Meditation is a word that has become synonymous with relaxation, contemplation, loss of control, day dreaming, peaceful imagination, being mindful of your breath, listening to the crashing waves, or even fantasizing. Meditation however, is not confined to one, but a blend of all of these methods, working together seamlessly in an effort to cease the incessant activity of mind and glean a state of higher consciousness, much different from the normal waking state.
Once the mind is rid of intricate thought processes and webs of muddling emotions, you can fathom all the levels of yourself and discover the center of perception within. Contrary to all widely established beliefs, meditation is the ultimate pinnacle of awareness.
Meditation practices are simply a technique of encouraging and nurturing emotional positivity, clarity, concentration, and a calm visualization of the true essence of your being. Through meditation, you learn the habits and patterns of your mind, and cultivate or eradicate them as needed. This focused state of mind can ultimately deepen in to highly energized and profoundly peaceful state. You can garner a deep understanding of life through such practices, and be transformed from the inside out. Here’s what meditation does to your mind and body:
Benefits for the Mind
Meditation aims to slow down the brain, check its mindless wanderings, and keep it focused and clear. Once you have learned how to achieve that through regular bouts of meditation, you will find that it is a lasting effect and improves our focus even when we are not meditating.
You can think of focused attention like a muscle- it has to be strengthened and worked out through exercise. Meditation has been linked to drastic improvements in concentration and attention in individuals, who previously suffered from short attention spans.
Since aimless mind wandering is associated with ruminating, anxiety, being less happy, and worrying too much about the past and the future, you must have tried to dial it down a notch. Meditation helps to silence the brain and if it starts to wander, your meditators are more prepared to snap it back.
Since meditation seeks to filter out distractions from reaching the recesses of your mind, people who regularly practice meditation exhibit a higher level of productivity and sharper memory. Painful memories, frustration, irritations, reactions to external stimuli, worries, and webs of aimless thought crowd our brains to the point where they take over every space, leaving no room for new memories. Once your mind is clear and free, you would be able to rapidly remember and incorporate new facts than before.
A research conducted at the University of Harvard revealed that 8 weeks of mindfulness based stress reduction meditation is known to enhance cortical thickness in the hippocampus, the part which controls memory and learning, and also those regions of the brain which play an imperative role in self referential processing and emotion regulation. The research also discovers a decrease in the number of cells in the amygdale, which is the part of brain responsible for stress, anxiety, and fear, which in turn served to change the subjective perceptions and feelings of the subjects. To put it in a nutshell, meditation arouses a feeling of well being and lightness that nips stress and depression in the buds!
Meditation nurtures intuition, improves emotional stability, cultivates happiness, makes your problems seem small and inconsequential as part of the bigger picture, and alleviates anxiety and stress. Meditation sharpens the mind by expanding through relaxation and gaining focus.
A mind that hasn’t been expanded is the culprit for frustration, anger, and tension, while an expanded consciousness devoid of sharpness can lead to a lack of progression. Meditation immaculately balances your expanded consciousness with a sharp mind to bring the perfect harmony within.
Benefits for the Body
Stress is the Culprit of major chronic diseases, and once you nip stress in the bud, you rid your body of its repercussions. With meditation, there is an alteration in physiology and every cell in the body is filled with more prana (energy). This lets you experience enthusiasm, peace, and joy, as the level of prana in the body heightens! Due to release of the stress-hormones cortisol and adrenalin, stress elevates the blood pressure and heart rate, spikes up the blood sugar level, lowers fertility, and weakens immunity.
On the other hand, the state of relaxation is linked to higher levels of feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and to the growth hormone which repairs cells and tissue. When you relax, the parasympathetic nervous system turns on. Indeed, studies show that relaxation has virtually the opposite effect of stress- boosting immunity, lowering heart rate, and enabling the body to thrive. The deep relaxation of meditation would drive the tension out of your system and induce a feeling of wellness.
In addition, meditation has been proven to lower the blood pressure, lower the levels of blood lactates to avert anxiety attacks, relieve any tension related pain such as insomnia, ulcers, tension headaches, joint and muscle problems, enhance the serotonin production to perk up mood and behavior, increase fertility, boost the immune system, speeds up digestion, act as an anti-inflammatory agent, elevate your energy levels, and alleviate the irritable bowel syndrome.