It’s certainly no secret that modern life is a stressful thing. We all have deadlines at work or in our studies, drama within our social groups, appointments and meetings to get too not to mention any other internal issues or further stresses that may be placed upon us. Overtime, if not properly dealt with, that stress will build up and can cause various physiological and psychological issues. This is where mindfulness comes in.
Anyone that has ever been on a cognitive behavioural course for anger, depression and stress will have heard of the term mindfulness. For those of you that haven’t mindfulness is the process of being able to evaluate internal and external phenomenon at the present time. To take anger for example, as a person begins to feel angry thinking mindfully will allow them to break down the situation and allow themselves to calm down “Why might this person have done this?” “Does it really matter?” etc etc.
Sometimes it is worth taking the time to really sit back and contemplate all of your stresses and why they are causing you grief to allow you to think about how you are going to handle that situation.
So, the concept of mindfulness and it’s benefits are clear. How does furthering that state of contemplation to actual meditation help? Now, I’m not going to lie this was a requested post and I’ve actually yet to try meditation. Doing the research for this post has got me interested though! It’s proven benefits are outstanding!
From as little as 10 minutes of meditation a day for 30 days, scientists have found that it increases cortical thickness (grey matter) in the Prefrontal Cortex (the section of your brain that handles emotional regulation, planning and problem solving) and the Hippocampus (this part of the brain governs memory and learning). It can also decrease functionality in the Amygdala which is responsible for our fight or flight reactions. So meditation can increase memory, your ability to problem solve and reduce your stress levels.
So how does one meditate? One might think of hippies sitting cross legged on a soft matt in the “quarter lotus” position but it’s really not necessary. The key is the spine needs to be as straight as possible so you can sit on a chair, on the edge of your bed, on the floor whatever is best for you. The spine needs to be straight to combat sleepiness. Obviously if you just stop activity the body’s response is to go sleepy. That’s why you feel so lethargic when you are bored. Now your spine is straight you can set a timer on your phone so you aren’t worrying about the time and you close your eyes. Breath purposefully, calmly and deeply but don’t focus on breathing too much. Let it be natural.
Now here is the important bit. You want to clear your mind. Totally blank whatever train of thought is running by it. Now, the brain wants to be active so after a minute or two you are going to start thinking about something that is going on at work or in your personal life. You have to let these thoughts go. Manually think ‘naa it’s just a thought I don’t need to worry about that now’. Let these thoughts come and go but don’t move from this calm still position in your head. Just focus on the present and allow yourself to be calm.
That’s it! The timer goes off and you carry on with your day. There’s no rituals, no weird hippy stuff, no religion. It’s just a way to clear your mind and be totally involved in the present moment.
Thanks for reading, I hope you give meditation a go! I’m going to commit to it and see how it benefits me over time. If you would like to see more of these posts make sure to follow this blog or follow me on the following social media platforms