The average person may not look much different on the outside when they meditate, but brain imaging techniques show that this ancient practice can profoundly affect how your mind works. It shows that regular meditation changes your brain to communicate with other parts of your body and can help you deal better with stress, anxiety, and depression and improve your memory and concentration.
It can also increase the flow of gamma waves, which are the fastest brainwaves that help you process information. These are the same waves that occur when you solve a problem, have a “lightbulb” moment, or are very alert. Researchers have found that long-term meditators produce these waves more often than people who don’t meditate.
Another benefit is the ability to focus, even if your thoughts wander. While some forms of meditation involve concentrating on something you can see, such as your breath or a word or phrase, you can also practice a kind of visualization meditation that involves focusing your attention on a picture, such as a landscape or a seascape.
A recent study showed that people who meditate regularly have lower levels of a chemical marker in their blood associated with inflammation and are more likely to respond calmly and effectively to stressful situations. In addition, the part of their brain associated with emotions (the amygdala) appears to shrink.
A 2013 study suggested that a two-week training course in mindfulness meditation can decrease your tendency to distract yourself and improve your focus. The brain scans of the participants showed that the ventral posteromedial cortex, a region that processes sensory information about your surroundings and helps you orient yourself in time and space slows down.
In the corporate world, employees who feel good about themselves and their jobs perform better. Meditation is a simple and accessible tool for improving mental health in the workplace, leading to heightened performance levels and better relationships with co-workers.
Meditation can help with work stress and improve sleep patterns, which are both essential for productivity. Workers cannot operate at their peak when they are feeling groggy and irritable, which is often the result of not getting enough rest. Meditation can also help with concentration, as it trains the mind to be more focused on one task at a time and improves memory recollection – essential for meeting and exceeding goals in the workplace.
A meditation practice can be as simple as sitting in a quiet place for a few minutes, closing the eyes, and focusing on breathing. Meditation has roots in ancient philosophies and several world religions, but there are no specific beliefs required to meditate. It is simply a way to train the mind and develop a healthier sense of perspective. Research shows that meditation has measurable physical changes to the brain and it can help reduce stress, improve self-esteem, and boost cognitive thinking.
To get the most out of a meditation program, it’s best to start small and increase frequency over time. It is also helpful to create a routine around meditating so that it becomes a part of the day. Some people like to add music to their sessions, as this can help calm the body and inspire focus.
Thoughts are a natural part of the mind that yield balance, enhanced creativity, stability, and peace of mind. However, negative thoughts tend to be far more prevalent than positive ones. Purging negative thoughts is a practice that requires practice and patience. Negative thoughts can be a major distraction for most people trying to meditate. Negative thinking is a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break free of.
First and foremost, try to remember that it’s normal for your mind to race during meditation. You may feel like you’re failing if your thoughts aren’t “clean,” but you should be patient and compassionate with yourself. The goal is to retrain the brain, not achieve some transitory moment of calm.
You might also find it helpful to write your thoughts down on a piece of paper before you start your meditation. It helps you detach from the thoughts and see them as simply observations instead of identifying with them. It’s also a great way to practice letting go of unreal psychological fears, which are a big part of why negative thoughts come up in the first place.
In time, you will learn to let go of the compulsion to banish your thoughts, and this is when true meditation happens. It’s similar to the feeling of getting a splinter that has been digging in for weeks finally coming out on its own. It’s a bittersweet moment, but one that is worth the effort!
In this time of a pandemic, rising prices for everything from gas to groceries, and domestic and global political strife, anxiety levels are sky-high. It’s no surprise that millions of people are seeking ways to reduce stress and improve their quality of life.
One way that many find relief is through meditation, a practice as old as humanity itself. Meditation involves sitting and focusing on something like the breath, a mantra, or a visual object. It allows the mind to be clear of all perplexed thoughts and feelings, and it can lead to a greater sense of clarity. It, in turn, can help solve problems.
When you meditate, you’ll be able to approach any problem with a more clear-headed perspective. You’ll be able to see the problem from different angles and come up with a solution that’s best for you.They found that meditating helps you stay in the moment and not get overwhelmed by things going on around you. It is important because you’ll be able to handle problems and situations with ease and confidence.
Plus, if you’re dealing with physical or emotional pain, meditation can help alleviate it. When you feel uncomfortable or painful, instead of trying to get rid of it or ignore it, simply be present with the sensations in the body and notice how they change as your focus shifts. Practicing this kind of presence will increase your pain threshold, as well as reduce the perception of pain in the brain.
Meditation has roots in ancient philosophies and several world religions, but these days it’s most often seen as a secular activity like yoga or Pilates. It may seem mystical to people not involved in the practice, but modern diagnostic and imaging techniques like EEG and fMRI scans reveal that meditation has concrete effects on your brain and mental health.
One of the most important things that meditation does is decrease your blood pressure, which can help ward off heart disease and other ailments. But even more importantly, meditation also helps your body and mind respond differently to pain and stress. A study that put meditators through an MRI while researchers alternately applied heat to their calves found that, after learning meditation, those people were able to shut down the part of the brain that makes you feel pain and focus on other areas instead.
Other studies have shown that long-term meditators experience a boost in the density of certain regions of the brain, including the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for more complicated thought processes like introspection and abstract thinking. They’ve also been shown to have a thicker hippocampus, which affects memory. And they’ve been shown to have larger parts of the prefrontal cortex, which is linked to perspective-taking and empathy.
Davidson says that these kinds of findings are to be expected because similar changes in brain structure occur when people learn new skills, like playing a musical instrument. But it’s a reminder that meditation isn’t something you can pick up and drop off; it takes years of practice to reap the rewards.
Many people who are new to meditation make some common mistakes that derail their progress or even cause them to give up altogether. If you can avoid these mistakes, you can save yourself a lot of time and pain and start reaping the benefits more quickly.
Whether you’re doing a guided or unguided meditation, if you don’t take the proper preparations before you meditate, your experience will be less productive than it could have been. For example, if you sit in the wrong position or your cushion is too hard, you will struggle to focus and will not get the full benefits of the practice.
Another thing to avoid is getting distracted right after you come out of your meditation. It is important to take a few minutes to slowly transition out of the experience by reading, writing, walking in nature, journaling, or simply sitting quietly for a while. Doing this helps to reinforce the connection between your mind and your true, calm self.
You should also avoid over-analyzing your meditation after you come out of it. It is more useful to congratulate yourself for taking the time to meditate than to scold yourself for not concentrating or feeling calm. Keeping a positive attitude will help you stick with your practice and see it through to its full potential.
Once you’ve become established in regular meditation practice, your happiness will begin to flow from inside instead of from outside sources like relationships, money, or accomplishments. It will help you become more patient and resilient when dealing with things like canceled plans, insensitive friends, or rude customer service reps.
Sri Yogi Anand is an ordained Yogi, Yoga, Mindfulness, Meditation and Spiritual Master. He is a Software engineer, musician, writer, orator, and founder of Adwait Yoga School.
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