Life Coach How to meditate

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Five reasons to meditate

The Dalai Lama famously said that, ‘Sleep is the best meditation.’ But, for many of us, our sleep can too often be interrupted by unrelenting thoughts fuelled by a stressful day at the office.

Indeed, the frantic pace of modern life often leaves us wondering exactly when these seemingly serene, stress-free people (who we all know), find the time to meditate? If only we could all walk around, our yoga mat tucked under our arm, radiating wellness instead of running on caffeine-sustained energy, before collapsing on the sofa at the end of the day.

But the truth is, we can all do this. And meditation could be the key.

In fact, meditation has undergone something of a revolution of late. Once the reserve of spiritual monks and yogis, meditation – in its many forms – has all of a sudden gone mainstream, with an increasing number of us turning to it in order to battle our demons, and quell our cortisol levels. And the truth is, you don’t need to find much time to fit meditation into your daily life. If you do, the benefits will be enormous.

1. Meditation makes you healthier

Perhaps the number one reason to find a quiet space to meditate each day is that it really will make you healthier. Set your alarm half an hour earlier or integrate mindful meditation into your day-to-day activities and you could be giving your body the boost it needs – something that’s backed up by a wealth of scientific research and studies.

Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia found that meditation can lower blood pressure and cut the risk of both heart disease and stroke – two of Australia’s biggest killers, especially for women. A number of other studies have demonstrated meditation’s impact when it comes to reducing chronic pain, alleviating the discomfort felt by cancer patients, and improving symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.

Other, smaller studies have linked meditation to a speeding up of the body’s natural healing processes, and in preventing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

2. Meditation improves your sleep

A good night’s sleep is fundamental to proper-functioning. So if you find yourself counting sheep in order to get some shut-eye, or are struggling through your day thanks to a light, dream-filled sleep the night before, meditation could be the answer. Less than half an hour of meditation per day has been linked to deeper, more refreshing sleep – in fact, many meditation veterans report sleeping fewer hours yet waking up energised and ready to embrace the day.

Research suggests those suffering chronic fatigue are particularly likely to enjoy the sleep benefits of meditation.  Because deep meditation promotes heightened Theta and Delta activity in the brain, this can compensate for a deficiency of slow-wave sleep common to most CFS patients.

3. Meditation soothes your stress levels

Many of us turn to meditation as a last resort when it comes to battling stress and countless studies demonstrate the stress-reducing effects of meditation in healthy individuals.

A significant body of research shows meditation can reduce the levels of cortisol in the body – the so-called ‘stress hormone’ which, if allowed to run riot over a prolonged period of time can weaken the immune system and slow down healing.

And it’s not just us adults who benefit from lowering our stress levels. Integrating meditation and mindfulness techniques into their school lives can help children to reduce stress and anger, and improve mood disorders and depression in teenagers.

The relaxation benefits of meditation don’t just last for the period you spend practising – you should feel more relaxed throughout the rest of the day, too. This means you can handle hard situations with more ease, and often leads to a heightened sense of self-awareness, allowing you to identify – and do something about – any negative patterns that are effecting your life. This more positive approach, therefore, has the effect of further reducing stress in your life… it’s a win win situation.

4. Meditation makes you more intelligent

OK, it may not add up to a degree-level educations but meditation certainly improves your mental clarity, at least. Researchers at Harvard Medical School found meditation can alter the structure of the brain, thickening the regions associated with attention and sensory processing. Other experts suggest meditation increases a person’s ability to remain focused on specific tasks, reduces their reaction time and improves ipsychomotor response.

5. Meditation makes you more creative

Do you wish you had ‘the X factor’? Start meditating and you could be the next big thing. Meditation triggers heightened Alpha and Theta activity in the brain – states of mind  associated with creativity. Some forms of meditation can also result in better synchronisation between the left and right hemispheres of the brain – something that has been identified in electroencephalograph (EEG) readings during moments of inspiration and during participation in creative activities such as singing, drawing and writing.

Tell us about your relationship with meditation. Have you tried it? Have you enjoyed any of these benefits? Or did you not get on with meditation?


About the Author

Lizzy has more than ten years’ experience in the print and digital publishing arena and is the Editor at Single File. Having moved from the UK to Australia in 2008, Lizzy has worked for a number of leading publishers in Sydney and has particular expertise in the health, wellness and travel markets. If you have any questions for Lizzy, you can send them across by email to lizzy@singlefile.com.au.



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