The stress in the outside world may not instantly go away, but finding tools to calm and connect on the inside will keep us healthy, strong and actually much better equipped to respond to those challenges, whatever they may me.
Generally I tell people that technology is a distraction from that connection, and that is mostly true. The one big exception I've found is the power of technology and certain apps and websites to support my meditation practice. I've used a few different apps for yoga and meditation: yogaglo, calm, headspace etc. But most recently I've discovered the Insight Timer and it's by far my new favorite (and bonus, it's free!). The insight timer is like the social media of meditation. There are literally thousands of free guided meditations and a really nice timer setting if you want quiet meditation time. You can invite friends and also see how many others around the world are meditating with you! If you and a friend join, it's a great opportunity to find an accountability partner for your practice, which can be extremely helpful to really following through on making it a regular part of your life. You can find the app by clicking on the link below.
Meditation has many well known benefits. It literally slows down your brain waves and when scientists have studied the brain during meditation, they've seen some incredible changes. This is amazing to me. The following brain scans have revealed some of the following findings when people meditate even short periods of time (around 20 minutes/day):
1. Increased grey matter in parts of the frontal lobe that controls focus and flexibility in our thinking.
2. The prefrontal cortex has also shown increases in grey matter. This area is responsible for executive functions such as emotional regulation and problem solving.
3. Increased thickness in the hippocampus that governs learning and memory. It is also very susceptible to stress and PTSD related issues.
4. Decreased amygdala size. This area is responsible for our 'fight-or-flight' response, so the smaller size is very beneficial to how we respond to stress.
There may be some reading this blog that are thinking, "I've tried meditation and I can't sit still. I'm just not wired to sit still and do that kind of thing." I used to give people a pass when they said that, but not anymore! Since reconnecting to my meditation practice recently and feeling how powerful its benefits are, I'm instead inviting people to let go of that old story that they can't meditate and perhaps take another look at this practice that has such incredible benefits for the body and the mind.
Many patients here at the clinic, have started their meditation practice while lying in their chair getting a treatment. Using apps such as these to guide you into meditation during acupuncture is an awesome way to start, especially if you find you have a challenging time lying quietly in the chair. Acupuncture is an amazing opportunity to slow down, remember to breathe and undo the stress of the outside world.
Start tuning into your ability to turn within, to deepen your breath and slow down the stream of thoughts in the mind. A teacher of mine has started calling this practice 'Brain Training" instead of meditation. So if you'd like to look at this more as a science experiment and less as a spiritual endeavor, I invite you to do so as well. Either way, the benefits to your life and to those around you will be the same!
This meditation below is one of my incredible teachers, Elena Brower. Hope you enjoy it!