The greatest thing about meditation is that it provides a tool for allowing you to become more you. But, what is meditation? The definition has a lot of gray areas. According to Dr. Andrew Huberman, most scientists agree meditation occurs when someone employs certain methods to develop mindfulness, though there is no precise definition of mindfulness. Most scientists agree it is about being present and conscious of your state of mind. Its purpose is to create a healthy gap between you, your thoughts, and your emotions.
A common misperception about meditation is that it is about clearing your mind and having no thoughts at all. That is not true. If I told you to not think about something–like a hyena devouring a hot dog–you will inevitably do so. Instead, mediation is allowing thoughts to come to you, while refraining from analyzing, judging, or assigning meaning to them. A psychology course I took taught me that an emotion only lasts for around one and a half minutes. The thoughts we attach with the emotion prolong the time we experience it. We can learn more about our emotions through meditation, including how to simply acknowledge them and let them go.
This detachment has significant practical benefits. For example, people have reported increased productivity in the workspace and a decrease in general anxiety and even ADHD symptoms. Further, meditation can be a wonderful tool for combating addiction by raising awareness of your triggers, detaching from those urges, and ultimately enhancing your self-control through refocusing your attention on a different, healthy grounding stimulus. This process breeds discipline, which cultivates self-trust.
A big reason why meditation has astounding stress-reducing benefits is the wealth of advantages that extend to the physical plane. This one blew my mind: Harvard researchers conducted a study where they analyzed brains for an eight-week period, during which their subjects were meditating regularly. To measure progress, the researchers conducted frequent MRI brain scans. The results showed meditation actually slows the cells on a genetic level, therefore slowing our biological clocks. Further, meditation significantly reduces inflammation in the brain, which is critical for minimizing damage to other bodily systems.
Finally, one of the most important aspects of meditation is that it connects you with your higher self. The idea of the “higher self” refers to an everlasting, omnipotent, conscious, and intelligent being that is one’s true self. By getting in touch with your higher self, you can access better awareness for your gut feelings, detach from your anxieties, and develop on a pathway aligned with your highest good, or your self-actualized self. There are also techniques that allow you to rewire your subconscious to get rid of your limiting beliefs, such as repeating positive affirmations. Together, these benefits allow you to shine brightly and align yourself with the path that is intended for your highest good.
If you are interested in meditating, it is simple to implement into daily life. I normally spend ten minutes a day using a YouTube guided meditation. Even five minutes would be a great place to start for most people. Morning is the preferred time to meditate because your mind is clear and peaceful at that time. You can set your intentions for the day and start your day with gratitude. Meditating later in the day is also beneficial, particularly before a stressful situation. The most important thing is to find an approach that works best for you.