Meditation is the ancient and modern technique of quieting the mind. Its Latin beginnings, like medicine, comes from the root word mederi, which means to cure. Meditation is one of the eight limbs of yoga Dhyana a deep state of concentration or developing a witness awareness.
My first meditation class was 15 years ago. I attended a lunch hour class at the McMullen Art Gallery while working at the University Hospital. I had no expectations other than a curiosity. After 50 minutes of following my breath and sitting in stillness and silence I felt different. I noticed that what had felt like a traffic jam in my head opened up to eight lanes. Similar to my experience with yoga, I felt spacious and internally relaxed.
This feeling put me on the path to a personal practice and then broadened to wholistic studies which began first with teaching yoga and more recently with teaching mindfulness and meditation. For the first twelve years or so, my meditation practice was embedded in my yoga practice. For the past four years I have had a daily practice of both. My family and friends have commented that the consistent daily meditation practice has changed me the most.
What I consider most significant about this is development of the witness mind. This is the ability to be the observer of your own thoughts, emotions and sensations as they are happening. By cultivating this skill we are able to slow reactions down, notice and relate to habits and internal narratives that are not helpful (story mind) as well as receive a whole host of physiological benefits. I like meditation not only because it is an exceptionally healthy habit to cultivate but that it is accessible to people of all ages and abilities AND living in the moment is directly correlated with being happy!
My background in neuropsychology has helped me to understand the neuroplasticity of the brain, and more specifically the brain on meditation. One of the changes I appreciate most is that meditation actually builds and strengthens compassion neurologically. Meditation stimulates the anterior cingulate, an area of the frontal lobe, often referred to as the little heart inside the brain. Meditation is like exercise for your brain, it literally changes your hardwiring.
Our minds without training are like puppies off the leash or more commonly described as monkey mind. Without a witness mind we are the monkey mind or the puppy off the leash. There is no ability or internal space to notice that most of what the mind does is just a repeating narrative or series of reactions to stimuli (internal or external). Being able to take a step back from this opens us to freedom and choice. By being able to stay in the moment long enough to experience it life becomes ripe for living. Remember, life only happens in the present, one moment at a time.
A daily meditation practice with as little as five minutes a day will change your brain in three weeks. Slowly you will become more peaceful, more compassionate, less reactive, more focused, physically and mentally healthier. If this inspires you please contact me below for more information about the meditation classes I’m offering.