Om symbol and lotus

Keep calm and carry Ommm.

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Meditation is the ancient practice of calming the mind and now science is catching up with the wisdom of the ages.

Did you know? On functional MRI scans, people who meditate regularly are shown to have developed brains that are wired differently than the brains of non-meditators. In fact, they are better able to remain calm and stress free.

  • One analysis of 47 trials with 3515 participants found that people participating in mindfulness meditation programs had less anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • The other analysis of 167 studies, found evidence that meditation practice is associated with reduced negative emotions and neuroticism, and the impact of meditation was quite comparable to the impact of behavioural treatments and psychotherapy on patients.

Other examples of how meditation can impact health and mental well-being include:

  • Improved immune function and reduced chronic inflammation
  • Increased compassionate behaviour
  • Reduced blood pressure and heart rate
  • Reduced production of stress hormones
  • Enhanced ‘executive function’ such as attention and working memory

What then does this have to do with change?

It seems that when we meditate we start to use different parts of our brain that help us cement the positive changes we would like to make on a daily basis.

All it takes is practice.

Often when I suggest meditation, people will say to me that they don’t know how to. I don’t know how to play golf, but if I went out and swung a nine iron a few thousand times, I imagine I would at least improve, if not get pretty good.

You don’t have to go sit on a mountain top and spend the rest of your days naval gazing to notice benefits.

Some people notice reduced stress from as little as 10 minutes per day.

One well-known study trained people in meditation for eight weeks. The participants, who were new to meditation, ended up meditating for an average of 23 minutes a day. At the end of eight weeks their brain activity had measurably changed, and they showed much higher activation of parts of the brain that are associated with feelings of well-being and less activation of parts of the brain associated with stress. And they were found to have an improved immune response as well. That’s after just 23 minutes a day, on average.

I guess the most important thing is consistency, finding some time each day to take time out for yourself and OMMMMMMMMM on.

Meditation techniques

I’ve tried various forms of meditation over the years. I have done three ten day silent retreats known as Vipassana meditation. Yes! That’s right, I have spent some time not talking….

Personally, my yoga practice helps keep my brains from spilling out in a pile of overthought turmoil!

I like Yoga Nidra to go to sleep to. It relaxes the whole body and gets me ready for some quality zeds.

A great beginning point is Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey’s Meditation Experience. They have a number of 21 day meditations available from Building Abundance (I won a side of lamb when I did that one – not the meat I was hoping for…) to Expanding Your Happiness. They take about 15-20 minutes to do.

Mindfulness meditation involves just being an observer of your thoughts as they wander in and out without judging them as good or bad.

It really doesn’t matter what form your meditations take, but if you are hoping to make positive, lasting change in your life, then it seems meditation is the answer (I don’t remember the question).