Last week a research psychologist who formerly worked for me called to tell me that she’d just tried mindfulness meditation – over the last two weeks. I’ve been doing research on mindfulness meditation for the last 7 years with active duty service members and military veterans, as well as teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction to interested individuals in San Antonio, TX. Her enthusiasm was catching as she exclaimed “It really works! I can’t tell you how much of a difference this is making for me!” I let her talk and smiled to myself as I listened, “Every leader and every executive should learn how to meditate! — I think I’m going to move further into Mindfulness and also look at Emotional Intelligence and bring them to businesses! This is so needed!!!” It is needed and can be extremely helpful, not just to executives and leaders, but to workers at all levels, to husbands and wives, to children and teachers. Maybe not to every single individual, but the benefits are there for more people than you’d imagine!
A number of individuals who have attended my meditation training classes come to class thinking they will find a way to relax, and they can find a way to relax, but first they learn discipline. For some, this is a far cry from what they thought they’d come to class to learn! They learn to focus their mind on their breath, the sound of their heart-beat and the external sounds around them, as well as the physical sensations of their own bodies. Over time, the areas of focus grow, and their ability to focus on where THEY WANT their attention to be…increases.
Their friends notice how much better they listen and how much more they seem to care. Their colleagues feel valued as their ideas are heard. Their children feel valued and loved, as their parents’ warm attention turns on them like a light in the middle of a cold, dark night. Their work improves, as they accomplish more in a shorter period of time, as their attention wanders less, and they remain focused on tasks.
Their work also improves because regions of the brain associated with top-down executive control change following mindfulness meditation instruction. This means the individual can control and self-regulate their own behavior through establishing, supervising, correcting (as needed), and carrying out and maintaining a plan of action. This, in turn is associated with improvements in at least one marker of inflammatory disease risk.
What? Not only can I pay attention better through guided practice, but my brain actually changes for the better in terms of planning, problem solving, decision making, handling information AND my immune system is stronger?!
What kind of super-medication are we talking about here?!?
We are not talking about medication. We are talking about meditation.
We are not talking about a pill. These results are from mindfulness meditation studies with both animals and with humans.
Why aren’t we all doing it then?
While this is a great topic for another blog, one reason is that it takes effort.
Exercise also improves ones’ cognitive – thinking abilities and strengthens ones’ immune system, but it takes effort…and time.
Perhaps it is YOUR time to add meditation (and maybe also exercise) to your daily routine. According to research, you’ll think more clearly, problem solve more easily and accurately, be healthier, avoid colds and flu more readily, and be both less stressed and happier!!
What are you waiting for?!
Join us Today for an 8-week or a 5-day Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Class
Creswell, J. David et al., (2016). Alterations in Resting-State Functional Connectivity Link Mindfulness Meditation with Reduced Interleukin-6: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Biological Psychiatry, Volume 80, Issue 1, 53 – 61.
Kabat-Zinn, Jon. (2013). Full catastrophe living: using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York:Bantam Books.