5 Important Benefits of Meditation on Your Brain
Everyone has experienced restlessness during their final resting pose, savasana. Instead of attempting to meditate, it’s easy to start thinking about what you have to buy at the grocery store after class, or the work you have to get done tomorrow. Physically, savasana isn’t a demanding pose, but it’s a lot of work for the mind.
The ability to meditate and enjoy savasana is one of the more challenging aspects of yoga. At first, it seems simple: you just close your eyes and breathe, right? But along with the physical practice of yoga, meditation is so much more than our perception. There are many different approaches to meditation: counting breaths, repeating mantras, or just letting thoughts pass by without attachment or judgment.
Mindfulness meditation is a good technique for beginners because it gives the practitioner specific things to focus on. You practice mindfulness by becoming fully aware of your surroundings – the way the wind feels against your skin, the sensation of your bare feet walking across a cold floor. Mindfulness can be done anywhere and enhances your experience of the here and now.
If you practice meditation regularly, you know how good it feels – like a deep breath for the mind. We know it feels great, but what are the actual affects on the brain?
Here are 5 important ways meditation positively benefits your brain:
Meditation allows us to mentally take inventory of our bodies. How does our body feel in the present moment? What amazing things is our body capable of? Do we feel strong or weak? What can we do to remedy anything that aches in our body? Much like the physical practice of yoga, meditation helps you establish a stronger connection between mind and body.
Decreases Anxiety and Worry
Obsessing about the past or future can often lead to unhappiness. When we are fully immersed in the present moment, we are content. We can only control what’s happening now – which is why there is no reason to be caught up in the past or fixate on the future. Our life is always in the now. Meditation is the anchor to help you stay there.
Increases Mental Clarity and Focus
If we are mindful and focused on the present moment, we are fully engaged in present action. Think of how amazing all your work would be if you were completely focused on it, and not caught up in the chatter of your mind, or impulsively checking your cell phone or social media every five minutes. Meditation helps us unplug and tune in to what’s going on beneath the surface of our thoughts.
Increases Emotional Awareness
When we have time to sit without any distractions, we are able to get more in touch with our emotions. We may realize the root of our unrest or worry. Regular meditation helps us recognize our emotions as fleeting, but also allows us the chance to sit with them instead of avoiding or being scared of our emotions. Through the ability to sit with your thoughts, you can work through emotions instead of continuing to ignore or repress them.
Triggers the Brain’s “Relaxation Response”
According to Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind-Body Medical Institute, meditation ignites the ‘relaxation response’ in the brain. Components of this response include changes in heart rate, metabolism and brain chemistry, all in the name of bringing you – and your brain – to a heightened state of relaxation. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?!
Meditation, just like yoga, is a practice. Some days it’s easy to quiet your mind, and other days it’s an uphill battle. Yoga and meditation compliment each other beautifully. Both practices teach patience, reassurance and consistency. Even closing your eyes and taking a deep breath in and out is a form of meditation. So the next time you’re feeling stressed, try taking a few breaths in and out – this is your beginning of a blossoming meditation practice. Be inspired by the fact that your meditation practice is doing wonders for your brain, and prepare for a less anxious, more self-aware, and more relaxed version of y.o.u.!