1.Meditation helps reduce Stress and Burnout
In meditation, your body releases stress and reverses the effects of the fight-or-flight response—that ancient instinct we all have to either run from perceived danger or take it on in battle. Intended as a short-term protection mechanism, the fight-or-flight response causes our body to speed up our heart rate, increase our blood sugar, suppress our immune system, reduce insulin production, pump out stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, and reduce the blood supply to our digestive organs. Many of us live in a prolonged state of fight or flight, generating stress in response to bad traffic, criticism, or a disagreement.
Regular meditation dissipates accumulated stress and cultivates a state of restful
alertness. There are many compelling studies showing the power of meditation to
relieve stress and promote inner calm. For example, a 2011 study published in the
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal found that full-time workers who spent a few hours each week practicing mindfulness meditation reported a significant decrease in job stress, anxiety, and depressed mood.
2.Meditation helps create loving relationships
When you’re feeling balanced and centered, it is much easier to respond with
awareness rather than reacting in an aggressive way or saying something that creates toxicity in our relationships.
Meditation cultivates equanimity and compassion, allowing you to be present with loved ones, clients, or co-workers and really listen to what they are saying and what they may need. As we meditate on a regular basis, it helps us develop what I learned at Chopra Center is known as witnessing awareness—the ability to calmly and objectively observe a situation, notice when you are being triggered, and consciously choose how you want to respond. The ability to be present and aware is extremely valuable in every relationship with yourself, your family and friends.... or even with food. ;-)
3.Meditation improves focus, memory and ability to learn
While scientists used to believe that beyond a certain age, the brain couldn’t change or grow, we now know that the brain has a quality known as plasticity, enabling it to grow new neurons and transform throughout our lives.
Meditation is a powerful tool for awakening new neural connections and even transforming regions of the brain. A major study led by Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital found that after only eight weeks of meditation, participants experienced beneficial growth in the brain areas associated with memory, learning, empathy, self-awareness, and stress regulation (the insula, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex). In addition, the meditators reported decreased feelings of anxiety and greater feelings of calm.
Many other studies provide evidence for the value of meditation in improving the
ability to stay focused in a world filled with increasing distractions and demands on our attention. For example, research conducted by the UCLA Mindful Awareness Center showed that teenagers and adults with ADHD who practiced various forms of meditation for just eight weeks improved their ability to concentrate on tasks, even when attempts were made to distract them.
4.Meditation Improves Creativity and problem solving
We each have between 60,000 and 80,000 thoughts a day—unfortunately, many of them are the same thoughts we had yesterday, last week, and last year. The mind
tends to get stuck in repetitive thought pattern that squeeze out the possibility for new ideas and inspiration. Meditation is a powerful practice for going beyond our habitual, conditioned thought patterns into a state of expanded awareness. We connect to the field of infinite possibilities or pure potentiality, and we open to new insights, intuition, and ideas. The world’s great innovators, athletes, and other high achievers have described this state of expanded awareness as “being in the flow,” being in the right place at the right time, or a state of grace. It seems as if you do less and accomplish more. You aren’t burdened by the past or worried about the future; you’re flowing in the eternal now. This higher state of consciousness is the birthplace of all creativity.
5.Meditation helps reduce Depression and Anxiety.
The emotional effects of sitting quietly and going within are profound. The deep state of rest produced by meditation triggers the brain to release neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. Each of these naturally occurring brain chemicals has been linked to different aspects of happiness. Meditation choreographs the simultaneous release of these neurotransmitters, something that no single drug can do—and all without side effects.
A growing body of medical research is providing scientific evidence that meditation and practicing awareness alleviates depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood-related disorders. For example, a pivotal study led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco, found that participants who underwent a short, intensive meditation program were less depressed, anxious, and stressed, while also experiencing greater compassion and awareness of others’ feelings.
Meditation also can benefit people suffering from chronic pain, potentially decreasing or eliminating the need for medication. A study conducted by Wake Forest University School of Medicine found that participants who attended four 20-minute training sessions over the course of four days experienced a sharp reduction in their sensitivity to pain. In fact, the reduction in pain ratings was significantly greater than that found in similar studies involving placebo pills, morphine, and other painkilling drugs.
6.Meditation promotes relaxation and restful sleep.
Many of us live in a state of chronic deprivation which makes it difficult for us to show up as our most balanced, creative, inspired selves at work. In fact, a lack of sleep and insomnia can make it difficult for us simply to stay awake on the job. A regular meditation practice is extremely restful for the body and mind. In meditation, the brain starts producing more alpha waves, which are associated with deep relaxation. Meditation restores our body’s inner balance called homeostasis, which is the optimal state for healing and repair. This does NOT mean we don't need sleep. Sleep is much needed to gain rest and rejuvenate our physical body and mind but meditation practice provides the state in which balance and harmony occurs in our system.
Are you inspired to mediate... yet? :-)