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While people who do not meditate may imagine those who meditate to be Monks, Hippies, Buddhist, Indians, and Yogis, there is also quite a list of people who credit meditation for changing their lives in a positive way.
That includes quarterback Tom Brady, Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, Actor/Director Clint Eastwood and Howard Stern, Hugh Jackman, comedians Jerry Seinfeld and Russell Brand, how about basketball stars Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordon. In fact Coach Phil Jackson who has won an unprecedented 13 NBA Championships, 2 as a player and 11 as a coach, has taught all his teams. Why? Because he realized, as many athletes have, that meditation can literally rewire your brain for success in any arena of life whether you are an athlete, actor, writer, a student or just someone who wants to increase the quality of your life. In fact, the United States Marine Corp. has just instilled meditation into their regimens because they have noticed the immense benefits of increased concentration and calm while under stress among other things.
Despite the stigmas, meditation is not a religious practice and is practiced amongst atheists. Even the very religious can do it without conflict to their current beliefs. Anyone who wishes to strengthen their mind, just like a muscle, can meditate.
Scientists studied an Olympic hurdler who would use meditation every day to visualize the perfect race in her head. They noticed the same muscles were firing when she visualized the race as when she ran the track and hurdles. This is because the mind does not know the difference and so she was creating a habit for success, and in her case success meant a perfect race. I’ve been meditating for over 20 years, originally I started to relieve stress, but then used this type of meditation called visualization while I was fighting as a kickboxer with a lot of success.
Why Meditate? (Benefits of Meditation)
The benefits are almost endless and more and more research is coming out each week proving more.
- Harvard University found that two parts of the brain increased in size after a few weeks of meditation.
- Increases connection between the left and right brain.
- Reduces mental dialogue
- Gives emotional balance
- Meditation helps with OCD, ADD, ADHD and other brain issues.
- Increases intuition
- Increase Memory
- Decrease fight or flight mechanism
- Increases Immunity, focus, will-power and ability to heal physically.
- Raise your vibration
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Help get a better sleep
- Lowers blood pressure
Meditation and solving problems - stress is at an all time high, including environmental, nutritional, technological, and relationship, stress which leaves creativity to overcome this which is now at an all time low. The stress reaction in the human body is such that when your stress levels are elevated it shifts you into your left brain hemisphere, that is where logic is and the part that does what you have always done, which eliminates new and creative ways to solve problems. This is just another reason why meditation is so important to put you into the other hemisphere. Einstein said you can’t solve a problem with the same thinking that created it.
Why don’t people Meditate?
There are 2 reasons why people tell me they don’t meditate:
1. “I tried it and nothing happened, so I must have been doing it wrong.” (I didn’t know what to do.)
- Don’t expect to be good at something you’ve never done before. And don’t stop because your mind is wandering or telling you something you don’t want to hear. This is another thing that often scares people away from meditation, they don’t want to face the negative self-criticism but this is actually why it is so beneficial. The intensity of that will either go away or you will learn how to disarm it and give yourself positive self-talk.
- Don’t expect something miraculous to happen, you will get all the benefits I talked about just by sitting quietly. There is no such thing as a bad meditation.
2. “I don’t have time.”
- Whenever people tell me they don’t have time I ask them if you could take a pill that took 20 minutes a day to absorb and it offered you relaxation, more creativity, increase the size of your brain, optimize your immune system, and so many more things and it’s all natural with no side effects. Would you take it? Of course you would. So don’t ever say you don’t have time, what you should do it research as to exactly how it will benefit you and this will give anyone the motivation they need to continue this. Remember, you always make time for your stress, now make time for your relaxation.
When to Meditate
Good to do 20 minutes before you go to sleep and/or 20 minutes when you wake up. But there is no specific time, whenever is best for you is best. Don’t wait for the perfect day or time, just sit and do it anytime anywhere if you have to; I’ve meditated on a busy subway before.
How to Meditate
There are so many types of meditation, but for most people the best one to start with is a Zen meditation. This is when you just breathe and relax, in over 20 years, this is the meditation I do the most of. Don’t have an expected result that is going to make you quit. For now, just have a desire to relax your mind. You may even be doing this just to help you sleep, and that’s a great motivation.
You don’t need a beautiful waterfall or shrine, just a pillow to sit on or a bed board or a wall. I do most meditations on my bed when I go to sleep and when I wake up. I go for 10 or 20 minutes.
Start by trying to relax and disconnect from the chatter in your head. The goal is to think of nothing, but that is too difficult for even seasoned meditators so idea is to focus on one thing. So the simplest thing is your breath. Develop the idea of the importance of breath, by realizing it is the most important and yet most taken for granted. You can live without food for weeks, without water for weeks but without breath, you’ll die in minutes. So when the thoughts come up, and they will go back to thinking about your breath.
To start put a pad and pen next to you because you are going to remember all the things you forgot to do and some thoughts won’t go away, so to make them disappear, write them down and they will stop pestering you.
Sit with your back straight, hands at side. This will align up your chakras or energy centers in your body. We’re going to close our eyes and position them up and in, at your third eye point, just above the space between your eyes. Do a mental scan of your body relaxing each part. Start with your head, face, then shoulders, arms, push your heart out, relax your butt muscles and legs and hands. Tongue goes to the roof of your mouth. Now just imagine your breath for 20 minutes and every time you start thinking of something else remember to go back to your breath. When you're done, although you might not yet understand it, you’ve just completed the most important meditation there is.
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All Benefits – www.huffingtonpost.com/news/gps-mindfulness-research
Neuro-science of meditation – www.slideshare.net/iEric2010/the-neuroscience-of-meditation
Physical changes in brain – www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/mindfulness-meditation-brain-integrative-body-mind-training_n_1594803.html?utm_hp_ref=gps-mindfulness-research#slide=309278
Marines use meditation in training – wildalchemist.blogspot.com/2012/12/marines-expanding-use-of-meditation.html
benefit of improved sleep and need less of it – http://www.artofliving.org/in-en/meditation/meditation-for-you/meditation-sleep
Harvard study – www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-improves-connections-in-the-brain-201104082253
Benefits for OCD – www.designedthinking.com/2012/03/meditation-for-ocd/
Increased intuition – life.gaiam.com/article/4-ways-tap-your-intuition
Lowers fight or flight – www.psychcongress.com/article/meditation-evokes-biological-effect-contrasting-‘fight-or-flight’-response-11328