By: Antonio Stephens, Wellness Coach
Research shows that practicing daily meditation rituals can significantly improve physical and mental well-being. Take the time to add a meditative routine into your daily life, and your capacity for love, courage, wisdom, and originality will expand significantly. Only you can design the life you want to live. Once you understand the scientific and spiritual value that meditation provides, developing your ritual, and blossoming into a truer version of yourself, comes easy.
Earlier this year, I read a book called Journey To Awakening by Ram Dass. Ram is an American spiritual teacher, guru of modern yoga, psychologist, and author. I toyed with several of Ram’s suggested practices, including ecstatic dance, deep breathing and exercise – adapting my previous spiritual practice with the aim to experience “moments of pure awareness.”
Mantra meditation was one that stuck. It helps to inject peaceful determination into my day. According to the scientific analysis Mantra-Based Meditation and Its Beneficial Effects: An Overview, by Jai Paul Dudeja, Professor and Director, Amity University Haryana, India, mantra meditation is “the process of quieting and focusing the mind using a sound, word or phrase recited either aloud or silently.” She goes on to state that, “the mantra meditator achieves a state of ‘restful alertness‘ after performing this process. Everything is in a state of vibration, and when we are in a natural, resonant vibration, we are in a state of good health.”
I practiced mantras for two weeks before I noticed remarkable changes in my daily life:
- Clarity of purpose from awakening to sleep
- Better understanding of myself and what I need to do to perform at my best
- Falling deeper into alignment with my values and short and long-term goals
- Leveraging my individual talents to be of service to others
- Recognizing that I can pivot with my life at any time without fear
- Feeling an innate connection to everything around me – people and nature in particular – and the internal and unspoken cycle of life and death that takes place on a daily basis within and around me – the shedding or burning “of self”, as I like to call it
Understanding the Science
I’ve taken the time to dive deep into the psychology and science of the practice of meditation. This has helped me to buy-in to the concepts, adapt my ritual, and apply what I was learning to my own personal experience. Here are some of the key highlights from what i found:
- In the study by Laurel Halloran, PhD, APRN, The Value of Self Reflection, published in The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, Dr. Halloran shows that turning inwards through daily or frequent meditation and introspection can strengthen our emotional intelligence, which makes it easier to manage the challenges life throws at us.
- In a 2012 study published in the The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, consistent mantra meditation was shown to literally change brain chemistry and improve overall health. After 8 weeks,“a 12 minute a day meditation program in patients with memory loss was associated with positive changes in mood, anxiety, and other neuropsychological parameters, and these changes correlated with changes in cerebral blood flow.”
- Research and experiments were conducted by Dr. Robert Keith Wallace at the University of California School of Medicine to study the physiological effects of “Transcendental Meditation”. His findings showed that chanting certain mantras may help to synchronize the left and right sides of the brain, promote the relaxation of alpha brain waves, and possibly slow cognitive decline.
Beginning Your Practice
Practicing rituals and meditation may seem simple, but the more you practice the more you’ll come to realize the discipline it takes to quiet the mind – getting to a place of stillness and one with the sounds and vibrations of the universe. Developing the habit and skill will not happen overnight, so please give yourself grace and be patient.
Every week, I’ll look to bring you a ritual practice you can add to your mindfulness toolkit that will help you to live the life you’ve always dreamed of and deserve. If you don’t currently practice, today is a great day to start. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions.
Sources and Additional Information
Aleezé Sattar Moss, Nancy Wintering, Hannah Roggenkamp, Dharma Singh Khalsa, Mark R. Waldman, Daniel Monti, and Andrew B. Newberg.
Effects of an 8-Week Meditation Program on Mood and Anxiety in Patients with Memory Loss.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Jan 2012.48-53.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2011.0051 Published in Volume: 18 Issue 1: January 23, 2012
https://www.npjournal.org/article/S1555-4155(16)30504-9/pdf# https://www.healthline.com/health/mantra-meditation http://www.ijastems.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/v3.i6.5.Scientific-Analysis-of-Mantra-Based-Meditation.pdf