As a health care provider, I am always reading about the latest medical updates. Evidence-based medical studies that show ways for me to provide better care for my patients is essential! It is exciting for me to come up with a complicated diagnosis or treatment that helps someone who has been suffering. And as a result, it is not uncommon for patients to thank me for providing their care or colleagues to ask me to teach. This is the same approach that I take with my Life Coaching Students and now with my readers! So over the past few years when clinical studies have been performed with regard to mindful meditation showing a significant decrease in mental stress, it has become something that I highly recommend (and teach) in my practice.
Mindful meditation is a fancy way to say “take a break.” I used to think that I took a brain-break at night while I slept, but often remember waking in the middle of the night with thoughts of worry and anxiety as I walked through stressful times. However I have come to realize that meditation is a way to strengthen resiliency, bring focus, decrease stress, and improve mental health. Mediation is nothing more than detaching yourself completely from your surroundings. And it is a simple as sitting and breathing for 10-20 minutes a day.
Physical Changes that occur with Meditation
There are physical changes that have been demonstrated in the brain as a result of long-term meditation. The amygdala, part of your brain associated with negative emotions, has been shown to play an important role in anxiety and stress. The size of this structure is directly correlated with increased negativity. Studies have shown that the amygdala actually reduces in size over time with regular mediation. In other words, The part of your brain responsible for negative emotions actually shrinks.
The outer folds on the tissues in your brain (cortex) are used for memory processing and memory retention. If you meditate daily, these folds have been shown to increase in your brain, leading to sharper focus and a better understanding and retention.
With regular meditation, gray-matter density in the hippocampus increases, which is important for learning and memory, but also associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
As per new research, it has been suggested that the process of aging is considerably reduced at the cellular level if you take up consistent mediation. It lowers your stress levels, decreasing cortisol production, and therefore decreasing damage associated with the aging process.
At the chromosomal level there are structures known as telomeres (protective caps at the ends of chromosomes). Telomeres are shorter with chronological age and are shortened in people with age-related diseases, including atherosclerosis, diabetes, chronic stress exposure and depression. Meditation has been shown to increase positive states of mind and hormonal factors that may promote telomere maintenance and therefore decrease the risk of mental and physical disease.
Why it is important to Self Care
The physical changes are directly related to the mental changes that we experience. Stress is a global public health problem with several negative health consequences, including anxiety, depression, cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Mindfulness-based stress reduction offers an effective way of reducing stress. Meditation has been shown to promote self control, which means we are slower to anger and better able to manage our temper. Did you know that mediation gives you a controlled grasp on your emotions? It’s true that mediation makes us more resilient and self-aware regarding our perception of a given situation and how we respond. And research now shows that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.
Meditation allows you to make sound decisions and analyze situations around you much better than you normally would. It strengthens your brain and provides self-control. Meditation also makes you more aware of the people in your life. You begin to see past the surface of daily interactions and will find yourself empathizing with their situation more often than criticizing them. This will transform you into a more lovable, understanding, and trustworthy person.
New studies are also being performed in the role of mindful meditation with helping in traumatic experiences and preventing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and post-trauma depression and anxiety.
How Do I get Started?
The recommended times to mediate are right after you wake up, in the middle of the day, and right before you go to sleep. This does not have to be a big production or anything fancy. You do not need a special mat or tools or app. Below is a link to an easy video explaining how to get started. You don’t need to watch the entire video to learn how to meditate, however it is interesting to listen to this man talk about meditation who has been doing it for over 30 years.
So do you still think that meditation is a bunch of chanting with magic crystals? I know it is frustrating when you have a stressful schedule, a list of things you “should” be doing, and a list of daily deadlines that you have to meet. If this is where you are, you are not alone. I am here to help guide you in self discovery, regain control over your time and life, develop a solid self-care routine, and help you become the best version of yourself.
Self Care Pursuit is a place of safety for recovery and growth. Throughout this site you will continue to find resources showing the importance of self-care habits, such as Sleep, Hydration, and Movement. You can also connect on the forum and get tips and ideas from other like-minded individuals.
If you are struggling and want guidance and help, I would love to work with you through my coaching services. They will be available online starting January 1, 2019.