Thursday, March 26, 2015

6 Compelling Reasons to Meditate

Meditation: Why it is good for your Mental and Physical Health

Meditation is the art of focusing 100% of your attention in one area. In the area of mindfulness meditation we're starting to get a better understanding of why it seems to be beneficial for so many aspects of life, from disease and pain management, to sleep, to control of emotions. What is Mindfulness exactly, as described by Perspectives on Psychological Science Study mindfulness is a "the nonjudgmental awareness of experiences in the present moment"

Here are 6 compelling reasons to begin a meditation practice:
  • IT LOWERS STRESS - LITERALLY - Research published in the journal of Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, its also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  • IT CHANGES THE BRAIN IN A PROTECTIVE WAY - University of Oregon researchers found that integrative body-mind training -- which is a meditation technique -- can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness. The meditation practice was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain, something called axonal density, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin) around the axons in the anterior cingulate brain region.
  • IT MAKES MUSIC SOUND BETTER -  Mindfulness meditation improves our focused engagement in music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we're listening to, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Music. 
  • IT SUPPORTS YOUR WEIGHT-LOSS GOALS - Trying to shed a few pounds to get to a healthier weight? Mindfulness could be your best friend, according to a survey of psychologists conducted by Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association. Mindfulness training was considered an "excellent" or "good" strategy for weight loss by seven out of 10 psychologists in the survey. 
  • IT HELPS US EVEN WHEN WE'RE NOT ACTIVELY PRACTICING IT - You don't have to actually be meditating for it to still benefit your brain's emotional processing. That's the finding of a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which shows that the amygdala brain region's response to emotional stimuli is changed by meditation, and this effect occurs even when a person isn't actively meditating.
  • IT MAKES YOU A BETTER PERSON - Sure, we love all the things meditation does for us. But it could also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, "do-good" behavior.
Interested in starting a meditation practice?  Be realistic in your expectations. Training or taming the mind is a skill to develop over a lifetime. Sure, there are some immediate benefits to be found, but some take longer than others. If expectations are too high then you may well feel disappointed and demotivated at some stage. So just take one day at a time. 
A wonderful method to try is simply breathing! Breathing Meditation: This technique takes those pre-yoga class "Oms" to the next level. Also called yogic breathing or Pranayama, this meditation style is all about controlling the inhales and exhales. Greatist Expert Dr. Jeffrey Rubin explains, "Longer exhales tend to be calming, while longer inhales are energizing. For meditative purposes either the ratio of exhale to inhale is even or the exhale is longer than the inhale for a calming effect."

Interested in exploring meditation a bit more, come try Candlelight Yin Yoga Sunday evenings 7:00PM-8:30PM at Sana Vita Studio.  This meditative style of yoga holds postures for longer lengths of time, increasing flexibility, melting away tension, decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety, and increasing a sense of calmness and peacefulness. CLICK HERE for more information of to sign up!