What 10 Minutes of Meditation can do for You
Words: Sherri Melwani
-Stress Reduction in the Secondary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease. Schneider, Grim, Rainforth, Kotchen, Nidich, Gaylord-Kind, Salerno & Alexander, November 20, 2012 in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes Journal.
-Levy, Wobbrock, Kaszniak, & Ostergren, The effects of mindfulness meditation training on multitasking in a high-stress information environment. May 2012, Canada
-Study from University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Open Monitoring Meditation” and Vipassana
Besides the obvious benefits of calming the mind, meditation has been scientifically proven to bring power and radical improvement to your quality of life, including cultivating physical, cognitive and psychological benefits. Just take 10 minutes each day and start to see the rapid transformation in your life. A regular and brief meditation practice helps in the following:
- Brings Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health
- Improves Memory Recall & Focus
- Reduction of Pain and Inflammation
- Releases Anxieties and Worries
- Live Fully & Deeply
Brings Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health A well-known 5 year study offered a large group of high-risk heart disease patients guided meditation. Result showed a 48% reduction in risk of heart attack and stroke with a significant drop in their previously high blood pressure. Robert Schneider, the lead author of the study, commented about the experience, “It is like discovering a whole new class of medications”. This and other studies confirm the power of mind-body intervention for improving heart and lung health on multiple levels. The relaxing effects of mindfulness practices generate regenerative and healing benefits for all the organs and glands of the body.
This also naturally improves your immunity. By spending time in quiet reflection and concentration, you build resilience to stress, viruses and bacteria. Antibodies, which are like your body’s own military service, have been shown to increase in people who practice regular (even short) meditations when compared to those without a meditation practice.
Improved Memory Recall & Focus Many studies show how meditation improves abilities in multi-tasking, memory recall, and focus. By spending just a few minutes daily in such practices, even when we think we don’t have enough time, we actually give ourselves more time as the brain can perform with greater efficiency and thus assisting with productivity.
The difficulties in life will always be there. Struggle is the nature of this life. No one is immune. However, by practicing meditation, we build both physical and emotional immunities. It is not that the eagle is more intelligent than a bird on the ground. The eagle has knowledge because he flies so high that he can see a broader perspective of the situation and therefore can see better from this elevated vantage point. We can see more when we stand on the top of a mountain as opposed to the side of it. As we add meditation to our routines, we may notice that those very things that used to upset us perhaps don’t bother us to that same degree. We may find ourselves being able to handle the situation with greater ease and patience. The nature of the world doesn’t change. What changes is our attitude towards the situation that is creating stress because of our expanded perspective.
Gray matter is associated with neuron activity and intelligence (meditation makes us smarter!). Scans from multiple studies show an increase of grey matter concentration in the brain after meditation. Furthermore, it shows strong hippocampus activity in cell regeneration. Studies have shown that through practicing regular mindfulness techniques, the brains abilities to focus and regulate emotion, make decisions, not get stuck on certain thoughts, learn new things and perform memory-recall are greatly enhanced.
Reduces Pain and Inflammation Research on a study of pain perception revealed that people who practice Zen meditation (though can probably be extended to other forms of meditation as well) are less sensitive to pain when compared to an equal number of people who don’t practice meditation. Using a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), they exposed both groups to the same painful heat and measured brain activity to study the results. Another study showed that the practice of mindful meditation affects the body on both genetic and molecular levels, including reduction in pro-inflammatory genes which assist with recovery from stress. We learn through these and other similar studies that power comes from within. Through regular meditation practice, we tap into innate healing powers that enhance our quality of life.
When we spend 3 hours in front of a computer, we forget about the body. However, when we are mindful of the body, we realize where we hold tension. Just pausing to locate the stress and how it is manifesting in the body is a meditation in itself. As soon as we make time and space for our body, we come home to the body. Simple attention brings automatic awareness leading to subsequent relaxation.
Releasing Anxieties and Worries Think about the last time you took a holiday. How did you feel during it? Holidays offer us to take a step away from our daily routines so we can truly rest. Afterwards, we feel inspired and rejuvenated and ready to face the world again with motivation and enthusiasm. Consider 10 minutes of meditation like a mini-holiday. An imaginative mind can travel to distant exotic lands very quickly. Through constant practice of mindfulness and concentration on the object of the meditation, we rest our minds and get similar if not greater benefits as if we are on holiday. We release all worries and live in the moment. We practice tuning out stressors by PAUSING to taking these little breaks offering rejuvenation and strength to face life. We learn to let go of those things that don’t support our growth.
Next time you start to feel your anger coming, take a quick time-out. Step away from the situation, if you can, and take just a moment to concentrate on your belly breath. If you can’t step away or the situation requires your presence, simply mentally say to yourself, “Breathing in, I calm myself; Breathing Out, I Smile and I know it’s going to be okay.” With practice and creating a toolbox for life filled with little tricks such as this one to get you through tough moments, you become calmer and more in control and thus slower to get angry.
We don’t need to meditate to 3 hours per day for 10 years to achieve insight. Even just 10 minutes of mindfulness practice (even if simply just focusing on the breath) we can learn a lot about body, mind, and life. With insight, we realize where in the body there is discomfort or tension and then we take that insight and awareness as wisdom to make necessary adjustments. Even simple acceptance of tension starts the process of relaxation.
Enhances Quality of Life Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ll be happy after I get/do/buy......” We end up delaying our happiness and holding ourselves back from living fully. Meditation teaches us that we can experience life satisfaction in every moment. We can allow ourselves to live and be happy right here, right now. Through such daily tasks (eating, homework, projects, laundry, food preparation, talking to others, washing dishes, waiting in the queue, etc) we can learn to appreciate the act itself. We see it as an opportunity to be grateful for life. We learn how to produce the feeling of joy in every moment and not rush through life. The result of such a perspective is that we live deeply in the moment...not hurrying towards the destination. Life is available right here and now if we choose it.
When you learn how to be quiet, you see everything with love. -Sri Dharma Mittra
When you feel peaceful, you experience confidence in yourself and in life. Confidence is deeply attractive to others. People generally prefer to be around others who are happier and confident and tend to avoid those who are negative. When you see everything with love and positivity, you inspire others to want to be near you. When you look inside and cultivate a rich inner awareness and mindfulness, you can always be in paradise because you realize that all you need is already inside of you. This is real Self-Reliance. You already embody an infinite spring of peace. Through such realization we can always live in peace. Our true nature is realized through experience as we meditate.
By creating a simple healthy habit of taking just a few minutes of our day to pause and practice experiencing meditation, we open ourselves to the vast healing benefits and infinite possibilities for a high quality of life.