I sit in a comfortable and relaxed position, I focus my attention and take a slow, deep, inward breath and begin to think about the mountain of email I need to get through and the weird buzzing sound the fridge is making…

Fail, …restart

I take a slow, deep, inward breath and focus on the sensation in my shoulders and back. I being to think about cleaning the bathroom and the car alarm going off in the distance and that itchy spot on my back that seems to be getting more intense with every tick of the second hand on the clock…

Fail, …restart

If you’re like me, the kind of person who is constantly worrying about a million different things and feeling the urge to move every ten seconds; than sitting quietly in any position for any length of time is probably a challenge for you too.

Here is how meditating went from the worst half hour to best 5 minutes of my day…

When I first learned about meditation I thought it was pretty weird. Sitting quietly with your legs crossed trying to go into a trance like state.

I remember thinking… This sounds nuts. I’ll look so stupid. This can’t possibly work.

Similar to an argument with my wife… It turns out I was wrong… meditation does work…

There are many different types of meditation and it’s not just for hippies and the enlightened.

Design and concept by David McCandless Source

Design and concept by David McCandless Source

I started my foray into meditation with Zen Meditation. If you’re not familiar with Zen meditation it’s the kind you usually see in the Movies. “Zen” is literally translated to “Seated Meditation”

You practice Zen Meditation by sitting very quietly, and focusing exclusively on your breathing and trying to not think… Good Luck! 🙂

After a few weeks, I began to wonder if there were different types of meditation. I did some Googling and found Guided Meditation; The idea behind guided meditation is pretty simple. Sit, listen and try not to fall asleep.

Easier said than done… I was struggling to keep myself awake so I asked a few other meditators if they could recommend any good guided meditations.

Success!… Enter Deepak chopra.

Deepak’s guided meditations are extremely popular. And for a good reason, they’re high quality, professionally made and there is something about his voice that I find really relaxing.

Although I was making some progress with guided meditations, I was finding it hard to set aside a half hour to 45 minutes everyday to meditate.

Even with headphones in and the volume at full just knowing someone else was in the house while trying to meditate was enough to make it near impossible. As a result of this I gave up and stopped meditating.

I did my best to lie to myself that meditation did nothing for me but within a few months I’d come to realize that it did help. It helped me think more rationally, It helped me calm down and remain more in-the-moment.

So I thought I’d give it another shot. Back to the Google I went. After some research on meditation for “busy people” I came across a mindfulness iphone/android app that seemed to be the solution. Buddhify

This app is worth every penny.

It has hands down been the best approach to helping me clear my mind and keep my anxiety at bay… The mindfulness meditations are laid out on a spectrum of common daily activities and many can be done with your eyes open in public.

Buddhify2

For the months I’ve been using this app I haven’t gotten any strange looks or awkward glances. So It’s safe to assume that people can’t even tell I’m meditating.

So I found something that worked! Awesome… Rarely do I just accept that fact that something works… I have to know why & how it works. And meditation was no different.

Thankfully it’s been the focus of many researchers over the past decade and there is a growing mountain of evidence 1to support its positive effects.

Eleven hours of integrative mind body training increases fiber integrity in the left anterior corona radiata (after versus before training, two sagittal sections, x = −17 and −18). Source

The most exciting findings have been found in the anterior corona radiata (ACR) and the hippocampus.

The ACR is responsible for self regulation and inhibition. It helps control aggression and prevents knee-jerk reactions. 2

 

Hippocampus Grey Matter Source

The hippocampus is responsible for mood & emotions regulation and also contributes to high-level brain functions like problem solving and memory.

If you struggle with mood disorders, depression, chronic stress & anxiety you may have a smaller or damage hippocampus.

Studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can increase the amount of grey matter in the hippocampus.

Although meditation is not a magic elixir it certainly has helped me improve my focus and mood. If you’re already meditating keep on keepin’ on. If not, why not give it a try?

 

Footnotes

  1. This Google sheet is an extensive overview of many current studies. – https://goo.gl/cAHRbT
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18189012

Hi, I’m Brian.

Entrepreneur and Creator of undepressed.me

I’m helping to eliminate the stigma against mental health issues and to connect other entrepreneurs to the information, support and treatments needed to overcome depression.

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