When I think of meditation, my mind immediately goes to a monk sitting with his legs crossed, palms facing the sky, trying to reach an internal state of peace and enlightenment. OMMMMMM. Weird chants and sitting in silence for hours….Is this really what meditation is all about?
What about the normal everyday person who is running out of the house with coffee in hand and trying to make it to work on time? I mean, when is there time to sit quietly and just let your mind go blank? Then again, I’ve read that many successful and happy people practice meditation and rave about the benefits. I love the way Ellen and Dr Oz explain it.
“It feels good. Kinda like when you have to shut your computer down, just sometimes when it goes crazy, you just shut it down and when you turn it on, it’s okay again. That’s what meditation is to me.”
“It’s like, imagine the ripples on top of an ocean. And I’m in a rowboat, reactively dealing with the waves and water coming into my boat. What I need to do is dive into the deeper solace, the calmness beneath the surface.”
I was definitely intrigued and very interested in learning more, so I began researching. If you’re not familiar with the many benefits on your mind and body, all I can say is-Mind Blown. There are SO many amazing benefits! I had no idea.
∇∇ BENEFITS OF MEDITATION ∇∇
Lessen your cortisol levels and build your resilience to stress.
Neurologists have found those who meditate have less of the stress hormone cortisol. So amazing. And a study from Harvard Medical School found that, after practicing yoga and meditation, the participants had improved mitochondrial energy production, consumption and resiliency, which leads to a higher immunity and resilience to stress.
Increase Brain Function
Learning, memory, regulating emotions, & sense of self
A group of Harvard neuroscientists studied 16 people who underwent an 8 week course on mindful and meditation techniques. Their MRI’s showed that meditation actually increased the grey matter in their brains that is involved in learning and memory, regulating emotions, sense of self, and having perspective. Crazy!
Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., and neuroscientist has found that experienced meditators produce more gamma brain waves. Gamma waves are associated with intense, clear thinking and heightened cooperation between various parts of the brain. So basically, meditation is like exercise for your brain and keeps it healthy.
Build a stronger resistance to illness.
Meditators have shown reduced anxiety and stronger immune function after just 2 months of meditation. Some produced twenty five more antibodies in response to the flu virus.
Change the negative thought patterns.
Depressed people treated with meditation are 50% less likely to relapse than people without meditation, according to a study by Zindel Segal, Ph.D., of the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Meditation helps retrain the mind to derail negative thinking patterns. He explains: “Thinking the same thought over and over cuts a track in your mind, making it easier to think the same way in the future.” In other words, if someone is prone to self-critical and/or self defeating thoughts, her neurons get used to firing along those pathways, and those thoughts become a habit that gets harder and harder to break. “Meditation provides a technique for retraining our reactions to certain situations,” Dr. Segal says. “It gives us a way to change.”
Be more mindful about what, how and when you eat.
Meditation teaches you to be mindful and in the moment. For people who are emotional eaters or who eat an entire meal without really tasting it, these skills will help them to be mindful about what and how they eat.
Increase your attention and sensory perception.
Meditation prevents and reverses the effects of aging on the brain. Those who meditate regularly are shown to have thicker pre-frontal cortexes, which is responsible for attention and sensory perception. People who meditated daily for at least four years had longer telomeres—the protective caps on the ends of chromosomes—than people who do not meditate. Short telomeres are believed to be markers of accelerated aging, according to the study’s lead author, Elizabeth A. Hoge, MD, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Insane!
I’m in! How could you not be after hearing all these positive benefits that are scientifically proven? I feel like, what could the harm be in trying? Of course, those lil doubts creep up in my head and I do question,
Will it “work” for me?
Will I be able to quiet my mind?
The benefits are just too tempting. I’m starting a 31 day challenge on May 1st. It takes 21 days to form a habit, so I’m hoping this will stick! I’ll be starting small with just 10 minutes twice a day for the first week and then gradually moving my way up to 20 minutes twice a day. I’m also researching some meditation classes to take in Chicago. Join me in the challenge, would love to hear about your progress!
I’ll keep you posted on my journey. xx