It was a tough day at work and I was feeling the pressure of delivering multiple campaigns to some tight deadlines. Basically the task was looking insurmountable! At my wits end I left the office and sat in the local park, closed my eyes and focused on my breathing. As my breathing slowed, my mind quietened and in this meditative condition I was able to focus and find a way to complete the task. This is an example of the power of meditation in action.
Meditation is so powerful because it makes your focus on the present moment. When you learn meditation techniques you gain the ability to manage your thoughts and not overly stress your brain. Consistent practice will help reduce the symptoms of anxiety, depression, insomnia and stress.
If you lead a busy lifestyle it can be a challenge to find time to meditate. But you will find the power of meditation most abundant at those challenging times. Meditation permits your brain to overcome negative thoughts and sentiments by developing practical thinking.
Additionally it grounds you to be less reliant on external factors. Meditation techniques in practice gives you the power to face and conquer life's toughest challenges by simply taking control of your mind.
Getting your mind focused
A major reason why you may find it difficult to keep your mind focused is not living in the present. It is easy to be on auto-pilot most of the time in this modern life. You wake up, commute to work, come home, watch TV and go to bed.
Typically you do the same thing everyday which is understandable as humans are creatures of habit. With your brain making over 35,000 decisions daily you need an unconscious decision-making system to manage routines. It prevents your brain from overloading!
It becomes a problem when you are not taking any time in your day to mindfully focus on any activities you are doing. When you are not living in the present moment you spend a lot more time worrying about things. Dwelling on past events or making unrealistic plans for the future.
The power of meditation gives you the permission to focus on yourself and block out distractions. Experience all your feelings and thoughts without judgement. Just try to observe them, even the negative ones. Becoming comfortable living in the present moment is the first step in turning off the auto-pilot.
Becoming a master of your mind
Cultivating a regular meditation practice gives you greater access to your most powerful tool, Your Brain. When you meditate your brain stops processing information as actively as it normally would. There is a significant reduction in beta waves indicating the brain is still processing information.
But the most highly evolved section of your brain will go completely offline. It is responsible for emotions, planning, reasoning and self-conscious awareness. Other areas of your brain also slow down considerably which allows you to use the power of your mind to enhance your life.
Meditate for improved health
Numerous specialists have highlighted the link between mental and emotional problems with health and physical afflictions. If you want to improve your health, the power of meditation can have a positive impact and combat the overuse of medication.
High blood pressure
High blood pressure is an ailment that you need to get under control or it can lead to critical health conditions like dementia, heart attack or a stroke. To maintain a healthy blood pressure you need to eat healthy, exercise regularly, avoid alcohol and tobacco and keep stress levels down.
Following an overall healthy lifestyle is the best means to tackle the first 3 points but how do you combat stress effectively? A study in 2007 scientifically proved that Transcendental Meditation(TM) both reduced stress and normalised blood pressure. This is because TM makes your nervous system more resilient and less sensitive to stress.
Manage your Diet
Eating unhealthy food is very addictive for lots of people. If you struggle with your diet and regularly eat unhealthy food it could be related to stress. Do you turn to food when you have a bad day at work or having trouble in your relationships?
By meditating you will be less inclined to rely on food to make you feel better. You will also develop a more natural and healthy attitude towards and less likely to develop an eating disorder. Furthermore meditation is a powerful tool in fighting other addictions like drinking, drugs and smoking.
Mediation for mental health support
You like almost everyone else has to deal with some level of stress throughout your life. Having strategies to be able to manage stress and not letting it affect your mental health are extremely beneficial. The power of meditation has been recognised as a key component in helping to ease mental health conditions.
Management of Stress
A study followed 35 unemployed men and women experiencing the significant stress of trying to find new employment. Introducing mindfulness meditation to them had a positive impact on their ability in processing stress.They were also more calm and focused while going through this very stressful time in their lives.
Finally in blood tests, they also showed lower levels of an important marker of inflammation, even four months after the study.
Reducing your anxiety
Mindfulness meditation's positive impact on the body’s stress responses make it so effective in treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The more you meditate the less anxiety you will experience.
Neural pathways connecting to your Me Center in your brain are loosened through meditation. Your Me Center processes information relating to yourself and your experiences. So it triggers any strong reaction such as feeling scared and under attack.
When the pathways are loosened you are less likely to react strongly to sensations. This is reinforced by strengthening another connection in the brain's pathways at the same time. This connection is with your Assessment Center (reasoning part of the brain) and your bodily sensations and fear centres.
Therefore you are in a better place to handle uncomfortable experiences or upsetting sensations.
An example of this would be staying calm when you are performing under pressure. A 2012 study split a group of human resources managers into three equal sized groups. One group participating in mindful meditation training, another group taking body relaxation training and the last group given no training at all.
A stressful multitasking test was given to all the managers before and after the eight-week experiment. In the final test, the group that had participated in the meditation training reported less stress during the test than both of the other groups.
Meditation replacing medication
The success of meditation in the mental health space has led to some clinicians prioritising it above medication. It is understandable as many mental health sufferers fear the side effects of medication. They are looking for an alternative to taking antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications and now have meditation as a reliable option.
An interesting study published in 2015 highlighted the effectiveness of mindfulness based cognitive therapy (MBCT). The treatment combines meditation with traditional cognitive behavioural therapy. The results showed it was just as effective at preventing recurrence of depression as antidepressants. Even for those with a larger risk of relapsing.
Bigger, Better, Stronger Brain
Meditation is so powerful that it can enhance your brain! There is a strong link to improved rapid memory recall as regular practice can adjust the brain waves that filter out distractions. When you have a strong ability to ignore distractions it makes it easier for you to quickly remember and assimilate new data.
This enhancement to your brain function is very valuable in situations of information overload.
Increasing your brain’s grey matter can lead to more positive emotions.You also will have longer-lasting emotional stability and heightened focus during daily life. When doing meditation you foster beneficial brainwave patterns such as alpha, theta and delta.
You will also see a decrease in age-related effects on grey matter and diminish the decay of your cognitive functioning.
It's quite abundant why meditation is powerful but the only way to really understand the power is to experience the practice. Nowadays it is very easy to start your meditation journey as there are lots of Apps available that can help your start.
If you have a few minutes in the morning or evening (or both), rather than turning on your phone or going online. See what happens if you try quieting down your mind. Or at least paying attention to your thoughts and letting them go without reacting to them.