Let’s talk about Meditation

Por Ana Correa

To talk about this practice that every day gains more followers, after knowing its infinite benefits, some proven by science, let’s start by making a definition of it. Meditation is a series of techniques that make use of the mind, senses and body of the human being to create a connection that helps you to know yourself. In the last decade it has gained much popularity because every day there are more instructors and qualified people on the subject and its accessibility, as it can be practiced by anyone without age limit regardless of their religious or philosophical beliefs.

¿What are the benefits of meditation when we incorporate it into our daily routine?

  • It helps to clear the mind of thoughts that generate stress.
  • Improves attention span.
  • Benefits in the effective use of time.
  • It benefits the immune system.

As for science, what do you think of the “Benefits of Meditation”?

The magazine ‘Scientific American’ has published an interesting article written by Matthieu Ricard, cell biologist, Antoine Lutz, scholar of the neurobiology of meditation and Richard J. Davidson, world expert in the scientific study of meditation, which states that “through meditation we have the power to change the mind”. Based on the study of almost 15 years, in more than 100 Buddhist monasteries and that had the endorsement of the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Center for the Investigation of Healthy Minds). In it, brains were scanned with thousands of hours of meditation practices, obtaining the following conclusions:

  • Reduced levels of anxiety and depression
  • Some areas of the brain associated with feelings of empathy and compassion were activated.
  • Reduced the volume of the amygdala, a brain region involved in the fear process.
  • Positive effects on the telomerase molecule, responsible for lengthening the DNA segments at the ends of chromosomes.

Another study led by researcher Perla Kaliman, a specialist in epigenetics and lifestyles, has demonstrated the effect of meditation on certain genes. For the first time it has been proven that meditation immediately reduces the expression of genes (RIPK2, COX2, HDAC) involved in inflammatory processes. In turn, Kaliman stated that meditation in practice affects the same targets as some analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs.

To observe the results, participants were subjected to a social stress test. The meditators (meditation practitioners for 3 years) showed less harmful gene activity the next day; they also recovered more quickly from the effects of stress hormones such as cortisol.

With this evidence supported by science, there is no doubt that meditation is a technique that improves our quality of life and leads to overall well-being. By simply focusing attention on conscious breathing for a few minutes, anyone with no previous experience in meditation can trigger a decrease in heart rate and subsequent relaxation; also, they can become more aware of what is going on in their mind, what emotion is arising at any given moment and decide their reaction with more control and wisdom.

We can affirm that the real achievements, of making meditation a habit in your life, are: to be more loving and compassionate, less reactive and to feel more fulfilled.

But… is it easy to meditate?

The truth is that you don’t need to be an expert, a virtuoso or a Buddhist monk, nor have any special gift: we all have the ability to do it, just by being willing to take the first step, we just need to be alive and awake. What we must emphasize is perseverance, in order to obtain the multiple benefits that meditation brings.

How to start this practice?

There are several options that you can use as support when starting your practice. Here are some of them:

  • Read a book on meditation. Currently you can get it with the resources that technology offers us on the Internet.
  • Go to a group meditation center: surely there is one in your area.
  • Ask for help from someone who has already started the practice: it will help if you feel comfortable with that person.
  • I recommend doing it for a short time and increasing the practice daily.

In a competitive society that often loads us with stress, meditation can be presented as an inexpensive and accessible resource to achieve our WELL-BEING. There are several techniques for meditation, no doubt, and, when you decide, you are sure to find one that resonates with you.

“Practice Meditation. It is fundamental. Once you enjoy it, you can’t give it up, and the benefits are immediate.” – Dalai Lama

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