I found the HeadSpace website and meditation app last summer. It quickly become one of my favorite Healthy Discoveries and I now recommend it to all my corporate audiences, clients and loved ones.
Meditation has traditionally been associated with airy fairy, new age, yoga chanting hippies. But the research is solid and strong about the physical and emotional benefits that a daily meditation practice provides – it literally rewires and improves the health and longevity of your brain.
Meditation will reduce anxiety, increase creativity, increase compassion and decrease stress:
1. Make your brain plastic – Sustained meditation leads to something called neuroplasticity, which is defined as the brain’s ability to change, structurally and functionally, on the basis of environmental input. For much of the last century, scientists believed that the brain essentially stopped changing after adulthood. But research by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has shown that experienced meditators exhibit high levels of gamma wave activity and display an ability — continuing after the meditation session has attended — to not get stuck on a particular stimulus. That is, they’re automatically able to control their thoughts and reactiveness.
2. Increase gray matter – A 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a mere 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this meant is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.
3. Lower blood pressure – In 2008, Dr. Randy Zusman, a doctor at the Massachusetts General Hospital, asked patients suffering from high blood pressure to try a meditation-based relaxation program for three months. These were patients whose blood pressure had not been controlled with medication. After meditating regularly for three months, 40 of the 60 patients showed significant drops in blood pressure levels and were able to reduce some of their medication. The reason? Relaxation results in the formation of nitric oxide which opens up your blood vessels.
4. Protect your telomeres – The protective caps at the end of our chromosomes — are the new frontier of anti-aging science. Longer telomeres mean that you’re also likely to live longer. Research done by the University of California, Davis’ Shamatha Project has shown that meditators have significantly higher telomerase activity than non-meditators.
5. Relieve pain – A study conducted by Wake Forest Baptist University found that meditation could reduce pain intensity by 40 percent and pain unpleasantness by 57 percent. Morphine and other pain-relieving drugs typically show a pain reduction of 25 percent.
I’m finding people in corporate settings are HUNGRY for meditation information, techniques and resources. My stress management class is one of my most requested classes and when I organize onsite meditation and yoga class series (6 weeks) for corporate clients, the room overflows with interested and willing participants.
Meditation and mindfulness is becoming more and more popular in the health world. While it’s not new at all, it’s finally accepted and recognized in our western culture.
Andy Puddicombe a former Buddhist monk, and creator of HeadSpace guides you through 10 minutes of simple daily mindfulness meditations. You don’t have to do anything except sit down, turn on the app and let Andy’s calm voice (his voice is truly amazing–the app is worth trying just for that!) explain and guide you through a relaxing meditation.
I’ve tried many meditation practices, CD’s, etcetera over the years and Andy’s HeadSpace meditations are my favorite. I seriously look forward to using this meditation app every single day. Give it try right now and see what you think – 10 minute HeadSpace sample meditation.
There are many videos on Headspace.com for you to watch and learn more, but here’s one about the Word On The Street – The HeadSpace Live Experience [VIDEO]
Andy Puddicombe’s TED Talk:
I urge you to click these links, watch, learn and experiment for yourself (I have no financial or otherwise connection to HeadSpace). I just think it’s an amazing resource and tool for overall health and wellbeing. Enjoy!