Modern science has confirmed what sages have known for thousands of years – meditation can make a tremendous positive contribution to a person’s holistic health, not only increasing your ability to deal with stress, creating a bulwark against depression and supercharging your focus but also improving your immune system function, bolstering your memory and helping you deal with pain. And all this while making you happier!
Meditation is fast becoming one point on which the wisdom of the ages and modern science agree.
Self and emotions
Mindfulness helps you to know who you are and feel better about it.
Some studies suggest mindfulness meditation contributes to a more coherent identity and a healthy conception of self. This is especially so with responsibility, authenticity, compassion, and self-acceptance. Additionally, by recognising and accepting your emotions you can better regulate them, which in turn leads to greater mental stability. This acts as a prophylactic against chronic depressive thoughts that can swirl around in your mind, wreaking havoc without you even knowing they are there. With mindfulness you recognise thoughts and feelings are transient and changeable and as such your response to them can be trained. Meditation helps to break the rumination cycle so you can notice your thoughts and emotions and gently let them go so as to bring your attention back to the present.
With practice you become the master of your emotions.
Develop laser focus
Meditation trains you to focus.
Mindfulness gives you the power of increased vigilance so you can maintain sustained attention. When you choose what to pay attention to and ignore the white noise and distractions, the result is an agile mind that doesn't wander away from the task at hand.
Happy Waves helps you to be more productive.
Enter into flow
Meditation helps you get in the zone more often.
Having more flexible attention makes it easier to navigate fear-inducing situations and to enter into a state of hyper-effective creative awareness – the mythic ‘flow’ state. In flow you are fully immersed and fully involved in the moment and operating in a realm of energised focus. This could be when you’re dancing, climbing, surfing, running, writing, singing, mountain biking or doing anything in which you can become completely absorbed.
In flow you can achieve at incredible levels.
Happy Waves & chill
Chill out, mate
Reducing stress is one of the most commonly reported effects of meditation.
We can't avoid stress nor should we try to. Just think about all the joy and accomplishment you get from engaging with new things and taking on challenges, both of which can be stressful. Whilst some stress can be beneficial for growth, many stresses of the modern world affect us negatively and meditation helps us to swim in difficult waters by recognising that stress is not in the situation it is in our relationship to that situation.
Meditation helps you to manage thoughts and emotions and, in turn, stress.
Meditation can affect brain activity and even genes.
When you meditate, alpha and theta wave activity increases making you better able to concentrate, faster at making decisions and able to remember and recall more information. Higher levels of alpha waves have been shown to reduce feelings of negative mood, tension, sadness and anger. If that isn’t enough your brain may become more energy efficient so you can do better at school or work whilst exerting less mental energy and getting less tired.
Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections, allowing neurons (nerve cells) to compensate for disease or injury but also adjust to new stimulation. So any skill you learn, any task you practice, will change your brain's structured. When you repeat a task – in this case mindfulness – it's going to strengthen certain connections in your brain and that will change your grey matter.
Change your genes
A bigger, better brain
Meditation changes the shape and size of the brain, grey matter becomes more dense in areas associated with memory, learning and emotion regulation, whilst the amygdala, which deals with stress, blood pressure and fear, shows a reduction in grey matter. You build up the parts of the brain you want at the expense of the parts you don’t.
The meditator’s brain thickens in four key regions; the posterior cingulate, which is involved in mind wandering and self relevance; the left hippocampus, which assists in cognition, learning, memory and emotional regulation; the temporo parietal junction, which is associated with empathy and compassion; and the Pons, where a lot of regulatory neurotransmitters are produced. There is also a reported increase in the frontal cortex, which is associated with working memory and executive decision making. Positive relationships have been found between the volume of grey matter in the right precuneus area of the brain, which increases with meditation, and a person's subjective happiness. Not only are you happier your senses improve. The brains of long-term meditators have demonstrated increased grey matter in the insula and sensory regions, the auditory and sensory cortex.
Whilst some parts of the brain grow with mediation, other get smaller. The amygdala is the 'fight or flight' region of the brain and it is implicated in fear, anxiety and stress. It can be beneficial in times of danger, but in conditions such as anxiety and depression, the amygdala becomes over-active and you get overtaken by sensations of anxiety, fear or hyper vigilance. The amygdala shrinks with mindfulness meditation.
Change your genes
It is astounding to have confirmed that the effects of mediation are not restricted to the brain and instead spread throughout the body in impacts such as improved immune function, decreased blood pressure and, perhaps most amazingly, halting the ageing process.
Scientists have been looking at the interaction between meditation and your genes – specifically ageing markers – and a growing body of studies suggest mindfulness can have anti-ageing properties. Ageing affects all of your cells, specifically in the telomeres (tiny caps at the end of each chromosome). Telomeres protect your genes but as you grow older your immune cells divide and your telomeres shorten. With meditation, telomere length stabilises and because the shorter your telomeres, the faster you are ageing, the longer they are the more youthful you’ll remain.
Meditation is not a substitute for a life of healthy habits but a habitual meditation practice can have a cascade of positive effects on your life. Just as hitting the gym grows muscles and increases your overall health, mindfulness meditation is giving your brain a work out and the results are holistic. Meditation can increase your spiritual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing. It can reduce the impact of stress and ward off disease, slow the ageing process and increase your pain tolerance, inoculate you against depression, supercharge your productivity and it can make you happy.
Mindfulness promotes a happy and long life.