If you have a pulse then you will have noticed in the last 5 years the popularity of meditation has grown significantly. Long gone is the idea of meditation as a fringe, hippy dippy past time. From mega sport stars, to top CEO’s, to your family doctor are all touting the importance of meditation in your life. It lowers stress levels, increases happiness, and can keep you healthy! Apps for your phone have grown in popularity also. Now you can pop in a 5-minute relaxation meditation as you wait in your car to pick your kids up. You can lie down, sit up, chant, or just about anything you want to do. Meditation brings us closer to ourselves in a very personal way. We can tap into our health, mind, and body through meditation. Cultivating a practice of uniting oneself allows us to better know ourselves resulting in feeling more connected. When we know who we are better, we are at our best for others and ourselves.
1. Improve your health!
Lets talk about health. We are nothing without it. Meditation is linked to healthier people. “Our 60-80 trillion cells listen to every word we think or say.” (Use Your Body to Heal Your Mind, p. 212) If we are constantly down about our life/ career/ relationships/ etc., it takes a toll on our immune system. Meditation can help you feel better connected to yourself and your possibilities, thus allowing yourself to ultimately feel better overall. And lets be honest, who couldn’t use more just plain old feeling better. “True, it will help you lower your blood pressure, but so much more: it can help your creativity, your intuition, your connection with your inner self,” says Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse who teaches meditation at the Harvard University Center for Wellness. (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/what-meditation-can-do-for-your-mind-mood-and-health-) When we stop lying with the doom and gloom, we are able to open ourselves up to our lives and live out the best life possible. Happy life equals happy cells, which equal happy immune system!
2. Increase your mind/body connection!
Left to its own devises our brains unfortunately will most likely go to the negative in life. “ Your brain has a built-in ‘negativity bias’ that primes you for avoidance. This bias makes you suffer in a variety of ways. For starters, it generates an unpleasant background of anxiety, which for some people can be quite intense; anxiety also makes it harder to bring attention inward for self- awareness or contemplative practices, since the brain keeps scanning to make sure there is no problem. The negativity bias fosters unpleasant emotions, such as anger, sorrow, depression, guilt, and shame. It highlights past losses and failures, it downplays present abilities and exaggerates future obstacles.” (Buddha’s Brain, p. 42) This information means that we must work our brain out like any other muscle! No lazy brain! Lazy brain leads to negativity, anxiety, and loss of joy. Meditation is one of the most important activities we can do to enhance the positivity in our lives. We need to gain control over our random thoughts and meditation helps to exercise our mind’s desire to worry about everything. We need to help get rid of lazy brain and flex those healthy brain muscles! Meditation is a proven way to do this!
3. Allow your body to feel better.
Our bodies are a vital part of our experience during our lifetime. Treating your body kindly and lovingly can be challenging for many of us. Early on in our lives we like to push ourselves to the max. Only later in life do we usually stop and start to think about our bodies and what we can do to help restore and rebuild the damage of the wear and tear which has accumulated. “ There’s a certain synchronicity that takes place moment by moment between the brain and the body. In fact, as we begin to feel the way we are thinking- because the brain is in constant communication with the body- we begin to think the way we are feeling. The brain constantly monitors the way the body is feeling. Based on the chemical feedback it receives, it will generate more thoughts that produce chemicals corresponding to the way the body is feeling, so that we first begin to feel the way we think and then think the way we feel” (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, p. 57) Meditation can help us feel better and more connected with one’s body. When we are more aware of our thoughts and the quality of them, we can help build our body up with our mind. Mediation makes us tune in and be disciplined with our thoughts.
Listen I get it… I am sitting here writing about the importance of meditation and I may have gone the weekend without meditating… But I always know it’s there for me to come back to. I always know I will feel better, more centered, and healthier after. There are so many new apps for the phone that make it easier then ever! Headspace and Insight are my two favorite. There are more and more places that offer teacher led meditations classes. In Los Angeles, Unplugged Mediation and The Den are two options. Or just experiment at home with your breathing having your eyes closed. Every once in awhile I will try doing visualization mediation with my 4 year-old. Have fun with it! Explore! Don’t try to be perfect! And I will leave you with a quote that inspires me to keep up the practice of meditation (and it haunts me). “To the degree that one’s thinking is out of control, one’s life is out of control” Henry Grayson Ph.D.