Meditation is something I’ve done on and off for over the past 10-15 years, but in the last two years I’ve become much more persistent in the practice. I’ve been intending on writing much more on it, however, it’s something that’s hard to describe to those who haven’t done it. Meditation often conjures thoughts of monks sitting in lotus position, chanting, etc. While there is a reason lotus position is often used (I personally prefer Seiza position while sitting on a zafu to help with posture and reduce strain on my knees and ankles), it’s not necessary and there are a variety of ways you can sit. Simply sitting in a chair will do just as well; some people do it while lying… you just have to be mindful not to fall asleep!
What fascinates me is how modern science has been studying the benefits of meditation; and how it’s showing that it doesn’t even require hours and hours a day to provide those benefits. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Stout designed an experiment to test how quickly meditation could change people’s brain patterns. 11 participants “were offered two half-hour sessions a week, and encouraged to practice as much as they could between sessions, but there wasn’t any particular requirement for how much they should practice.” After five weeks, during which each person meditated for an average of seven hours, distinct changes in brain patterns emerged. More activity was measured in the left frontal lobe of the brain, an area often associated with positive emotion.
The shift in people’s brain activity “was clearly evident even with a small number of subjects,” says Christopher Moyer, one the study’s coauthors at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. “If someone is thinking about trying meditation and they were thinking, ‘It’s too big of a commitment, it’s going to take too much rigorous training before it has an effect on my mind,’ this research suggests that’s not the case.’ For those people, meditation might be worth a try, he says. ‘It can’t hurt and it might do you a lot of good.'” The study implies meditation is likely to create a shift in outlook toward life.
Read more about it at Association for Psychological Science