How meditation changes the quality of life
"Enough is there!" - categorically states the famous dietician from instagram. The publication appeared on the first of January, which means that everyone should immediately discard the remnants of Olivier, the goose with apples and even the Stollen, which is prepared for Christmas, as soon as the clock strikes twelve at night. And, if you follow the recommendations of the author, you need to immediately perch on the exercise bike, then go five kilometers with sticks for Nordic walking, devote an hour to the crossfit, and then let yourself at last, honestly deserved salad of raw broccoli and zucchini, sprinkled with a drop of olive oil and abundantly watered with hungry tears.
On the web, you can find a lot of vigorous slogans: we start preparing for the summer, we stop eating meat, we are engaged in the gym before fainting, we prepare the child from the age of three to get a Nobel Prize, we master ten lifhaks to achieve multiple orgasms (because if you do not experience such an orgasm every day your life is dull and incomplete).And everything seems to be reasonable and correct, and there is no limit to perfection. However, we are not aware that all this information noise carries the same message: "You live wrong, and this is very bad." As a result, an alarm occurs. It is poorly understood and most often felt as an indefinite feeling of discomfort, tension in the abdomen or chest, and sometimes even manifests itself as bodily ailments - for example, in the form of a headache or interruptions in the work of the heart.
Advertising works in a similar way. If you create a sense of anxiety in a potential consumer, you can sell anything to him - and he will buy in the hope of getting rid of this unpleasant feeling that is following him. There is nothing easier than to cause concern to the target audience due to the imperfection of your own body - and sell tea for weight loss, or instill that you are not a good enough parent, and sell a “unique” educational toy.
We do not realize that the mass of advertising, entertainment and educational information that falls on us from everywhere is not always useful. According to WHO, the number of people suffering from anxiety disorders and depression from 1990 to 2013 increased by 50%.This is partly due to the difficulties that the brain encounters at the stage of processing information coming from virtually anywhere.
Where does the alarm come from?
Anxiety is formed in several parts of the brain. Normally, it occurs in response to an adequate stimulus (for example, a drunk person who is heading towards you in a dark alley) and is well aware of. Such a reaction is aimed at saving lives, it provides security, and its result is the creation of a plan to eliminate the source of anxiety - the well-known algorithm “hit, run or stop”.
Unfortunately, an alarm is often triggered as an overly sensitive alarm on some machines. Whether a man passed by, a breeze blew - the security system starts to squeal loudly and anxiously. In the human brain, this failure occurs when information about the alarm signal enters the ancient subcortical area of the brain - amygdala, then follows the thalamus and hypothalamus, bypassing the cerebral cortex - the prefrontal cortex (it is we who are responsible for making plans A and B in any unexpected situations) and hind cusps.Therefore, anxiety is not realized and remains this obscure sense of discomfort, which, however, greatly reduces the quality of life.
Neurophysiologists call one of the reasons for such anxiety "unhealthy experiences." These are thoughts that are divorced from reality, assumptions that most likely will not come true. This is the same “brain gum”, which is well known to each of us. The abundance of information around and a significant amount of stressful situations lead to the fact that the mode of "brain gum" is activated by default, as soon as we have a minute of rest. “Useless experiences” are provoked by lazy senseless surfing in social networks, conversations with imaginary interlocutors and inventing witty answers to dialogs that occurred during the day. Such experiences are difficult to control and, if nothing is done with them, they can take you to the "autopilot" mode, a sort of "virtual reality", when most of the work is done without a conscious presence, as if automatically. As a result, attention decreases, apathy appears and anxiety increases.
How to exit "autopilot mode"?
This skill is formed gradually: unfortunately, it is impossible to take a pill of a certain color, as Neo did in the film “The Matrix”, in order to once and for all go into the mode of awareness.
Awareness is the same skill as playing the piano or knitting. For its realization it is necessary to form new neural connections, which means that it will take regular, albeit short (10–15 minutes daily) workouts - meditation. The transition to the mode of awareness helps the brain to suspend the "network of passive mode of operation." What allows the brain to move from "wandering mind" to awareness, presence in the current moment.
How it works?
Studies show that meditation is effective in controlling anxiety disorders and can even be used to treat depression. The work of Madhav Goyal at Johns Hopkins University showed that meditation in the treatment of depression is comparable in effectiveness with antidepressants.
Practitioners of mindfulness help to preserve the volume of the aging brain, slow down the process of dying of nerve cells and promote the formation of new neural connections. But the main thing for which it is worth trying to meditate- this is a positive effect, which appears already in the first week of practice, when a person suddenly feels an increase in concentration of attention, an improvement in mood and efficiency.
Meditation: where to start
First you need to understand that any attempt at meditation is already good and proper. In other words, it is simply impossible to make a mistake in practice: any experience of awareness becomes useful and stimulates the formation of new neural connections in the brain.
Choose a free half hour, when no one will surely disturb you. Sit back: for this you can lie down in shavasana (“body position” in yoga - supine position, arms and legs slightly apart) or just sit on a chair, straightening your back and slightly pulling the stomach, but not straining excessively.
Focus on breathing. Mark in and out breaths, trying to "clear" your mind from extraneous thoughts. And they will certainly appear - this is how our brain works. The essence of meditation is to notice this “chatter of neurons” and gently return your mind to a state of silence, focus on how air gets into your nose, bronchi, lungs, and what sensations accompany your breathing movements, how your chest stretches on the inhale and moves the abdominal wall on the exhale.Then attention can be switched to your body: from the heels to the crown, you can “scan” it with your inner eye, observe your sensations and relax all muscles. You will be surprised to find out how many muscles we use without the need: often psychogenic tension is localized in the chewing muscles, shoulder and neck area, abdomen.
Thoughts on what to prepare for dinner and how serene the third-floor neighbor looks like compared to you (although this goat has never meditated in her life!), They will certainly visit you during the practice, which will immeasurably irritate and provoke a strong feeling that everything is done in vain. But it is not. New neural connections are not formed quickly, and the brain needs time to "reflash" its security system, update the options for the occurrence and maintenance of anxiety. The result will be a more acute mind in the near future, the ability to slow down the inevitable processes of the death of nerve cells and the disappearance of important connections between them in old age.
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