Trying to handle the chaos of everyday life can often leave us with scattered thoughts, misplaced energy, and no peace of mind. While you can’t always choose what happens in your external environment, you can certainly take control of your own mind rather than let it control you. How? Simply by meditating for a bit each day. Meditation is proven to relieve stress and help you think through daily obstacles more clearly. After observing brain scans of long term meditators, Harvard neuroscientist Sara Lazar found that meditating can actually rewire your brain to make you overall happier and healthier in mind, body, and spirit.
First, let’s talk mindfulness. According to Business Insider, giving our mind some much needed time to decompress from its everyday stresses actually trains it to work harder when we really need that extra brainpower. This leaves us better equipped to take on the workplace, social situations, and personal relationships. Lazar’s first study shows long term meditators have more gray matter in the auditory and sensory cortex and the frontal cortex of the brain than those who never meditate. This enhances your senses, allows for better decision making, and improves your working memory. When you’re able to block out the day to day distractions and truly listen to yourself, you allow your brain to focus on what it really needs to perform at its best.
So since mediation isn’t a typical workout, how can it improve our physical health? According to this study, mindfulness meditation increases the amount of antibodies that fight off disease and improves overall immune function. Another study proves that meditating regularly increases your tolerance to pain when faced with an unpleasant stimulus. Additionally, observation at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine proved that meditative practice reduced blood pressure and allowed patients to lower their medication doses over time.
Lastly, meditation is proven to boost your spirits and increase more positive emotions. It teaches you how to slow down, process your own internal thoughts, and move forward with them positively and effectively. Not only does it make your own feelings clearer, but also helps you to more deeply connect with others socially and emotionally. While also reducing anxiety, stress, and depression, regular mediation can greatly impact the way you perceive and handle yourself as well as those around you.
Lazar’s data shows that all these changes in the brain are noticeable after only eight weeks of semi-regular meditation. With various tools easily accessible such as guiding podcasts, YouTube videos, books, and in-studio meditation classes, there’s no reason not to give it a try. Whether you can commit 5 minutes a day a few times a week or an hour every day to your practice, meditation has incredible benefits to offer our minds, bodies, and spirits at the pace you see fit for your own lifestyle.