Did you know that meditation has many beneficial effects? It can improve your emotional well-being, increase your mental strength and focus and enhance your body’s internal health. You may have tried to meditate before, and found it hard to keep a consistent practice. Sometimes it may feel as if your mind is a highway of ideas, emotions, “to-do” lists buzzing around. Then when you sit down to meditate it seems to always be rush hour. Researchers from University of Oregon have given us a greater incentive to start a mindfulness practice, and stick to it! The study shows that physical connections in your brain can be changed within the first week of meditation practices.
The study done by researchers at the University of Oregon shows that integrative body-mind training (IBMT) creates physical changes in the area of the brain known as the right anterior cingulate cortex. This area is related to emotional and behavioral regulation. After just 6 hours of IBMT training the structural changes were visible, and after 11 hours of training the changes were incredibly apparent. “The pathway that has the largest change due to IBMT is one that previously was shown to relate to individual differences in a person’s ability to regulate conflict,” said Michael Posner, a lead researcher of the study. The improvement of self-regulation in the study also correlated to subjects’ displaying lower heart rates, increased productive belly breathing amplitude, and decreased levels of anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.
It takes just 20 minutes a day for five days for the beneficial effects of integrative body-mind training to be present. To help yourself start a daily meditation practice, we recommend the app Headspace. You can try it free for just 10 minutes a day for 10 days.
5 TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL PRACTICE:
1. Create a “same time, same place” mentality. Practice at the same time each day in order to keep your body and mind on track. By having these rigid guidelines, you will not leave any room to create excuses.
2. Commit yourself for 30 days. Time and time again we hear that in order to cultivate a habit you must commit at least 30 days. No matter what the magical number of days is, set a goal for the amount of days that you will commit to trying. Allow yourself to dive in for 30 days – choose dedicate a month to yourself.
3. Journal about your practice. Writing down the good, the bad, and everything else that may be feeling physically, emotionally, or spiritually during your meditation practice can help you to realize personal trends. It will also give you a way to see the success you are having with your practice and keep you motivated.
4. Create a meditation space! Lighting a candle or burning incense can serve as a form of incentive. You may also want to strategically place your yoga mat in a place that you will notice every morning as you walk to the kitchen to get breakfast, which can serve as an in-your-face reminder.
5. Be gentle with yourself. Learning to be more mindful is no easy feat. Some days may be harder than others, and some days your mind may feel very busy. Realize that dedicating even 10-30 minutes of your day towards your practice is a step in the right direction.
To read the study from the University of Oregon click here.