“You’re not just aware of your body, you’re aware of your surroundings and your world,” she added. “It forces you to pay attention to life (rather) than get caught up in your head with anxious thoughts, worries and ruminating about the future.”
“It helps you with memory and concentration, increases resilience, helps you handle stress better (and) helps you have a positive impact on relationships,” Vermani said. “In relationships, if you are busy in your mind, you are reactive. And when you are aware and grounded, you tend to respond rather than react, i.e. pause and to think before you let things out of your mouth that are sometimes hurtful, or negative, or judgmental.”
Influencing stress and longevity
“Whenever we’re anxious or running in this frantic race of a world, we rush so much that we take short, shallow breaths,” Vermani said. “When you do that, your muscles tighten up, your brain tends to fog up, get overwhelmed; you might ruminate.”
Remaining research dilemmas
Although there are some known mental and physical health benefits of meditation, researchers are still investigating the best methods to objectively measure how the practice affects the brain.
But images from MRIs and other imaging methods may not accurately represent the complex factors thought to be involved in some of the conclusions other researchers have drawn about how meditation might change brain structure and function. , the review authors said – potentially leading to “oversimplification”. interpretations.”
Additionally, there have been studies whose results have challenged the idea that meditation can help anyone, regardless of their personal differences. “Meditation-related experiences that were severe or distressing enough to warrant additional treatment or medical attention have been reported in more than 20 published case reports or observational studies,” according to the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
The differences between who does or doesn’t benefit from meditation could simply come down to what type of meditation is best for one’s body and mental state, Vermani said.
“If you’re bipolar, (bellows breath) can actually induce mania, so that’s a big deal. You don’t teach a pregnant woman bellows breath because she’s so vigorous that you can induce labor. So meditation has consequences.”
Additionally, some people who turn to meditation have spent years avoiding or distracting themselves from distressing memories.
“When you’re alone, your thoughts go to the things you haven’t dealt with,” Vermani said. “Military, 9/11 responders or cops that I work with – often they’ve seen so many horrible things that they just go through life and run and put things aside. But when they sit down in silence and meditate or breathe, all those things come to the surface because they haven’t touched on it.”
Practicing meditation in supervised environments with professionals who can educate about potential effects has been helpful for people with complicated emotional states, she added.
You can also try an introductory class at a local meditation center, read a book, watch an online video, or practice on your own. Whichever path you choose, see what resonates with you — find someone whose voice you love and whose words have meaning, Waldinger said.
For beginners, starting out in a professionally-led setting can be helpful in re-orienting yourself after any obstacles that might lead to giving up quickly or feeling discouraged, Waldinger said.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about meditation,” he added. “A misconception is ‘If I do it right, I’m not supposed to have thoughts.’ And that’s absolutely not the truth. The mind produces thoughts, that’s what it does. So you won’t get rid of thoughts until you die.
Instructors can teach you aspects of meditation that aren’t intuitive or obvious, like having thoughts or a distracted mind is OK, Waldinger said. “If you just set the intention to be present, then no matter what, that’s what you do, including being distracted.”
Since meditation is about being present, it can be practiced anywhere, he added, but a quiet, uninterrupted space may be optimal for beginners who are still learning to focus on the present. You can start with just five minutes a day and then gradually increase.
“Try it every day for a week and see if you notice anything,” Waldinger said. “But even after once, a lot of people say, ‘Oh, that was helpful. I want to do it again. “”
If you notice that meditation makes you feel worse, talk to an experienced meditator about your experience or wait until you’re in a better emotional or mental state, Waldinger said.
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