Just breathe

At the beginning of this year, I had a couple of New Year’s resolution, the first one was not to be bothered with New Year’s resolutions. I failed miserably. I started waking up earlier, much much earlier, in order to keep up with the new stuff I had to do, I started eating better, which means I have fully become vegan, I started exercising, reading more, writing more, well you name it. Most things I started lasted about a month, which isn’t so bad but isn’t ideal either.

Not all was lost, at the end, some of the habits stuck. The eating habits, the will to exercise and meditation. I know, meditation, right? But hear me now; from the things that I have done in a New Year’s resolution, meditation has been the best so far.

I had heard that meditation was good for you. Like, very good. Some scientist believes that the benefits of meditation go a long way when dealing with health issues such as; anxiety disorders, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, irritable bowel syndrome, sleep problems and tension headaches.[1] So my intention was to give it a try. The problem was that I had no idea how to.

I mean, I read a preliminary study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease [2] named Meditation Effects on Cognitive Function and Cerebral Blood Flow In Subjects with Memory Loss: A Preliminary Study that suggests that meditation helps improve blood flow and therefore memory in patients with memory loss.[3] For the rest of us we found a study in the journal Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience [4] that found that after investigating whether mindfulness training, a type of meditative state, influences information processing in a working memory task with complex visual stimuli, participants responses times were faster and significantly less variable in the mindfulness training group versus the control group. [5] Last, the Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training study [6], that used only short term meditation training, only 4 days of practice, showed an improvement of mood, reduced fatigue, anxiety, and increased mindfulness. Moreover, brief mindfulness training significantly improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning (The executive functions are a set of processes that all have to do with managing oneself and one's resources in order to achieve a goal.[8]). [7] So, I really want it to try out meditation.

I did some research on the internet and found out a well-recommended app called calm. So I started with it and even when at the beginning it felt very hard, I soon got used to it and nowadays I really love it. Speaking about the app, it is free, but you have to pay for the extra features otherwise it is very basic with just a couple of sessions to start with. The website is calm.com and they have the app both for iOS and Android. That is free promo for the good people of calm.com and Tamara Levitt who is like our teachers in the calm app. Go visit them and if you are interested you can go and check Tamara’s website, beginwithin.ca she also has a blog but I don’t think she is working on it anymore, anyway here it is blog.beginwithin.ca.

If you want to dig deeper with meditation I would really suggest you checking out the book Mindfulness In Plain English by Ven. Henepola Gunaratana. Obviously, because we would like to make money we want you to buy it. And this is the link,

which is an awesome 20th-anniversary edition that is available for kindle and audiobook. If you prefer, you can search for it on the internet and the first edition of the book is available free.

So what now? I can’t tell you that meditation is magic. It is not. But I have to say that I think that my memory has become sharper, my humor has become better and my levels of stress and anxiety have significantly decreased, especially when deep into the full month everyday meditation strike.

Try it for yourself and tweet me or email me to know how you did. It is free, what you have to lose?

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Foot notes:

2 - [Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 517-526, 2010]

4 - [Cognitive, Affective, & Behavioral Neuroscience, September 2011, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 344–353]