20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today

635903728850127570-2076758665 16561-alone-at-the-beach-1920x1200-photography-wallpaperI started meditating soon after 9/11. I was living in Manhattan, an already chaotic place, at an extremely chaotic time. I realized I had no control over my external environment. But the one place I did have a say over was my mind, through meditation. When I started meditating, I did not realize it would also make me healthier, happier, and more successful. Having witnessed the benefits, I devoted my PhD research at Stanford to studying the impact of meditation. I saw people from diverse backgrounds from college students to combat veterans benefit. In the last 10 years, hundreds of studies have been released. Here are 20 scientifically-validated reasons you might want to get on the bandwagon today:

It Boosts Your HEALTH
1 – Increases immune function
2 – Decreases Pain
3 – Decreases Inflammation at the Cellular Level
It Boosts Your HAPPINESS
4 РIncreases Positive Emotion 
5 – Decreases Depression
6 – Decreases Anxiety
7 РDecreases Stress 
It Boosts Your SOCIAL LIFE
Think meditation is a solitary activity? It may be (unless you meditate in a group which many do!) but it actually increases your sense of connection to others:
8 – Increases social connection & emotional intelligence
9 – Makes you more compassionate
10 РMakes you feel less lonely 
It Boosts Your Self-Control
11 – Improves your ability to regulate your emotions
12 – Improves your ability to introspect
It Changes Your BRAIN (for the better)
13 – Increases grey matter
14 РIncreases volume in areas related to emotion regulation, positive emotions & self-control 
15 РIncreases cortical thickness in areas related to paying attention 
It Improves Your Productivity (yup, by doing nothing)
16 – Increases your focus & attention
17 – Improves your ability to multitask
18 РImproves your memory 
19 – Improves your ability to be creative & think outside the box

20. It Makes You WISE(R)
It gives you perspective: By observing your mind, you realize you don’t have to be slave to it. You realize it throws tantrums, gets grumpy, jealous, happy and sad but that it doesn’t have to run you. Meditation is quite simply mental hygiene: clear out the junk, tune your talents, and get in touch with yourself. Think about it, you shower every day and clean your body, but have you ever showered your mind? As a consequence, you’ll feel more clear and see thing with greater perspective. “The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind,” writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. We can’t control what happens on the outside but we do have a say over the quality of our mind. No matter what’s going on, if your mind is ok, everything is ok. Right now.
It Keeps You Real
Once you get to know your mind, you start to own your stuff and become more authentic, maybe even humble. You realize the stories and soap operas your mind puts you through and you gain some perspective on them. You realize most of us are caught up in a mind-drama and become more compassionate towards others.
And…the more you meditate, the more you seem to benefit, research studies such as this (link is external) one suggest.
Myths about Meditation
Having an empty mind – nope, in fact, when you start meditating, you’ll find its quite the opposite
Sitting in lotus position – nope, you can sit on the couch (just don’t lie down, you’ll fall asleep)
Sitting for an hour a day – nope, small doses work just fine
Chanting in a language I don’t understand – nope, not unless that floats your boat
Buddhist, Hindu or religious – nope, not unless you make it so
Weird – what’s so weird about sitting and breathing?
Wearing robes – what?
“I can’t meditate” because
I can’t clear my mind – no worries, while you’re sitting there you’ll experience the noisy chaos of a wound up mind that’s unwinding: tons of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Don’t worry about how you feel during, notice how you feel after and throughout the rest of the day
I can’t sit still – that’s ok, just sit comfortably, fidget if you need to

I get anxious – that’s also normal, all the junk’s coming up, learn some breathing practices to calm yourself down, exercise or do yoga before meditating
I hate sitting still – that’s fine, then go for a walk without your earphones, phone etc; or start with yoga; or do breathing exercises…give yourself time to just “be” without constantly “doing” something
I tried and I hated it – there’s not just one kind of meditation, there’s a whole menu out there, look for the shoe that fits: mindfulness, Transcendental, compassion, mantra, Vipassana, Art of Living breathing practices, yoga nidra, yoga, insight, loving-kindness, tai chi etc…
I don’t have time – if you have time to read an article about meditation all the way through, you have time to meditate. Think of all those minutes you waste every day on the internet or otherwise, you can definitely fit in 20 minutes here or there to give your life a boost! Gandhi is quoted as saying “I’m so busy today, that… I’m going to meditate 2 hours instead of 1.”

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