The Benefits of Meditation
Did you know that we all possess the power to change our minds and that one of the best ways to do so is through meditation?
This can be confirmed by an interesting article written by Matthieu Ricard, Antoine Lutz and Richard J. Davidson, published in the magazine Scientific American. Ricard is a buddhist monk, Lutz is a cellular biologist and leader of a neurobiological study on meditation, and Davidson is a pioneer in the study of the science of meditation.
A study was carried out over the course of almost 15 years by the University of Wisconsin and 19 other collaborating universities, in more than 100 Buddhist monasteries. Researchers analyzed brain scans of monks who had practiced tens of thousands of hours of meditation, and the conclusions were revealing:
- Low levels of anxiety and depression.
- Highly activated cerebral zones associated with feelings of empathy, compassion, and altruistic love.
- The volume of the amygdala was reduced. The amygdala is the region of the brain involved in the process of feeling fear.
- There were apparent positive effects on the molecule telomerase, which is in charge of lengthening segments of DNA at the ends of chromosomes. It is the enzyme that facilitates the immortality of cells in the majority of carcinogenic processes.
Incredible, isn’t it? We should all consider adding meditation to our daily routine if we want to have the best quality of life. Just as we need to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and quit any unhealthy, bad habits like smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol, maybe we should also consider beginning the practice of meditation, too.
Anxiety, stress, depression, and cancer are among the greatest ills of this century. Considering the previously mentioned benefits of meditation, what is certain is that more and more we all feel the need to feel a little more altruistic and empathetic in the midst of a competitive society that often swallows us whole.
How to start?
Read a book
There are lots of books about meditation. We recommend The Buddhist Meditation by Ramiro Calle, yoga writer and teacher and pioneer in the introduction of this practice in Spain. He is actually quite an authority on subjects such as yoga and meditation in Spain, with more than 100 written works, also a product of his hundreds of trips to India with the objective to study and understand the lifestyle of its inhabitants. He is a writer who has a lot to tell us. His book 100 Trips to the Heart of India was a tribute to an entire life dedicated to knowing the people, the customs, and the philosophy of that fascinating country.
Take a course
There are numerous free courses, some that include meals and lodging. If you feel afterwards that the course was truly worth it, once it ends, all you should do is give a donation of whatever amount according to your means.
Learn to meditate by yourself
- Pick a peaceful place where no one will interrupt you.
- Sit down in a comfortable position, in a posture with your back straight.
- Take deep breaths, exhaling slowly. To concentrate yourself, you can bring your attention to your breathing or to your abdomen. If you are a curious person, learn and choose the type of meditation that goes best with your personality: Zen meditation, Vipassana meditation, etc… We encourage you to explore the different types of meditation.
As with anything new, it may take some time for you to start feeling the benefits. But try a little bit of mediation each day. You can start with 15 or 20 minutes, and you will realize that little by little you will begin incorporating it into your habits and you will notice the differences.
With meditation, we can feel more relaxed, accept ourselves in a better and more complete way, and avoid falling so easily into negative and repetitive thoughts.