In my experience, there are two camps when it comes to meditation…
1) Those who regularly practice and understand the value of meditation
2) Everyone else who either believes that meditation is some type of hocus-pocus, is for women only (yes men read this blog too…), or isn't for them because they are just too busy and have too cluttered a mind to stay calm for any length of time
I used to fall into category #2, but for over a decade now have become a part of group #1
What led to my change?
A personal health crisis partially brought on (or at least made worse) by stress in my mid-twenties left me on the ropes and pretty much willing to try anything – and I did!
One of the most beneficial commitments I made was to meditation, and within a very short period of time the improvements I noticed were remarkable:
- Much less anxiety, much more objective mind
- Better digestion and absorption of nutrients/vitamins
- Less issues with Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Reduced allergic reactions to food
- Improved immune system – ability to fight colds, flu's and anything else that came along
- Better sleep and massive improvement in productivity
- Reduction of various physical symptoms including less muscle pain, reduced inflammation, sharper thinking, etc…
At the time, there was limited scientific proof around meditation, even less still around different methods of meditation.
I have to admit, I was not a "typical" meditation practitioner in the sense that guided meditation or mantra's didn't really work for me, instead I chose repetitive nature sounds (This CD of Ocean Sounds is my primary source of meditation). For me the repetitive, soothing sounds allows my mind to finally focus entirely on the repetitive sound of waves and eventually enter another level where all thoughts become quiet and you simply become mindful of the now.
For you, this may also work or perhaps you will respond better to the traditional mantra's or even a specific tone or sound such as that provided by binurial beats
For others, simply being mindful of a stimulus such as one's own breath or nature around them is enough to bring the same advantage of meditation.
Today's Scientific Support For Meditation
Fast-forward to today and we see more evidence that science is catching up with the positive impact of meditation on emotions and physiology.
In a recent study performed by Leiden University, that even novice levels of meditation can have very important advantages on our creativity and our ability to develop ideas.
Other studies such as the one cited here highlight the benefits of meditation in returning combat soldiers who experience PTSD and depression where the practice of mindfulness meditation has proven to alleviate symptoms, in some cases as well as heavy medication
University of San Diego research outlined here also backed the role of mindfulness meditation in achieving that extra edge giving athletes and top performers in any field the peak performance required to lead their field.
So, in the face of growing scientific research, are you ready to at least put your bias aside and give meditation a try?