Step into the gym for the soul and learn how to grow into your very jolly MOST-potential self!
We live in a world of physical evolution: we focus on taking care of our physical body by following diets, indulging in treatments, dabbing in exercise trends, and spending lots of money on looking reeeeeal goooood. And yet, billions of people wake up (and fall asleep) worried, stressed and scared – something we’ve grown up believing is common, and even normal, in the Western society.
So how about addressing the spiritual evolution? Negative emotions create charges that will hold us back until we consciously clear them: like judgement with forgiveness, self-pity with gratitude, and contempt with… well, love. We are capable of shifting certain aspects of our life to expand our awareness by tapping into our intuition an bringing it to the surface. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to yet again capture THAT wonder of life we inherently had in childhood? Well, it just so happens that meditation does the perfect job of decluttering the mind and allowing you to start your day on a fresh foot by giving you the tools to make all the necessary changes to achieve your goals. And, as you turn it into a daily practice, the ability to strip away all negativity becomes infinitely quicker and easier. So… what’s stopping so many of us from even trying?
THE COMMON MYTHS:
There are various misconceptions which prevent and restrict many people from meditating properly or, once started, persevering with the practice. The value of meditation is not that your life will change overnight, but that you’ll get to experience life in a whole different way: with CLARITY. Here are the top 3 dumb ideas most of us have probably bought into:
- Although originally evolved thousands of years ago in the East, meditation does NOT require you to sit cross-legged like a zen monk. The reason why you typically want to sit up straight (as opposed to lying down) is to simply prevent yourself from falling asleep! By sitting cross-legged (or cross armed, if you wish) you’re crating a minor level of discomfort to ensure you stay awake, yet relaxed (in the ALPHA frequency state of mind). So feel free to play around with the body postures to find that right balance for you. You also do not need to freeze and sit still like a sphinx statute. If you have an itch, scratch it; if you hair is in your eyes, sweep it away; none of these minor distractions are likely to pull you out of the relaxation state.
We live in a world of physical evolution:
- Forget the idea of focusing solely on your breath and “nothingness”. An ancient Chinese saying compares our mind to a drunken monkey: jumping from tree, to tree, to another. It is virtually impossible – nor necessary – to hold it completely still. According to Emily Fletcher, owner of Ziva Meditation,“it’s like telling your heart to stop beating involuntarily; your mind just cannot stop thinking on demand!” So Instead of shutting out your thoughts, emotions, problems and excitements, try bringing them into your meditation as projects which beg a solution. Or, simply practice to observe your thoughts come and go; “Get used to that autonomous flow without trying to step in, because when we get drawn in, we become overwhelmed and our throughts become destructive” says Andy Puddicombe, meditation expert and founder of Headspace. But whatever your strategy, embrace your problems and distractions you’re facing head on, because great meditation is not about mastering some mystic art; it’s about making you better at life!
We live in a world of physical evolution:
- Finally, many of us are put off – and misled! – by the idea that meditation requires a lot of time. Commitment? YES! But Time? Whatever you can spare… You can reap the benefits by meditating just 3 minutes a day! Now who can truly say they don’t have that kind of time? We should, however, try and make it into a new habit, as daily practice will increase the benefits. For fantastic short (or extended) meditations be sure to check out the OMVANA app by Mindvalley (check out the free meditation below) which allows you to mix and match your desired track with various sounds (such as music-infused binaural beats to induce and support the ALPHA state.)
THE HARD-CORE SCIENCE:
Aaah yes! You want the proof in your pudding! Well, by understanding what’s going on in your brain when you meditate, you start to realise how to use meditation more effectively. The first thing to understand is that our brains actually beat at a particular frequency – that’s science! If you hooked yourself up to an EEG (electroencephalogram) machine you could actually measure the waves in your brain, and there are several different types. Out of about 50, there are 4 crucial ones that can manifest during mediation, starting out from BETA (your waking state, when you’re working, fully engaged in a conversation or working out a problem). As you start to mediate and go into a relaxed state of mind, your brain frequency actually slows down to what scientists call the ALPHA level – this is when certain things happen to your being: you’re naturally more creative and feel more inspired, intuitive and your body can heal itself at a faster rate. When you go even deeper into meditation, you sink into the THETA state. This frequency is highly associated with daydreaming and intuition, and you’ll know when you get to that state because your head will suddenly drop 🙂 There is also a fourth stage, called DELTA, which is when you’re knocked out fast asleep. The interesting thing is that, throughout our day, we go through all these stages anyway: we wake up (ALPHA), we work (BETA), we’re reading a relaxing book in bed (ALPHA), we fall asleep (THETA) and sleep deeply (DELTA). So when you mediate, you’re not putting yourself into any unusual or unnatural state, but instead you’re trying to become relaxed WHILE staying fully conscious.
Medically speaking, sustained meditation leads to neuroplasticity – the ability for your brain to change structurally in the response to changes in your environment. Based on recent research, meditation increases your grey matter in the areas of Anterior Cingulate Cortex (cognitive flexibility), Prefrontal Cortex (planning, problem solving, emotion regulation) and Hippocampus (learning and memory). It also decreases the Amygdala (stress and anxiety) and reduces activity in our Default Mode Network (also referred to as the distracted wandering “monkey mind”).
There are many visualisation exercises to choose from. Simple practices like gratitude can elevate your levels of happiness – sans prozac! Here is one simple compassion practice from OmHarmonics called THE BUBBLE OF LOVE: think of someone you love deeply and lock onto the feeling they bring you; observe this feeling and imagine sending it out of your body, feeling it expand and extend to others in your house, neighbourhood, city, country and the entire planet. Sounds quirky and a bit far-fetched? This quick and easy exercise has been proven to make individuals kinder, gentler, less reactive and more compassionate, which in turn attracts positive energy from the universe (as stated by the Law of Attraction in Quantum Physics – emphasis on the word “physics” y’all).
THE ACTUAL BENEFITS:
So what does meditation do for you? It might appear like absolutely nothing is happening, especially when you’re just starting out, yet studies show (roughly 1,400 of them if you look online) there’s a myriad of incredible experiences and results that meditation can bring about: from physical healing, boosting your immune system, controlling pain, reducing depression, increasing longevity, eradicating various maladies, significanty reducing blood pressure, slowing down ageing on the cellular level to actually reshaping your brain by making you more creative and smarter. On a practical level, by being more present, clear and focused, you’ll find yourself equipped with more time and energy to make your ideas a reality – that makes meditation a great productivity tool! No wonder folks over at Silicone Valley have decided to introduce meditation in their work place! Over 1,000 Google employees have gone through the tech giant’s internal course called “Search Inside Yourself”, which aims at teaching people how to manage their emotions and stressful situations, and to better understand the needs of their co-workers. If all this wasn’t reasons enough to take up a bit of daily “Omm” practice, meditation makes you less reactive, more resilient, more joyful and compassionate.
THE FINAL VERDICT:
The MYHRU jury is back and we LOVE it! The thing is, we all expect good things like love and happiness to come from outside sources but we fail to truly truly love and connect to ourselves and take charge to create our own happiness! We all experience hard times in life… but it’s about how we respond, how we react, how we shift our perspective to see the good, that puts us on the path of our own making. You will be amazed how a little stillness can make you wake up with a smile, ready to kick butt and make good things happen! 😉 So let us leave you with this wonderful 6 Phase meditation from the OMVANA app…