Tips & Info

Meditation: A needed gift after the holiday rush

Go, go, go! Slowing down seems like the last thing you want to do when you have so many things on your plate, but it may be the best answer. Sometimes you have to move slow to move fast. Or remember the old saying, measure twice, cut once? Meditation allows us to measure (or take stock of and collect) ourselves and our surroundings before we act.

The following are some great reasons to meditate:

Meditation counters the brain’s natural negative bias. The negative bias isn’t bad; it is an evolutionary tool that allows us to avoid danger and bad situations. For some folks, it can be in over-drive. Meditation as a tool can help individuals to counter this natural bias and focus on what is good and positive. And in doing so, it reduces our stress levels. Here’s the research: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3118731/?tool=pubmed published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal in 2011.

Meditation practice also leads to decreased blood pressure and hypertension, lowered cholesterol levels, more efficient oxygen use by the body, increased production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, improved immune function, and decreased anxiety, depression, and insomnia.

Meditation enhances concentration, memory, and the ability to learn. Here’s the research: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/ published by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital in 2011. The research showed that after only eight weeks of meditation, participants experienced benefits associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness and stress regulation. In addition, the meditators reported decreased feelings of anxiety and greater feelings of calm.

Meditation helps to create better relationships through its ability to allow individuals to focus on what is “present” (in front of them such as their partner, friend, or family member) rather than focusing on unrelated worries or concerns. See the research from Harvard above.

Meditation improves creativity and problem-solving skills. Ever been stuck in a thought rut where you can’t let go of something? Ever have so much on your mind that you can’t think? Meditation helps individuals to slow down and focus on specific thoughts, goals, or feelings. See the Harvard research above.

Meditation decreases depression, anxiety, and insomnia. Without being too technical: The process of slowing down our brains triggers the release of neurotransmitters (Chemicals including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins) that are linked to happiness, calm, pleasure, and exhilaration. For more on this effect visit http://www.chopra.com/ccl/why-meditate#sthash.xlpVBzU9.dpuf.