June 11, 2020
by Gareth Ellis

Here’s Why You Need To Start Meditating Today!

If you haven't already noticed, the world
has been kind of a stressful place lately.  It's during these really
intense times in life that we have a choice:  go to a place of anxiety
or find ways to counteract that stress and find a place of calm.  No
matter what is going on in the external world, this is always a choice.  

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.

https://insighttimer.com

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!