When I started mediating in college, I wasn't doing it because I wanted to improve my brain function, quite the opposite, I was trying to get away from my brain, that incessant internal dialogue that was keeping me up at night and not letting me get any sleep. I didn't want to take any prescribed medication and so I started looking at other modalities and meditation kept coming up as a possible solution that could help alleviate my insomnia. This really resonated with me, so I signed up for a class and my journey into the fascinating field of meditation began, and after six weeks of regular practice, I was sleeping straight through the night, I was beyond hooked. That was twenty years ago, and looking back on my life now, I honestly don't know how I ever got by without it.
Meditation not only cured me of my insomnia problem, it started re-aligning so many other aspects of my being and life that were out of balance, and I wasn't really doing anything differently aside from sitting down twice a day for 30 minutes to go within. These positive changes started happening spontaneously and I was ecstatic. You see, back in college, when I started meditating to get away from my "busy brain," what I was actually doing through my meditation practice was soothing my brain, allowing it to rejuvenate on a very deep level. Little did I know that all those relentless thoughts I was having were actually accumulated stress, and by sitting down to be quiet in meditation I was alleviating that stress. I've coined this experience "volcano brain" which is when all those random, repetitive thoughts start to be released, like a volcano erupting, and then slowly after a while the thoughts start to dissipate and you start to have more settled experiences. Thoughts are actually part of meditation-you cannot turn your thoughts off, but you can start to transcend them, which will happen organically after you've released that accumulated stress.
There are structures in our brains called telomeres which are located at the ends of our chromosomes and they protect our genetic data making it possible for cells to divide. They've been compared with the plastic tips on shoelaces because they keep our chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which is not good. These telomeres are constantly dividing, so as we age they get shorter and shorter. However, when they start to get too short, that's when they can cause problems. Studies have shown that short telomeres are associated with cancer and degenerative brain function. But here's the good news: Other research has shown that meditation along with a healthy lifestyle can actually elongate these telomeres and help our brains stay healthy as we age. Wow! What better reason to start a meditation practice?
Meditation has become such a part of my life that I don't really even think about it anymore: It's like brushing my teeth or taking shower-I just do it every day. People often ask me if I still have restless meditations even after practicing for twenty years and the answer is yes, I do. I'm human like everyone else and sometimes my life is really busy and I have a lot going on, which is when my meditation practice is even more important. It helps me stay grounded in the present moment and keep things in perspective, even when it feels like everything else is spinning around me. I look forward to my meditation every day, I call it "my office hour for me," and by taking this time for myself every day, it makes all the other aspects of my life fit together a little more cohesively and run more smoothly. Plus it makes me feel great and I'm all about feeling great, especially as I get older. Our brains are the hub of our beings and I'm going to do all I can to take care of mine so It will take care of me. Happy Meditating!