The body has it easy: it
gets plenty of hydration and nutrition; it gets lots of healthy physical
activity; and it gets 6 – 8 hours of rest each night, with many breaks during
the day. Meanwhile, the mind is active at all times. There is a constant
background of mental chatter; even when our bodies are at rest, the mind is
busy dreaming. It is rare that the mind is truly quiet.
One way to improve mental wellbeing is through meditation. There are a variety of approaches to meditation, from yoga to zazen and integrative mind-body training to transcendental meditation. They all serve to reduce the number of active thoughts in our minds, creating a sense of inner stillness and quiet. After a meditation session, you are likely to have a calm sense of awareness and focus. The body feels relaxed; the mind feels refreshed.
A true meditative state is difficult to achieve. It can take years, or a lifetime, of practice to be able to reliably shift the mind into meditation. Removing all thoughts from the mind is a challenging task. Yet even though there are few true meditation masters, the benefits of meditation are available to everyone. The basic skills are easy to learn; even sitting quietly for a few minutes is healthy for the mind.
Given the long history of meditation and its devoted practitioners, many scientists and researchers are keenly interested in how it might benefit the mind and body. One finding is that the parts of the brain involved with positive emotional states become more active during meditation; feelings of well-being increase. Also, during meditation our breathing rate tends to slow down while heart rate and blood oxygen saturation levels rise. This prepares the mind for states of greater creative awareness and insight. Meditation is also known to reduce stress, decreasing anxiety levels.
In short, meditation has the potential to make you happier, more creative and less stressed. The ability to make yourself calmer, quieter and more aware is a valuable skill to learn – and there are many options and opportunities for learning meditation and improving cognitive wellness. You’ll soon have a healthier mind that can keep up with your healthy body.