In my recent TEDx talk, which I delivered with my husband and business partner Dennis called “Defusing Stress with Mindful Mojo”, we review some of the fascinating neuroscience that describes the profound results from meditation. This ancient Eastern practice is applicable to the challenges of our modern-day lives. There is a reason why so many CEOs and major companies like Google, General Mills, and Nike are implementing organization-wide Mindfulness Training from the leadership to front-line employees.
In a recent Mindfulness Training I delivered to Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), I reviewed the scientific “why’s” of meditation. Below I share five of those reasons discussed in that program.
1. Meditation prevents mental hijacking.
Everyone has been hijacked at some point by chronic stress. Hijacking takes place when the amygdala (the fear center) in the brain takes over the prefrontal cortex responsible for planning , organizing, and decision-making. When you get hijacked, you literally cannot think straight. Meditation makes it less likely that you will be hijacked by stress.
2. Meditation improves immune system functioning.
When you meditate, you relax the body. When the body is relaxed, its natural healing mechanisms are enabled. The amount of cortisol released into the bloodstream is reduced. Cortisol is a stress hormone linked to inflammation and disease. I founded the Mindfulness program at Piedmont Healthcare Chapman Cancer Wellness in 2006, and have worked in the integrative oncology field for over a decade. I teach the cancer patients with whom I work “it’s never worth the cortisol!”
3. Meditation improves memory.
When you are under chronic stress, the hippocampus (memory center) in the brain shrinks. You have difficulty remembering. Meditation helps the hippocampus return to normal, thereby increasing memory. Mindfulness professionals are now teaching meditation to people with cognitive decline and the elderly. Meditation can help prevent memory loss and possibly reverse some of the decline once it has started.
4. Meditation helps you take charge of your focus and thoughts.
The practice of meditation rewires your brain because it changes the blood flow to the left prefrontal cortex. You become more efficient at directing your attention and focus, helping you to be more intentional and productive. You are better able to choose where you focus and what you think about. We have a saying in Integrative Medicine that “neurons that fire together wire together”. Every time you are successful in replacing a negative thought with a positive one, you are altering the neuronal structure in the brain making it more likely that you will be able to think more positively the next time.
5. Meditation makes you happier and more successful.
Research in positive psychology and mindfulness shows that meditation significantly increases your happiness levels. That research goes on to say that happier people are more successful people, not the other way around as it was once believed. Mindfulness improves emotional intelligence, and emotionally intelligent people are better at building and sustaining relationships. Some research indicates that meditation helps reduce loneliness, improves social connection, and increases your sense of satisfaction in life.
Did you find your “why” to start meditating in the five scientific points above? You may say “yes, but how do I get started?” You can download a FREE Mindfulness meditation on my website free meditation. If you think you don’t have time, consider how much time you spend online, on social media, or watching television. Exchanging just a few of those moments each day for meditation will produce meaningful results.
Remember, a little bit of meditation goes a long way. Consistency is key if you would like to enjoy the benefits described above. Even if you begin with just a few moments each day, you will quickly notice a difference in how you feel. I have a bias that a morning meditation is most effective because it sets the tone for your day. You are less likely to meet your edge when you have started the day with meditation. If you would like Mindfulness Coaching, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here for my full full range of services.