YogaDork posted a great piece about a meditation study, which shows that practicing meditation for only a few months produces noticeable changes in the gray (grey?) matter of the brain. I’ve read before that meditation can change your gene expression for the healthier, but I don’t know that the two are related, since I’m under the impression (perhaps incorrectly) that gene expression is a more long term process than the 8-week timeframe of the meditation program these folks did. So, seriously, if you were waiting for another, more conclusive study to tell you you should start a meditation program, here it is!
If you don’t know where to start or what to do, my favorite book about it is Pema Chodron’s Meditation: How to Meditate: A Practical Guide to Making Friends with Your Mind, and my favorite guided meditations are from my friend, Suzanne Stephens–her CD is fabulous.
I, of course, have fallen off the meditating wagon *again,* and am yet again resolving to hop back on. I’m not always very good at taking my own advice, and I especially have trouble with things that are, frankly, kind of boring and without short-term payoffs. (The short term payoffs are why I like doing laundry–minimal effort but a nice pile of newly-clean things when I’m done.)
Some people have apps they really like that help with incorporating these sorts of practices into their weeks, but I have a Windows phone, and the app selection remains pretty sparse. Everything else about the phone, though, is great. Overall, I’m a fan. So I’m thinking I’ll try adding my meditation practice to my MapMyRide tracking. I find it especially helpful to plot out bike rides before I do them, so I have some sense of what I’m committing to before I do it, but maybe it can help me track other things too? (Not food, though. I’ve tried that in the past and found the whole experience to be just crazymaking.)
Circling back to recent discussions of gentleness and non-judging, I think it’s a mistake to beat ourselves up over not meditating (or doing yoga, or exercising as much as me meant to, or whatever). There’s a reason why we didn’t do it–likely because the setup was faulty. We didn’t put rewards in place or prioritize the time or do something else structural to make conditions favorable for the practice. Tracking my meditation would be a change in my reward structure–I like looking at a screen that pats me on the back for meditating for two hours a week (or whatever).
Are you a meditator? Do you want to be? What practices or resources have you found helpful in your journey?