With further budget cuts to the education sector, teachers and other school staff across the UK are being pushed to their limits. People in education fear losing their job while others fear their increasing workload. There’s little any one person can do to sway an entire government, and nationwide changes take time, but there are ways of making day-to-day school life easier for teachers and school staff. Here are 8 reasons why you should start a meditation practice.
1. It’s easier than you think
How many of you have tried meditation or mindfulness? Did you think how uncomfortable it was to sit in ‘lotus pose’ while trying to meditate? Did you think that it took a lot longer than you expected? Did you notice how hard it is to stop those pesky thoughts popping in your head at any and every opportunity? And did you then conclude that you can’t meditate or that it’s not for you?
Then someone told me that you’re meant to have thoughts, it is the natural output of your brain. Like the carbon dioxide you release when you exhale. Think of it like this, you are always breathing, whether you are aware of it or not, but you have the option to control it – not stop it altogether.
Therefore, all you need to do to meditate mindfully is sit comfortably and focus on something (without judgement). This could be something in you can see, something you can hear, something you can taste, something you can feel, something you can smell, or even your thoughts themselves.
I like to focus of my breathing, alternating between controlling the breath and just feeling its own natural rhythm. Or I like to watch the thoughts that naturally pop up (this is a good indicator of where your head space it at). Also, I don’t do it for very long, I find even 5 minutes is enough to make me feel significantly calmer and efficient.
I equated meditation to mindfulness, and I was wrong. Mindfulness is a subcategory of meditation. Other types include:
Transcendental meditation (usually abbreviated to TM)
And many, many, many more. I would highly suggest you do your research and find what works best for you. There are loads of free videos on YouTube or apps that you can use to explore meditation.
(I’m currently trying Ziva meditation if you’re interested)
Davidson et al. (2003) tested the brains and bodies of 41 employees, 25 of whom participated in an 8-week mindfulness meditation course. Compared to before the course, those in the mindfulness meditation group had a significant increase in activation of the brain region linked to positive feelings and an increase antibodies titers to the influenza vaccine, compared to the non-meditators.
Wouldn’t you want to have a better immune system that can deal with the consequences of stress, as well as feeling happier overall?
Nagendra, Maruthai and Kutty (2012) found that sleep was enhanced in both TM and mindfulness meditators, compared to non-meditators, by measuring their brain wave activity. They also found that meditation brought about global changes to the brain, like the changes that occur in sleep.
It has been said that one bad night of sleep impairs your reasoning for 4 days, therefore, establishing a meditation practice means that the sleep you do get is better quality and you can access those sleep states even when you’re not sleeping.
I hope you found this little blog helpful and has inspired you to start your own mediation practice. Remember, find what works for you and start small; the results you will get are going to be worth it!
Davidson, R. J., Kabat-Zinn, J., Schumacher, J., Rosenkranz, M., Muller, D., Santorelli, S. F., ... & Sheridan, J. F. (2003). Alterations in brain and immune function produced by mindfulness meditation. Psychosomatic medicine, 65(4), 564-570.
Nagendra, R. P., Maruthai, N., & Kutty, B. M. (2012). Meditation and its regulatory role on sleep. Frontiers in Neurology, 3, 54.
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