Why Meditation?

In this blog, we will explore some of the benefits of meditation and why it's something I would recommend for anyone looking to calm their mind, work through some harbored emotions/feelings, stress, anxiety, or work on their self-actualization.


First, I want to outline a couple of things for some context before diving in.


The phrase "Self-Actualizing" and what it actually means. By definition, "self-actualization is achieved when you can reach your full potential. Being truly self-actualized is considered the exception rather than the rule."

Self-Actualizing starts with something most of us are familiar with from our high school/college psychology class. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs. This map represents all the various needs that motivate human behavior. The Hierarchy is displayed as a pyramid, with the lowest levels representing basic needs and more complex needs located at the top of the pyramid. At the peak of this Hierarchy is self-actualization. The Hierarchy suggests that when the other conditions at the base of the pyramid have been met, you can focus your attention on this pinnacle need for self-actualization. (Here is a link for the 9 characteristics of self actualized people).

A quick history of Meditation: The most common conception of meditation was coined by Buddhists that lived high in the mountains in the temples of Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya, Bihar, India. Meditation, however, extends beyond that. The earliest dates of the practice start to show over 1500 years BCE (Before Common Era). Meditation had been an integral part of the earliest forms of the Vedic/ Hindu, schools in India. In the 6th to 4th centuries BCE era, the Chinese Taoist, and Indian Buddhist traditions began to adapt and develop their own versions of meditation practice till it traveled west and ended up here.

As meditation was practiced and adopted through several cultures and religions to attune the body and mind to attain enlightenment or to get closer to their deities/God(s). As it progressed, meditation became more than just about enlightenment; it served different needs like concentration and mindfulness meditation to be purposeful in thoughts that serve a greater mental, physical, and spiritual growth.

A practice that ultimately assists with self-actualization.


I write this elongated explanation to set up the things that we are going to talk about so you can see the progression over the centuries and how you can utilize meditation to attain levels of awareness, confidence, stress handling, and so much more within this practice.

Let's get started! Meditation Benefits: Top 5









 





#1 Meditation improves learning, memory, and self awareness:

Long-term meditation practice has been shown to increase grey matter area density in the brain associated with self-awareness, introspection, and compassion. Grey matter is comprised of cell bodies of nerve cells in the brain. The more grey matter you have in some regions of your brain, the better you will be in that area of thinking or feeling. I emphasize self-awareness in this multiple times because I genuinely believe that the more self-awareness you have, the more success you will see in your business/profession, relationships, and or school or self-development.

 


#2 Mindfulness meditation decreases the feeling of loneliness

UCLA and CMU have done several studies on the correlation between meditation and its effects on loneliness. These studies indicate that mindfulness meditation is extremely useful in decreasing the side effects of loneliness, like morbidity and mortality. This is an essential piece to bring up because so many people look to fill the voids in their lives with the wrong things or the wrong people because they feel vulnerable in their loneliness, morbidity, and mortality. Meditation can go a long way in recognizing your voids and how to be mindful of filling them appropriately.

 

#3 Focus Attention Meditation lengthens your attention span

Now, this is not to say that you will automatically have the best attention span of anyone you know if you meditate a lot. It does mean that if you are intentional in practicing your meditation and have it become a regular practice throughout your week, you are more likely to train your attention span to focus on tasks you prioritize.

 



#4 Meditation CAN help fight addiction

When I say the word addictions, I don't mean significant addictions like alcohol or drugs. I mean small things like checking your social media or work emails. The mental discipline you can achieve through meditation can help you through breaking dependencies. Meditation can do this because it helps with self-awareness of triggers of addictive behavior and the self-control you need to keep it in check. While I said a minute ago that meditation is not a cure-all to significant addictions like drugs or alcohol, some studies show that meditation has better avenues for recovering alcoholics in controlling their cravings and the stress that comes with those cravings. Again, this is linked to that grey matter density in the self-awareness part of the brain.

 

# 5 Reduces Stress and Anxiety


The practice of "Open Monitoring Meditation," which is just a fancy term for your basic form of meditation, has been shown to reduce the grey matter density part of the brain that controls stress and anxiety. Meditators were able to attend a moment-to-moment focus. This means that if a problem enters the meditator's life, they are able to address it more effectively, and it is much easier for them to move on to the next thing in their day. Others who may not practice meditation could get hung

up on that same issue, and it completely ruins their day or even week. Knowing how to approach a stressful and anxiety filled situation and handle it effectively means a world of difference in your daily mental health.



In summary, I can honestly say that meditation has changed my life. I am sharing the positive impact that meditation has had on my life with you because I would highly recommend everyone at least give meditation a try and see how it affects your life in the weeks to come. In the coming months, we will be having some guided workshops (possibly even videos later) on how to meditate.








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