We are all about the Ohm. Alright, well some of us are, and some of us are finding our Zen place in the hectic universe we inhabit. I am admittedly late to the meditation game, but it’s going on a year now, and it is quite possibly the best 4 minutes of my day. I’m still working on it, and I get distracted by life. But, what if I told you, my dear sweet petunias, that meditating is not only great for stress reduction and refocusing during your day, but also excellent for your brain.
Yup, let’s talk about that grey matter for a sec. Very few of us (in my humble opinion) when thinking about healthy brains consider meditation in any capacity. But guess what peeps? The simple act of focus, controlled breathing and being in your happy place not only reduces stress, but attacks those nasty stress hormones that negatively impact our brains.
A new study published in the medical journal Psychiatry Research found that meditation improves CBF (Cerebral Blood Flow) and that the changes last long after the meditation session is over. At the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA, researchers studied the effects of meditation on the “stress” circuits of the brain. Ten experienced meditators performed two types of meditation: one focus-based meditative technique and one breath-based technique. The meditators’ brains were scanned using MRI technology before, during and after the meditation. The researchers found that four regions of the brain were affected during meditation, and that the two types of meditation states cause different patterns of CBF. Bottom line was that BOTH techniques improved blood flow to the brain, with some of the brain changes continuing after meditation was complete. This research is relatively new, but perhaps the positive effects of meditation will serve to help people with brain disorders, Alzheimer’s or stroke victims. It’s all about keeping your brain healthy for the long term.
OK peeps, so how does this affect our lives? We already know that we get a mood boost, little euphoric highs of peacefulness when we meditate. Some lucky folks are able to meditate and increase pain thresholds and immune systems (my jury is still out on that, but the research is there). Many people associate meditation with religion, but it really has nothing to do with your beliefs and ideology. Think of meditating as a mental vacation from life and stress where you simply center your mind and create your own peaceful place. So here are the basic perks, meditation is easy to learn, doesn’t need expensive equipment and can be done practically anywhere. All you need is commitment and a few minutes.
So now, let’s take some action and boost those brain cells! Don’t get bogged down trying to find the “right” kind of meditation. Of course, if you are really into it, more power to you (and your brain). Keep it simple peeps. You can sit in silence or play some low instrumental, calming music; do what helps you focus. Me, I need silence, and prefer to be near a window. Make sure you know you will not be bothered while you’re “Zenning Out.”
- Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Keep your head up and relax your shoulders. (this is exceptionally tough for me, I’m so stressed my shoulders are in my ears!)
- Begin to breathe deeply and steadily. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Stay comfortable. Observe your breathing. Focus.
- Comfortably expand your abdomen with each inhalation, and then release your abdomen with every exhalation. Pay attention to this.
- Keep breathing deeply for 10 minutes. (That’s my goal, but you can also take it slow – 4 minutes of GOOD meditation is better than 10 minutes of listening to the ice maker clunking) The longer you can meditate, the better it is for you.
- Meditation gets easier with practice. Take some time each day to meditate and your brain and your body will thank you. Just keep thinking…less stress, more brain cells. More brain cells…healthy body. You’ve got this.
Stay motivated and caffeinated!😉☕