From a wellness standpoint, the best way to improve brain health is meditation—now more than ever. Each generation alive today is bombarded with information and has fallen victim to the “Have Now” culture.
In the recent past, people would have to wait to get music, books, movies, and consumer products. Today–Amazon gets it to you within hours if you want. Think about your life 10 years ago, 15 years ago, 20 years ago. When you were bored, what did you do then compared to now? How often did you sit in quiet contemplation because there wasn’t any other choice?
Today, as soon as we are bored, out comes a device. Waiting in line at the market… Commercials on TV…Waiting at the doctor’s office… I know I fall victim to this as well. When I cook, I listen to an audiobook. When I run, I listen to music. However, when I feel really stressed, I try to switch everything off and enjoy the simple act of cutting an onion or listening to the leaves rustle, and my feet pound the pavement. It is important to train our brains to fight the “Have Now” culture, and remember how to sit in quiet contemplation again.
This is where meditation comes in. Meditation comes in many forms, but it all serves the same purpose: to quiet the mind, increase self-awareness in your emotional, mental, and physical self, and improve your overall life.
Research has shown that daily meditation strengthens areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention, and self-awareness.
Not only that, a daily meditation practice can also help calm the sympathetic nervous system, keeping you out of fight or flight and putting you into a state of calm.
What is meditation? Well, that is a big question because there are so many types. One type that many of you may have tried or at least are familiar with is prayer. It doesn’t matter to whom or what you pray, but you are using quiet contemplation to work through your emotions and give yourself to a higher power.
I’m not saying that meditation is religious. It is not. It is merely a tool to help you calm the body and quiet the mind, which is exactly what prayer does for most.
A popular form of meditation is moving meditations like Yoga, Tai Chi, and QiGong, which all match breath to movement, allowing the mind to relax and help you become more in tune with your body. Anyone can do these styles of meditation, and have tons of variations to accommodate any age or ability.
Another meditation is chanting. Using one’s voice is a powerful tool. With chanting, the vibrations in the throat and nondescript sounds act like white or brown noise. Brown noise differs from white noise by using lower frequencies to affect our emotional state and help improve sleep and anxiety.
Yet another form of meditation is visual or guided meditation. In this type of meditation, a practitioner guides you to a meditative state through visual description and cues to help you relax. Imagine you are in a cool forest under a canopy of trees. Feel the springy grass beneath your toes…
Lastly, is breathwork, which is simply consciously controlling your breath. This is my favorite and has gotten me out of many tough situations. I use it for migraines, pain control, insomnia, memory, and to soothe. Recently, I underwent a cervical spinal fusion, and instead of dipping into the opioids, I used breathwork. Sadly, chanting was out since they went through my throat—which is my preferred pain control.
To sum up, meditation helps us to stop and take the time to reflect on our day and give our brains the chance to absorb and retain those events, feelings, words, or thoughts for the future. In this fast-paced world, we don’t take the time each day to sit with our thoughts; meditation gives us that opportunity. The effects on the brain are one more added perk to the many other benefits meditation can have on your life.
Airmid’s Meditation Offerings:
New to meditation? Try Jesse’s Meditation for Beginner’s Workshop on Fri. November 7th from 7p-8p.
Having difficulty sleeping? Try Radiant Rest Meditation on Sundays at 9:30a.
Need a lunchtime pick-me-up? Try Get Grounded to Manage Stress on Tuesdays at 12p.
Need to relax and pamper yourself? Try Self Care Healing Workshop on Sunday, December 3rd, from 4p-5:30p.
Check out our Movement Classes.