How do you view meditation?
When you think of meditation, what comes to mind? Sitting in the lotus position in a secluded natural part of the world? Although that’s wonderful – it’s not always practical. And for some, sitting in the lotus position seems an uncomfortable task. This stereotypical image of meditation can be a deterrent for some.
This is no longer some esoteric practice that requires you to disconnect from the world. At EH&W, we have modernised this to fit in with our current lifestyles. Escaping to a quieter, more peaceful part of the world isn’t necessary to achieve a blissful mind – that can be achieved quite easily from the comfort of your sofa – and anyway, if you have an over-thinking mind, changing the landscape won’t matter, it’s the re-training of the brain that is required, regardless of where you are.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is simply the act of focusing one’s attention on a specific thought. This can be in the form of guided meditation, creative visualisation or just allowing the mind to ponder upon a specific thought like mindful breathing. Through the art of meditation, you are able to train the mind to develop more positive and helpful thought patterns and in this way, unhelpful thought patterns like worry, fear, stress and overthinking begin to gradually fade.
Like a phone needs to be charged daily, sometimes more than once a day, so do we. We use our minds constantly and so we need to make sure that the mind is doing its job effectively. Mediation allows you to do just that. Through the daily practice of mediation, we are re-charging ourselves.
Why should I meditate?
Do you ever find yourself feeling worried and anxious? Unable to cope with certain situations? Always thinking about the ‘what ifs’? Feeling stressed and anxious? Unable to move away from negative self-talk? That’s because we have subconsciously conditioned the mind to behave this way by repeating these thought patterns. Here’s the scientific explanation:
The brain consists of billions of neurons (brain cells). When we repeat a behaviour or thought pattern, the neurons begin to make connections. As these thought patterns are repeated the connections between the neurons become strengthened. In this way, we are able to repeat these thoughts patterns very easily. Let’s take the stress. When we repeatedly repeat and feel stressful thoughts, those connections become strengthened in the brain. Thus, feeling stressed becomes an automated response.
When you meditate, you are in essence retraining the brain by creating new neural connections of calm, awareness and tranquillity. As meditation practise become established, these neural pathways become strengthened and thus remaining calm, more tranquil and stress-free becomes a more automated mindset. The amygdala, which is responsible for stress, anxiety and fear decreases in size. Meditating literally changes the brain.
What happens when you meditate?
When you first begin to meditate, you may notice that you are slightly fidgety and that your mind wanders as you are not used to quietening the mind. That’s quite normal. Allow this to happen non-judgmentally. Don’t let that deter you or tell yourself that meditation isn’t for you. You may need to practise meditation a few times before you begin to relax into it.
As you practice meditation regularly, you find you are able to focus more and your mind becomes less distracted. What you will definitely feel is more mentally relaxed and at peace.
What are the benefits of meditating?
Numerous scientific studies have validated the beneficial effects of meditation. These include:
- Feeling mentally Relaxed and Recharged
- Cultivates a sense of Calmness
- Reduces levels of Stress and Anxiety
- Reduces overthinking (Monkey Mind)
- Fosters Resilience and Creativity
- Helps preserve the ageing brain
- Increases Memory, Focus and Concentration
- Balances Emotions and Improves Motivation levels
- Boosts Productivity; you begin to Work Smarter
- Amplifies Energy Levels
- Deeper, Restful Sleep
- Feel Happier and Healthier
There are so many different meditations, which one should I practise?
When you first start meditating, a guided mediation is a good start. With guided meditation, your thoughts are effortlessly diverted from the overthinking mind to the words spoken in the mediation and you are successfully able to begin to retrain your brain.
How often should I meditate?
Meditation should be practised at least once a day. If you’re feeling particularly stressed then make sure you meditate twice a day. We tend to tell ourselves that we don’t have the time, but when you’re feeling stressed and anxious, everything you do just takes longer. When you are stressed, the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for higher-order thinking and complex decision making literally shuts down. Establishing a meditation practice is very important as it is only when you meditate regularly that you begin to feel the benefits associated with mediation.
The Gratitude Guide workbook and course