This guest blog post is written by Perth-based Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Nicola Garcia, co-founder of Zen Parenting.
Meditation is no longer just for Buddhist monks or serious seekers hoping to reach enlightenment.
When we think of meditation, maybe we imagine sitting on a beach somewhere and being at peace or maybe we just imagine less anxiety and a reduction in the regularity of over-active thoughts.
The mind is an incredible tool for planning and executing creative vision, but we mistakenly think we are our mind. We are not using our mind, it is using us. When you can step back and see that you are separate to your mind, that you can watch your thoughts, it’s truly enlightening. This is yoga.
Meditation is the tool that we use to control the ebb and flow of our thoughts.
Having three children of my own and enjoying the benefits of meditation and mindfulness I am interested in the science behind it. I know I feel like a different person. I feel I have more clarity, more regulation of my emotions, a more stable, centred, clear-thinking mind.
Ancient Yogic scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita and The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali refer to meditation as the path to ecstasy, to universal oneness, to God. Modern-day hopes for meditation are less lofty.
Why Should I Meditate?... I Don't Have Any Time To.
In looking at the different programs for meditation and mindfulness, the number one reason for meditation seems to be to de-stress.
Deepak Chopra says, “We live in such an anxiety driven society that what we are looking for is the best way to manage stress, but what we should be looking for is peace, equanimity, love and enjoyment of our experiences.”
I think one goal leads to the other. Let’s manage our stress so that we can open up the pathways to peace and then feel that universal oneness.
Scientific research demonstrates the real change meditation can have on our bodies.
Scientific research says that meditational benefits go deeper than just what we notice. Meditation is changing our DNA. Meditation is reaching down into each and every one of our cells and changing its structure.
A study on cancer patients noted that the group who meditated had their telomeres, which are stretches of DNA that prevent chromosomal deterioration, intact, compared to the control group whose had shortened with the disease.
We are making physiological changes to the brain when we meditate, increasing memory, sense of self, empathy and stress regulation.
There have been extensive brain scans to prove this, using MRIs on short and long term meditators. The results show the brain centre for attention and focus lights up during meditation and in long-term meditators, increases in size.
Professor Richard Davidson compares mental practice to physical exercise. “We all know that if an individual works out on a regular basis, that can change cardiovascular health,” he says. “In the same way, these data suggest that certain basic mechanisms of the mind, like attention, can also be trained and improved through systematic practice.”
Often in life when something is good, well it’s just too good to be true. Chocolate tastes amazing – the pleasure centres in your mind go wild for it – but it’s not good for you. The thing about meditation is that there is no downside.
You might try to argue that taking time out of your day to meditate is a down-side – you are losing productivity, but that’s not true. The research shows you that it actually increases productivity. I know that I get things done quicker, more proficiently and perhaps more intelligently when I have meditated and have a regular meditation practice.
What daily benefits will I notice from meditation?
✅ Sleep better
✅ Use oxygen more efficiently and have more energy
✅ Have increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA
✅ Have lower cholesterol levels
✅ Have decreased blood pressure and hypertension
✅ Have lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress
✅ Are more emotionally attuned
So how can I begin to meditate?... Simple, it's as easy as 1, 2, 3!
1) Sit for a couple of moments
2) Breathe in and out
3) Be completely present and take your mind back, again and again, to your breath.
Inner peace is totally possible, even in this fast-paced world.
Turn off your phone. Go out in nature. Watch a sunset. Read a book. Snuggle down and watch a movie with a loved one. You will feel it.
It may be small and fleeting right now but the more you practice yoga the longer that feeling will last.
HI! I’M NICOLA
I believe that inner peace is one of the most important things you can cultivate in yourself. Especially as a Mother. Calm is truly a superpower when you have kids right? We can all be amazing role models for our kids by showing them how to be content, joyful and free. Yoga and Meditation are such incredible tools for inner transformation and I can’t wait to teach them to you.
If you would like to learn more about meditation and improve the wellbeing within your family, I run Zen Parenting courses in Perth. The next one is on the 17th February at 10am in Shenton Park. You can learn more and book here https://www.trybooking.com/BAHUB.
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