Give Me A Break! The Benefits of Meditation8 comments
Meditation in some form has been practiced all over the world for thousands of years, whether it be prayer, mantras, art, singing, shamanic journeying, walking or even fishing. This might surprise some who picture monks sitting, legs crossed, on the floor in a trance all day. This image of meditation can be intimidating especially for beginners who then think, “This is not for me!” without even trying.
That is the thing, meditation is for everybody. And the benefits of meditation are numerous. Anyone can do it, it is not expensive and it can be done anywhere. It is actually simple and easy to do: You can focus on your breath, stare at a candle, walk, listen to music or even clean your house while meditating. In fact, some cultures perform all their tasks this way- with breath and full awareness.
When I was starting out, I found it easiest to follow verbal prompts (i.e., listen to a practitioner guide me through the meditation). It was something my mind could grab and stay focused on without trailing off back into my day’s to-do list. I started off with short meditations so I wasn’t overwhelmed and once I could see the benefits, I graduated longer time. Many people worry if they are doing it right. But even a few moments of breathing with awareness has benefits. And there is no wrong way to do it. There may be deeper or more advanced ways, but no wrong way. (Isn’t that great?)
Modern research gives testimony to meditation’s preferred effects on stress, tension, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, depression, insomnia, eating disorders, psychosis as well as physical pain and other ailments. Besides the contexts in our lives that cause these problems in the first place, the stress about them causes an inner context of self judgment and a loud voice of self criticism. Often this inner context exponentially increases the original problem. See Globs of Self Judgment and Worry Globs, Too.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has us going within, escaping from the predicament for a moment, suspending judgment of ourselves in order to find a place of peace. From this place, we often see our problems differently and understand new ways to move forward in our situation. It is in this state of peace, that we become aware that we are bigger than our current situations and more powerful than we realized. This has positive effects on our moods, our behavior, the way we see ourselves and the world around us. In meditation, we often feel less alone since we can feel a sense of connection to all around us. This peace is available to us all the time in every moment, just as close as our next breath.
“Alone—in moments of prayer or meditation, or simply in stillness—we breathe more deeply, see more fully, hear more keenly. We notice more, and in the process, we return to what is sacred.”— Katrina Kenison
Check out these research findings…
“A study by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2005 showed that a group practicing meditation for about 40 minutes a day had measurably thicker tissue in the left prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain important for cognitive emotional processing and well-being.”
“Researchers at UCLA Laboratory of Neuro-Imaging compared the brains of experienced meditators with those of a control group of nonmeditators. They found that the meditators’ brains contained more gray matter — the tissue responsible for high-level information processing — than those of the nonmeditators, especially in the areas associated with attention, body awareness and the ability to modulate emotional responses.”
“In a study published in 2010, a team of neuroscientists scanned the brains of volunteers before and after they received eight weeks of training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), a type of meditation. The new meditators showed measurable changes in two important brain areas — growth in the hippocampus, a part of the brain involved in memory and learning, and shrinkage in the amygdala, a portion of the brain that initiates the body’s response to stress.”
Source: Sharon Salzberg. Sharon Salzberg is cofounder of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts and the author of Real Happiness: The Power of Mediation
Jodi Aman / /