You don’t need to be a yoga expert or a mystic. Take deep breaths and sit down and try mindfulness…
What we mean by awareness is actually the state of being aware of oneself and the environment with an open mind. If you think of only Buddhist monks or lotus sitting when you think of meditation, think again, a little mindfulness meditation is actually an easy and effective practice that everyone who lives in a stressful city life needs.
Don’t worry if you haven’t experienced it before or if you think you don’t know how to meditate, when you try to sit still, concentrating only on your breathing, your mind will slow down and you will become more realistically aware of yourself and your surroundings. You’ve already done your first meditation!
Scientists describe the benefits of mindfulness-based meditation as extraordinary. Here are the awareness benefits backed by science that you should know about:
If you are suffering from aches and pains in your back, neck, or any other part of your body, part of it may be due to your mind. According to research published in the Journal of Neuroscience, an 80-minute meditation cuts nearly half of the perception of pain.
Another University of Montreal study compared subjects who meditated for at least 1,000 hours with a group that didn’t do anything to see if their regular practice of meditation affected their perception of pain. The result overwhelmingly revealed that meditators had a much higher pain threshold.
How Does? By helping you focus your thoughts on the present moment. According to research published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, mindfulness meditation exercises – allowing the individual to focus on momentary thoughts – improve women’s sex life.
Apparently, self-judgmental voices fill the woman’s mind during sex, preventing her from enjoying the current experience. However, women who meditate are more stimulated and get more pleasure than those who do not.
According to research published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, people who meditate for a long time have more cortical folds in their brains, allowing them to process information faster. It also prevents the habit of clinging to past events that disrupt the thinking and decision-making process. Even 15-minute meditation sessions, where you will focus on your breath, will be enough for you to think more clearly.
A group of American infantrymen awaiting deployment underwent 8 weeks of mindfulness meditation training. At the end of this period, significant improvements were seen in mood and working memory. These improvements also improved the infantry’s ability to short-term retrieval and storage of information.
Researchers highlight that mindfulness meditation works even in extremely stressful and emotional situations. They even state that it causes building a ‘mental armor’.
Research conducted at Northeastern University’s College of Science found that more than 50 percent of people who participated in a meditation group were more compassionate.
Another study published in Plos One suggested that experienced and inexperienced meditators all had more brain activity in areas associated with empathy while meditating.
The seemingly absurd practice of ‘thinking not to think’ has been observed to help people focus by freeing the mind from distractions.
According to research conducted with brain scans, also published in Plos One, Zen meditation exercises allow an individual to focus on their posture and breathing, freeing them from stray thoughts in their head. Meditation improves focus and attention span, even on boring stimuli.
Richie Davidson, a neurologist, and Paul Ekman, one of the world’s leading researchers with an interest in emotions, came together to conduct a series of studies on Lama Oser, the Dalai Lama’s right-hand man and a European monk with more than 30 years of meditation experience.
The researchers discovered that Lama Oser’s ratio of left-to-right prefrontal cortex activity (MRI scanned and compared to 175 humans) was literally off the charts. The rate of prefrontal cortex activity associated with flexibility and sobriety was well above normal, largely due to years of discipline.
A pilot study conducted at the Beth Israel Women’s Chaplain Medical Center suggests that positive brain changes associated with mindfulness meditation, such as stress reduction, may be the answer for slowing the progression of age-related cognitive disorders (such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia).
Alzheimer’s patients who participated in the study showed less cognitive decline after 8 weeks of mindfulness-based stress reduction. What’s more, patients who participated in the mindfulness-based program reported increased well-being, which, albeit incidentally, helped speed recovery.
Two main factors determine creativity levels: divergent thinking (developing many different ideas) and convergent thinking (solidifying these ideas into one brilliant concept).
Leiden University researchers, led by Cognitive Psychologist Lorenza Colzato, examined the effects of two different meditation practices on divergent and convergent thinking and concluded that mindfulness meditation improves both types of thinking.
According to a Carnegie Mellon University study led by J. David Creswell, when adults aged 40 and older meditate for 30 minutes each for 8 weeks, feelings of loneliness decrease.
This is not a surprising result, because when feelings of resilience and compassion increase, people who achieve a happier and fuller view of life move away from loneliness and self-pity.
“You have to train your mind just as you build your muscles in the gym,” Creswell says.