Breathe In, Breathe Out … in Your Car, Laundry Room or Anywhere
At the beginning of a new year, many of us look for ways to remake ourselves into happier, healthier individuals. We resolve to lose or gain weight, become more physically fit, or begin a new hobby, interest or other endeavor to keep our minds sharp.
For an increasing number of people worldwide, learning to meditate and practice mindfulness (the two are interconnected) are the means by which they attempt to attain many of the most commonly expressed resolutions, including smoking cessation, weight loss and stress reduction. Others practice meditation to achieve goals such as achieving greater clarity of thought; relief of physical symptoms, including headaches, without medication; deeper sleep; and to boost creativity.
But what if a few minutes of meditation and mindfulness a day, practiced over a period of months and years, could effect even greater positive changes? Tobias points to studies showing that long-term meditation can result in greater neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life). Neuroplasticity is what allows us to compensate for injury and disease and to adjust their activities in response to new situations or to changes in their environment. She cited one study that showed how a monk was able to achieve long, high-amplification gamma oscillations, which reveal a deep focus as well as insights; gamma oscillations for most of us last only a fraction of a second.
Other studies, Tobias says, show that meditation can create greater flexibility in the brain’s epigenetics, or gene expression, which had been thought to be a closed system; and to enhance bidirectional communication between the mind/brain and body.
A multitude of websites, including experts and centers based at prestigious U.S. universities, are at your fingertips to explore further, if you wish to learn more.