Meditation does it really work?
Meditation has long been a controversial topic with practitioners claiming great benefits and science straggling behind trying to disprove or prove what is actually going on. Whatever you want to think of mediation, whether it is a great spiritual activity or just plain old simple placebo effect, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore the overwhelming evidence that this stuff works.
One of the biggest things holding people back from embracing meditation is this wishy-washy description or preconception of what it is. People’s minds often float off to a Buddhist monk sitting crossed legged and chanting oo oom mmmm, or some even find it extremely ironic that most mediators shun religion while mimicking some of its most important aspects. Ever think about the similarity of the blind faith or praying for stuff to happen. Never the less people are still scared of coming into this strange new world, so here are some facts about meditation and at the end, I'll even throw my opinion in, for what it’s worth.
First I will start with one of the most important effects of meditation, it changes the shape and size of your brain. Yes, meditation actually increases the grey matter of certain areas of the brain that deal with learning, memory and emotional regulation. It also decreases the amount of grey matter in areas of the brain that deal with stress and fear, due to the use of those areas I’m guessing. Meditation is also shown to physically change our brain waves to have more alpha waves, which are linked to removing negative feelings, mood, tension, sadness and anger as well as lighting up the same parts of the brain that deal with decreasing anxiety and depression. In fact, research done from over 150 studies show that on an average of 90% of people suffering from anxiety had a notable improvement after a few months of meditating. It also only took 11 hours of meditating over 11 days to improve the part of the brain that controls focus and self-control, showing those who had meditated stayed on task for longer and made fewer switches between tasks. And if you thought it stopped there, think again, another study decided to test meditators against the common cold and found that those that meditated had an increased immune function and produced a greater number of antibodies to fight the virus.
The brain is a very powerful tool that we barely use in comparison to its potential, so whatever meditating is doing, it's obviously doing some good, according to hundreds of studies. Whether you’re asking the universe or some white light, karmic force, God or just yourself for something while you meditate, it doesn’t matter but what seems to be very apparent is that if we put our mind to something, we really can achieve it (as the saying goes). Thinking or saying something out loud that you want to achieve seems to be a very good way of helping us focus. Taking stock of a day and time to think through issues seems to calm us, we work as a machine a lot better when we are calm, it allows us to be more confident in our selves and therefore accept others a lot easier. In all, our hormones are in check and life comes easier, no special powers, deities or mystic consciousness, just the power of you.