IMAGE: © CASA PALOPO
Meditation and other practices that encourage mindfulness are being praised for their benefits more and more often in Western culture, and with good reason. Rituals that bring an expanded awareness of self through an increased sense of moment-to-moment presence have been explored as a means to bring about positive personal change for centuries. Modern science is catching up, and showing what many practitioners have known for years: meditation and mindfulness make a difference in quality of life. The mental and emotional effects, including decreased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression are cited frequently as benefits, and they are indeed impressive. Recent studies have shown that meditation reduces the size of the amygdala-—the brain’s fear centre-—while strengthening the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with decision-making, focus and memory. By activating the parasympathetic nervous system, or the ‘rest and digest’ branch of our autonomous nervous system through conscious relaxation of the mind and the body, wander-mag.ca
we also invite in a host of lesser-known mental and physical benefits including increased resilience to pain, an increased a sense of social connection and a stronger immune system. Though most of us are aware of at least a few of these benefits, it’s sometimes still a struggle to find the time for a regular meditation practice. It can be hard to find the space-—be it a physical space away from others, the mental space, or the emotional distance from our challenges-—to cultivate these practices in our day to day lives. 44
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