I feel inspired to write about meditation as it’s a topic that has arisen in many conversations with clients, friends and family of late. As some of you may know, I have been practising meditation for about 20 years, on & off. I first learned meditation when I spent time in a Buddhist Monastery in my early 20’s & I have attended silent meditation retreats over the years. I don’t identify as a Buddhist as such but I have developed a regular meditation practise & I find that the results are well worth the effort.
What is it?
Meditation is the practise of mindfulness, that is, being fully aware in the present moment without the mind wandering to past or future. It is simply noticing what is here, right now, without the running commentary in the mind.
- Calm the mind and reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety & depression
- Improve immunity
- Improve concentration
- Improve sleep
- Reduce pain
- Significantly lowers cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in the body in order to cope with stress. Persistently high levels of cortisol in the body is associated with heart disease, diabetes, dementia, cancer and depression.
- Retrains the mind to stop the incessant chatter about the past & future, which causes stress.
- Retrains the mind to focus whole-heartedly on one thing at a time ie this moment.
- There are plenty of studies showing that the parts of the brain involved in memory & learning increase in size with meditation, whilst those parts involved in anxiety & depression decrease.
- Helps with pain by reducing tension in the body.
Resources to get you started:
- Free Mindfulness Meditation recordings from Sydney University
- Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn is a scientist who has been practising Mindfulness for over 40 years. There is an American 60 Minutes interview with him on this website that is worth a watch.
- Book “10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in my Head, Reduced Stress without Losing my Edge, and Found Self-help that Actually works – A True Story” by Dan Harris. A great book about one person’s journey in discovering mindfulness. It’s funny too.
- Jack Kornfeld has also been practising Mindfulness for over 40 years.