Being originally from India, the word ‘meditation’ is not alien to me. It’s something that I have grown hearing about all the time! It’s implications were something that I just failed to understand, till I grew up (lot of growing up still to do but that I will save for a different time). It’s just one of those phenomenons that unless you’re a specially gifted high matured child (IMO) that you just won’t grasp. A memory that I just recalled from my childhood wass when my parents tried to push me towards going for classes that spoke about the art of meditating and keeping a calm and collected mind. Now bear in mind that I was 12 years old and couldn’t care less so ,naturally, nothing came to fruition from those classes. Looking back, I totally see what my parents were trying to do but I just wasn’t one of those special kids :-/
Fast-forward to today, there’s a huge change/shift in the way people perceive meditation. It’s more mainstream and visible nowadays than ever before as science strives forward to shed light on many of its benefits. Needless to say, from stress reduction to increasing the state of well-being, meditation is definitely the panacea that we all have been looking for.
As I was doing my research on meditation, I came across this really cool article that spoke about an eight week study conducted by Harvard researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) which determined that meditation literally rebuilds the brain’s grey matter in just eight weeks. It’s the very first study to document that meditation produces changes in grey matter over time.
Posting another excerpt from this very article (original article can be found here):
“In another study, researchers led by Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the W.M. Keck Laboratory for Functional Brain Imaging and Behavior, teamed up with a number of monks and volunteers. The Dalai Lama even dispatched eight of his most accomplished practitioners to Davidson’s lab to have them hooked up for EEG testing and brain scanning. These monks come from traditions of meditation for an estimated 10,000 to 50,000 hours, over time periods of 15 to 40 years. The monks were fitted with a net of 256 electrical sensors and asked to meditate for short periods. Davidson was particularly interested in measuring gamma waves, the highest frequency and most important known electrical brain impulses. The results showed that the electrodes picked up much greater activation of fast moving and unusually powerful gamma waves in the monks. You can read more about this here.
One aspect of meditation that needs to be addressed more, however, is the fact that it’s a state of mind. There are those out there who can achieve similar brain wavelengths by putting themselves in the same ‘state of mind’ as a ‘master meditator.’ This proves that there is no one way to do it, and that it’s possible to achieve alternate states of consciousness as well as reap the other benefits associated with meditation without doing it a certain way or the ‘right’ way.
Similarly, it does not have to take hours and does not need to be done sitting alone in a quiet space. One can be engaged in meditation while walking, for example, or while preparing for sleep. Throughout the day, one can resist judging their thoughts, letting them flow until they are no more, or just be in a constant state of peace and self awareness, and this would still be meditation. Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate.
That being said, sitting down in a specific way for a specific period of time is also meditation, and a much deeper form of meditation, but not everybody is ready for that, and not everybody has to do that to experience the benefits that meditation offers.
The intention behind the meditation is also important to consider, as it can ultimately influence how it’s practiced, and how you are taught to do it.”
Reading the above excerpt first made me think about this, and I’m sure many of you can relate:
But on a more serious note, this part — “Contrary to popular belief, there is more than one way to meditate” — really struck a chord with me. It’s so true that when people hear meditation, the first thing that comes to their mind is the lack of time. Who is going to just sit around and stay quiet right…especially in this boisterous day and age! The fact that there’s way of just getting into the same state (scientifically speaking) and getting the same benefits is alluring indeed and opens up a lot of hope, for hopeless individuals like me atleast ;-) But lets be real for a sec: originality still rules, which means that if you really want to get the full benefits, you should definitely stick with the traditional meditation practices. The new age way of meditating is for people who are constantly on the run. In fact, as I spell this out, it just makes so much more sense to have a nice vacation where you could just sit and relax and meditate and have fun and, well, you get the idea!
This prospect struck me so hard that I went on a rampage (couldn’t come up with a calmer word) to find a cool experience where you could meditate in a nice location and just enjoy a relaxing vacation. I TOTALLY LUCKED OUT because I found this really cool experience where you can meditate with MONKS!! Yep, you heard it right — become the master of meditation with the monks! You remember how I mentioned that originality still rules? Well what could be more original, right?
Check out this awesome experience and if you do happen to go on it, do let me know in the comments below how awesome it felt: #Kyoto: Meditate & Enjoy Temple Food With A Monk