Meditation practice isn’t about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better, it’s about befriending who we are. Ani Pema Chodron
For the most part, just because a lot of people are doing something doesn’t mean that it’s the right thing to do. One of the exceptions to that rule is meditation.
More than 30 million people in the US alone are meditating on a frequent basis. It has been embraced by celebrities and blue collar workers alike.
The only problem is that starting a routine of meditation takes high levels of discipline. With busy lives, the demands of a job, and the distractions of the internet, TV, and other media, finding time for meditation can be difficult.
Even when time is found to meditate, most beginners find themselves creating a chore list in their head and they miss the benefits that meditation can bring.
Don’t feel bad if the above description hits home. Many people will try meditation today and find it to be less than satisfying. As with any new skill, it takes time to develop the ability to authentically meditate.
The average person isn’t going to grab a golf club and hit a ball 350 yards the first time they ever take a swing.
Getting in touch with your core consciousness through meditation follows the same principle. It takes time and practice. If you are persistent and don’t give up, then you’ll get there.
When you do, then you’ll be able to fully experience these scientific benefits of meditation. Research has already indicated that a dedication to meditation for just 4 consecutive days can begin to bring these benefits your way at some level.
Here’s why everyone is so excited about meditating today.
#1. It Increases Personal Happiness
Meditation helps to increase the positive emotions that people experience every day. When there is an increased level of happiness, then there also tends to be an increased level of health and wellbeing too.
This makes it easier to get through the average day because instead of fretting about the “what ifs” in life, people are more content with their status in life, no matter what it might be.
Here are some additional ways that meditation helps to provide higher levels of happiness and health when practiced regularly as well.
- Meditation helps to decrease the presence of physical pain, including chronic pain that may have been around for years.
- Meditation also helps to naturally reduce inflammation throughout the body that may occur for a wide variety of reasons.
- Meditation has also been proven to improve immune function to help people be able to better fight off illnesses and infections.
When you feel good, you feel happy. It’s difficult to experience high amounts of happiness when you’re always feeling sick or have pain that is chronically present.
Meditation isn’t going to magically cure the health problems, but it can start building a wall to help prevent them occurring in the future.
#2. It Helps the Mind to Focus
Want to know why those to-do lists keep flooding your mind when you try to meditate at first? Or why you start thinking about all of the upcoming projects or worries that will require your attention?
It’s because meditation helps the mind to naturally focus. Your anxieties, chores to do, or random thoughts about the weather are all part of this process. It is your mind bringing to the surface all of the things that have some level of importance.
Here’s what you’ve got to do when you first start meditating. Pick one thing at a time and focus all of your mental energy on that one thing.
If you have a checklist that you’re forming in your mind, then complete it. If you’re worried about something at work, then analyze why it is so bothersome so you can create a plan to combat the anxiety. If you have a nice thought about the weather, then acknowledge it.
If you refuse to acknowledge the important components of life that your core being brings up during meditation, then you will never be able to truly find peace.
This takes work. It can take weeks of work for some folks, especially if they have spend 50+ years of their lives without meditation.
Over time, however, people begin to feel like they can focus on things more consistently. They are able to pay more attention to individual tasks, pieces of information, or special moments of their day that just tend to sail on by.
#3. It’s a Social Booster
Meditation is often recommended as something that someone does on their own, but it doesn’t have to be.
Meditating can be done in a group format or with guided meditation. If you don’t like the idea of meditating on your own, then don’t do it.
With regular meditation, even the feelings of loneliness tend to go away over time. This is because the process of meditation helps to increase the social connections that are experienced in the mind.
Each interaction creates a reinforced feeling of being cared about or loved. This reinforcement helps to strengthen those moments when someone is on their own so that the darkness of loneliness doesn’t have a chance to grab on with its icy grip.
#4. It Changes the Brain
Why are all these mental changes happening within the human mind when meditation is taking place? It’s because the regular practice of meditation actually changes the size and structure of the brain.
Research indicates that there are numerous things that can happen.
- It increases overall cortical thickness. This happens mostly in the areas where attention and contemplation are known to happen within the mind.
- It increases the amounts of available gray matter. The extra gray matters tends to form in the areas where memories are stored or where thoughts are generated.
- It even increases the overall volume of the brain. The larger brain is able to regulate emotions more effectively. This results in higher levels of positive emotions with an increased level of self-control present.
How were these results tracked? Researchers brought in volunteers and used MRI scans to track the progress of their minds at specific points after they began meditating.
Although the benefits varied for each person, they saw clear, uniform changes that clearly indicated meditation was responsible for how the brain was changing.
Your brain really is the greatest supercomputer that humanity knows. It is constantly retaining and processing information. There are even certain components that are being controlled without conscious thought.
The observations that it makes don’t always make it to the conscious mind, but they are there. This is why meditation is often said to offer perspective or wisdom.
What is happening is that through meditating, an individual can access the HDD of their brain to glean new perspectives on information that has already been absorbed.
#5. It Reduces the Aging Process
Stress. It really is a killer.
Here’s why stress can take away years from a person’s life: it destroys the telomeres that are on every chromosome. Some scientists say that there is a direct connection between the length of a person’s telomeres and the longevity of their cells.
Stress will actually work on destroying these protective telomeres. If there is chronic stress in someone’s life, then there is a good chance that their telomeres are shorter than they probably should be.
The good news is that this process can be reversed. With the regular practice of meditation, the amount of chronic stress that someone is experiencing can be reduced and this will begin to improve cellular aging.
Ultimately this means that improved health happens because the cells of the body are more resilient to the rigors of what they encounter during the day.
This doesn’t mean that by meditating, you’ll get to live to see your 150th birthday. There are limits to what can be achieved.
What will happen is that you’ll feel better every day. Little nagging issues that you tend to ignore will disappear. You’ll feel more content because instead of stress being chronically present, peace and joy will be in its place.
#6. It Can Reduce Disorder Symptoms
Have you ever seen a child who has ADHD trying to pay attention in school? They’ll start by getting all fidgety. Their minds are moving at 100 mph, but they are forcing their bodies to sit at 0 mph.
At some point in time, their legs are going to start twitching. You might see one moving up and down rapidly as the child fights to stay in control.
Pretty soon the mind requires the child to begin taking in extra information in order for it to continue remaining still. By now both legs are moving up and down rapidly.
If there’s a clicky pen around, they’re smashing it down repeatedly to the annoyance of their neighbors. Yet all of this is still not enough.
Eventually they explode and have to move. Adults can have ADHD as well and experience the same problems. You can forcibly keep the activity levels down, but eventually that energy builds up and must be released.
If enough of that energy gets stored up, even the strongest will cannot keep that energy contained. It will explode outward and catch everyone that is in the way.
How does meditation help with disorders such as ADHD? Meditation helps because it can actually release that stored up energy so that it doesn’t have to explode outward.
Meditation literally clears the mind to leave a quiet, peaceful place that over time can even help people pick out sharper details of the world around because they are no longer preoccupied with the symptoms of their disorder.
It is believed that meditation can help panic and anxiety disorders, certain types of depression, and certain behavioral disorders because it removes the imbalance in the mind that creates the disorder.
That’s right. Something as simple as focusing on your own breathing may be all that is necessary to begin relieving a lifetime of bothersome symptoms.
That doesn’t mean you should ignore your doctor’s advice or stop a treatment plan that is in place. It does mean that you can add meditation to that plan and start reaping the benefits.
#7. It Enhances the Parenting Process
Not everyone will experience this particular benefit, but it should be noted nonetheless. It is easier to be an effective parent when meditation is part of the daily routine.
Here’s why: kids have a unique ability to push a parent’s buttons. They also like to ask one question repeatedly and without end: “Why?” A family can be watching a TV show together and a child will explode with a series of questions. Parents give meaningful answers and this causes the child to get a confused look on their face.
Explaining the same thing 4 different times gets to be frustrating. At other times, a child may make a choice that just drives a parent crazy, like not taking off their muddy shoes before walking across the white carpet. “I thought the mud would stay on my shoes,” the child might say.
Then there are the tantrums. Standing there, fists clenched, and with a face turning red, children can put on an epic performance because of just two letters: “N” and “O.”
Meditation isn’t going to make this go away. Sorry parents! What it will do is provide a parent with a barrier against all of the difficulties that are encountered every day. You become a more effective parent because you can recognize the energies that are coming from the child and identify a more effective method of communication.
And when the tantrums happen, you’ve got the patience to handle that situation with grace instead of with impatience and frustration.
#8. It Makes You More Creative
Not everyone is a creative personality type, but that doesn’t mean a person isn’t creative. So what if you don’t write 5,000 words per day or paint or create amazing landscaping creations in the front yard? Sometimes creativity is about finding a new, more effective way to accomplish a daily task.
Through the practice of meditation, people are better able to tap into the creative centers of their mind to specifically access the components that are needed for enhanced creativity.
Ever wonder where that brilliant idea originated when it pops into your mind? It’s that part of the brain that meditation allows people to access more often.
The best part about this unique scientific benefit of meditation is that it continues to grow as the habit of meditating continues to grow. People feel like they are more creative, innovative, and focused on every task at hand.
Many will look at the professional world as being the primary benefactor of increased creativity, but that’s not necessarily always true. Being able to load the dishwasher more creatively, for example, can save time on daily chores.
Creativity also fuels curiosity. Have you ever noticed how people tend to sit in the same seat at meetings or follow the same route when they commute to work? Curiosity brings new experiences to the senses that can bring every moment a little closer to perfection.
There is an untapped world in your mind right now that meditation can access. What it can produce will only be discovered if you’re ready to experience all of the benefits that meditation can provide and make an effort to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Are You Ready To Experience These 8 Results?
The scientific benefits of meditation are remarkably easy to achieve, but it will take some work to get there. The first step is to find a way to add meditation to your daily routine in some way.
Most experts recommend about 20 minutes of meditation every day, but any starting point is better than nothing. If you can fit in 2 minutes to meditate somewhere out of the 1,440 minutes that are in the day, then you’ll be taking a first step.
What amount of time is considered optimal? Different people have different needs. A recommended practice, however, is to duplicate your meditation in the morning and the evening.
If you can fit in two 20 minute meditation sessions, then you’ll be able to potentially experience fast results. If you’re only doing a 2 minute meditation session in the morning, then repeat it at some point in the evening as well.
If you can only fit in one meditation time, then do it whenever you can make it part of your regular schedule. This might mean after breakfast, during a break at work, or at night after the kids go to bed.
Do I have to sit a certain way? Many people see sitting in the criss-cross applesauce position as something that is uncomfortable and far from natural.
This can actually become a distraction in some ways because more focus is placed on the discomfort than the actual process of meditation.
You don’t need to tuck in your legs or sit rigid for hours on end. Just choose a place that is comfortable for you and let the meditation flow. It can be on your couch, in the shower, in bed, or sitting out on your porch swing.
What if I can’t get my mind to focus? This might be the biggest struggle of all to those who want to achieve the scientific benefits of meditation. Finding one singular thought can be difficult.
A top recommendation is to focus on personal breathing habits so that the mind is cleared, but again, everyone is different.
Some people can never clear their mind because their thoughts are always racing. In these instances, turning thoughts into actions, such as incorporating prayer, mantras, or chants with the effort to meditate can be highly beneficial.
Are there certain things that must be done? Meditation is all about what you need to take from the process. Some people sit in the lotus position and are quite content. Other folks struggle with their ADHD in that position, yet can effectively meditate while they take a walk.
Reading a book, playing a game, or laying out in the backyard and staring up at the stars are all effective. Some even say they can meditate while driving, though that is really isn’t recommended.
When Will I Get To Experience the Benefits of Meditation?
Research has indicated that the beginning benefits of meditation can be experienced in as little as 96 hours. That means you’ve got to put in 4 days of work and you’ll be able to see tangible results which will reinforce the decision to begin meditating.
Once you reach the 4 day mark, individual results vary based on life experiences, environments, and attitudes. People who have been suffering from long-term chronic stress may experience faster results because they get to experience relief. Others may not see results until the 4-6 week mark because they are already living a fairly slow, laid-back lifestyle.
The reality of meditation is this: we each have time to do it. We just have to make that time to do it. Here are some facts for you to consider.
- The average person spends 20 minutes per day on Facebook. Cutting that by 50% would give you 10 minutes to meditate.
- The average time spend watching TV every day in the United States is about 3 hours per day. Could you mediate for 30 minutes and watch 2.5 hours of TV instead?
- People who own smartphones or tablets use them for an additional 3 hours per day.
The simple fact is that we don’t meditate because we don’t find the process to be entertaining. We don’t feel like we can relax or connect with others by sitting in the quiet or listening to a guided meditation session, so we don’t include it.
However the average person usually has time in their day to add meditation. The statistics prove it.
So … are you willing to make a change today to start experiencing the scientific benefits of meditation right now?