Despite what you may have heard about meditation, it doesn’t require hours of contemplation or a lengthy stay in an ashram. There’s no need to abandon your worldly possessions — or live like a monk! Meditation can easily fit in just fine with any 21st-century routine.
In actuality, meditation is an ancient practice that’s been proven effective by decades of modern science. These days everyone from Fortune 500 companies to professional athletes has begun incorporating it into their regular routines in order to reap the benefits.
The Miami HEAT NBA team, for one, just hosted the largest-ever group meditation at a sporting event. Google, Target, and General Mills all offer mindfulness meditation training to their employees. Celebrities and business bigwigs like Russell Simmons, Anderson Cooper, Lena Dunham, Jennifer Aniston, and dozens of others have extolled the benefits of the practice.
Clearly, meditation has become mainstream, and it’s something anyone can do.
Honestly, there’s nothing else that can offer so many advantages with such a small time investment. Five minutes a day!
If you decide to start meditating, here’s some of what you can expect:
Brain scans show that meditation shifts activity to the left side of the prefrontal cortex (the area behind the forehead). People who are left prefrontal-oriented tend to be happier, more relaxed, and have more enthusiasm for life. Meditation has also been shown to be as effective as antidepressants in reducing symptoms of depression — as well as anxiety and pain.
Gray matter in the brain usually decreases over time, but meditation helps to preserve it. In addition, one study showed that long-term meditators were physiologically 12 years younger than their actual age.
One study found that mindfulness meditation reduced pain intensity by 27% and decreased the emotional aspect of pain by a whopping 44%. Another study saw chronic pain patients reduce their physician visits by 36 percent.
Meditation and mindfulness can boost the brain’s hippocampus (the area that governs learning and memory) and help strengthen parts of the brain that deal with emotional regulation — all while simultaneously calming down the amygdala (the area that deals with fear, anxiety, and stress).
One study showed that college students who were taught meditation had better performance on a perceptual and short-term memory test.
A study of high school students who were exposed to a relaxation-response curriculum had significantly increased confidence.
Studies have shown that meditation makes people more resistant to infection, lowers blood pressure, helps you sleep better, increases telomerase activity(which helps with stress-induced aging, cancer, and dementia), and reduces PMS symptoms in women.
(These are just a handful of the benefits of meditation. For more, check out our handy infographic!)
Best of all, the SOS Method makes reaping these benefits even easier. There’s no need to spend days or hours learning how to quiet your mind and achieve stillness. You just sit, listen, and enjoy.
Whatever your individual goals, meditation can help. Because in this crazy world, who doesn’t want to feel healthier, look better, and live smarter?