Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It is a way of entering into the quiet that is already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day. – Deepak Chopra
I purposely chose this powerful quote because it’s exactly what this article is all about…the power of meditation and what’s possible when practiced within our daily lives. This article explores how meditation can dramatically strengthen your life and improve your mental toughness.
- FACT: 67% of men and 15% of women would sooner endure an unpleasant electric shock rather than be alone in silence for even 15 minutes!
Let’s start with demystifying something I get asked a lot which is the difference between the popularity of mindfulness training, which is often confused with meditation. The short answer is that mindfulness is a form of meditation. Here is an excellent explanation from the expert himself Jon Kabat-Zinn, PhD.
What Is Meditation?
- Meditation is a way to release all that is buried in your subconscious and in your body. When you allow yourself to have time dedicated to quieting your mind and turning inward, an array of thoughts and feelings that were buried in your subconscious mind arise to the surface where they can be observed and released without judgment.
The Benefits Of Practicing Meditation:
- The science and research is all their folks (over 3000 studies in fact) and lucky for you, here is an excellent article outlining over 70 benefits of why practicing meditation is beneficial for you and your life. Plus…it:
- Adds synaptic connections that thicken the brain tissues over time in the regions handling control of attention and sensory awareness.
- Increases serotonin, the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep.
- Triggers the body to secrete hormones that decrease blood pressure and heart rate.
- Activates the left side of your frontal lobes, which produce more positive emotions.
If every 8-year old in the world is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence from the world within one generation.
– Dalai Lama
What Is Mental Toughness?
- According to James Clears article “The Science of Developing Mental Toughness in Your Health, Work, and Life” (which I fully endorse and hope you will read) defines mental toughness as: Grit — the perseverance and passion to achieve long–term goals.
- Wikipedia has their version, which is also good to know as the term alone has some confusion around just what it means and where to apply it.
How It Comes Together:
Upon doing my research, I came across the best article I could find on this topic that was backed by some solid research and science. Here is what I found (summarized):
- A strong mind uses meditation to control the tyranny of everyday thinking—compulsive, brain-driven, and unproductive behavior that is based on years of bad habits.
Meditation can change the brain (in a good way). Scientists have learned that activities like meditation can change our brain in several ways. Meditation can:
~ Promote Calmness ~
Meditation enables us to move from higher frequency brain waves—which is hyperactivity in the brain—to lower frequency. The slower the rhythms in the brain, the more time you have between thoughts. With more time, you also have more opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you should invest in. Check out these apps to begin your mediation practice:
- Relax Melodies
- Smiling Mind
- Take A Break
~ Lessen Anxiety ~
Researchers explain that there are many “centers” in the brain, but the one that impacts the way you see yourself, and others, is called the Self-Referencing Center. It processes information related to us—our daydreams, thinking of the future, self-reflection, and our experiences. When you become anxious, it triggers a strong reaction which leaves you feeling threatened and scared.
Meditation weakens this neural connection. Your ability to ignore anxiety is enhanced as these connections are broken. As a result, you are able to readily recognize sensations like anxiety or fear for what they are; in doing so, you can respond to them more rationally.
~ Increase Productivity ~
While many may say that meditating for performance is not the point, researchers at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have discovered that meditation not only reduces stress, it also calms us down so we can be our best. Meditation does the following:
- Separates the noise from the static.
- Helps you focus on what is important to you.
- Increases memory so it’s easier to recall information.
- Creates better conversations with others.
- Strengthens resolve to make intentional decisions so you achieve what you want.
- Trains your mind to not get swept up by distractions.
Meditation is a practice, and requires both patience and persistence for one to learn something new and “be” with something new. Personally, meditation has allowed me to expand my capacity to “be with” others while learning how to better manage stress, remain relaxed and have a positive attitude towards life. Don’t be discouraged or think it’s not for you, or that you don’t have the time…it is and you do have the time if you choose it. The key is to be patient and kind to yourself in the process.
The floor is yours: What’s your tip to improving mental toughness?
Please leave your comment below as your insights are greatly appreciated and a learning opportunity for everyone reading this article.
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