Meditation as a Way of Achieving Psychical Equilibrium: Review of Practices
Many masters thoroughly described the influence of meditation on people in ancient times, but science has recently started to study this powerful tool. Scientists got interested in the question of how this practice influences cerebrum and have already determined and proved a number of rather interesting facts. Which ones – read in the article.
How does meditation influence brain?
Changes its structure
Some researches show that meditation can change the structure of human cerebrum. For example, neurobiologist of Harvard University Sara Lazar has stated that the group of people that were practicing meditation within two months showed thickening of the cerebral cortex in hippocamp – the part of brain that controls learning abilities and memory and play its role in emotional regulation.
Slows down brain aging
As the body gets older, all its systems gradually degrade. This process also touches upon the brain, which starts to diminish in size for older people. As a result, the person finds it more difficult to memorize information, learn.
However, as scientists of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) have found out, meditation helps to slow down age-related atrophy of white matter. In addition, subsequent studies have proved the positive impact on grey matter – the tissue that contains neurons.
Improves attention concentration
Modern world is full of distractions, so it is very important to be able to focus on truly important things.
Research findings published in Psychological Science, show that meditation helps to reduce troubles with attention and to improve cognitive capability.
Increases stress resistance
Biological Psychiatry magazine has published a small research involving people that were searching for a job. Its findings show that meditation helped to increase activity in brain regions connected with rest state.
Deliberate walking as a biohack. How to meditate while walking?
Keep natural pace of walking. Keep your hands in a comfortable position.
During the meditative practice, you need to focus on movements that you do automatically. In other words, pay attention to how you lift and put down your legs, how you relocate your body weight, etc.
Focus on movement even despite the fact that thoughts will be trying to occupy all your attention. Return to the experience of deliberate walking repeatedly.
After you manage to focus on walking, you can start paying attention to surrounding sounds. You do not need to assess them, give names or labels. Just listen.
Then concentrate on smells. Once again, avoid estimative perception. It is enough to pay attention only to sense of smell.
When you can maintain concentration on walking, sounds and smells, you can move on to sight. Feel with your eyes, perceive shapes, lines, colors and shades. Gently, but persistently, do not let yourself dwell on what you see.
Over time, you will learn to concentrate on walking, smells, sounds and visible objects at the same time. Through meditation, you can bring mindfulness into your daily activities.
Three breathing techniques to relieve tension
Breathe so that your stomach rises noticeably above your chest. If you consciously practice this exercise often, the breathing pattern will change from chest breathing to diaphragmatic breathing over time.
Exhaling longer than inhaling
A simple but efficient relaxation technique. The exhalation takes about 2-3 seconds longer than the inhalation. The exercise helps to reduce the excitability of nervous processes.
Nadi Shodhana Pranayama
This technique balances the right and left channels of the nervous system. Fold the fingers of your right hand into nasagra mudra – place the tips of the index and middle fingers between the eyebrows, and the thumb and ring fingers – near the nostrils.
Then close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril. Inhale as slowly and deeply as possible. At the end of inhalation, close the left nostril with your ring finger. Open the right one and exhale slowly. After exhaling, leave your right nostril open and inhale slowly. Close the right nostril after you inhale. Open the left one and exhale. This is one breathing cycle. Continue the practice as long as time permits.
Breathing exercises, with all their simplicity, have a significant effect. Give them 5-10 minutes every day and see how your mood and physical condition change in a week.
On November 11, mindfulness trainer Hlib Khodorovskyi will speak about advantages of meditation and its impact on mental health at Biohacking Conference Kyiv 2020.