What is that one thing? Meditation. WARNING! If the idea of meditation freaks you out, don’t think of it as meditation. By that I simply mean substitute another word – relaxation will do just fine – just so long as you understand that meditation is about more than merely relaxing.
Meditation can reduce your stress and increase your focus. Meditation can boost your positivity, happiness, and feelings of well-being. Meditation can literally change your life. How? Through meditation you can change the neural pathways in your brain and break life-long patterns of thinking and behavior. Neuroscience has discovered that our brains are constantly changing. Neuroplasticity is the term scientists use to express this concept. The neural pathways in our brains are not set during our childhood, as scientists during most of the 20th Century believed. Rather, our brains are dynamic and capable of creating new neural pathways throughout our lives. And the most exciting aspect of this new neuroscience is that we can affect these pathways. We can create new pathways. Through meditation, we can use our mind to change our brain.
This will be the first of many posts on meditation and related topics that I’ll be writing this year. If you can make a commitment to meditate for as little as five minutes a day, I believe you will see a positive difference in your life. I’m not saying that making time for meditation each day will be easy, but I am saying it will be worth it.
I’d like to recommend two resources to get you started. I mentioned them in a post earlier this month, and I’d like to provide links to them so that you can download them.
Meditations to Change Your Brain: Rewire Your Neural Pathways to Transform Your Life, by Rick Hanson, a neuropsychologist, and Rick Mendius, a board certified neurologist. (First, you’ll need to download the audible app for iPhone, Android or Windows Phone.) This book is only available as an audio book, as it contains numerous guided meditations. The book provides fascinating scientific research on how our brains work and what we can do to affect how our brains grow and change. I absolutely love this book, have listened to it numerous times and recommended it to clients. (My only complaint is that the meditations contained in the book aren’t bookmarked, so I’ve bookmarked them with notes so that I can choose particular guided meditations to listen to.)
Calm.com: Calm is both a website www.calm.com and an app for iPhone. The app is only available for iPhones, but you can visit the website for some basic guided meditations from two to 20 minutes in length. In upcoming posts I’ll be mentioning other apps from www.meditationoasis.com that are available for androids, as well. The app provides a section entitled “7 Steps of Calm,” which is a great introduction to meditation practice. Calm is a free app that offers some basic guided meditations, and if you subscribe ($9.99 a year) you’ll have access to dozens of guided meditations that are updated throughout the year.
1. Listen to Meditations to Change Your Brain. DO NOT listen to the meditations while you are driving in your car. Listen the whole way through to get an understanding of how powerful your thoughts are. The thoughts you think can change the structure of your brain!
2. Use the Calm app to begin to make meditation a habit in your day. First listen to the introduction. You don’t need to do this in one sitting; you can spread it out, even over a week. Then set aside two minutes each day to listen to a guided meditation. Just two minutes! You can do this!
Do you already practice meditation? If you do, I’d love to hear from you. Please share your ideas and stories about how meditation has affected your life in the comments section below.