All over the world, meditation has various values and benefits. In some countries it is interpreted as a form of spirituality or plays a significant role in one’s religion, while in others it is a method of relaxation, a technique to clear one’s thoughts and reflect upon oneself or an individual into one Bringing improved state of mental health and general wellbeing.
It’s no surprise that mindfulness meditation has become such a huge trend, especially given the overwhelming amount of stress that the pandemic has placed on us.
While there are many treatments, medications, and therapy sessions that help people with their emotional distress, some people are looking for a more natural way to uncloth and stabilize their thoughts.
Dr. Paul Ritvo, a professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Sciences and the Department of Psychology, shared his findings and research on the science behind meditation.
In explaining the science behind meditation, Dr. Ritvo states that the prefrontal cortex (PFC) is evolutionarily a newer part of the brain and is linked to the executive control of behavior, including the ordering of activities within the brain.
In meditation, the PFC’s task is to note down any thoughts that arise and then to draw attention to breathing sensations. When the attention returns from breathing to thinking, the redirecting task (to breathing consciousness) is repeated. This process is carried out for the duration of a mindfulness session, which on a given day lasts several minutes to hours and can extend to several days of meditation retreats.
The repetition has a calming effect, while the deliberate substitution of attention to breath sensations leads to a dominance of the PFC over activities originating from other parts of the brain.
Dr. Ritvo describes the many advantages as follows:
“In addition to strengthening our PFC functions and reducing amygdala dominance, mindfulness has other positive effects on updating our peacemaking tendencies. Our moods are largely influenced by how much we view environments positively or negatively, and with more confidence in peace-making skills, we tend to view environments more positively.
“We are also committed to more enjoyable peaceful activities. We form peaceful teams that work together to create change that we are proud and happy of. This is where the self-satisfying brain slices are stimulated and we feel better through positive interactions with others, ”continues Ritvo.
The neurological segments involved are more diverse, but include segments of the limbic system and hypothalamus. In short, mindfulness changes the brain so that we seek peace and productivity and are more successful in doing so. In the meantime, we are better able to develop positive relationships with others, which in themselves are very emotionally satisfying.
The first way to start mindfulness meditation is to get comfortable and remain seated and motionless for a few minutes. The task is to practice drawing your attention to deep breaths. When your mind begins to wander, remember to focus again on your breathing techniques of inhaling and exhaling and paying attention to where you feel those breaths most, such as your nose, stomach, chest, etc.
After a few minutes or seconds, as you breathe in deeply to inhale, expand your abdomen, and slowly lengthen your exhale as your abdomen contracts. If you find that your mind is busy and distracted, then this is to be expected. This will help you understand that we need to take a break while focusing on what we enjoy.
Fourth year commercial student Amir Moghaddam had his own contribution to make on the subject, explaining how taking time to meditate has been so beneficial to his health.
“I believe in this day and age where the disruption caused by the pandemic has made it difficult to lead a normal life, it can be very difficult to relax, focus, and stay positive all together – at least for us me, ”he tells Moghaddam.
“I find it very important to meditate and take some time to reflect on my sanity during these challenging times, especially with upcoming interludes and finals, so that I can take the extra weight off my shoulders.”
No matter how busy we are or what we are all going through, it is important to maintain our quality of life through good health and happiness. Taking the time to do the things we enjoy and taking some time to meditate can help you get the best out of us and ensure a sense of accomplishment when we keep our schedules.