A few years ago I used to organise lots of volunteer trips in Myanmar. People from all over the world would join the trips I ran, I’d take them to some of the most amazing destinations and schools the country has to offer.
A lot of the placements were in monasteries because they would also offer education and accommodation to kids who couldn’t afford to support themselves. This meant I would often spend about 6 months of the year living in monasteries, spending a huge amount of time with monks. Monks are pretty cool people to hang out with because they have many things to share and lots they can teach us.
One of the best things I learnt from them was meditation. At first I was pretty hesitant because I thought there was no way I’d be able to sit still for a long period of time, clear my mind and not move at all. Infant, back then it sounded more like torture to me than having a calming influence. The monks can be pretty persuasive, so after a couple of months I gave in and agreed to give it a go with one of the monks I’d become good friends with. It was so hard at first and I was ready to give up but thankfully he was very persuasive and persistent, I also didn’t want to give up on the opportunity to learn from a monk first hand about the benefits of meditation.
Meditation has now become a major part of my life and I try to do it every morning or evening if I have the time. It has certainly had a major impact on my productivity and here’s why:
After a meditation session your body will be more relaxed and it becomes more accustomed to getting in to this relaxed state, this helps when you get into bed because it is easier for you to relax. Your mind is also trained to focus on something specific such as breathing and clear out all other distractions you might be facing. I find that even when I’m trying to go to sleep if I focus on my breathing, which is a kind of meditation, I drift off to sleep very easily – I guarantee that it beats any kind of app you’ll find on your iPhone!
Get Rid Of Stress
There’s plenty of research out there that connects meditation to a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. The reason meditation can relieve the symptoms related to anxiety and depression is because you feel much less stressed, that’s down to your cortisol levels massively decreasing. Once I was able to master some good meditation techniques I was much calmer and was less prone to reacting irrationally to given circumstances.
Lower Blood Pressure
Meditation has been proven to help people have more control over their blood pressure. The British Medical Journal reported after a recent test that people who regularly practices meditation had a much lower blood pressure than those who didn’t practice. Meditation allows the body to be less responsive to stress hormones and that in turn helps to lower the blood pressure. This is a huge benefit, especially as we grow older.