Meditation and the Brain

OHMMMM… With the stress of modern life most people seek some sort of retreat. Often times this manifests as a vacation adventure, internet search, blog or book, television show or movie. This does in a sense allow a break to enjoy life, but have you actually allowed your brain to completely shut off?

Meditation is said to help us realize our emotions as we deal with the suffering and joy of life, bringing to the middle (a balance in the present moment). Meditation is seeing the mind and differentiating parts of an experience (the present and the perception). Many cultures have a form of meditation, most are familiar with Buddhist meditation. Brahma meditation focuses on loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity. Vipassana meditation quiets the mind through concentration and mindfulness.

When we intentionally shape our attention through mindfulness, we induce long-term changes in brain function and structure. This is neuroplasticity- how the brain changes in response to repeated experience.

Psychologically, there are often problems stemming from too much rigidity or chaos that meditation can bring balance to. Common psychosomatic disorders that are alleviated through a meditative practice are: anxiety, binge eating, mind chatter, compulsive disorder, borderline personality disorder, drug addiction, chronically relapsing depression, and perceived stress (to name a few).

Through regular practice, there is improved self-perception, confidence, optimism and self-control. Look at meditation as kindness to yourself and your own life experience. When it comes to choosing a meditative practice that is appropriate for you my advice is to explore options. There are several guided meditations (visual- i.e. chakra meditation), focus meditations (for example candlelight and Hamsah- third eye meditation, or breath meditation), also deity meditations (for example Brahma or Jana- nature meditation). Chanting is often times used to maintain or heighten a meditative state, and yoga asanas and breath work are used in preparation. Zen meditation is one of the most disciplined styles, and you can always start with disconnecting with outside distractions by being outdoors in nature away from other people.

However you choose to start a regular practice is your choice and comfort level. There is always room for your practice to deepen and take new forms. In modern society, meditation may be one way to bring harmony and balance to your busy life.

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