Peace; Tranquility; Self-awareness
So what is meditation? There are two answers which I found to be most reliable, yet contradictory. Meditation is a state of thoughtless awareness. Or it could be focused-attention or mindful-meditation in which you focus on one specific thing.
Whatever definition you find yourself leaning towards, all these articles and journals point to one thing. Meditation is beneficial. Why? What is so great about sitting still, chanting a word or the same three words over and over again while focusing on your breathing? Isn’t it better to spend your time at a gym working out?
Well about nine months ago I started meditating myself. Now, I did not know anything about meditating, but I had a little background from my religion classes as a child. I am Hindu and therefore, as a young child the religion classes I attended were affiliated with my Hindu temple. In these classes we would start and end each class by closing our eyes, breathing deeply, sitting still, and chanting “Om…” three times. So naturally nine months ago, I started with what I knew. I would sit pretzel style and chant.
By the next month I was telling all my friends how great meditating was and I tried to coerce them into meditating with me. Now I’m going to try to coerce a larger crowd, so why should you meditate?
Like I previously said, meditation can be focused-attention. Meditation, itself is a practice in focusing our attention and finding a state of self-awareness, and ultimately being aware when your focus drifts away. It has been shown that as a result of regular meditation, our focus improves, even when we’re not meditating.
From a personal experience, I can definitely tell you that my focus in school definitely benefited from meditating and I was more in tune with my body, my feelings, and my emotions.
Bye-Bye Anxiety & Stress
Time for some biology ! So meditation has been shown to have an effect on certain parts of the brain. The medial prefrontal cortex aka the Me Center deals with referring back to you, your perspective and experiences. With meditation the connections between the Me Center and the bodily sensations/fear centers begin to break down. So you have less to be anxious about.
Furthermore, a “healthier connection” forms between the Lateral prefrontal cortex (the part of your brain that gives you a rational, logical, and balanced perspective) and bodily sensations/fear centers. In other words, when you are now in a dangerous or upsetting situation, your look at things in a more logical and rational point of view.
Research published in the journal Health Psychology shows you exactly how mindfulness meditation is associated with feeling less stressed by being linked to the decreased levels of stress hormone.
Once again my personal experience leads me to agree. I am the type of person to over-worry and over-stress. I can tell you I did lose a lot of that extra stress and anxiety this semester in college. Obviously, I still had stress, but I had a better way to deal with it and even decrease it, getting rid of anxiety in ways I did not know I could.
Cry No More
Depression is well-known among today’s society and for most people the go to treatment is a prescription. But meditation can help with the fight. Many women face depression during pregnancy as well as after. Depression is also a fight for many teenagers. Meditation is known to create an overall “feel good” mode, less stress and a better way to cope with feelings.
So…what’s it looking like for you? Interested in some meditation and some “feel good” time? Maybe do some of your own research, find chants you prefer, positions you feel comfortable sitting or laying in, and figure out what works for you. Take a dive, try it! Let me know how it goes if you do.