1. It Changes The Brain
There are so many brain changes that happen during meditation. Within eight weeks, the hippocampus (the part of your brain responsible for the formation and recall of memories) grows, while the brain’s alarm system becomes less active, resulting in reduced feelings of anger and aggression. Meditation also activates the brain’s pre-frontal cortex, enhancing your creative and humanistic functions. In short, this means you can focus better, learn new skills and make better decisions. Meditation also supercharges production of alpha waves throughout the neo-cortex, reducing anxiety and increasing peak performance.
2. It’s For Everyone
Meditation is for everyone and anyone, including sceptics. Saying you don’t have time to meditate is like claiming you’re too hungry to eat. If you think you don’t have time to meditate, that probably means you need it more than anyone. The reason meditation can be so tricky at the start is because your nervous system is so over-stimulated that it can be hard to sit still, but this will get easier with practice. Many of the most cynical people I’ve taught to meditate are now meditation’s biggest champions as they realised through their own experience it actually works.
3. It Positively Affects The Nervous System
Meditation reduces ‘fight or flight’ activation, and increases ‘rest and digest’ functions, which has a positive impact on heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, libido, cellular health and immune function. By calming your nervous system, you’ll also be able to fall asleep quicker – and stay asleep. The enhanced quality of your slumber will better prepare you for whatever the following day throws at you.
4. It Lowers Stress Levels
Regular meditation significantly reduces secretion of adrenaline, cortisol and noradrenaline, reducing stress to healthier, balanced levels. Regular meditation also increases ‘adaptation energy’, which is our ability to adapt to changes in expectation in our daily lives. If you meditate regularly, you’ll soon find you can deal with an increased workload and pressure without feeling the stress – something that is vital in a world of incessant demand.
5. It’ll Boost Your Gym Performance
The benefits of meditation aren’t all about the mental. Regularly incorporating meditation into your daily life can have huge benefits in the gym. Meditation reduces the stress chemical vasopressin, which opens up your arteries. Alongside this, your respiratory efficiency increases, meaning there’s an increase in oxygenation of your muscles, leading to enhanced performance and faster recovery times.
6. It’ll Make You A Nicer Person
A quick meditation between the office and going home is guaranteed to help you wind down and put you in a better mood. You will then be able to offer your partner (and friends) greater levels of attention, presence, empathy and compassion, rather than projecting the day’s stresses on them. Being less stressed also means we become better listeners, we take things less personally and – with greater verbal fluency – we become better communicators.
7. It’s Not Necessary To Completely Clear Your Mind
If you’ve tried meditation but struggle to clear your mind of thoughts, don’t panic. In fact, trying to clear your mind every time you meditate is an unrealistic goal and can be counterproductive. Our minds need a power hit of what’s known as ‘non-directional thinking’ in order to achieve balance from all of our high-powered thinking. Relax, let go, and don’t try to perform.
Ready to give meditation a go? Follow these expert tips for getting started…
Find Just A Little Bit Of Time
Studies suggest devoting just five minutes a day to meditation can deliver mental health benefits.
Think About Your Breath
Start your meditation with one big, slow, deep cleansing breath: expand your stomach and chest fully on the breath in; then exhale fully, so you feel tension leave the body as you let the air out through your mouth. Try to focus on the natural rhythm of your breath while you meditate, breathing in and out through your nose.
Do It First Thing
Will recommends meditating before your workday starts. “Not only will it set the tone for your day, but it’s the one time of day when we can semi-control what’s going on, free of deadlines, meetings and the day’s stresses. If you can squeeze in a second meditation, then anytime between your lunch break and dinner is great.”
Understand Its Simplicity
There are no rules when it comes to meditation. Meditation isn’t about feeling a certain way; it’s about feeling whatever you’re feeling at that moment. All you have to do is close your eyes, stay focused on your breathing, and let your mind do its thing.
“Try not to set yourself goals when it comes to meditation,” says Will. “This will just get in the way and rob the meditative experience of joy.” Meditation is one skill where you don’t have to strive to achieve something. It’s just about finding a place of stillness where no effort is required.
For more information on Beeja and to download the app, visit BeejaMeditation.com.