The Practice that Changed My Life, and is Continuing to Do So.
The long existing practice of meditation brings uncertainty. In hearing the term meditation, thoughts arise of Buddhist monks sitting in silence, perfectly still, for hours and hours a day. No one really jumps to the idea, “I wonder if meditation is something for me?”
I confidently say most people are uninformed about what meditation is, and how seriously the practice can benefit them.
With this post, I want to dispel some of the discomfort with meditation. As well, I want to give you an opportunity to familiarize yourself with what this beautiful practice is all about.
What is Meditation?
Meditation always proves to be something I have had troubled to define. However, I just finished an excellent introductory book to meditation called, Why Meditate? by Matthieu Ricard.
In his book, Why Meditate?, Ricard states “Meditation is a practice that makes it possible to cultivate and develop certain basic positive human qualities in the same way as other forms of training make it possible to play a musical instrument or acquire any other skill”. Ricard as well lists some of these qualities as “attention, emotional balance, altruism, and inner peace”.
Granted, Ricard provides an awesome description of what meditation is and what the practice can do for YOU.
However, if I had to begin to describe what meditation is for me personally, I would have to consider the practice, something of a rock for me. I have trouble considering meditation just a habit. The practice is a part of who I am, and something I unquestionably do at least once a day. Although for the sake of a webster’s type definition...I’d have to say...
Meditation is a practice of engaging in the changing and developing of one’s mind and how their mind perceives the world around them.
We have this mind, brain, conscious, or whatever you want to call it, and this thing runs the show for who we choose to be and what we choose to do. Our mind determines how we feel, how we act, what we say, and how we see ourselves. Meditation has proven to be the single practice that truly changes every one of these aspects for my life, and it continues to do so…
So… Why do I Meditate? And Why Should You?
I began to meditate daily nearly two years ago...
At first, I did not notice any change, yet I have learned meditation is something that you hold onto for a lifetime. In saying that, I have reflected back on my two years with the practice of meditation. In just two years, which seems such a small fraction of the life I have lived and hope to live, I have noticed such significant change in my being.
I have been able to feel more physically relaxed. Mentally, my ability to gather and collect my thoughts has strongly improved. My focus stays firm for greater extents of time, and generally, I feel a greater sense of clarity within my own thinking. Emotionally, I am less reactive to the world around me, I find myself to be more caring for those close to me, and I am certainly less judgemental to those I have yet to meet.
Wouldn’t you love to possess some greater control over each of these facets of your existence?
Perhaps you would want to dispel your anxiety. Maybe you desire to act with greater intention, or even make sure you say the right things to those you care about, or even those you don’t. Maybe you just want to feel contented with who and what you are. Meditation has helped me personally with each one of these aspects of my life and I know it can do the same for YOU.
So...not sold on the idea of meditation yet? You don’t need to be! I have just gotten started...
Meditation provides some insane benefits and the scientific world continues compiling quite the list. I will list a primary few, short, sweet, and informative benefits of meditation for your consideration towards picking up this practice for yourself.
So...Here’s My Top 5 Benefits For Meditation...
1. Meditation, Awaken Your Mind to CHANGE
A study in the journal Psychological Science, found meditation possesses a sort of unlocking characteristic towards our brain’s ability to change.
Meditation develops the brain’s neuroplasticity. Simply put, meditation develops the brain’s ability to change.
This first principle/benefit is the basis for ALL THE CHANGES I will list after this.
Meditation opens up the floodgates for a world of beautiful changes for your mind, body, and spirit. From here on out, I’ll list some of the most beneficial changes that come filing through once our brain’s neuroplasticity has been kicked into overdrive.
2. Worried About The Health and Vigor of Your Brain?
Take up meditation, and you do not need to worry.
Meditation physically begins to boost your brains growth and function. After building meditation as a habit, frontal lobe activity increases, gray matter becomes denser, and electrical transmission in the brain is put into hyper drive with a thicker cortex.
As well, those with a higher concentration of gray matter in the brain experience the effects of aging on their mind much slower and later than those who possess lower concentrations.
Meditation not only effects your mind in the short term, but the benefits as well begin to pile up further down the road.
3. So How Are You Feeling Today?
~ Meditation vs. Stress ~
A study done at UC Davis found that their participants who practiced mindfulness meditation experienced a lowered level of the NUMBER ONE RELATED STRESS HORMONE, Cortisol.
As well, two feelings we highly associate with stress, which are anxiety and fatigue, were shown to significantly lower with the practice of meditation.
Are you stressed out? Maybe your best plan of action is to take a minute to relax, and get down with some meditation. It’s scientifically proven to help.
4. Meditation Sharpens You Up!
Meditation bridges the gap between the knowledge we possess, and the thoughts we express with concision and clarity when we need to. Those who practice meditation are rewarded with an improved working memory and lessened instances of mind wandering.
I personally found myself to be sharper in conversation the more I progressed with my practice of meditation. In my life, I found less instances of the gap between the knowledge I know I possess and the knowledge I could confidently express into clear thoughts and words.
For decades, scientists have believed the level of intelligence you are born with, you die with.
Now, although IQ tests may be distorted means of determining true human intelligence, Dr. Sigfried Othmer performed a study in which meditators gained a 23% increase on their IQ scores. Regardless of how much you trust an IQ test, there must be a connection between meditation, and boosting intelligence.
5. Meditation’s Work on Your Body! (Beyond Your Brain)
Hate feeling ill? Take into consideration the all natural practice of mindfulness meditation!
Studies have been done that show meditation actually increases the number of antibodies the human body produces.
Meditation helps with a list of conditions you may be suffering from...To list a few...
High Blood Pressure
So! Are we at all convinced yet? You want to begin meditating today?
Well...Let’s Get Started...
It’s vital to start simple and easy.
In building a habit (which is ideally what you would like to do with meditation), you do not want to force yourself into resenting the practice from the start.
With that in mind, grab a timer, and start with a minute, or perhaps two. Whatever you feel you can get through for the next seven days. Then, if you are feeling confident, you can increase your time with the practice. Up it a minute each time you gain confidence with the current time you have given yourself.
Not Sure Exactly How To Meditate? - A Few Posture Pointers For You...
- Posture: Do your best to sit straight up (ideally cross-legged), otherwise you may doze off or be uncomfortable
Eyes: you don’t need to shut your eyes fully, perhaps just lower your gaze, you want to still be present to the world around you, however you want to as well feel relaxed
Breath: preferably breath through your nose (that is where you feel the most sensitivity) - A great way to focus? Pay attention to your breath! Just think in and then out, in and then out when you inhale and exhale, or perhaps you can count your breaths, one (in)...two (out)...one (in)...two (out)...
Finally...thoughts arise...don’t get frustrated! That’s why meditation it is a practice, acknowledge your thought and do your best to let it drift away and move focus back to your breathing.
We live our lives with this conviction that we must accept ourselves for who we are. Of course, nothing is wrong that. However, we must also accept that we have the opportunity to change or develop who we are for the better.
Take a minute or two, that is all you need to get started. That is only one or two minutes out of your entire day. If you can just get started with this beautiful practice of meditation, you are opening up doors to phenomenal change for your brain and how you experience this world.
So how about it?