If you are reading this, undoubtedly you own a computer, and probably you have had the experience of your computer starting to perform badly at times….its actions slow, strange things happen, or the computer might seize up and stop responding. Often when that happens, if you just shut down the computer for 10 minutes or so, then restart, it works fine again.
Meditation works like that for your brain, which we can think of as a super-complex network of circuits. Your brain also functions better after a “restart”. In our last post we talked about one practical benefit of meditation—it should help you “multitask” better. Today let’s talk a bit about how and why meditation works.
When you think of meditation, you might picture a quiet room, an uncomfortable position, and chanting the same word over and over, but it is good to know that—like most things in life—there are many different styles that can work equally as well, and the “mindfulness” method is one of the simpler ways to meditate.
Mindfulness does not require an uncomfortable position, heavy breathing or any of that, and you can do it anywhere.
How meditation works
We talk a lot about exercise on this blog, but usually we are referring to exercise for your body, and how that helps you live longer, with less chance for disease, for making you feel better and so forth, and we don’t often talk about exercise for your mind, but it is there.
Mind exercises come in various forms. Chess, crossword puzzles, memorizing words in a foreign language, even forcing yourself to use your non-dominant hand all push your brain circuitry in ways that are out-of-the-ordinary, and this novelty helps develop new brain connections.
Mindfulness meditation is another form of mental exercise, but it takes the opposite approach in that rather than pushing your brain to memorize or work harder, in meditation you work to quiet the brain circuitry as best as you can.
You focus on one thing, such as the in- and out of your breath, and as your mind inevitably drifts off to other thoughts and distractions, you (gently) let those thoughts leave, and get back to the simple focus on your breath.
The strengthening of your brain happens as you learn to let those distracting thoughts just “go”; and over time you are better able to focus, and stay on target. In mindfulness, that one focus is the here and now of just breathing. It sounds easy, but like any good exercise, there is a bit of work involved to reap the rewards.
If this is your first attempt at meditating, don’t try too hard, just relax (preferably sitting) and try to focus on your breathing. Try it out several times, for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. Don’t get frustrated or criticize your performance. In our last post in this series on mindfulness, we will offer some practical hints to help guide you to do it easier and better.
Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)