Meditation Benefits | How Meditation Can Change Your Brain

Despite the growing popularity, today many of us don’t truly know what meditation is…

Is it the calming of the mind? Deep concentration? Dreaming, or fantasy? 

Get ready, we’re about to dive into the woo woo. But don’t worry, I think you’ll be surprised. Meditation isn’t what you think.

I’ve always been driven – excited by the world, with my mind constantly racing. Racing a race that’s non stop and never ending. As you can imagine (and maybe relate) it’s exhausting.

If you want to perform optimally in anything, you need to find a way to recover from the stressors of that activity. A way to turn off your mind and just relax. Just enjoy. Just be.

Meditation Benefits – Caging The Monkey Mind

Meditation isn’t just about relaxing. It’s about cultivating present state awareness. As you learn to become more in the moment and aware, you achieve a higher level of self awareness. This leads you to make more conscious choices and become less reactive in daily life.

Just like training your muscles, training your brain is just as important. Mental training helps you to become more alert and aware – leading to a higher level of consciousness.

With consistent daily practise and learning to maintain mental stillness, you’ll see drastic changes in your life.

In the short term, meditation will make you feel recharged and full of energy. It can even be equivalent to taking a nap! Meditation will help you to focus and more easily achieve that high-performance state of flow –  that feeling when you’re completely immersed and energized; when your “in the zone”.

Overtime with constant practise you’ll continue to peel away layers of your psyche that are unconscious and have been buried away. These deep hidden thoughts, emotions and ways of being will become conscious and present. You’ll become more aware of yourself and who you are.

The Life Changing Shift

The more aware you become, the more you’ll notice things, and the more likely you’ll be to take mindful action on what you see and perceive. Living in this kind of present state awareness creates a wider range of experiences and opens up creativity.

Studies have shown that meditation can even make your brain age slower and increase the amount of grey matter. Grey matter is responsible for muscle control, memory, seeing, hearing, emotions and speech – so kind of important.

What You Should Expect

As you begin to practise meditation you’ll first become aware of your internal dialogue and the inner chatter going on within your head. You’ll notice the persistent thinking and habitual nature of your mind as thoughts come and go. As you continue to re-focus yourself into present state awareness you’ll become more and more aware of your environment. Senses like hearing and feeling become more pronounced, and thoughts both from the past and the future come flooding into your mind. To help maintain a clear mind you need to really focus in on your breathing.

“Take a Deep Breath” May Not Be a Cliché

Studies have shown that as we alter our breathing – such as changes in pace, deepness and paying careful attention to the breaths – that different parts of our brain become engaged. As we practise breathing cycles we are altering the connectivity between parts of the brain which allow us to access internal sites of sub-consciousness.

Military personal and law enforcement use a breathing technique called the box breath. The box breath helps slow down your heart rate, calm the body and puts you into an alert, focused state of mind.  It looks like this: (4 sec inhale, 4 second hold, 4 second exhale, 4 sec hold, repeat)

Guide for Meditation – How To Start

  1. Find a comfortable place with few distractions. Sit down in either a chair or on the ground cross legged. Rest your hands in a comfortable position – folded in your lap or on your legs.
  2. Get comfortable while maintaining good posture. Take a few deep breaths to settle into your surroundings. Close your eyes.
  3. Pay attention to the inflow and outflow of your breath. Try not to think. Just stay clear.
  4. As thoughts come into your mind simply acknowledge them and bring your attention back to your breath. I like to think of my thoughts as if they are clouds moving across the sky – take notice of them, swipe them past, and focus back on your breath.

Note: The goal is NOT to have zero thoughts. So don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself drifting off. The goal is take notice of the thoughts as they enter your consciousness.

The object is to stay focused on the present moment only. Constant training will naturally develop an ability to help you focus when needed in daily life. Begin with just 5 minutes per day and work your way up to 20 or 30 minutes. It won’t be easy at first, but I promise you that meditation and breath work will change your life.

Personally, I’ve found apps like Headspace or Waking Up to be super helpful. They will guide you through the meditation’s and help you silence your mind.

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