Being in the present moment is a meditation practice.
There is a challenge in sitting still in meditation and watching the activity of the brain/mind. Anytime you sit with the intention and willingness to be mindful, transformation will happen. At first, you want to bring stability to the mind, perhaps by focusing on one thing, such as the breath (note: you can count your breaths in groups of 10; restart once you reach 10 or lose count). Eventually expand your focus/awareness to encompass bodily sensations and thoughts. Typically the first insight meditators have is, ‘Holy crap! I think all the time!’ By practicing meditation, you start to observe the way your thoughts move and change, and you can develop a more subtle awareness of your experience.*
Health benefits of meditation primarily focus on increasing the relaxation response (parasympathetic nervous system) and allows us to “rest and digest.” … and this leads to boosting the immune system, improving digestion, improving sleep, and increasing cognitive function. This helps your relax more throughout the day. Meditation decreases the likelihood of reacting negatively to stress… for example, you might stop overeating/drinking.
More Reasons to meditate:
- Dull the Pain! Meditation training cuts pain perception in half (J Neurosci 2011) and makes pain less unpleasant because brains are busy focusing on the present moment, and anticipating the pain less, blunting its emotional impact (J Pain, 2010).
- Improve your sex life! Meditation helps bring thoughts into the present moment, and can enhance a woman’s sexual experience (less self-judgemental chatter!) (J Psychosomatic Medicine, 2011)
- Problem-solving! Meditations helps apply switching strategies for problem-solving and getting out of habitual patterns… it breaks the cycle and enables you to look at things with a fresh perspective (PLoS One, 2012).
- Boosts mental toughness! Regular meditation improves mood and working memory, which allows for short-term retrieval and storage of information. Meditation helps individuals stay alert and in the moment without becoming emotional (J Emotion, 2010).
- Emotional regulation! Meditation improves feelings of empathy and benevolance (PLoS One, 2008).
- Improve your attention span! Meditation practitioners are better able to make fine visual distinctions and sustain visual attention during a demanding tasks (Psychological Science, 2010).
- Get a bigger brain! Long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification (i.e., folds) of the brain’s cortex than people who don’t meditate. The extra folds may allow faster processing of information (Neuroimage, 2011; Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012).
How do you find ways to bring meditative moments into your day? Share some of your meditation experiences in the comments below. much love.
*Adapted info from: Kripalu Thrive Blog