Many people may be curious and even skeptical about meditation at first. "Does it work?" "Is meditation worth it?" – these are common questions, and the majority of people who try the ancient practice tend to think it has the power to boost brain potential – even doctors say so.
Focus is the Name of the Game
Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and author of "Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy," told Time that meditation can bolster a range of mental tasks, from quieting the mind during stressful times to learning how to establish a divider between one's thoughts and bad habits.
First off, it's important to understand that meditation is an umbrella term for a lot of different types of mental activities. Some of the popular kinds include mindfulness, Zezen, qi gong and guided visualization.
"There are thousands of different types of meditation," Newberg explained to the source.
But despite their slight differences, the common denominator is focusing your attention, a habit that's becoming harder and harder to achieve in the world of digital distraction.
"That focusing could be on a word or object or physical motion," Newberg told Time. "But regardless, the type of focusing involved in meditation activates the brain's frontal lobe, which is involved in concentration, planning, speech and other executive functions like problem solving."
Just like lifting dumbbells can build arm strength, working out with meditation has the ability to strengthen the mind, especially against stress. Studies have shown that meditating can reduce the flow of stress-related hormones, in turn softening emotional responses. As Time columnist Markham Heid eloquently put it, meditation benefits the brain's ability to "carry life's emotional cargo."
Whether you're going through a breakup or under pressure at work, sitting down for 15 minutes a day to practice the ancient technique could prove to be fruitful.
Newberg also points out that there's some evidence that meditation helps build one's self-identity by helping you feel more connected to others and less isolated within yourself.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, meditation can help your brain get out of its own way. Mindfulness is one style that's been gaining lots of traction lately, mainly because it can be practiced anywhere. It's mobile meditation! The idea behind is this: By paying extreme attention to your sensory inputs right now – how the room smells, the sound of the wind blowing outside the window, the mint taste of your chewing gum – you can enjoy the richness of every moment.
To try it out for yourself, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Feel the inhalation run from your nose all of the way down to the diaphragm. Then exhale slowly. If your mind wanders, bring it back – but don't harass yourself from straying off task. Tangents are natural, and the more you practice mindful meditation, the less frequent these digressions will become.