To meditate or not is always the question, especially for those wanting to try it but never actually getting around to doing it. Should you be spending 5 minutes sitting still and doing nothing? Does anyone have time for that? How does this help me?
These are all valid questions to have. After all, it’s always good to ask questions to understand how meditation works and how you can make it work for you. Finding your reasons and knowing your goals are ways to find the drive to keep going and stick to what you set out to do.
Meditation is about training ourselves to be more aware and getting a more positive and healthy sense of perspective. Meditation is also not about turning off your feelings or thoughts. It is more about observing them without ridicule or judgment and understanding why you feel a certain way. It helps your wellness and wellbeing.
Learning to meditate is just like learning any other skill you put yourself through. When you learn to meditate, you exercise your mind muscles that you never or rarely worked on before.
How Meditation Allows the Mind to Focus
Consistent meditation disables the distractions we face by filtering it before it starts to bottleneck. Think of this like a river dam that ensures the right amount of water to be released to households, industries, and agriculture. In the same way, meditation filters the less critical data that we are exposed to and sends only the necessary info to our brain. In other words, it helps us determine what information we should focus on and what we do not need to focus on that may cause chronic anxiety.
How Meditation Reduces Cortisol
Researches from Rutgers University and the University of California also conducted research relating to mindfulness meditation and the effects on cortisol. The study shows that consistent meditation reduced cortisol dramatically, with some results showing at least a 50% drop.
Daily meditation for even 3 minutes is effective for the brain. You do not need to be a yogi with years of training to do this. Meditation is like the firefighters you call to extinguish this hormone that brings many diseases that can protect your health and happiness. When you do mindfulness exercises, you create an environment that is 100% inharmonious with anxiety. This mental environment prevents anxiety from manifesting in your mind and brain.
How Meditation Evolves the Brain Beyond Anxiety
A study conducted by Dr. Sara Lazar in 2005 was a landmark study that showed the brains of those who meditated were much thicker and had more folds and surface area in their prefrontal cortexes. This study is used now by various neuroscientific and psychological research as the go-to foundational study for other mental health issues, such as depression. Even for 10 to 15 minutes a day, those who meditate are usually anxiety-free, happy, and healthy. While this is known in anxiety teachings and treatments, it is only now that modern science recognizes the power of meditation in procuring a healthy mind and body.
Meditation Controls Anxiety Through a Mind-Body Connection.
Back in the 1970s, Harvard physician Herbert Benson looked at the patients’ behaviors due to stress-related disorders, such as anxiety. His observation led him to look at ways to counteract this association, simultaneously revolutionizing the mental care industry and helping people. Dr. Benson’s discovery was the connection between the mind and body through meditation. It slowed metabolism, reduced the heart rate, and resulted in measured breathing and quieter brainwave activity. All of this combined brought out the right foundations for healing.
Meditation Reverses Anxiety Using Relaxation
When meditating, our body activates the parasympathetic nervous system and simultaneously deactivates the body’s stress mode. When this happens, the body reverses several health issues, primarily anxiety. Relating to Dr. Benson’s research above, the mind-body connection gives the body the meditative state it needs to relieve anxiety and managing stress.
Why Meditation Builds Your Mindful Muscle
Yes, we have mind muscles, too. Instead of constantly having knee-jerk reactions to a wide variety of craziness, silliness, and terror that we often experience, meditation also allows you to look into the thoughts that come into your mind. You can decide which reaction you need to give your attention to, especially your often neglect thoughts and emotions. Our thoughts come and go, and via meditation, we can at least focus on the various emotions with a more structured mind without needing to chase the rabbit down its never-ending hole.
Through meditation, we can build our mental muscles, understand our minds’ deepest levels, and connect to our thoughts, emotions, and senses.
How Meditation Squashes Anxiety—endorphins
For a good mood, you exercise because exercise releases endorphins and endorphins make you happy. For a better mood, meditate for a few minutes after your exercise, and it will bring you into a calm, cool, and comfortable place of your own.
When you exercise or go for a long jog, usually, it gives you a natural high, and joggers refer to this feeling as ‘runner’s high.’ This zen-life state of happiness and bliss is one reason why people like jogging and meditation is exactly like that, except it also makes you feel calmer, and it also elevates your mood.
Whenever you exercise, spend at least 5 to 10 minutes after your workouts or jog to meditate. It also helps your body come back to its regular breathing rate, allowing you to cool down both physically and mentally.
How Meditation Quiets The Mind
When you no longer overthink things, or you do not have to worry or have the feeling of constant fear, or when you stop worrying endlessly about what the future holds, you get to experience an intoxicating silence. Meditation allows your mind to explore this side of your natural state, the stillness that is true and pure.
When you meditate constantly, you eventually start to silence your mind and stop thinking about the ticking clock, the chores you have to do, and the work you need to get done. You quiet your mind to spend a few minutes in bliss, and these few minutes can benefit you in longer and more pronounced aspects of your life.
Meditation takes consistent practice for you to be more aware, mindful, and focused. You can sit in your lounge pants or kaftan (which you can get here: kaftko.com in a quiet area and begin your meditation. There is no such thing as perfect meditation. Remember that it is a journey and not a destination.
*Photos by Sasha Kim