So many people I know consider meditation as hippy and flowery and don’t really understand it at all. ‘What, closing your eyes and trying not to think of anything for thirty minutes, listening to the softest music with birds and waterfalls in the background…You what?’ I can hear a couple of my male friends say..!
Meditation is an enlightening practice which can change people’s lives for the better and should be part of everyone’s daily lives. We should all take the time to get away from digital screens, tv ads, traffic and general day to day hecticness and take time out to just be at one with ourselves. A little bit of time out each day means you can actually cope with more, much more easily.
The practice of meditation has always been associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation. Yogis have practiced meditation for centuries with the practice originates from Hindu traditions of Vedantism (Hindu philosophy and religious practice) around 1500 BCE. Meditation of course, is not only a religious practice today, it is being used as a way to exercise the brain and mind to help us cope with our fast-paced modern lives.
Well documented for reducing levels of anxiety, stress and depression, meditation can be used as a free, daily tool to totally improve your well-being. By regularly meditating you can decrease activity in your DMN (default mode network) which is the part of our brain which allows our thoughts to wander from one thought to another with no particular aim. Mind-wandering is associated with depression and ruminating over and over again about the past and the future.
You could use meditation to reduce nerves before a meeting or a big presentation. As soon as you close your eyes and start breathing deeply you will see how your body instantly relaxes.
However there is more to meditation than that just relaxation. For years practitioners have claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits which persist throughout the day.
Meditation helps us concentrate, focus better and improves our memory which can assist any of us in our daily lives.
A recent study from a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology reveals that meditation practitioners experienced a thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus.
Meditators who have been meditating daily for an average of 20 years are shown to have more gray matter volume throughout the brain.
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta Hölzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. You can read more about the remarkable study by visiting Harvard.edu.
If you are looking to reduce your stress levels, improve your brain power, feel happier and more in control of your life, then meditation couldn’t be better for you. 20 scientific reasons to start meditating today https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/feeling-it/201309/20-scientific-reasons-start-meditating-today
There are a few apps which help beginners get started with meditation such as Headspace which can be found here: https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/top-meditation-iphone-android-apps#1
Inner Space (a charitable organisation which promotes meditation) is also a brilliant place to start. You can book courses, listen to free talks which get you in the right zone and most imporatntly get you started on your journey into peace and enlightenment. https://www.innerspace.org.uk