I have been hearing more and more lately that people should meditate as a part of their overall health regimen. I have to admit, I am a skeptic. When I think of meditation, I think of hippie yogi types that burn incense and wear only recycled cotton. Considering how much I am hearing about it recently, I thought I would do my own research on why and how this could benefit me. Here is what I have discovered…
1. The US Marines meditate and so do NFL players – gone is my hippies only idea!
2. It increases your immune function.
3. It decreases pain and inflammation at a cellular level.
4. It increases your brain functionality – it increases your brain’s cortical thickness – increasing attention and memory, and the ability to multitask. It also increases brain volume – in areas of emotion regulation, positive emotions and self-control.
5. It allows you to be more creative and “think outside the box.”
6. It has been shown to decrease anxiety, stress and depression.
7. It increases social connection, makes you more compassionate and reduces loneliness.
All of these effects have been scientifically proven. So I am more convinced than before. However, I personally don’t have 2 hours a day to commit to meditation. Even if I would get these benefits. In my research I discovered that I actually don’t need to meditate for 2 hours a day. You really only need about 20 minutes to meditate. So I could cut down my Facebook or TV time by the amount. This is a bit more realistic.
I know that there are many other myths about what meditation should look like. Most of the myths are just that – myths. There are many different forms – you can Google any of the following if you want to check each out: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi etc…
For me, “mindfulness” sounds like the most basic and welcoming form from this list. I found out that this consists of: “taking a good seat, pay attention to your breath and when your attention wanders, return.” This, I think I can handle. I will give it a try and report back. If you are looking to have any of the above benefits come into your life, I’d suggest you give it a try too. It doesn’t cost a dime and if anything, it will at least make you stop and relax for 20 minutes in the craziness of your day.