A blog post by Anita Cheung, the Co-Founder and Brand & Community Director of Moment Meditation.
Meditation is like learning to surf. You can read up on surfboards, research the best surf spots, perhaps even stand on the beach studying the waves, for as long as you like; but until you dive in, get tossed around, and give it a try, it just doesn’t compare.
The practice of meditation is just that- a practice. Some days are easier, some days are… less easy. So. You may be asking, if it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, why bother doing it?
Why Should I Meditate?
At MOMENT, we are introducing our program with mindfulness meditation. While meditation has been linked to multiple benefits ranging from decreased stress to increased focus and everything in between (including sex drive, and creativity); our foundational interest is in how mindfulness and meditation relate directly to the brain.
Through intentional breathing, we stimulate the Vagus nerve, which physically connects the heart to the brain. By soothing the body (the heart) through gentle breathing, we are able to soothe our busy minds- especially the part of our brain that worries for our survival.
Research has shown that the left prefrontal cortex is more active when we experience positive emotions. By engaging in practices that focus on recreating positive emotions, we strengthen that part of our brain (much like you would strengthen a muscle).
Our prefrontal cortex is what distinguishes us as humans and separates us from other animals. It allows us to process rational thought, hold goals in mind, and work towards these goals. By practicing focus-based meditations, we are improving our ability to self-regulate our attention.
Looking at brain plasticity we see that the brain can actually be re-trained through repetition of certain behaviors and practices. Cultivating positive patterns and habits through a regular meditation practice leads to higher brain function and improved psychological
Tips for Beginners
Just like you wouldn’t expect to go from couch potato to marathon runner in one day, be kind to yourself when you are starting out. Dedicate manageable chunks of time that you can commit to. Just like forming any other habit, when you see that you can meet your goal (no matter how small the goal is), it will lead to positive feelings which will encourage you to continue with your habit.
Find a Time that is Best for You
We often have people asking us what the best time is to meditate. To be perfectly honest, the time that you can commit to is the best time. If you are a night owl, don’t try to meditate early in the morning when you’re half-asleep. It’s simple, and it’s true.
Find a Position that Works for You
Sitting cross-legged on the ground is great for some but for those who aren’t as flexible, sitting on a chair is great too. Again, the intention is to make it as easy for yourself as possible so that you will want to continue.
Find a Meditation Style that Works for You
There are many different styles of meditation – even solely within the mindfulness “branch”. Additionally, there are other types of meditation- visualization and analytical meditation, that are completely separate branches on their own. There is no “one size fits all” and even after you’ve selected a meditation style that “works” for you, we invite you to try other types to notice what you notice.
Know that Your Brain Will Wander
Just like the eyes see, the nose smells, and the ears hear; the brain’s job is to think. The purpose of meditation is not to be without thought. It is the act of taking time to sit with your thoughts, observing rather than interacting with them. Everytime your mind wanders, acknowledge that it is normal and okay, then bring your attention back to your meditation practice and do so gently.
Finally, Know that You Aren’t Alone
It is common to wonder, “Am I Doing it Right?”. We recommend attending a group class, joining an online community, or convincing some friends to do an online meditation challenge.
If you have any questions or need more info about mindfulness and meditation, please visit momentmeditation.com