I’m your average person with a full time job and a side hussel. I want to be an entrepreneur and a philanthropist when I grow up (I’m 46). I have bills to pay and relationships to maintain, healthy meals to make, kickboxing classes to get to and not enough hours in the day to do everything. 289 days ago meditation found it’s way into my life and I have never regretted the meeting. I’ve discovered how to live a better life.
The Benefits of Meditation
No one can convince you to meditate. You will find it when you’re ready. There are various reasons people turn to meditation. Many high performers such as gurus, CEOs and elite athletes have a regular meditation practice. On the popular website www.3ho.org, Katrina Everhart writes “while we all have 1,000 thoughts per second, meditation helps train our minds to concentrate or focus on specific things. Contrary to popular belief, we cannot really just empty our minds. We can, however, train them to focus. This focus helps us slow our pulse, which means our blood pressure falls. As blood pressure decreases, blood supply increases to our extremities, warming our hands and feet, and our brain waves change.” Those who are battling illness often turn to meditation to help them cope and to help them heal. The physical effects of meditation are well known. Just 3 minutes of meditation affects our circulation and the stability of our blood. At 11 minutes of meditation the pituitary gland and the nerves start to learn and change. Meditating in the morning affects our levels of cortisol because it’s generally higher in the morning. There are studies that show the difference between the brain of someone who regularly meditates and someone who doesn’t. There’s a great post on Quora about this: https://www.quora.com/How-is-the-brain-of-a-person-who-regularly-meditates-different-from-one-who-doesnt?ref=forbes&rel_pos=1
There are a plethora of meditation apps available. My favourite meditation app is Insight Timer. On this app you will find close to 5000 groups to meditate or chat with. There are groups dedicated to different types of meditation. I regularly practice Kundalini, Vipassana or Buddhist meditations. There are groups for holistic practitioners, for healthcare professionals, for leaders, for vegans and vegetarians. There are also groups for those battling with mental health, chronic pain, anxiety, PTSD etc.
I now set my alarm when I’m on vacation so I’m up before everyone else to do my meditation. At my cousins cottage this summer I excused myself after breakfast for a short meditation. One of my cousins asked if she could join me. Minutes later there were 6 of us crossed legged on the floor. To share your practice with people you love is an indescribable experience. To hold space for someone who is trying meditation for the first time is a serious task. It caused a shift in me.
For me, during meditation things that are not important fall away. This allows me to focus on important things. I’m happy to report that my monkey mind is settling down. I’m also more creative. But it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. Sometimes I cry. This happens because our emotions are translated as very complex chemical reactions. There are three parts of the brain worth mentioning. The first part is the hypothalamus which is buried deep in the centre of our brain and the master regulator of the endocrine system. The second part is the hippocampus which is part of the limbic system that governs learning and memory. It is extraordinarily susceptible to stress. The third part is the amygdala which is associated with feelings of anger, fear and sadness. Through regular meditation these parts of the brain are oxygenated and pressurized with breathing techniques. Crying is a result of the chemistry in your brain changing. Chemicals that were stored for a long time can be released.
Meditation is a growing practice here in the West and many will realize the benefits. If you are able to find your way to meditation you will see that the benefits are beyond physical. If you need help getting there, reach out to your yoga community or try an app. If you’ve tried to develop a practice but can’t seem to stick with it, again reach out. Try different kinds of meditation practices until you find one that resonates with you. Don’t give up. It takes practice. It will be worth the effort. It will change your life.
Nina Baksh lives in Campbell River, BC Canada. She has a technical background in GIS with over 20 years of experience. Her passion project is an app called Health Services Finder. It's a space to connect users with health practitioners. Her personal mission is to make the world a better place, one app at a time.
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“People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.”
- MARCUS AURELIUS