What if you knew that there’s an activity (so to say) that has a miraculous impact on your well being. That changes the way your brain functions for the better, makes you more resilient and more capable of dealing with your emotions? That is suitable for everyone and costs…. nothing? I’m pretty sure you already know what it is. But the real question is do you do it? Do you meditate regularly?
This article comes as a sort of a bridge between what I have been doing professionally for over 10 years now and the fact that I myself have been meditating with a certain regularity for almost as many years.
I see many people starting to feel better in so many ways – gaining self-awareness and consciousness. They sleep better, breathe better and even look better. That might come as a surprise;) But there’s more – as you will see later on in the article. Please remember though – if you’re suffering from depression or other mental health condition – consult your psychotherapist or psychiatrist before starting with meditation.
“The mind is the last unexplored continent on Earth. It contains riches beyond our wildest dreams.” Earl Nightingale
People have been practising meditation within and outside religions for thousands of years now. This is actually one of the common denominators for all the main monotheistic religions and various philosophies out there. Buddhists do it, Jews do it, Christians do it, Muslims do it too. To name just a few.
We care a lot about our cars, about our careers, but do we really take good care of ourselves? I don’t mean buying new stuff, going to the hairdresser, but I mean taking care of our engine – the brain.
The truth is we are so distracted it might be difficult for us to actually be here and now. We’re so BUSY. “Busy” is this glorified name for all the craziness in our lives. It’s not helpful to watch everyone around us as busy as we are. But it helps to know it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.
The study from Harvard says that we are lost in our thoughts over 47% of the time. That’s astounding if you think about it. Could very well be that half of our life we’re not even here!
So what is meditation?
Thousands and thousands of pages have been already written on the subject. One thing is certain – it is time FOR YOU. No matter if it’s 5 or 30 minutes, if you recite a mantra or just sit facing the wall – it’s time for you to stop what you’re doing and just BE. And breathe. And clean your head. And it does happen just like that.
One of the best definitions of meditation is by Jon Kabat-Zinn – the author of the title of this article –
“Meditation is complete, unbiased attention to the current moment.”
Neuroscientists have been researching the brain and its response to mediation from the second half of the XX century. Our brains are literally ’the engines’ of our bodies. No matter if we’re active, asleep or resting – we always have some level of electrical activity in our brain. It’s been discovered that when we meditate there’s more of the lower frequency waves active – Alpha and Theta. We associate the Alpha waves with the feelings of relaxation, while Theta waves are found during daydream or our falling asleep.
And this is just at the moment of mediation. But there are long-term effects as well. Even though we’re learning more and more every day, we still don’t know a lot. I will not bore you with more details on the brain waves and activation of certain regions of the brain. If you’re interested in details how the brain reacts to meditation – there’s plenty of research for you to dig into:)
What I will do though – I’ll share here the list of the
proven benefits of meditation
in case you’re thinking of starting:)
- reduces stress and anxiety
- increases self-awareness
- enhances memory
- lengthens our attention span
- improves sleep quality
- reduces/controls pain
all the different ‘how to’s’
There’s no one way of doing it right. It’s up to you do decide what position suits you, what time of day is good for you. Do it however you like, however long you like, just do it often and on a regular basis. Best – every day. When you start you’ll see it gets into your daily ritual easily. Remember meditation is a skill. One that you can master by everyday practice.
A short introduction, just to point you in one of the directions, but again – you can choose whatever setting you like.
- make sure you’ve found yourself a comfortable place. One you can go to where nobody will disturb you,
- turn off the sound and vibration of your phone – or switch it to plane mode
- you experience your thoughts but they just come and go without our involvement
- you don’t need to sit cross-legged, you don’t have to face the wall, or burnt incense or listen to any music or mantra
- all you have to be is be in the here and now:
- assume a comfortable position. Whether it’s sitting in a zen-like position, or on your chair, lying down (watch out though – this one is really known for putting you to sleep;). If you’re sitting you may want to join your hands – in a ‘cosmic mudra’ – right hand over the left hand, thumbs touching each other around in the area around the belly button.
- do not close your eyes completely – you can pick a point a meter or so in front of you and turn your eyes in this direction – eyelids half-lowered
- do not forget to breathe, and try to do it as naturally, It actually may help especially if you’re a beginner – if you count your breaths. 1 to 10 or backwards. Additionally, it’ll keep you in the present.
- the point is not to think about anything deliberately. Do not plan your dinner, or go over a recent fight again and again. If those thoughts appear just notice them with a curious mind but stay focused on your breath and your counting. If you don’t entertain the thought, if you don’t go into detail, it will go away.
- it doesn’t matter how long you’re practising. You can meditate for 5 minutes a day, you can go for half an hour. You’ll know as you go what feels good to you.
Is there anything you need to start?
That’s the beauty of the whole process. You don’t need absolutely anything to meditate – just you and your head are plenty enough;) But if you really want to there are certain apps that may help you start. Both are available for iOS and Android.
It turns out they are a great help to a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise start.
Let me know about you:) Do you meditate? Are you new to meditation? Let’s talk:)