The Science: Why Meditate and How to Start?

Aside from the benefits to our communication skills and daily interactions with others in life here are 12 scientifically backed health benefits that arise from the simple practice of meditation. From decreasing anxiety, stress, and anger to reducing depression, pain, and sleep issues to increasing longevity and our health & wellness span. It is easy to start and only takes minutes per day. Let's take a look at exactly how.


It Starts with Our Thoughts

Our minds are in constant internal dialogue all day long. Most of this conversation runs on auto pilot, completely unbeknownst to us and influences our every interaction—with ourself and with others. It is this dialogue that tells us who we and the people around us are. It tells us what to expect from others, from life and ourselves. Anything and everything triggers these little tapes that run on auto repeat.


These thoughts are typically linked to past events or our perception of those past events; to things that have been said to us, spoken over us; perhaps ideals deep ingrained from childhood not even in our conscious awareness; from upsets and breakups in our life and most importantly how we perceived them. It is our incorrect perception of reality that leads to our suffering.


These thoughts are the very foundation of how we react to people or circumstances. Of why we may or may not reach goals or pursue dreams. Of why we feel bored or down or lonely or worthless or angry or incapable. Of why we tend to react the same way, make assumptions and follow patterns without purpose. You get the picture.


These thoughts run on auto pilot and we simply accept and allow them to dictate our every mood and movement. These thoughts are why one person appears calm and yet another frantic and angry all the time.


The Choice We Have Each Moment

The good news is we have a choice with every thought. We do not have to let our thoughts run and design our life. Instead, we can become aware of these thoughts and get to the root of them. See why we are thinking them. We can then replace or play a new song if you will. Play a track that represents the life you want to live.


This isn’t sticking your head in the sand and ignoring past events. It is seeing them, accepting them, realizing there are multiple truths for any situation, learning from it and then deciding to release the event when it no longer serves you.


Meditation helps us see we are not our thoughts and yet we become what we think about. What we enumerate on we become. We draw more and more of to ourselves.

For thousands of years people have used the practice of meditation to quiet the mind—to become aware of the mind’s myriad stress inducing and emotional activators. To become aware of these constant, ever flowing thoughts so that we may recognize them for what they are and release them, change them, or replace them for a healthier experience in life.


Meditation is simply a way of quieting the mind so we can become aware of our thoughts running in the background. Then through this awareness we learn to take this practice through the entire day. Taking this awareness with us in conversations and interactions with others.


We begin to see the true reason we snap to a judgment, get angry or depressed or feel in a rut or any number of limitations or lack. Why we do things we do not intend to do. It is not typically the action that just happened “causing” us to feel a certain way. Instead it is our perception of past events that have continued to play on auto pilot, morphing into their own version of the event and making us the person we see in the mirror today.


These dialogues cause us to react instead of respond to life. This is why some people seem to always respond the same way and often seem to overreact. This is rooted in the fact they have “reacted” not to the event in front of them, but instead to the perhaps years of a similar story playing on repeat.


What about Scientific Health Benefits?

Aside from the benefits to our communication skills and daily interactions with others in life there are numerous scientifically backed health benefits that arise from the practice of meditation. It is no wonder it has become so mainstream today in the West and is touted as the must-do practice of the successful.


The science shows us that this thousands of years old practice helps to

  • Reduce stress (1)

  • Reduce anger (2)

  • Reduce anxiety (3)

  • Enhance Self-Awareness (4)

  • Achieve emotional balance (5)

  • Lengthen attention span (6)

  • Decrease depression (7)

  • Lower blood pressure (8)

  • Control pain (9)

  • Improve sleep (10)

  • Lower cholesterol (11)

  • Increases the production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA (12)

For even more Benefits of Meditation, visit https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/141-benefits-of-meditation/


In addition to all of these benefits anything that helps to calm and stabilize the mind and to reduce anger and stress adds an exponential benefit to our ability to fight any disease we may face. It helps us to spot those negative thoughts concerning what we perceive to face and stop them in their tracks.


How to Begin? How to Change the Cycle?

The first step is realizing you are not your thoughts. Read that again, you are not your thoughts. Just because you think something does not make it true. Your belief of it is what makes it true to you.


When you learn to become aware of your thoughts, you regain the power to decide how you will feel and act in every moment. No one can make you feel anything. You gain the power to decide how your life will unfold. How you will live. To live full. To live with peace. Stillness. Patience. Love. Compassion. And, purpose.


You regain the ability to see the thoughts. To recognize them. To question them. To dismiss them. To change them. To replace them. Replace them with your truths.


You will learn to question them and ask is this the only truth here? Is this the complete truth? Is there another story to be told here or can I now release this story as it no longer serves me and only holds me back.


You will learn to experience life on your terms and not the whims of actions by other people. After all, remember it is your choice how you feel at any moment—not any other person’s actions, or any event. Yours alone.


How it Starts

In the beginning you will simply experience a calming of the mind and the body. We can all use that. As you practice you will become more aware of your thoughts throughout the day. Of the moments right in front of you. Of the people with you. The opportunities. The actual events happening and the actual truths now.


Through this practice you will also get to know your self. Your true self. Your true being. Your connection to God, or the Universe, or a Higher Power. Your connection to every one around you. To all that is. A new world of simplicity and ease and love and purpose will open to you.

With its vast benefits we should all make this easy practice part of our every day. With only a 2 to 20 minute commitment who would pass this up? There is nothing quirky or new agey about it—although you could find a guru to fit that bill if that is more your style. But a simple practice is just that. Simple.


A single noticed breath in and out is a meditation

The Practice

One simply finds a quiet place, ideally in private, to sit for a number of minutes. If you need more quiet add some ear plugs or headphones. You can sit in a chair, on a pillow on the floor or directly on the floor. There are numerous meditation accessories to make your time more comfortable and special, but getting started on pillow on the floor or in a chair works just fine too. Get comfortable, relaxed. But try and keep your back straight to encourage an alertness. You want to be alert, but relaxed.


Then, you will close your eyes, take several deep breaths to relax your mind and body. Think only of relaxing and clearing the mind. Then try and focus on your breath, in and out. Become aware of any thoughts that enter your mind. See them, recognize them and then release them and return your thought to your breath, in and out.


Don’t worry when your mind wanders—because it will. That is what it does. Just see the thought, recognize it, be aware of it and then release it and return to your breath, in and out. Try to focus there. Return any time you realize you have wandered to a thought.


Start with just 2 minutes and build from there. While you can certainly practice this any time of day—and is a perfect go-to in any stressful situation to calm yourself and regain perspective— an ideal time to practice is at the start of the day. Make this part of your morning routine to set the tone for the rest of the day. Follow with your journaling to record any thoughts or realizations that came your way.


Whether your aim is for a better outlook on life, more peace or calm or any of the myriad health benefits, meditation is a proven modality that costs you nothing, takes little time and gives you life.


Remember: A single noticed breath in and out is a meditation.

 

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