Meditation is both a skill and an exercise in mindfulness. By training our mind to be more open and calm, we can experience greater peace, clarity and contentment. In this way we can learn to have a more direct experience of the present.
This may seem a bit fuzzy, so in order to gain a greater understanding of what meditation is, it is also important to determine what it is not. Meditation is not about “clearing the skull” or stopping thoughts. To our brain, it seems natural to think. Rather, you meditate to see these thoughts more clearly.
Nor does meditation necessarily have to be spiritual or religious. Its long and rich history is largely surrounded by religion and used by many practitioners as something spiritual. That being said, everyone can meditate, no matter what religion they may be a follower of.
The purpose of meditation
Sometimes life can feel difficult. We can’t control what happens and happens around us, but we have the ability to change the way we relate to these events. Today, we are also more busy and stressed than ever before, which is partly because we flood ourselves with information and digital flows around the clock.
It is therefore fully understandable that more and more people are seeking peace of mind. The more we can stay in the present instead of being weighed down by our thoughts and reactions, the easier we can tackle the challenges of our everyday lives. When you feel challenged or distressed, you can use meditation as a way to restore your mind and gradually increase your awareness.
With the help of an increased awareness, or mindfulness as it is also called, we can gain a better understanding of why we think and feel the way we do. This can often lead to a healthier view of life at large. Through increased consideration, we can not only act kinder to ourselves but also to others, and thus create more healthy relationships with our partners, family members and friends.
The benefits of meditation
For some individuals, the benefits of meditation can be great and potentially life-changing. However, it is important to keep in mind that meditation is a phenomenon that is experienced differently by different practitioners (and the experience can also vary from day to day). To put it briefly, however, one can say that meditation has the ability to improve our psychological, physical and emotional well-being if we choose to meditate regularly.
So meditation changes the brain
Using modern technology, researchers have been able to see how meditation changes the brain on the physical plane. For example, it has been seen with the help of brain x-ray that the people who meditate have more gray matter in the hippocampus, the area of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory functions, self-awareness, thoughtfulness and self-observation. At the same time, this type of X-ray shows a reduction in the occurrence of gray matter in the amygdala, which handles stress, fear and anxiety.
With the help of meditation we can also build new positive neural pathways in the brain and reduce the number of negative neural pathways. You could compare it to the fact that we can draw new leads in the brain and thus affect its function.
Whether you are considering starting to meditate to relieve stress, anxiety or depression, to improve your sleep quality, or to reduce your aggression and frustration towards others, you can achieve this goal through meditation.