary member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, despite being technically ineligible and openly critical of American science fiction, and in 1974 His novel The Cyberiad was first published in English. It featured a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe inhabited by robots. Particularly the exploits of two constructor robots named Trurl and Klaupacius, who try to out-invent each other, and travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, however this ends up having dire consequences for their employers. The Cyberiad also featured many wierd and wonderful Illustrations by Polish artist Daniel Mroz and led to Lem being internationally recognised for his literary work. In 1996, Lem was made a Knight of the Order of the White Eagle, Poland’s highest decoration award for both civilians and the military. So far I’ve read The Star Diaries and the Cyberiad.

Stanislaw Lem Sadly passed away on March 27, 2006 , at the age of 84, in Krakow, Poland, however He has sold over 27 million copies of his popular science fiction books, which have also been translated into 41 different languages and remain popular.