I am a good follower, like most people, and I practice meditation. I also use it in my coaching sessions because I’ve been told it is good for me and my clients. I don't know about you, but I do things even better when I understand why something is good for me. So, I took an online neurobiology course and read a book, “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself,” both by Dr. Joe Dispenza, which has helped me understand how thoughts and specifically meditation changes the brain.
Meditation Crushes Stress and Changes Our Brains and It Changes Our Genes
When living in survival mode, or chronic stress like most of us do, we can only focus on 3 things: our physical bodies (Am I o.k.?) the environment (Where is it safe?) and time (How long will this threat be present?). This focus makes us less spiritual, less aware, and less mindful—like having all of our resources tied up in weapons of defense and armies for attack instead of investing our energy into education, health, improving human conditions and creating possibilities. Living from this state makes us self-focused, selfish, and materialistic causing us to feel separate from the whole.
A state of constant, low grade stress literally damages our cognitive brain resulting in decreased memory, impaired motor function. It disrupts our immune responses resulting in more and longer illnesses. It disrupts sleep and can lead to overall depression of all systems.
Study by researchers at Benson-Henry Institute, in 2008, for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston; 20 volunteers received 8 weeks of training in various mind/body practices (e.g.; meditation, yoga, repetitive prayer) The researchers also followed 19 long-term daily practitioners of these techniques.
After the study period, the novices showed a change in 1,561 genes as well as reduced blood pressure and reduced heart and respiration rates, while the experienced practitioners expressed 2,209 new genes. Most of the genetic changes involved improving the body’s response to chronic psychological stress.
Just One Session Makes a Difference
A second study in 2013 found that eliciting the relaxation response produces changes in gene expression after just ONE session of meditation among both novices and experienced practitioners alike (with long-term practitioners deriving more benefit.) Genes that were activated included those involving immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion, while genes that were down suppressed included those linked to inflammation and stress.
Losing Your Mind is a Good Thing
Meditation literally takes us out of our minds—the thoughts we habitually think, the never ending loop that triggers all kinds of harmful chemical reactions in our bodies—and links us directly to the source of all of creation; Universal Consciousness, infinite potential, Life Force, God, whatever you want to call it. But ‘IT’ quite literally changes you inside and, over time, out. Once we are out of our minds, our bodies go to work doing what it does best, and it does it faster and more efficiently, it restores, renews, repairs all parts of us. Spending time connected to that zone is where we connect with creative solutions to all of our problems, micro (ourselves) to macro (the world).
This is just a sliver of information about what we do know about meditation. Meditation; Do it. It’s good for you!