This pandemic has caused a lot of mayhem in everyone’s life in some or another way. Many people lost their loved ones. Many lost their jobs. Many lost their health and wellbeing. And all of this left behind various degrees of burns and bruises on our minds. All of us chose different ointments to apply over these bruises. Some chose negative coping mechanisms like social media, alcohol, drugs, etc. while some chose positive coping mechanisms such as exercise, reading, yoga, mindfulness.
Dr Richard Davidson from the University of Wisconsin carried out a detailed study on meditation. This research hovered around one question, “Why is it that some people are less resilient to life’s stones and arrows while others not?” He wondered what nourished and nurtured human flourishment. In 1992, Davidson had the opportunity to meet the Dalai Lama, and every changed. His Holiness asked Davidson, “Why can’t you use modern neuroscience to study kindness, compassion in addition to studying anxiety, fear, depression, and stress?” After long, tedious research, it was realized that all of this boiled down to one concern: the plasticity of the brain. Our mind is constantly changing and growing in different directions. Most of the time, we don’t even realize that this sort of change is taking place.
We’re way too busy to sit down and realize these changes. We’re always doing something, working, eating, sleeping, stressing. We’re always doing something. We are turning into racing rats who are always running for a finish line we cannot see. In the beginning, we are told to run and run and run and run until we can’t anymore. But who’s going to stop for a water or food break amid this crazy marathon? Who’s going to nourish your mind to continue its pace?
The scientifically validated benefits of mindfulness and meditation are too many of count. It decreases stress, reduces symptoms that are associated with anxiety, depression, pain, insomnia. It enhances our ability to pay attention, to focus. Our quality of life goes up a notch as we start to practice compassion, understand people and gain a deeper sense of our universe and mind. You just somehow find yourself being happier and more fulfilled.
- Your cortex, which is your centre of executive decision making and memory, lights up effectively, despite age or any other demographical factor.
- The left hippocampus starts to regulate emotions better.
- The temporal parietal junction which gives us our sense of perception, compassion, empathy and understanding changes for the better.
- The fight of flight part of our brain, the amygdala, started to shrink, signifying immense stress reduction.
Meditation can literally change your brain.
But how do we meditate? Do we just sit down, close our eyes and do nothing?
It’s best to begin with guided meditation, be it through recorded playlists available on Spotify or personal attendance at a meditation camp or a mindfulness class. Here are a few podcasts you can use to guide you through meditation:
Once you begin, it’s quite normal for you to feel restless, fidgety and distracted. You can’t expect yourself to sit down and immediately find your calm. You can’t teach a puppy to sit overnight, can you? That’s exactly why I think the first thing that meditation does for you is to be patient with yourself and go give yourself some time, to cur yourself some slack once in a while. There’s a lot of practice that goes into this, after all. You must stay still and focus on your breath. Of course, we will lose ourselves again and again because of some train of thought but that’s alright. Bring yourself back to the object of focus (your breaths, your heart, your third eye).
Here are a few things you can keep in mind while preparing yourself to meditate.
- Having a committed place to meditating can help your brain slip into mindfulness easily. That particular spot will trigger you into feeling calm after a while of practice.
- Begin small. Try meditating for even a minute, if that’s what it takes to make the first step. It doesn’t matter where you start. It only matters which direction you grow in.
- Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable clothes. You can’t meditate in a suit and heels without constantly thinking about itchy fabric or painful toes.
- You can sit anywhere, on the floor, bed, a chair, but posture matters most. Make sure your spine is straight, your next is loose and your chin tucked in. Your hands can rest above your knees or on your thighs. Forming a mudra is a personal choice.
- Make sure that you don’t carry out a hefty task right after meditation. Stay in that mind space. Maybe go for a shower or brush your teeth, or go for a walk in nature. Keep that mindfulness with you even after you’re done!
We have your back, don’t worry. Just take a deep, satiating and nurturing breath, and as your breath out, feel your body loosen as all your worries whoosh out with that single breath.
Let us know about your meditation woes and we will help you out with another blog specially addressing all your meditation troubles and what you can do to overcome them!
Until next time!