Private Meditation

Meditation

is the habitual process of training your mind to focus and redirect your thoughts. It helps to increase awareness of yourself and your surroundings, which allows you to take a step back from reacting to impulses. This, in turn gives you the space to act from a calmer more centered space of mind. 

Meditation can be used in conjunction with your own spiritual practice or prayer.
It may also be practiced free from any spiritual or religious beliefs as a tool for greater health and wellbeing in itself.

Thanks to the rising popularity of meditation, scientists are increasingly studying the effects of this practice on the human brain. Thus, its benefits are now scientifically confirmed through fMRI and EEG.
(fMRI Functional magnetic resonance imaging measures the changes in blood flow that occurs with brain activity. EEG, electroencephalogram is a test that records and tracks brain wave patterns)
The practice has thus been shown to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits - from changes in grey matter volume to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.

What does this mean for you and for the practical benefits that you can reap from a regular meditation practice?
  • preserves the aging brain: regular meditation practice helps preserve the volume of grey matter in the entire brain. Subjects tested were non-meditators and regular meditators.
  • reduces activity in the brain's "Me Center": A Yale University study found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), which is responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts - the kinds that induce ruminating, worrying about past and future etc. And when the mind does wander, because of the new connections that form, meditators are better at snapping back out of it.
  • reduces symptoms of depression, anxiety and pain: a study by Johns Hopkins found that the effect size of meditation on the brain was equal to that of anti-depressant drugs. 
  • improves learning, memory and emotional regulation and reduces fear, anxiety and stress: a Harvard team of researchers found that meditation increases cortical thickness in the hippocampus, which governs learning and memory. Certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotion regulation and self-referential processing were also improved. There were decreases in brain cell volume of the amygdala, which is responsible for fear, anxiety and stress. These findings were all congruent with the improvements in psychological wellbeing reported by the participants of the study. 
  • improves concentration and attention: one study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people's focus and memory during the verbal reasoning section of the GRE (Graduate Record Examinations USA & Canada), which increased by 16%!
  • reduces anxiety and social anxiety: mindfulness meditation has been found to reduce anxiety thanks to those self-referential "Me-Centered" thoughts in the brain that are reduced and regulated. A Stanford University team also found that mindfulness meditation brought about positive changes in brain regions that brought about relief from symptoms of social anxiety.
  • can help with addiction: Studies have shown that, given its effects on the self-control regions of the brain, meditation can be very effective in helping people recover from various types of addiction. Meditation helps to "decouple" the state of craving from the act of giving in to a craving so that the one does not always have to lead to the other. The person fully experiences and rides out the "wave" of craving until it passes. 

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass by -
It's about learning to dance in the rain!

Anonymous