Does meditation actually work? I’ve asked myself this question multiple times before actually taking an interest in it, myself. It’s a practice that sparks a lot of intrigue, but the purpose of it can be fuzzy. The whole point of meditation is to be AWARE of our emotions and mind instead of just experiencing them. I think everyone can vouch for the fact that our inner voice is sometimes a pain in the ass. It’s also incredibly intuitive and reveals to us our hidden feelings and what our true ethical standpoint is. “Meta” translates to beyond, thinking about thinking, or the knowing about knowing. It sounds redundant but the real point of it is to be aware of thinking as it happens, and assess whether our thoughts are healthy or unhealthy; and act accordingly- that’s the hope anyway.
We have to approach our minds the same way we would approach a person. Would we let someone in our lives breed negativity into us? Or induce fear, or worry, or self-loathing? Hopefully none of us would allow that kind of energy in our lives- so why do we make an such a costly exception when it comes to our minds? We shouldn’t let our thoughts off the hook. And meditation allows us to think beyond what we feel, and learn to distinguish thoughts and emotions as two separate entities. Keeping a positive grounding mentally, helps us to still feel but know that we can never be ruined or hopeless as a result of circumstance. It’s about giving ourselves permission to feel emotion, even if its negative, but always be able to come back to that central place of stillness.
When we meditate we begin a loyalty to long-lasting emotional control, induced creative energy, cultivating compassion, our sensitivity to pain, reducing anxiety, sharpening our concentration and the will to act virtuously. What’s incredible about this, is that we can train ourselves in obtaining this state of awareness, to the point where we can achieve these benefits even when we are not meditating. This starts to become a sustained way of feeling and thinking. What a powerful notion that is- that we can in fact, change our brain structure.
It’s been scientifically proven that after approximately 8 weeks of some sort of daily meditation (half hour recommended), that brain’s structure changes immensely. The hippocampus, which is directly related to learning and memory, has the potential to- and can be increased in density. Reducing our levels of stress, which I mentioned earlier as one of meditation’s benefits, also decreases gray-matter density in the amygdala. The amygdala plays a significant role in our perception of anxiety and stress; when we decrease gray-matter within it, we are simultaneously reducing our sensitivity to stress. What I’m trying to say is this is good news. If we think a certain way, or have an impulsive emotional response, etcetera- we can fix these things, which is pretty amazing. We think of the brain as this static thing, when really we should view it as a spectrum, a wavelength that we can alter. Brain plasticity is the real deal. There are aspects of our lives, our past, things that have happened to us that we physically can’t change, even though we might wish that we could. But bad habits, or impulsive, uncontrolled thoughts, mental negativity- that we have the power to change. Something as extraordinary and perplexing as our BRAIN, somehow happens to be the thing that we actually can control.
So with that I encourage you, even in your yoga practice to dedicate some time on your mat to getting into that meditative zone, or even come and try out our guided meditation classes, because this type of mental awareness can do exceptional things for you when you’re dedicated to creating a new place of being for yourself.