Meditation It’s not what you think Video

Meditation It’s not what you think Video


Hay, engineers! Ever wonder what
meditation is and why it has such an awesomely impactful effect on brain
health and overall well-being? Believe it or not, it’s actually worth integrating
into your daily or weekly routine — and you don’t even need to leave your desk
to do it. You may have heard that meditation is only about sitting still.
Actually there are many different kinds of meditation that can include walking,
eating, repeating a phrase over and over, or just focusing on your breaths. These
are not easy to do because the mind is a busy place. You can get the benefits of
meditation even if you have a busy mind and a hard time slowing down. During
meditation, you’re training to become more aware of what’s happening inside your mind and body. A study published in the Journal of Consciousness and Cognition
identified three meditation categories based on measured brainwave differences. These categories include concentration-centered meditation, mindfulness
meditation, and transcendental meditation. The goal of concentration-centered
meditation is to sustain attention on a single point such as environmental
sounds, internal sounds or images, or bodily sensations such as breathing. This
meditation style produces beta brainwaves which are associated with
problem-solving and are produced when the mind is strongly engaged in mental
activities. For example, while concentrating on the flow of your
natural breath as part of your concentration-centered meditation
practice, you might remember an assignment you have to do. It’s okay —
distraction is a normal part of meditation. Once the thought appears,
redirect focus to the sound of your breath. The goal of mindfulness meditation is to become alert of the mind’s
continuous stream of images, thoughts, emotions, and sensations all without
engagement or judgments. This practice helps develop a non-reactive state of mind and produces theta brainwaves, which induce the free flow of creative
ideas all without censorship or guilt. An example of sensory-based mindfulness
meditation includes walking meditation. Try practicing it on your walk to class
by paying attention to how the ground feels after each footstep, and how the
air feels on the face. Finally Transcendental Meditation or TM
uses mantras or repeating a motivational word or phrase over and over again to
achieve a settled mind. TM produces alpha brainwaves which can promote a relaxed
and focused mindset. Studies suggests that practicing meditation promotes shifts in cognition, biology, emotion, and behavior, all of which works synergistically
to promote health. Part of most meditation styles, taking a few deep breaths with a slight elongation of the out-breath can activate the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve is the largest part in the body and promotes relaxation by
combating the fight-or-flight response initiated by the amygdala which is a part of the brain accountable for stress, anxiety, and fear. Meditation has also been shown to improve cognition. A 2011 Harvard study found that mindfulness
meditation increased cortical thickness in the hippocampus which is the part of
the brain responsible for learning and memory. In addition to cognition, results
from a 2009 trial funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative
Health suggest that TM may lower blood pressure in university students at risk
for high blood pressure. The findings also suggest that TM can help mediate
depression, anxiety, and psychological distress. Overall, meditation has a
variety of scientifically supported cognitive and cardio-metabolic health
benefits. So are you ready to incorporate meditation into your routine? If you’re
new to meditation, set aside 1 to 5 minutes each day or a few days each week to focus attention on the natural flow of your breath. If you are breathing quickly or slowly, what does it sound like? This can be done in your dorm room, in
the dining hall, at the library, or wherever you find a few free minutes.
As a progression, try adding one more minute of meditation to each consecutive
session. There are also free meditation apps for your phone or computer.
They contain a variety of guided meditations based on your personal goals,
lifestyle, or interests — and even have progressions for beginners or longtime
practitioners. If interested, the apps can even log your meditation journey and help
with meditation goal-setting. Think you’ll forget to meditate? Try sending a calendar reminder to create a meditation routine. What time works best for you
each day? For example you can aim to meditate once when you wake up or once
in the afternoon or maybe before you go to bed — or all three. By setting a daily
reminder, you can easily integrate meditation into your routine. For more information about meditation and other wellness resources and classes at MIT, visit “community wellness at MIT,” MIT medical, and the MIT physical education “health and wellness tips” webpage. Last but not least, always remember to
breathe.

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