We all want to feel relaxed and wish we had the time to meditate or at least zone out for a while each day. Is it worth the time and effort?
For us, we needed the proof that our efforts were going to produce concrete results if we were going to put our valuable time into moments of mindless relaxing every day.
Once we found out it worked we went on a search for data showing the various ways we could get the same results without having to sit still and say mantras. (Not that were against that, just that it’s not always feasible in our filled schedules)
Data on What Meditation Helps
According to research, studies by the American Heart Association demonstrate that meditation…
- reduced blood pressure
- reduced stress
- improved insulin resistance
- slowed the biological aging process
- lowers blood pressure
- and had a 48% reduction in the rates of heart attack, stroke, and death
The American Psychological Association conducted research that demonstrated that meditation…
- reduced anxiety
- reduced negative emotions/ thoughts
- reduced anxiety
- reduced neuroticism
- improved learning
- improved memory
- improved mood
Here’s a link to more research in this area.
Studies completed by the New York Academy of Science indicate that meditation increases telomere length. Telomeres protective caps at the ends of chromosomes. The length of telomeres shows its health and the time before it will die. Longer tail = longer life.
This study and others like it demonstrate that meditation increases the length of telomere tails thereby lengthening our lifespan and improving our healthfulness.
Your Brain Functioning:
Using the latest instrumentation, studies conducted at Yale School of Medicine were able to demonstrate that meditation functionally changes the brain by increasing the brain functions and connectivity across brain networks.
A recent study from UCLA found that long-term meditators had better-preserved brains than non-meditators as they aged. Participants who’d been meditating for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume throughout the brain – and what’s more – they had this effect throughout their entire brains!
Harvard found that mindfulness meditation can actually change the structure of the brain: Eight weeks of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) was found to increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory, and in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing. There were also decreases in brain cell volume in the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress – and these changes matched the participants’ self-reports of their stress levels, indicating that meditation not only changes the brain, but it changes our subjective perception and feelings as well. Read more on this here
Why Does Meditation Work?
Interest high. Now we needed to know why it worked and how we knew if it was working while we were doing it.
We must admit here that we were and likely still are novices at meditating, but have become convinced to its purposefulness after researching the data on its benefits.
What we learned from the research is that it does all start in the brain. Meditation relaxes the brain, and in a sense gives it the regenerative sleep we give our bodies on a daily basis.
This practice of relaxing allows us to process through thoughts and memories that are stored in our brain and awaiting “sorting out”.
It also allows us to connect with our brain and thoughts and to learn how to slow them and make them more focused. The result of this, proven by the latest technology, is that we will be able to do this more autonomically as we continue in our practice.
It reconnects us with our bodies and selves, which sounds holistic, but is very realistic. Many of us rush through life, feed ourselves what we can get quick and easily, over work and over push ourselves to succeed and don’t feel like we ever have enough time to truly relax and feel rejuvinated.
Meditation creates this place of serene, non-thinking, peaceful, just being-ness that refills our energy supplies and clears our minds to where we get to the place of feeling well, happy and able again.
How Long – How Often – How To Do It?
Some people notice distinct psychological benefits in the forms of reduced stress and greater happiness with only ten minutes of meditation daily, although most people seem to require around twenty minutes to experience benefits.
There’s no proven amount that it must be done every week. Most people meditate between 2-3 times a week or daily. We do it for 10 minutes in the morning and night, and during our 3 longer sauna sessions each week. We also practice walking meditation where we take a stroll after work, being in the moment, not talking, and breathing in the air to clear our minds and bodies.
How To Do It?
Meditation is a means to train and relax your mind. It can also be used to prepare for a task, cultivate awareness, boost energy or develop your sense of things like compassion, love or forgiveness.
There are many ways to meditate and you will need to find the best one for you. Some tips are:
- find a quiet, undisturbed place
- play soft music (we like 528 mg music)
- say a prayer
- concentrate on an object or picture
- regulate your breathing and focus on your body movements
- wear comfortable clothing and a warm environment
- be aware of this present moment and appreciate everything around you
Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time (bathroom break, shower, quiet at the end of the day…
It can be done with your eyes closed or open, sitting, standing, walking, lying down or moving in any way, and you can use aids to help focus your attention such as music or prayer beads.
Here’s a good video showing how to meditate by Dr Herbert Benson
What We Think…
We hope you continue to research and try adding meditation practices to your life. We have found that we are more relaxed and peaceful in stressful situations. Our minds are easier to calm and quicker to get into restful states and our sleep has improved when we do this before bed.
We are the most interested in the lengthening of our telomeres and the improved brain connections and will be researching this more as additional studies are conducted.