December 3, 2013

The Sound of Silence is All the Instruction You’ll Get. ~ Samantha S. Jones

Lately, I’ve wondered why time has seemingly been moving at a faster pace (well, at least for me).

Is it because I am getting older? Maybe I’ve just been busier than when I was younger? But, doesn’t getting older mean I should be slower? Or am I getting wiser?

Time truly is relative, Einstein was definitely right. The number of hours in a day remains the same and yet living in the city, often times I feel like I’ve become a machine.

I’m constantly thinking, fixing or dreaming up possible solutions to a variety of situations at hand. Multi-tasking, juggling real life tasks and dreaming of a much-needed vacation.

Time flies. I forget to eat. Forget to exercise. Forget to spend quality time with family. Forget the one other important thing in life, which is myself.

They say, one thing about getting older is—getting wiser. In that wisdom I’ve realized that like computers we need to “sleep,” “shut down,” “restart” and sometimes “reformat” lest we crash and burn, never able to reboot again.

So today, as if by sheer providence, while reading Jack Kerouac’s Desolation Angels, I came across this phrase, “The sound of silence is all the instruction you’ll get.”

Which has led me to thinking about silence and meditation. As a yoga practitioner, who has recently been missing out on the practice, I recall the feeling I get after a few minutes of quiet time, especially after a long hard day.

The feeling of the mind emptying. Somehow the day’s stressful bearings released and vaporized. I know I should let my peacefulness be but thoughts cross my mind. I think thereafter, “Maybe what the gym does to tone and strengthen the physical body, meditation does to the brain?”

In other words, how does meditation do this to our mind? I’ve found out that today’s neuroscience research has made four fabulous scientific conclusions.

1. Meditation makes you cool. 

For one thing, meditation changes our brain. The cells and neurons in the brain are constantly making new connections and disrupting old ones based on response to stimuli, a quality that researchers call experience-based neuroplasticity. Which then affects how we respond to certain situations. Do we react in a calm or drastic manner? Needless to say, amongst those who practice meditation habitually, a calm and cool manner comes 99 percent of the time.

2. Meditation slow the aging process.

In a 2005 study on American men and women who meditated a mere 40 minutes a day showed that they had thicker cortical walls than non-meditators. What this meant is that their brains were aging at a slower rate. Cortical thickness is also associated with decision making, attention and memory.

3.  Meditation makes you alert.

In a 2006 study college students were asked to either sleep, meditate or watch TV. They were then tested on their alertness by being asked to hit a button every time a light flashed on a screen. The meditators did better than the nappers and TV watchers—by a whole 10 percent.

4. Meditation lowers blood pressure.

When the mind is relaxed it seems obviously that the blood pressure in our veins relaxes as well, but there’s more to it than that. In a study at the Benson Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine, hypertensive patients were instructed to try a meditation method developed by a cardiologist.

After three months of practice, 40 out of 60 patients were able to reduce levels of blood pressure and medication. They later found that meditative practice increased the production of nitric oxide, a gas that expands blood vessels thereby increasing the channels through which blood can flow throughout the body.”

Silence is definitely golden—curiosity gratified.

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Assistant Editor: Morgan Webert/Editor: Bryonie Wise



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