Meditating with guidance from a teacher, offers you the chance to gain useful tools as well as support while shedding any of the fears or expectations you may have about meditation.
Practicing and exchanging with a teacher helps to keep you motivated to practice over time. To gain insight and to unpack what comes up as well as vary the tools used depending on how life is on any given moment and the challenges that are present.
Meditation has been reputed to help with everything from improving sleep, focus and the immune system to ease anxiety, stress, depression and pain.
Meditation helps you find that place of spaciousness where decision making can take place. It forms a powerful inroad to your wisdom nature. Over time meditation develops inner resilience, deep strength, confidence, faith and a profound sense of peace, joy and freedom.
“In Asian languages, the word for ‘mind’ and the word for ‘heart’ are the same.
So if you’re not hearing mindfulness in some deep way as heartfulness, you’re not really understanding it. Compassion and kindness towards oneself are intrinsically woven into it.
You could think of mindfulness as wise and affectionate attention.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn
Mindfulness means paying attention to this moment, releasing the past and not fantasizing about the future.
It gives rise to deep strength that paves the way to compassion and connection, hence living a happy life.
The insula and empathy
Scientific research using brain imaging (MRI) has shown that the insula becomes energised by meditation. This is hugely significant because this part of the brain is integral to our sense of human connectedness as it helps to mediate empathy in a very real and visceral way.
Empathy allows you to see into another’s soul, as it were, helping you to understand the predicament ‘from the inside’. With it comes true compassion and loving kindness.
Compassion, true loving-kindness
If you looked inside your brain using a scanner you would see this area buzz with life when you are feeling empathy for another person.
Meditation not only strengthens this area, but also helps it to grow and expand.
But why is this important? Apart from being good for society and all humanity, empathy is good for YOU.
Empathy and feeling genuine compassion and loving-kindness toward yourself and others have hugely beneficial effects on health and well-being.
Why Meditate? Science Says…
I’ve learned that starting small is good enough. Just softening a little when you are feeling frustrated, just reaching out to someone when you’d rather be alone, just trying when all you feel is resistance.
When you work with your thoughts and attitudes, little by little, you can change your life and your world for the better.
This is why the discipline of meditation has tremendous transformational power. Just to come back to the breath is a revolutionary act that affects every aspect of your life.
- LESS DEPRESSION, STRESS + ANXIETY: Studies conducted at the University of California show that Meditation practiced for 5 months, decreases brain responses to stress and pain by a comparable 40–50%.
- MORE WELLBEING + COMPASSION: Harvard University found out that short, daily meditation practices lead to growth of the gray matter in the areas of the brain associated with wellbeing and compassion while the areas associated with stress and pain actually shrink.
- IMPROVED PRODUCTIVITY + FOCUS: In a 2012 study conducted at the University of Washington,researchers found that meditation leads to a significant improvement in concentration and to time being used more efficiently.
- HIGHER EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE + BETTER SOCIAL CONNECTIONS: Stanford Medical School found an increase of up to 40% in compassion (for yourself and others) which leads to better social connections and emotional intelligence — after a steady practice of meditation for only 9 weeks.
- NO MORE LONELINESS: Researchers at UCLA report that meditating for just 30 minutes a day reduces the feeling of loneliness.
- BETTER QUALITY OF SLEEP: The University of Utah discovered that meditation helps you sleep better as a result of lower cognitive and physiological activation at bedtime.
- INCREASED ATTENTIVENESS: A study conducted by the University of Kentucky revealed that meditation increases the performance on tests that measure attention — even after the subjects had lost a night’s sleep!
- Other studies show that meditation has incredible physical benefits as well such as:
- lowering high blood pressure by 40 – 60
- increasing your immune function
- decreasing inflammation at a cellular level
- improving ADH
- preventing heart attacks + strokes