Sunset was Terri's favorite time of day. She would sit out on the porch and watch as the massive ball of cosmic fire would set below the horizon of the ocean, its soft glow careening off the surface of the water in serene peace.
She had gotten a lot accomplished today. She had been focused at work, focused at home. Tomorrow would be a new day full of challenges and problems to solve. But for right now, as the cool, gentle breeze of the Atlantic Ocean grazed her face, she sat there, listening to the wonderful sound of nothing.
Her chair rocked back and forth on that old wooden porch, a cup of warm coco in her hand. She stared intently, noticing a single seagull, its intentions unknown, land in the water in front of her. Terri drew in a deep, slow breath, filling her lungs with the smell of seaside air and did her best to clear her mind.
This was her time to unwind. This was her time to listen for no particular reason or look for any particular sight. This was her time to do absolutely nothing. And she wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
Imagine the power to think of nothing. Go ahead. Give it a try. Right now. Think of absolutely nothing. Its’ hard, isn't it? Well, to be fair, right now would be kind of tough considering you're reading this. But for thousands of years, humans have been trying to master the art of meditation. What the heck is meditation and how does it affect us upstairs?
Meditation is the practice in which the only goal is to slow down and eventually stop all the crazy conscious activity in our minds. To strive for the perfect peace and tranquility. That sounds amazing! It is easy to try and almost impossible to fully master. But even basic meditation can have tremendous benefits to our bodies! Research shows that meditation can affect us in many ways including:
- Improving memory – I thank the big guy upstairs that my head is attached to my body or I swear sometimes I'd forget where I put it. I'm sick of forgetting things. In a recent study, meditation was shown to help with short term and long term memory. Images of the brain show after as little as two minutes of meditation, the brain becomes more focused.
- Feeling Cranky? - Meditation may help you actually be nicer. That sounds like something this world sorely needs. Why not start with you? During one experiment researcher took part in, they noticed that when the subjects were shown pictures of other people, the ones who'd meditated or practiced meditation responded in a kinder, gentler way. Imagine that.
- Bring out your inner Mozart! - People who practiced meditation also seemed to show more “creativity” with the projects they took on, being able to focus better on the task at hand and come up with new ways to get those things done. So go meditate and write a symphony! Maybe all that extra stress in your brain is preventing you from blasting through that glass ceiling and reaching for the stars!
- You’re only as old as you think – Another powerful weapon in our constant battle with aging is meditation. It’s a proven way to encourage the gray matter to stay healthy in our brains. I'm not a brain surgeon (although I bet they meditate) but gray matter keeps your brain healthy, happy and focused. It’s a little dry but the University of Mass released some fascinating information on the preservation of brain matter and meditating.
Okay, now that we've talked about a few of the things that meditation can do for you, it’s time to take up that challenge and go think of nothing. Who knew that “nothing” could be the key to a happier, healthier you?
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