Meditation has been embraced by many cultures for thousands of years as an aid in spirituality, a way to enforce good mental health, and even a way to cure disease.  But how does chanting, concentrating, and focusing your energy make such a huge difference?

Psychology Today reported about a Harvard study where researchers used an MRI machine to watch the brain activity of people as they meditated.  What they found was that parts of the brain that controlled the autonomic nervous system (the section of your brain that regulates automatic, subconscious functions of your body, such as digestion, breathing, perspiration, etc.) were activated.   Coincidentally enough, these functions that are regulated by this system are often affected by stress.  That leads us to believe that meditation counteracts the negative effects of stress at a subconscious level, making the whole body healthier physically.

Remember when we talked about stress?

Stress is bad, to say the least.  It can have all kinds of nasty side effects like higher blood pressure, weight gain, and acne, not to mention the psychological effects, which can leave your brain in a fog and cause emotional turmoil.

There are a lot of different schools of thought on meditation, but here are some basic things you can do to start your practice.

  • Find a quiet place to relax.  Turn the phone off, turn the TV off, turn the computer off.  Make sure you are free from distractions.
  • Breathe.  Inhale and exhale, taking note of each breath.
  • Check in how you feel.  Is there a place of discomfort?  Breathe in and out, using your breath to help ease the discomfort.  Adjust your posture so there is no unnecessary strain on your back.
  • Relax and clear your mind of your to-do lists and your worries.  Concentrate on your breath and your body.

Now let’s hear from you!  Have you ever meditated?  What were some of the challenges you ran into?  How did you feel afterwards?

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