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Or rather, can you meditate?
Most people say no. They try but there mind just goes everywhere and they can’t NOT think stuff. This mind wandering occurs because of the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain also known as ‘Monkey Mind’. Mindfulness meditation actually has the ability to reduce the activity in that part of the brain, so regular meditators are able to dial it down easier than non-meditators.
Most of the amazing benefits of meditation occur with years of practice. Most people try meditation but quit after a very short time. This is usually because they can’t see any immediate reward. Well, honestly there aren’t many rewards seen early on. With that being said there are some benefits that occur quite quickly and are worth mentioning.
Anxiety is decreased almost immediately during the practice of meditation and over the course of a few weeks, the benefits will be seen throughout the day with overall therapeutic benefits.
Depression symptoms improve with meditation as well as antidepressants according to a study conducted by John Hopkins
Improvements in concentration and attention are seen in just a couple of weeks of meditating. Something we would all like to see improvements in.
Now, longtime meditators see even more benefits
Increasing gray matter and preserving the aging brain. A UCLA study showed that surprisingly this increased brain volume was not just isolated to the areas used during meditation but throughout the brain.
Improves Immune Function– See journal article
Decrease inflammation at the cellular level–See NCBI article
There are numerous other health benefits some with good research backing and some that need a lot more research to back their claims.
No matter what –it is indisputable that there is a considerable benefit to incorporating a meditation practice into your overall fitness regimen.
OK, so you have decided meditation is something you want to add to your repertoire.
So where do you start? How do you meditate? When do you meditate? How long do you meditate for?
Well, just like physical exercise there are many different types of meditation and finding the right type for you and choosing the time of day is a personal choice. Start small and work your way up. The most important thing is sustainability. Choose a time that will work for you and do it at the same time every day. Attach it to something you are already doing. For example, brush your teeth and then meditate or eat your breakfast and then meditate, etc. I meditate for 15 minutes after my morning coffee when the house is quiet(husband is sleeping which is the only time the house is quiet). You can choose a time that will work best for you.
An app I highly recommend is Headspace. It teaches you how to meditate in just 10 minutes a day. It will even allow you to create an alarm reminder that you choose.
Another app I just love is Insight Timer. It has everything from guided meditations to timed meditations to music and podcast. It is also a complete community of meditators so feel connected to people all over the world as you have shared experiences. Way cool!!