Do Less, Achieve More.
Updated: Jan 27
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Encouraging people to take 20 minutes a day to stop, be still and do nothing but meditate is often met with the response “I couldn’t possibly do that. I’m way too busy”.
This was also my response when I first considered learning to meditate. Something deep in me knew that it would be beneficial, but I was being asked to put aside not just 20 minutes, but 30 minutes twice a day!
At the time, I was feeling burned out from trying to juggle full time work, study, and parenting two children in their early teens. There simply were just not enough hours in the day and the thought of dragging my weary body out of bed half an hour earlier to meditate, filled me with horror.
However, I felt at a very low point emotionally and physically and intuitively knew that something had to change, and my meditation teacher was encouraging me to give it a go, citing all the benefits he had noticed from 35 years of regular mantra meditation practice.
And so, I started one morning and when I had finished meditating for half an hour, I promised myself that I would commit to sitting again that evening.
After a week or so, I noticed that I was less tired because I was sleeping better and getting out of bed earlier wasn’t a chore. I also noticed that I was feeling calmer, more optimistic and less reactive. All this was conserving my precious energy. I also started to feel more empowered with the realization that by simply sitting for half an hour and focussing my attention inward on a mantra, tangible benefits were happening. The other remarkable thing that happened was that I began to notice that not only had my mood improved, but my whole family seemed to be happier and calmer too. After a while, life seemed to be flowing more easily and more enjoyable. I no longer felt burned out, even though, I still had the same demands every day. I was certainly doing less and achieving more.
That was 12 years ago. I have maintained my twice daily meditation practice all that time and what a difference it has made.
As I became more interested in meditation and started to research the scientifically established benefits, all the changes I noticed in myself made complete sense.
Here is what science has discovered about what the ancient sages have known for millennia about meditation:
· Meditation changes the shape of your brain with the primitive limbic brain shrinking and the prefrontal cortex, the CEO of the brain, increasing in size. The primitive limbic brain is responsible for the reactive flight /fight reaction to threat and as meditation becomes established, so does the ability to make calm, informed responses to stressful situations, thanks to an increase in size of the prefrontal cortex
· People who mediate regularly need far less sleep and often find that 5-6 hours is sufficient. The reason for this is that meditation puts the body into a deep state of rest and releases sustaining energy.
· Meditation increases longevity by having a positive effect on DNA repair by increasing the enzyme telomerase.
· Meditation boosts levels of serotonin, our happy hormone, and not just in the person meditating, but also in the people around them. That is why, the eastern meditation traditions have always stated that you don’t just meditate for yourself – you meditate for the world.
· Meditation lowers the stress hormone, cortisol. This produces a myriad of flow on effects in the body, including reduced inflammation due to lowered levels of inflammatory cytokines, lowered blood pressure, improved quality of sleep, and improved energy.
· Meditation promotes emotional health by decreasing feelings of anxiety and depression
· Meditation improves concentration and attention
Knowing these facts may be enough to encourage people to commit to a regular meditation practice, and once they do, the benefits experienced will become very tangible in every aspect of their life.
They too will understand how to achieve more by doing less.
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