Let's talk about the mental benefits of meditation.
There are SO many benefits to meditation. Infact, if you Google it, and you get 240 million search results!!! So let me try and boil down that little bit of bedtime reading for you and list some of the key benefits that regular Vedic Meditation practice can have on your brain.
Most of you will have heard reference to the left brain and right brain and that they do different things.
Left brain is the accountant. Responsible for to-do lists, balancing your cheque book, planning for your retirement. All that day-to-day stuff. It also spends a lot of its time analysing the past. Identifying all the places that you’ve gone wrong so that it can then use this knowledge to plan for a more successful future.
Right brain is the creative director. Art and music definitely use this side of the brain. Yet less well known right brain functions are your imagination, intuition and finding creative ways around a problem.
Now it’s not 100% black or white. A lot of thought processes require a combination of both sides of the brain. Creating music for example is considered predominantly a right brain activity, yet the left brain is involved with the pitch and tempo elements of creation.
So, where do you think you spend most of your thinking time? The majority of people are 90% left brain thinkers. We spend so much time going over and over what happened in the past, obsessively thinking about all the things you need to do now and fretting about how you’ll get them done and worrying about the future. Most of our day-to-day thinking is pretty repetitive!
Nature doesn’t make a mistake
Look at this picture of the brain. It’s 50% left brain, 50% right brain. So why do we only use a smidgen of the capabilities of the right brain? If we were intended to be 90/10, that’s how the brain would have developed.
So there’s a huge amount of your thinking capability that is largely unused.
And what we’ve been doing for most of our thinking lives is just working out the left side. It’s been like you’ve been walking around with your right arm in a sling and doing everything with your left arm which has made it good and strong, whereas the right is weak and feeble.
Now to access the capabilities of both sides of the brain they need to work together. You need the creative right side to come up with potential ways to solve a problem and you need the analytical left side looking at the pros and cons and working out which of the right brains ideas are the most optimal for this situation. This is why the most successful companies have CEO’s who are the big thinkers (right brain) and they have accountants (left brain) who make sure the idea doesn’t bankrupt the company.
With a weak right brain it’s like the CEO is only able to whisper their ideas, whereas the left brain accountant is able to shout through a loudspeaker! When you can’t hear the right brain ideas, the only option available is for the left brain to search back through its history banks looking for a similar situation in the hope that there’s some precedent there that can be used again. How have you solved these situations in the past? This is why we do the same thing over and over again, often hoping for a different outcome.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
So what can meditation do to change this?
When we concentrate on something, like a problem, a memory or even a mindfulness meditation style, very specific parts of the brain light up very brightly. This shows us that this area of the brain is getting a really good workout.
Whereas, with a technique like Vedic Meditation, the whole brain lights up. This shows that the whole brain is getting a workout.
So over time what students notice is that the volume of their right brain thoughts get turned up, the left brain starts to hear these thoughts and goes to work figuring out if this is a good solution.
Other signs of neuroplasticity, your brain’s ability to change itself, is that we start to notice an increase in the thickness of the Corpus Callosum.* This is the connecting cable between the left and right sides of the brain and allows data to go back and forth. There wasn’t much data flow before so you didn’t need many cables. As the right muscle grows, the amount of ‘cables’ grows, so the volume and speed of collaborative thoughts increases.
So how do you know it's working?
I’m going to assume that you don’t have access to a brain scanning equipment, so you need to look for other signs that your right brain and corpus callosum are building their muscles. There are 5 things to look out for:
Upgrade of processor: You’re coming up with solutions faster. You use to procrastinate for a while when you got into work, yet now you’re just diving into work. Areas of decision making that you previously had difficulty with, you’re just sailing through? Your to-do list getting done faster. I remember feeling like all the junk had been cleared out of my inbox. I could clearly see what needed to be done and my brain was just on fire coming up with answers.
Simultaneity: Your ability to hold many things in your awareness at the same time. You’re at work typing an important document. You’ve got a clear train of thought and then a colleague comes to your desk. Simultaneity is the art of being able to look up, engage fully with your colleague, answer their query and then return to your screen, read the last sentence and you’re right back on the thought train again. A part of your brain kept the document thought going while another part dealt with your colleague. And this really helps to keep your stress levels low and makes you nice and accommodating to your colleague.
Discriminating ability: Our right brain gives us our intuition, our 6th sense. So say you have 2 options in front of you - 2 job offers, 2 cuddle partners, 2 outfits. Which do you choose? You can whip out a notebook and write a list of pro and cons (fully left brain thinking) or you can go with your gut instinct. Maybe job A pays more money, yet something about job B is pulling at you. Perhaps you have a sense that you’ll fit in more, get on better with your boss or find more job satisfaction with job B. Your subconscious mind has already analysed everything about these 2 jobs and is leading you towards the one that will be the best fit for your future self. As you clear your brain and body of stress, you’ll start to hear, or feel, the voice of your own intuition more and this creates a whole new level of efficiency. Not having to analyse every decision to the nth degree. You make a decision instinctively, quickly, based on your gut, your intuition.
Detect cause and effect: During fight or flight there is a reduction in peripheral vision. When you’re fighting that tiger, you want to be fully focused on its every move. Remove this stress from our bodies, and we can see what’s in front and to the sides. This brings more into our awareness and we’re better able to see 2, 3 or even 50 steps ahead of where you are now.
Maybe you’ve noticed that your directors all seem to be in regular meetings and that there seems to be a tightening of expenditure. It just feels like something is off. So you pop your CV together and send it to a couple recruitment agents. When redundancies are announced and everyone else is in shock, you’re already on your 2nd interview for an even better job and are comfortable putting your hand up for the voluntary redundancy package.
And this expanded awareness isn’t just a benefit for us. Maybe you notice that someone’s behaviour has changed and you take the time to ask why. This makes us better partners, parents, friends, managers…
Aging: As we age, most anticipate a reduction in mental ability. Walking into a room and not remembering what you came for, not being able to get your head around new technology or changes in your environment. Akin to this is the fear of diseases such as alzheimers and dementia. Yet what if this wasn’t the only path?
There was a study that looked at the speed at which your brain mass reduces, which, did you know typically starts to reduce from the age of just thirty? The study looked at the brains of meditators in their forties and fifties and found that their average brain mass was similar to those in the twenties to thirties group. That’s ten to twenty years of brain youth thanks to a regular meditation practice!^
Protect your DNA: And if that wasn’t enough of a reason to meditate, there are protective caps on the ends of our DNA strings called telomeres. The shorter your telomeres, the more susceptible your cells are to decay and disease. A 2013 study showed a definitive link between telomere length and the amount of time a person had been meditating.~
When you meditate, not only are you increasing the performance of your brain today, you’re protecting it from the damaging effects of ageing. How great is that?
Vedic Meditation super charges your brain.
To find out more about how Vedic Meditation can help boost your brain box and so much more, arrange a FREE consultation call with Joanna.