What if I told you there is a way to lessen your anxiety, help you focus, and even change your brain function- and it doesn't involve medication, a lot of your time, or any money at all? Sounds too good to be true, right?
Oh, and it’s been around for literally THOUSANDS of years.
It is the power of MEDITATION.
Don't roll your eyes! Throughout the pandemic, it’s become a buzzword to deal with stress, right? Every Top 10 Stress Reduction List says, “Just try to meditate, and it will do wonders for you!”
The thought of sitting still and thinking about “nothing” isn’t that appealing. The truth is, most of us find it easier to reach for a quick fix to deal with stress- a glass of wine, a funny show on Netflix, or getting lost in scrolling our Instagram feed.
We’re looking for a way to “numb out” instead of “focus in.”
The problem is, none of the ways to “numb out” actually help us in the long run- they hurt our overall mental and physical wellness.
Meditation is a way to physically and mentally calm the system- and it has been around for a long, long time. Not many things can survive thousands of years unless they are truly impactful.
Gwyneth Paltrow has meditation as #2 on the six things that kept her sane at home during the pandemic as told to Vogue:
I’ve also really recommitted to my meditation practice, which I did very sporadically when I could, and now I do it every single morning. I do Transcendental Meditation, so that’s something you learn with a teacher, and they give you a mantra. There’s an app called Insight Timer that I use, and then sometimes when I need a little meditation in the afternoon [I use] The Breathing App. You follow a ball expanding and contracting and breathe along with it. Even five minutes is really helpful.
For someone who has the latest and greatest that wellness has to offer- that’s a pretty strong endorsement for meditation- just 5 minutes can zen out your day. Sounds relaxing, and imagine meditating with a Copper Fit Rapid Relief Neck and Shoulder wrap helping calm tense and achy neck and shoulders with a soothing hot or cold therapy. Now that’s a stress buster.
While thousands of people have understood the benefits of meditation since ancient times, meditation practice was not seriously studied for its medical benefits until the 1960s. A researcher in India “found that yogis could meditate themselves into trances so deep that they didn’t react when hot test tubes were pressed against their arms.”
This mind-body connection study began, and real, solid findings have ensued!
There’s a lot of science around it now: meditation helps relieve our levels of anxiety and depression by changing our brains.
A Yale University study found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN)- the network in charge of “mind-wandering,” or when you contemplate or worry about the past and future. Studies have shown that meditation quiets down the DMN and when the mind starts to wander to negative spaces, meditation has created new connections that help you snap back out of it.
Meditation helps improve attention and concentration.
One study found that just a couple of weeks of meditation training helped people’s verbal reasoning section of the GRE. The increase in score was equivalent to 16 percentile points! That same function in the DMN that leads you to worry about the past and the future can help your brain to have better focus and memory from meditating.
An MRI has shown increased activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate when people are meditating.
The key to meditation: By gaining control of our thoughts, we are uncrowding our mind and lessening stress- effectively balancing many systems in our body.
Now THAT is training your mind! I think we are starting to get it now, right?
SO the next obvious topic is:
How to Meditate.
The good news? It’s not hard to learn. But it is a skill. Focusing on your breath means ignoring thoughts in the brain. The more you practice, the more you develop the ability to get into a meditative and relaxed state quickly.
Imagine doing that several times a day, helping all of your systems to truly relax and take a break- creating a biological response of relaxation. Researchers say that just a few minutes can make a difference in your overall health, so why not try?
First off, you can meditate anywhere at any time. But why not get comfy if you can? If you have a hard time feeling comfortable, check-in with your body. Don’t let aches or pains distract you. A Copper Fit Freedom Elbow Compression Sleeve used throughout the day can help lessen aches and pains that might prevent you from sitting calmly. The Ice Knee Compression Sleeve releases a cooling sensation while also providing support or Copper Fit Compression Gloves can help ease the pain from carpal tunnel after a long day at work. Meditation time can also be a time to tend to those achy joints.
Repetition is KEY when learning to meditate. A mantra helps by silently repeating a calming word, thought, or phrase to prevent distracting thoughts. But you don’t have to use a mantra- maybe a single word, a sound, a prayer, or just focusing on your breathing. Choose your favorite form of repetition that keeps your mind from wandering.
Like Gwyneth, using an app is a great way to stay focused.
Options like Calm and Headspace help you chill out with meditation any place, any time.
If you are like thousands of people that have enjoyed the benefits of meditation for thousands of years, it might be just what you need to keep calm and carry on! The first step is just to give meditation a try.