First of all, some people do not understand what insight meditation is, we have all heard about mindfulness of breathing meditation and compassion meditation. There are so many forms of meditation it would take up half this article to list the names. But insight meditation is actually one of the easiest forms of meditations that you can do. This is a great meditation to teach to beginners or for anyone just starting out to use.
It’s so simple because all you do is meditate in silence concentrating on nothing but your breathing. When you notice a sensation such as a sound, a tingling in your foot or if your leg falls asleep you focus on that. In other meditations, you would focus on your breathing or maybe on nothing at all. Insight meditation teaches you to concentrate the mind on whatever may present itself as useful and that is any sensation, sound or sight.
No matter what it is, once you focus on it do so until it is gone. If there is nothing to concentrate on you go back to focusing on your breathing. At Harvard University recently scientists found that doing insight meditation actually causes your brain to grow. Yes, your concentration and handling of the stressful situation increase dramatically as well, but who would have ever thought you can grow your brain.
As we get older there are certain areas of our brains that usually thin out, with insight meditation those areas of the brain grow instead of shrink as we age. These researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. This is great news and so good for anyone meditating. But this can change the way we heal our patients that have brain injury may be.
“Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. “These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrated increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. In other words, the structure of an adult brain can change in response to repeated practice.”
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Insight meditation is good because it teaches you to really be aware of your surroundings and yourself. Most people go through their day always thinking about their goals or what will happen if they don’t meet deadlines etc. They are always living in the past or the future, always actually moving forward and never just stopping and being in the moment that they are passing through. Insight meditation teaches you to exist in the now and the now is where you will find inner and outer peace and tranquility in your life.
Sounds like insight and maybe all meditation slows aging. This could very well explain why everyone that agrees, sees most Asians are a lot younger looking than Americans when they are elderly. Between green tea and meditation, we could possibly help ourselves to age slower and more graceful. With more and more reasons to meditate showing up, it is now more important than ever that we all understand that meditation is not “a Buddhist thing” it is a thing we all need to be doing.
It’s just that Buddhists find peace, understanding, compassion, and balance in meditation. This is what we all need no matter who we are or how we live nor what religions or ways of life that we practice. Too many people associate meditation with a religion, that is not only ignorant but completely strange taking into consideration that there is nothing “religious” about something so medically beneficial to everyone that does it. Namaste!