The Benefits of Meditation and Healthy Inner Balance
The power of meditation has long been reputed by Eastern societies to benefit the mind and the body, but it has been watered down with time and distance. Many of us understand a few moments of conscious breathing can bring down stress or anger. We may take a moment here and there to quiet our minds when we feel uncertain or overwhelmed. Some of us may even turn on meditative music to lull ourselves to sleep. While these are all effective uses of meditation, it’s much like only picking one apple even though the tree is full.
Taking the time to fully understand the benefits of meditation can be the catalyst to incorporate it into your daily life. You may think you don’t have time for one more thing, but the Zen masters anticipated this. Their response, “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you're too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” This may sound counterintuitive, but they say meditation gives you more time. If you’re thinking that’s impossible, then follow this reasoning.
Science has studied and mapped the physical changes in the brain of someone who meditates daily. They have shown that this still act also quiets the mind allowing you to focus. This means you are sharper, clearer, can think faster and be more astute to what is going on at work and in your life. The part of the brain that registers drama, heightened emotions and stress triggers slows down allowing you to remain calm no matter the situation. All of this clarity along with balanced emotions creates efficiency, flow and in essence more time. You will get more done with the time you have if you choose to incorporate meditation into your daily routine.
This is not simply speculative. Neuroscientists at Harvard University studied the effect of meditation on grey matter in the brain. For eight weeks, they studied a small group who meditated and practiced mindfulness daily. They conclusively proved that the participants had an increase in grey matter in the parts of the brain which regulate learning, memory, emotions, sense of self and perspective. Another studied done in 2005, showed that 40 minutes of daily meditation increased the thickness of the cortical walls which directly affects our decision making, memory and attention span.
Meditation can teach even old dogs, new tricks. The University of Wisconsin showed those devoted to meditation practices have greater neuroplasticity, meaning the physical structure and basic functions of their brains mutates no matter their age. This allows their minds to reach higher levels of gamma wave activity that gives them more control over their reactions and thoughts to move past certain stimulus. This elevated state is not only during their meditations. It stays with them as long as a constant practice is pursued.
A huge benefit to meditation and in turn inner balance is rest. Most of us do not sleep as much as we should and quite often that cannot be helped. Meditation has been shown to give your body the rest it needs. One studied showed it to increase our alertness 10% more than having a nap. So the next time you want to squeeze in shut-eye on your lunch break, consider doing it mindfully with conscious breathing instead.
Meditation does more than just alter the state of your mind and thoughts. It directly impacts your health as well. Mediation can lower high blood pressure. It increases telomerase activity which combats chromosome degeneration decreasing the effects of aging and increasing longevity. It can also increase our white blood cells which boosts our immune system and keeps us healthier! Studies indicate that it decreases inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which flood our systems when we are stressed causing mood swings and depression. With less, we can handle the physical dangers of stress better as well.
The emotional impacts of meditation have been thoroughly understood for some time, but now there is science to back up the claims. Being healthier, more rested, feeling in control, getting more done and having calm, sensible actions and reactions all lead to greater inner balance. The interconnected effects of meditation on the body and the emotions makes it a powerful tool for all of us. Many studies show it alleviates severe, clinical depression and improves overall mood. It also enhances self-awareness which increases self-esteem, confidence, the ability to overcome struggles, and allows you to easily socially adapt.
Terra Origin has long married Eastern concepts with Western science, and we believe in utilizing all the methods we have available to improve our lives, both body and mind. If 40-minute meditations seem to daunting to jump into right away, consider soothing your tensions and stress through our herbal nutraceutical, Inner Balance. The formula is a perfect blend of ancient remedies with modern knowledge using effective herbs and adaptogens to bring your mind into a state of peace. This small step can create the opportunity to meditate by removing the excess anxiety of life and giving you the space to sit and clear your mind.
Start slowly and experiment with the many different forms of meditation available. Perhaps a guided practice will be easier or one that simply has music. Some people prefer to jump into silence with gentle chimes for tracking time. Others do better with physical meditations like Tai Chi. You can even put in noise-cancelling headphones with a background sound of wind, water or white noise and go for a walk allowing your mind to empty with each step. Whatever practices serves you best, you will receive the benefits of a healthier body, a more effective mind and a balanced self.