Meditation is a life-changing practice. It can help change your perception of life, decrease stress levels and anxiety, and change the neurological patterns of your brain to improve memory capability, cognitive functions, and more. That being said, some people are still skeptical about the practice of meditation. However, meditation does change your life, and this post will explain how.
The History of Meditation
Meditation has religious and spiritual roots, dating back 5000 years. Plenty of ancient cultures and civilizations practiced their own form of meditation, and the earliest known written record of meditation is through Hindu texts. The Buddha, for example, who is one of the most well-known Hindu figures, achieved enlightenment through years of dedicated meditation practice.
The Power of Meditation
There are endless studies and reports linked to the benefits of meditation on the human body and mind. However, what is the true power of meditation? Well, one incredible example is the relationship between people and pain. Jon Kabat-Zinn used meditation to help patients change their relationship with pain after medicine had been used to its full effect. This technique was called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, and because of the success shown in this case, it has been adopted by many hospitals worldwide. This is just one example of how meditation can change the brains’ way of thinking and perception.
Being Mindful and Present
Meditation helps us to remain in the present moment. It helps alleviate stress and tension within our brain and body through the art of focusing on the present. If our mind is one that jumps to conclusions, worries, thinks of a million things at once, and often has trouble concentrating, meditation can help calm the mind and train it to be still, present, and focused. This is particularly important in modern-day society, where being ‘busy’ is thought of as normal and leaves little time to listen to our own bodies and minds. We can often feel overwhelmed and stressed, which in turn can lead to anxiety and even depression. Meditation helps us with all of these ailments.
What is the Evidence That Meditation and Mindfulness Work?
There are plenty! Take the example above, for example, with Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. There have also been studies that have shown how meditation can positively impact those that suffer from bipolar disorder and depression. Meditation does this by changing the actual functioning of our brains and nervous systems. Let’s look at the direct effects meditation has on specific areas of the brain, as listed by Sara Lazar, here:
- The posterior cingulate, which affects mind wandering and self-relevance.
- The left hippocampus, which aids learning, cognition, memory, and emotional regulation.
- The TPJ, which helps with perspective, empathy, and compassion.
- The Pons, where regulatory neurotransmitters are produced.
- And, the amygdala, which relates to the feelings of anxiety, fear, and stress.
Who Benefits Most From Meditation?
There are certain types of people who will receive immediate gratification with the practice of meditation. These include:
Those experiencing major stress and pain. Meditation helps to ease and minimize the sensations associated with both of these factors.
Those wanting greater personal freedom and happiness. This quote from Joseph Goldstein explains this notion excellently: “Mindfulness and meditation help us understand what contributes to suffering and contentment. When we see this, we can make wiser choices. And as we make wiser choices we become happier. And as we become happier, we make wiser choices, and so it becomes a spiral achieving greater fulfillment and ease.”
Those suffering from anxiety. Meditation teaches you how to change your relationship with certain thoughts, emotions, and feelings.
So yes, meditation will certainly change your life.
Depending on what you hope to gain from the art of meditation, the effects can vary. However, it’s clear, and supported by many experts around the world, that meditation has a huge range of benefits – and some of them, are in fact life-changing.