I’ve never had an interest in meditation, mostly because I’m horrible at clearing my mind. Whenever I try to, it starts wandering more than usual and soon, I’m making up couple names for Disney characters. I always feel as though I have better things to do and am too busy, but this week, I decided to force myself to meditate.
According to Web MD, meditation improves both physical and emotional responses to stress. One study showed that people who meditated regularly for six weeks showed less activation of their immune systems and less emotional distress when placed in a stressful situation. In a University of Wisconsin study, increased electrical activity in the left frontal lobe after eight weeks of meditation was observed. This part of the brain is more active in optimistic people.
Meditation also improves concentration, according to The Huffington Post. This is apparently related to the increased amounts of energy that meditation provides. It also leads to increased self-awareness and self-acceptance.
And, obviously, meditation induces relaxation. This increases the compound nitric oxide in the body, which cause blood vessels to open up, and blood pressure subsequently drops. In fact, a study published by the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that 40 out of 60 high blood pressure patients could stop taking their blood pressure medication after beginning meditation.
Every night, after I finished class, homework and any meetings I had, I would listen to a guided meditation video to help de-stress. I had to listen to the whole thing, I had to barely move, I had to really try to clear my mind and I couldn’t make jokes (even mentally) in response to what the video was telling me.
I may not have felt less stressed after any of the videos, but they definitely did help in the relaxation department. I did this for four days, and I fell asleep in the middle of every. single. video. After the third day, I realized I had been selecting (randomly, although as you’ll find, most of the top results are by a channel called The Honest Guys) meditations for bedtime and “deep relaxation.”
So, the fourth day I picked one that was labeled as “detachment from over-thinking” because it was one of the only ones not labeled specifically for nighttime. And I still fell asleep.
I may never know if meditation is the answer to becoming healthier, happier, or less stressed, but I do know where to go if I ever have trouble sleeping.