Hygiene for Your Mind: Live Well and Be Happy Using Mindfulness PsychologyMay 04, 2023
In Psychology Today, Emma Seppälä lists 20 reasons to start a meditation practice. From her list, I find her most pertinent points to be that meditation:
- Gives you perspective
- Decreases depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness
- Increases positive emotions and emotional regulation, social connections, focus, attention, memory, and innovative thinking
In sum, meditation boosts your health, happiness, social life, self-control, brain function, productivity, and perspective. By observing your mind, you become free from learned limitation.
Your mind may still swing into positive or negative states, but with a regular mindfulness practice, it happens less dramatically, and it doesn’t have to ruin your day.
We have daily hygiene routines that include showering and cleaning our teeth. We promote physical vitality by going to the gym or running outside, but what do we do for our minds? We mostly overlook it, despite it being so important.
Meditation is hygiene for the mind. It clears out unproductive thoughts, creates clarity, and helps you learn more about yourself.
Meditation’s effects on the brain
Meditation guides and organizes brain waves, which communicate between neurons within our brains.
I attended a master class on brain waves as part of Dave Asprey’s 40 Years of Zen program.
Here is a small dose of the science of brain waves: There are five primary brain wave states, and we have a combination of these states in varying degrees at any given time. Brain waves range from high-amplitude, low-frequency delta to low-amplitude, high-frequency gamma.
Most forms of meditation cultivate alpha brain waves, which are midrange, varying from eight to twelve cycles per second. Alpha waves are associated with inner focus, a state where we are aware of our environment but not reacting to it. Alpha state is relaxing and restorative and generates peaceful, smooth, and calm feelings.
In the Zen lab, I could see the impact that over 20 years of meditation had on organizing my brain waves. I learned how to come in and out of the alpha state and other states at will. During that week, I also witnessed people very new to meditation make giant leaps in brain wave organization.
If you have the time and money, neurofeedback like that provided at the 40 Years of Zen lab can give you a jump start on enjoying the benefits of meditation. If you don’t have the time or money, you will still experience meditation’s benefits from simple practices done over time and with consistent practice.
Meditation’s effects on your DNA
In their 2017 publication Altered Traits, Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson document a science-based study that found that “beyond the pleasant states meditation can produce, the real payoffs are the lasting traits that can result” through epigenetics.
An altered trait endures apart from the meditation session itself. Traits such as selflessness, equanimity, a loving Presence, and impartial compassion are all highly positive.
By observing the mind, you get to know yourself better and become more authentic, humble, grateful, and compassionate. You pay less attention to your stories and other people’s stories and instead focus more on what’s genuine. The more you meditate, the larger and more evident the benefits become.
What do I need to do to reap the benefits of meditation?
Many of the assumptions about meditation—that you have to have an empty mind or you have to sit in the lotus position—are myths. They are false.
Simply noticing a busy, full mind is quite beneficial. In fact, as soon as you notice you are distracted, you enter into a state of Presence. Sitting in a chair works.
Keeping an erect spine is the most critical aspect of your posture while meditating. What’s more, sitting for as little as two minutes when starting is productive.
Chanting mantras, dressing in robes, or adopting a new religion are unnecessary. If those things call to you, do them. If not, that’s fine too.
Remember that mindfulness is a process, and getting on the path with an ideal or vision in mind is what’s important. What matters is what mindfulness is to you and what practices you find to be most helpful. Feel free to modify them to reflect your situation and see how you can move the needle toward a more mindful world.
I wrote a book, Profit with Presence: The 12 Pillars of Mindful Leadership, which goes in to further detail about this topic and more.
Although the world is currently abuzz with the term “mindfulness,” some believe mindfulness is a fringe activity to be practiced before or after the workday, if at all. Too few business professionals take the time needed to be present and aware throughout the workday, which is counterproductive. Mindfulness is not only a path to personal success, but a sound business strategy.
My hope is to positively impact the world through infusing more mindfulness into business -- and it starts with each of us individually. Together, we can create a future where mindfulness is deeply embedded in our work culture, leading to greater well-being, productivity, and meaningful success for all.
- Dr Eric Holsapple
Get my free mindfulness resources here
Learn more about my book, Profit with Presence: The 12 Pillars of Mindful Leadership here
Check out the Profit with Presence Podcast Miniseries here
Watch videos on YouTube here
Learn more about my nonprofit, Living in the Gap, here
Connect with us on social media: