The answer: “Because it reduces the stress that is killing your health, making you dumber, skewing you negative and sucking the joy out of your life.”
The question: “Why should I meditate, even for a few minutes at the end of a workout?”
How is that for a sales pitch. The destructive forces of stress, as well as, the full spectrum of meditation benefits I’m about to reveal are all true, backed by scientific studies and thousands of years of anecdotes.
Maybe it’s time to work meditation into your life.
I’m going to show you why it would seem crazy not to take up meditation by illuminating all the benefits that have now been proven, including “growing” your brain.
The awesome infographic I’m sharing from liveanddare.com
perfectly summarizes the three overarching areas of benefits from meditation.
1. Boost Your Intellect:
When we are moving fast mentally or physically we can only really think on that speedy wavelength. We react instead of thinking things through, we act defensively, and we don’t listen well or notice important details. Ever walk into a pole reading your emails?
At Unite you might experience the impacts of stress on your brain when you find it harder to pay attention to the coach after stressful burpees or sprints. “Fitness brain” is a related effect to “stress brain”. You only hear and see part of what is happening. Stress is essentially shutting off part of your brain and relying on the more pre-mordial brain function.
Tons of studies on meditation show improvements in cognitive abilities, memory, attention, etc. whether they looked at meditating 20-30 minutes a day or 5-10 minutes, but the more they meditated the bigger the improvements. One Harvard Health report say that regular meditation has a stronger and lasting effect than vacation. This is quite a change from how we have thought about recharging our brain.
An eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brains grey matter in just eight weeks. They found increased grey-matter density in the structures known to be important for learning and memory, self-awareness, compassion and introspection. This proves that just like physical exercise improves cardio capacity, muscular strength, and health, meditation is the exercise for your brain, literally changing it’s physical state. And just like exercise programs, you need to be consistent about meditation, but you don’t have to go to a monastery in India for months to realize the benefits. It just takes a few minutes a day for a few weeks to feel and see the difference.
2. Boost Your Physical Immunity/Energy:
Less Disease/More Energy/Increase Health
Stress is a physical manifestation of thoughts and emotions; it is an increase in vibration speed and energy expenditure like revving an engine. When we are stressed we are “hopped up” similar to the way too much caffeine works/feels, which can be useful in some moments, but when it is your regular state of being our body’s immunity pays the price.
Lowering stress allows your body to relax and focus it’s energies on keeping your body and mind running at top levels, instead of being on guard. We can literally feel this in just 1-2 minutes of true rest which is why we end our workouts with it. When you skip it, you miss out on all of the benefits too. When we stop to breath and observe, we are letting the excess energy, stress and thoughts dissipate, which is the space needed for recovery and rejuvenation to take place. If you push and push yourself, you will end up empty and sick. If you take just a few short purposeful breaks we can all avoid sickness and depressive feelings. I know for myself every time I get sick for days, there is a stressful period right before it.
Stress opens the door for illness while meditation reinforces your defenses it is as simple as that. So why not include forms of meditation in your lifestyle? Why not always stay through Unite’s final rest?
3. Boost Your Emotional Wellbeing/Happiness:
Feel Better/ More Compassion/Patience
While the stress reduction benefit is driving the main streaming of meditation, it is the emotional/spiritual benefits that were always the attraction for me personally. This is why I chose the Shambhala Center, a Buddhist based but secular meditation center to study and learn much more than meditation.
Johns Hopkins University sifted through nearly 19,000 meditation studies, and found 47 trials that met their criteria for well-designed studies. Their published findings suggest that mindful meditation helps ease emotional stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain. It doesn’t take a study to believe mindful rest makes you feel more at ease with life. It only takes a minute or two actually doing it to know it is true. However to understand the true magic of meditation you do need to commit to meditating consistently.
Luckily it is an amazing time to start meditating as there are a plethora of phone apps, classroom programs, etc. to help you get going and find the type of meditation that suits you. There are specific practices at a touch of a button that can specifically target the things you want to work on, such as:
- Being more mindfulness and less distracted
- Being more grateful and less negative
- Being more calm/thoughtful and less anxious/reactive
- Being more kind
- or even just sleeping better
I will be holding a Free Meditation Workshop
for Uniters and their friends to explore working meditation into your life. Please join me if you can Sunday April 2nd 1PM @ Unite Rittenhouse
(26 s20th st). REGISTER HERE