The adaptability and science of meditation with mental health

A graphic showing the title: The adaptability and science of meditation with mental health CREDIT: FSU PUBLICATIONS AND COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT

Meditation is more than just sitting cross legged on a rock with your eyes closed in complete silence. It’s a therapeutic and spiritual practice that acts as a reset for the mind and soul, which makes it such a valuable tool in life.

According to a study conducted by the research group, Caddle, 69 per cent of Canadians believe that regularly meditating could improve and balance their lives, especially in younger generations. To help alleviate the hindering feelings of stress and anxiety, people rely on various methods as a means to re-centre and ground their focus and clear their minds.

How does meditation work in the mind? Ben Switzer, founder of the social enterprise True Focus said that the way stress is perceived in the brain and body is mediated by the nervous system.

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“As you’re practicing meditation, there’s two things that happen,” he explained. “The first is you become more aware of stressful stimuli, and that awareness actually allows you to better manage how you relate to that stress. That’s the mindfulness component of meditation. The second is through actual changes in the brain that happens through prolonged, repeated training sessions using meditation.”

Switzer said he has seen a huge transformation in the last decade of people now also using yoga as a means of mediation.

“Particularly among young people,” he added. “So it used to be the case, you know, 10 years ago, nobody knew what meditation was and now, it’s not only that people are familiar with the concept, but many people are for this concept. They are also familiar with the notion that they should be doing it, and then it’s good for them.”

Looping back to the beginning point, meditation is not defined by a single definition or practice. It can be anything which makes it a personal and reflective experience, while in addition, builds an intimate relationship with your mind and body. The key aspects that play a role into the function of the activity is self-awareness and focus, which is what makes it meditation.

“It comes into this question, what is meditation exactly? And you can think of meditation as focused on awareness as in its simplest form,” Switzer said.

Going for walks, a bike ride, or even playing video games is a way to help clear your mind and detach yourself from whatever feelings are bothering you. Switzer talked about how walking meditation helps people by fixating on points in a person’s field of view when walking.

“One of the techniques that I teach is a walking meditation where, as you’re walking, you pinpoint different focal points in your awareness, which could be visual phenomena in your field of view. It could be body sensations that you feel that you’re having inside of you or it could be thoughts and feelings. But the key technique is being aware of where that point of focus is and intensifying it on purpose. So as your mind is wandering, as sort of a meta layer of awareness.”

Meditation offers a super-ability for people as a way to power their mind into overdrive and enhance their cognitive ability. By channeling the energy built up from meditation, it allows the mind to strengthen its focusing ability which allows people to complete tasks with more ease, like completing assignments or studying.

You can almost think of your brain as a CPU of a computer for your body. You overclock your mind and can do the unimaginable.