Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why Meditate?

When I saw this image, I giggled. And I knew that I had to use it in my blog. Because, really, in today's world, what is there of more mythic dimensions than Google?

We live in an age where more and more research is being done on and about the brain. There are more methods of seeing the various centers of the brain and experimenting with how a variety of input effects it.

Meditation changes the brain. Lots of research available on the internet tells you that. The most significant information I discovered what that the brain without meditation is stuck on ME. There is a Me Center in the brain that connects it with the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain. Without a meditation practice, the strongest neural connections are within that Me Center and between that Center and the fear centers. That keeps us focused on how much all those sensations mean there is something wrong in MY world and with MY safety. It keeps us stuck in repetitive loops about our personal mistakes or how people might feel about us or whether or not a pain in our bodies means something is terribly wrong.

When we have a meditation practice, we can see more clearly. The connection stretches and relaxes between part of the brain that focuses on how things are for or with ME and the bodily sensation or fear center. That allows anxiety to dissipate and calms down the neural path connections. It means we can more easily ignore the sensations and allow the responses to relax and weaken.

Also, we begin to strengthen our empathy for others. We stop perceiving them as Other and see them as more like us. It encourages our ability to understand where another person is coming from by allowing us to use the part of the brain that relates us to the other person in terms of motivations, state of mind, woundedness, etc.

A daily practice of only 15 minutes makes deep and abiding changes in the connections of those neural pathways. It's funny that science now can prove what people who meditate have always known: meditation strengthens our brain's ability to better assess our interactions with others and within ourselves. It moves us from taking things personally to empathy and understanding others. It relaxes and changes our connections with the bodily sensation and fear center so our reactions are more balanced and holistic.

My personal practice has wavered and often shrunk to almost nothing only to expand to 20+ minutes a day over the years. I feel and see the differences. And I know that sometimes, when I look for answers and quick responses, Google seems so much more knowledgeable. I have to remind myself to trust the knowing within rather than the factoids outside myself.

What is your daily practice? Do you find meditation helpful? Have you been meditating regularly? What are your responses to others? How do you perceive aches and pains in yourself? How do you want to perceive things in the future?

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