May 16, 2019
Every man can, if he so desires,
becomes the sculptor of his own brain.
– Santiago Ramon Y Cajal
I highly recommend reading Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Much Meditation Changes your Mind, Brain, and Body written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, both leading PhD scientists and New York Times–best selling authors.
In their book they share how meditation not only leads to pleasant mind states but also to altered traits, that is personality traits that remain and endure after meditation sessions have ended. And that with just two weeks of 8 minutes of daily meditation, participants can start experiencing short term changes to their brains, including less reaction to stress, better focus, less mind wandering, improved memory, more compassion, and less bodily inflammation.
On a more personal note, clients have shared receiving the following benefits from a meditation practice:
- A self-awareness and awareness of the environment around them
- A calmer, more grounded presence
- Improved ability to regulate emotions, navigate difficult situations, and manage conflict
- Gains in creativity and innovative thinking
- Deeper active listening skills (being more present and patient)
- More compassion towards others and less critical of one’s self
- Improved concentration, engagement, and focus
- Enhanced perspective (the ability to see different sides and points of view)
- Stronger, richer, and more fulfilling relationships
More about Meditation .....
Meditation The practice of setting aside quiet time to calm our mind and relax our whole body by focusing on our breath, other body sensations, sound, sight, or mantra. Meditation is training for the mind; it involves an internal effort to self–regulate the mind; turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.
Alexis Santos, meditation teacher and mindfulness expert, shares that meditators have three jobs:
Relate to Experience Skillfully To be in wise relationship with what is by not taking things so personally. Thoughts, emotions, and feelings come and go based on certain causes and conditions, so we can see things as being part of nature.
- Develop Awareness Is the mind aware of thoughts, emotions, and sensations? Welcoming and accepting the present moment versus resisting.
- Balance and Steady the Mind Anchoring the mind by focusing on the breath or something else like another body sensation, sound, sight, or mantra.
Mindfulness versus Meditation Mindfulness is a capacity of mind – a way of relating to whatever is happening – while meditation is an activity, a thing you do. If mindfulness is like strength training and flexibility, meditation is like running or going to the gym.
The Mind-Body Connection Routine stressors in the workplace – an abrasive email, a contentious conversation, a high-stakes meeting – feel as real and as threatening to us today as a potential attack from a saber tooth tiger did thousands of years ago. Whether it’s a tiger or an angry colleague, we have basically the same physiological response – that is, we get triggered, stressed, and go into a “fight or flight mode.”
To better understand how meditation positively affects your physiology and helps manage your triggers, consider these scientific findings:
Brain – The amygdala, an almond-shaped structure in the brain, is responsible for handling our emotions. When we become triggered, we experience an “amygdala hijack.” Blood literally leaves our brain and moves towards our limbs, so we can either fight or flee. This also negatively impacts our memory and cognitive function. A regular meditation practice will improve your mental clarity and reduce the intensity and recovery time of stressful emotional triggers.
Heart – When we become triggered, the stress hormone cortisol is released, making us more susceptible to heart attack, stroke, and hypertension. A regular meditation practice will help you manage stress and its harmful effects by reducing cortisol levels in the bloodstream. This leads to slowing your heart rate and lowering your blood pressure, helping you control your breathing and remain calm.
Immune System – A strong immune system is critical to maintaining overall health. Antibodies, which fight bacteria and viruses, are critical to a strong immune system. Meditation has been shown to boost activity in the areas of the brain that command the body’s immune system, making it work more effectively. Studies have also shown that meditation boosts antibodies in the blood.