Is it Mind over Matter?
Georgia Gifford, Obp Chartered Accountants | 30th November 2019
Amongst the chaos of the constantly moving business world and the unavoidable stresses of every day life it is important that we learn how to find our calm. Is it mind over matter? Now, what if I told you that getting better control over your life and boosting your brain power was as easy as learning how to breathe?
For a long time I remained skeptical about modern meditative techniques. Would giving up the (already minimal) minutes that I had in my day and the concentration it required really be worth it?
Despite my doubts I began back in January, 5-10 minutes a day, to sit down and focus on simply doing nothing. Within days I felt calmer, and as the weeks went by any fears and doubts I once had had vanished. The ways in which my mind was transformed actually meant that the length of time I could focus for noticeably increased. Not only was my time expanding, but I also found I had increased concentration, more energy, and that it was easier to ‘switch off’ when I needed to.
Your Brain on Meditation
Norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, and serotonin, are all released from the brain during meditation. But these are all just strange, alienating terms to most of us and it can be difficult to grasp the real effect that neurochemicals have on our every day lives. In the broad sense, more endorphins = happier, more content and more relaxed.
But that’s not all, after taking a closer look with new technology, like fMRI scans, scientists have found that something even more mysterious happens to the mind when we meditate: a decrease in beta wave activity and less functioning in the parietal lobe. Essentially, our brains slow down. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle, meaning that we can concentrate on the now and at the task at hand.
Managing the mind is like trying to walk a tightrope whilst all of life is being thrown at you from every angle. Meditation gives the brain a chance to regain stability and for the two hemispheres to balance back out. We feel relieved, letting tomorrow’s deadlines and last week’s failures to float past us, rather than smack us square in the face.
‘Flow’ Like a Pro
Most of all, my turn to meditation allowed me access what is known in positive psychology as a ‘State of Flow’. The pursuit of ‘flow’ is central to Eastern philosophy but has now been studied by neuroscientists in the West and found to be highly effective in improving work performance and heightening creativity.
Sounds like magic right? But how does this sorcery work? You might be asking. Not much is known on precisely what causes this psychological phenomena, but like jumping into a pool of water with no bottom, ‘Flow’ is a conscious state in which we are fully focused on the present moment, submerged in a task, set in tunnel-vision where our sense of space and time dissipates into the pool of water that surrounds us.
Self-development book, The Leading Brain: Powerful Science-Based Strategies for Achieving Peak Performance by Friederike Fabritius and Hans W. Hagemann applies the latest research in brain science (including how to find your ‘Flow’) to help sharpen performance, encourage innovation, and enhance job satisfaction.
So Why Not Give it a Try?
Your mind is your most valuable asset and it is yours to commandeer. Often in moments where the world seems to go silent and my mind starts to speed up and get louder all I need is to breath and life feels that little bit easier. In recent years studies have proposed more and more that mindfulness meditation is the key to harnessing your internal reality, and in turn to take back control of your external one. After only one ten-minute session of meditation areas of the brain once dormant are lit up. So why not discover the power of your mind to construct the perspective you want, to boost productivity, and most importantly, to find your calm.