April 25, 2016

The Practice of Meditation

meditation, stress, anxiety, depression

The lawyers I know have great stories of being overworked, stressed out and sleep deprived. Is it possible to reverse all of those effects with one simple activity? Making yourself more productive, less stressed and even sleeping more efficiently? Meditation may be your answer.

Meditation has proven health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, boosting immune health and even slowing aging! For me it was not an easy activity to accomplish. I would either sit and create a to-do list or fall asleep. I took classes with professionals and could never quite get it. Similar to my yoga practice – it took me at least four months of practicing 3-4 times per week until I could quiet my mind and focus on the yoga itself. Now on to mastering meditation.

Below are some of the researched benefits of meditating. If you are not feeling as healthy, happy and energetic as you should; this is an easy place to start. See our other blog posts for the best free resources for meditation ~ especially for beginners.

  • Mental Health: Meditation improves memory and attention, even increasing self control. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine published a study documenting those effects in individuals with memory loss (honestly, I think we all could use a boost in the memory department). The benefits were attributed to improved blood flow to the brain – simply by meditating twelve minutes a day for eight weeks! We all can find twelve minutes a day to improve our health.
  • Emotional Health: The Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand published a study comparing cortisol levels (the stress hormone) pre and post meditation. They found that mindfulness meditation lowers the cortisol levels in the blood suggesting that it can lower stress and may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress such as psychiatric disorders (anxiety and depression), peptic ulcer and migraine.
  • Physical Health: decreases inflammation, and dependency on drugs and alcohol. A study conducted at the University of Vienna by Dr Hackl showed highly significant effects of Sahaja Yoga Meditation on drug consumption. The retrospective questionnaire showed that 97% of chronic drug consumers stopped taking drugs, most of them at the beginning of the Meditation practice, i.e. 42% after the first week of meditation, 32% after the first months (Hackl, 1995).

The Infographic below taken from Emma Seppala, phD outlines even more reasons to meditate.

Emma Seppala, PhD

Emma Seppala, PhD

The easiest way to start meditating is to set aside 2 minutes each morning. Find a quiet space, sit, close your eyes and count your breaths. It may be two minutes, it may be ten. Set an alarm if you need to. Allow your mind to wander but bring it back to the slow, deep breathing that you’re focusing on. When you master that first few minutes you can add more time, get more complex and start to master other facets of meditation.

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