Get Some Headspace
If you would love to incorporate meditation into your daily routine but have never set aside the time, we may have found the answer for you. Take 10 is a program that eases you into meditation with 10 minute sessions that you complete each morning. It’s as simple as getting up 10 minutes earlier – now who can’t do that.
It gets easier. These sessions are app based and can be downloaded from an organisation called Get Some Headspace. If you enjoy the sessions, you’re invited to progress further and pay a monthly or annual fee for the content (about $70 for the year). The meditations are guided by Andy Puddicome, who spent 10 years in Tibet as a Buddhist monk, and then returned to the UK inspired to make meditation acceptable, relevant and beneficial to as many people as possible. After downloading and completing the Take 10 sessions, we are hooked.
So the big question is – why should you consider meditation? Here are five reasons the Get Some Headspace team recommend meditation to help achieve your potential.
A study performed at Stanford University found that an eight-week mindfulness course reduced the reactivity of the amygdala gland in the brain and increased activity in areas of the prefrontal cortex that help regulate emotions, subsequently reducing stress.
While stress activates the ‘fight or flight’ part of our nervous system, mindfulness meditation activates the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system, assisting stress management. Our heart rate slows, our respiration slows and our blood pressure drops.
Anxiety and Worry
Scientists believe that our brains have evolved a ‘negativity bias’ – meaning we’re drawn to threats more than opportunities. We’re likely to detect negative information faster than positive information and generally have a background level of anxiety as our brain monitors the environment for possible threats.
Numerous scientific studies have found meditation for anxiety to be effective. For example, a study conducted by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School taught mindfulness to a group of people with clinical levels of anxiety and found that 90 per cent experienced significant reductions in anxiety and depression.
Why do we want naughty things? Basically because our ancestors who wanted naughty things were more likely to survive and reproduce in a harsh environment. For example, food – fatty, sugary food tastes great and high calorie food packs in loads of energy. Our ancestors who loved woolly mammoth fat were more likely to survive in harsh times when famine came, as they had excess energy stores. They survived, reproduced and spread their fat and sugar loving genes down to us.
Although rigorous research on meditation treatment for addictions is still in its infancy, the results show great promise for binge eating disorder, cigarette addiction and alcohol relapse prevention. It has even reduced marijuana and crack consumption in trained prison inmates.
Being able to focus and resist distraction is also linked with our ability to control our impulses, emotions and achieve long term goals. Learning to focus our mind is one of the most important things we can ever do. Whether we’re professional athletes, or just learning to play footy, a concert musician, or just learning to play the guitar, a surgeon, mathematician, builder – whatever our pursuit, our performance and ability to learn new things is dependent on our ability to focus.
Numerous studies have shown that mindfulness meditation can improve our ability to sustain attention. The ability to focus on our breath for long periods of time transfers over to other pursuits. If we can focus on a subtle, boring object like our breath for 20 minutes, think how easy it will be to focus on sports, work, our partner, or anything else for that matter.
During the first few minutes of getting stressed, our immune system actually strengthens, as if we’re in physical danger and we’re about to be sliced and diced – then it’s good to have a few more antibodies in our system to help speed healing later. However if the stress goes on longer, which can often be the case when we worry, the strength of our immune system plummets, leaving us vulnerable to colds, flu and worse.
Researchers taught an eight-week meditation for wellbeing course to stressed-out employees in a Silicon Valley company. At the end of the course the participants and an untrained control group were given the flu vaccine to test immune system response. Follow-up blood tests revealed that the mindfulness group generated a significantly greater number of antibodies than those who didn’t have the mindfulness training.
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