Meditation isn’t something practiced by a minority or the fringes of society anymore. It seem everyone in Hollywood and Silicon Valley is into it now, from Katy Perry and Madonna to Hugh Jackman, Clint Eastwood and LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner. More and more people are embracing the ancient art of breathing to calm their mind, sharpen their problem-solving skills, improve their health and lead a better life.
Countless studies point to the effectiveness of physiological benefits of meditation. A Harvard University paper shows that meditation literally re-builds the brain’s grey matter in just weeks. A study carried out at Yale University found that mindfulness meditation decreases activity in the default mode network, or the brain network responsible for mind wandering. Countless other research shows that meditation helps ease insomnia – even attributing it with the power to make up from lost sleep. When you do some specific meditation, and are are in that state for 20 mins, research shows it is like having six hours’ sleep. Who could do with extra sleep?
Physically it lowers high blood pressure, improves immune function, reduces heart rate, improves respiratory function and beneficially changes our DNA.
The ins and outs
I usually recommend spending at least 20 minutes meditating every morning – if possible increase that to 20 minutes in the morning and another 20 minutes in the evening.
Ideally you want to find a little time that is quiet and when you won’t be interrupted. If some days it’s tricky to carve out that time, you can even meditate when you wash the dishes, cook dinner or sit in the flight lounge. You can quickly get into a deep state of meditation and that’s why it’s such an effective way of staying grounded.
Starting off can be a little tricky as the mind likes to wander and it’s hard to focus – five minutes can feel like five hours. This is where the power of focussing on your breath can put you in that state very quickly.
Apps that can help
I generally recommend starting with a few apps to help keep focused. One good one is the Sudarshan Kriya app – part of the Art of Living foundation, which operates in 160 countries around the world. This focuses on a simple breathing process, which takes your body through different stages of meditation. It’s a good introduction to meditation. This particular app you get access to once you have done a introduction program call the Happiness program.
Another good beginners app is Sattva Meditation Timer & Tracker. For those who are on the competitive side, the app offers a few personal challenges like the 7-day Guided Meditation Challenge and The Stress Buster Challenge; it also includes features like tracking total daily and weekly time spent meditating.
Meditation, yoga and Ayurveda work hand in hand - they’re all based on 5000 years of ancient indian knowledge. If you can incorporate some meditation into your busy lives it may well be the best thing you can do for your mental and physical well-being.
If you need a little more convincing, check out this article I wrote about the benefits of meditation for Business First Magazine, a publication read by some of Australia’s top CEOs, business owners and entrepreneurs.
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