When was the last time you stopped to do – nothing? Most of us are so distracted in the world in which we live that we are no longer present or aware of our routinized, patterned, distracted behavior. We are so used to this pattern of distraction – staring at our phones, our televisions, driving our cars, scarfing down our food – that we all think, well, that’s just the way life is. But – it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you can incorporate a short meditation (5-10 minutes) at the beginning and the end of your day, simply breathing in and out and clearing your mind of the 60,000-80,000 of thoughts barreling into your mind throughout the day, science has proven this can literally change the size and shape or your brain. And not only that, it can change your life!
During meditation there is a strengthening of the connections of the frontal lobes and the back of the brain. The frontal lobes govern decision making, planning, judgement, ethical reasoning, sense of self, etc. Stress and anxiety takes the frontal lobes off-line and the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with stress and anxiety takes over. During meditation, the frontal lobes are continually strengthened and because of neuroplasticity or the ability of the brain to change, if done consistently, these changes can be long lasting.
The research shows that during meditation your brain and your entire body falls into a state of rest and relaxation, which allows the build up of stress, fatigue, tension and anxiety to dissolve. When we meditate, the stress hormone, cortisol drops by 30% and our serotonin neurotransmitters, known as the “happy chemical” and the reproductive hormone prolactin increases. There is a measured reduction in high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart attacks, stroke, anxiety disorders and depression.
I have been working with my clients on incorporating these simple daily practices into their busy lives and almost all are reporting that these few minutes in the morning and at night are gradually creating lasting change in their lives. They now have a deeper awareness that their thoughts, which control 47% of our minds do not have to completely govern their existence.
Learning how to be more mindful and living in the present moment is a lifelong learning process that can begin right now! Stepping back and witnessing our thoughts coming and going without judgement and with a relaxed focused mind is an entirely new, more balanced way to live. Incorporating meditation into my life has taught me more about myself than any book, person or outside source could ever teach. Knowing that at all times I have the opportunity through meditation to gain a different perspective and to see things aren’t always the way they appear and that I cannot change what happens in my life, but can change the way I experience it.
As Andy Puddicombe, founder of Headspace tells us, “All we need to do is take 10 minutes out of our day.”