Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Forty days of meditation

From The Medical Daily

by Stephanie Castillo

"I can remember the looks my fellow reporters and magazine editors gave Andy Puddicombe, meditation expert and co-founder of Headspace, when he said you’re not tired after a meditation — you’re aware of how tired you’ve been. He’d just finished guiding a meditation in the lobby of the Westin New York Grand Central hotel, nearby tables crowded with energizing beet and carrot juices. We were all gathered there to celebrate his appointment to the Westin Wellbeing Council, as even a successful hotel chain recognizes the importance of cultivating happier and healthier lives.

For Puddicombe, a central part of this is meditation. This ancient practice allows us time to rest and focus on a state of consciousness we don’t experience day-to-day. Our attention focuses inward, while at the same time, meditation teaches us the power of stillness. The practice — as you may well know — is associated with reduced feelings in everything from anxiety to post-traumatic stress disorder. The benefits aren’t only mental, either, they’re physiological.

Scientific American cited research that found an eight-week course of mindfulness meditation shrunk the brain’s amygdala, which is our “fight-or-flight” center. The amygdala is otherwise associated with fear and emotion, and it is “involved in the initiation of the body’s response to stress.” Additionally, brain scans of meditators versus non-meditators suggested they’re able to remove or lessen painful stimulation.

Having been guided by Puddicombe himself, as well getting lost among the stacks of pro-meditation research, I realized I had zero reasons to not be regularly meditating. I specifically set out to do so for 40 days since some believe it takes 40 days to develop better habits (though you’re more likely to be familiar with the 21- to 30-day schedules). Shephali Agrawal, executive director of the Art of Living-New York City Center, is one of those people.

Agrawal and I initially met for a story I was writing on an increasing number of meditation studios. Toward the end of our conversation, she recommended people, including myself, implement a meditation schedule for 40 days “just to see what happens.”

So I did...  more

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