What does sitting around silently have to do with your well being?
From the medical community to the yoga community, the verdict is out: meditating is good for you! Recent studies from Harvard University found that long-term meditators have increased amounts of gray matter in the insula, sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex. Seriously? Yes, seriously. Basically, Harvard has confirmed what yogis have been teaching for thousands of years, that meditation reduces stress, fosters clearer thinking, and increases capacity for empathy and compassion.
Talking about meditation is the easy part of course but actually creating the space in your day requires a bit of planning. However, when in need of a push to get started (or continue) with your meditation practice, understanding the array of physical, mental, and emotional benefits can be a convincing reminder of why meditation is important. I believe once you learn how to meditate and make it a daily habit, you will experience the benefits for yourself. You will wonder how you ever existed without your daily ritual of relaxation! Mediation is and remains a very important part of my own personal life. Whether you’re a beginner (brand new) or a seasoned practitioner (old school), check out the range of benefits that regularly practicing meditation offers.
When meditating, the body undergoes a structural change, which demonstrates the profound impact of simply sitting down with eyes closed. In fact, MRI images show a complete change in the brain’s different departments, which results in a relaxation response in the rest of the body.
When meditating, beta waves, which indicate a state where information is being processed, decrease, and are replaced by alpha waves, which are associated with total brain coherence. The frontal and parietal lobes, which deal with reasoning, planning, and processing sensory information, slow down. Without incoming stimuli, the nervous system is able to rest, resulting in relaxation and improved functions in the entire body.
Meditation on a physical level:
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Lowers the levels of blood lactate, reducing anxiety attacks
- Decreases tension-related pain, such as, tension headaches, ulcers, insomnia, muscle and joint problems
- Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
- Improves the immune system
- Increases the energy level
As mentioned before, meditation brings the brainwave patterns into an relaxed alpha state, that relaxes the body as well as the mind. Without constant stimuli entering the sensory pathways, the mind is able to relax and enter a state of deep rest. Meditation is also a practice of self-care, that allows for a connection with the inner self. In doing so, self-esteem increases and the ability to make decisions that align with the individual’s authentic feelings and desires, and allow for better self-regulation. With regular practice of meditation the following happens:
- Anxiety decreases
- Emotional stability improves
- Creativity increases
- Happiness increases
- Intuition develops
- Gain clarity and peace of mind
- Problems become smaller
- Meditation sharpens the mind by increasing focus and expands through relaxation
- A sharp mind without expansion causes tension, anger and frustration
- An expanded consciousness without sharpness can lead to lack of action / progress
- The balance of a sharp mind and an expanded consciousness brings perfection
- Emotional steadiness and harmony
- Meditation relaxes the entire brain, including the amygdala, which is the emotional center of the brain.
- Meditation brings harmony in creation
- When you meditate, you enter a space of internal expansiveness, calm, and joy. The result is feelings of expansiveness, calm, and joy, which has an effect on our interactions with others and the world around us.
- Personal Transformations can and do happen. Meditation can bring about a true personal transformation from the inside out. As you experience your inner peace and security, you will naturally begin to discover other aspects of yourself that were previously hidden due to stress.
While there is no doubt that you will feel the benefits of meditation after just one session, but in order to experience an integration of the benefits of meditation into daily life, regular practice is necessary. It takes only a few minutes every day, and once made a part of the daily routine, meditation will become the best part of your day! Start with just a few minutes (at least five).
Think of meditation as a form of learning to walk. Babies don’t come into the world doing the Ballroom dance! They learn to move slowly, first bobbling their head to strengthen their neck muscles. Then they start to sit up slowly, learning more control, crawling comes next, eventually they learn to stand, learning balance, soon they take small steps and long before you know it, they are walking, jogging and even running!
The same goes for meditation-once you get into the habit and experience all of the mental clarity, emotional stability, physical relaxation that the practice offers, not practicing meditation will seem unimaginable! Yes, it does take practice. Meditation is learned through practice, practice, practice. Did I say practice? There’s no right or wrong way of practicing it either. Most people’s mind wanders and thats normal. But eventually, you will get so good at quieting the chitter-chatter in your head all on your own! The benefits will not only show in you but others will notice the changes in you too.
The busier we get, the more important meditation becomes.