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Meditation: Does Sitting in Silence Really Work?

Meditation: Does Sitting in Silence Really Work?

October 25, 2017   -   Scott B Harris

I’ll say this again because I am such a believer in this: The mind is the most powerful thing in the world. Everything that exists in this world started in someone’s mind. As well being extremely powerful, it is also the most valuable thing we own, and guess what? We only have one of them so without it, we’ve got nothing.

As you may know, I’ve damaged my right arm, but luckily that’s ok because I have another one that picks up the pieces. I’ve got instability issues all the way down my right leg, but that’s ok because I’ve got two of those too. Unfortunately for me I only have one brain, and it’s injured so I make it work super hard.

Working it hard means exercising it every day. I’m always trying to exercise my injured brain in every way that I possibly can, which brings me to my next point and that’s about meditation. Meditation = exercise for the brain. Before we talk about how good it is for us, I’ll tell you a quick story about when I first tried it.

So, not long after I got out of hospital in May of 2009, a mate asked if I wanted to go to a meditation class with him and try it out. I had nothing to lose, so meh, I thought I’d give it a go. My only ever thought about meditation was that it all sounds kind of a bit hocus-pocus, airy-fairy, make-believe stuff.

“What, so I’m supposed to sit here in silence and do nothing whilst I have my eyes closed and it’s supposed to be good for me?”

Anyway, I now found myself sitting in a circle with a group of people doing exactly just that. So I closed my eyes and waited for the magic to happen and you’ll never believe it… waiting… waiting… I think I feel something… yes, yes I do. That ‘something’ was a nice cool breeze on my neck… it felt great, I was really doing this. I was mediating… oh no, wait on, that’s just the air-con and now that I think of it, it’s actually a bit cold in here. Damn. Nope, I’m not feeling anything besides a chill. This was disappointing, but hey I gave it a go. I tried it. It was quiet, it was calm, I met some kind people and it was rather boring so sorry, it wasn’t for me.

Now fast-forward eight years and this is a ritual I perform most mornings. I say ‘most mornings’ but now, it’s honestly only on the weekdays and it may not be every single day. Let’s say an average of 4 times a week on average.

So what changed my mind about this after eight years? Well, I was doing research into the power of meditation last year and it all sounded too good to be true. I read somewhere that in 2014, a Harvard Study[1] found that performing meditation for as little as eight weeks could actually alter the structure of the brain, increasing the amount of ‘grey matter’ present. Not knowing the difference between grey matter, black, blue, yellow or even pink matter, this didn’t really mean too much to me. I knew I had an injured brain and I’m sure some of that colored matter has disappeared, so I continued to look a bit deeper.

More research into the practice and I discovered that I had had a misconception all along about what meditation was. I was always waiting for something magical to happen, but I was searching in the wrong places. I never understood that meditation is nothing to do with fairies at all. It is just about controlling your mind in a way that you block out the past and future, leaving you to think about what’s going on this exact moment in time. A bit like tunnel vision when you’re in the moment, paying Mario Kart 64 on Koopa Troopa Beach not thinking of anything besides that banana peel up ahead and the red shell on your tail.

To cut a long story short I decided to give this a go. Studies say that you’re to practice this for eight weeks once a day to see change but at the beginning, I missed the ‘eight weeks’ part so I started not knowing when I’d give up. Honestly though, I still had the same thoughts about it, ‘what a load of s**t’. This was meant to be good for me, so I kept it up.

It was nearly eight weeks to the day, after I began, when I started noticing that I was remember things that I knew I shouldn’t be remembering. Things were coming to my head that I would normally forget; appointment times, places to be, people to see, things to do. My initial thought was that I woke up on the right side of the bed and I was just having a bit of luck, but this kept happening. This happened on a number of occasions so I thought that maybe it wasn’t just a fluke? Could this have been the meditation doing this to my brain? No Way. I found it very hard to believe, but this 10-minutes of silence was doing much more than I was ready to believe.

These days, I can honestly tell you that if I haven’t meditated for as few days, I feel different, it’s like my mind is cloudy and what meditation is doing to it is clearing it up. I try to keep this up as much as I can but I don’t put restrictions on myself. If I can, I will, but if I can’t, I won’t- no stress.

If you are battling with an injured brain or know of someone who is, what have you got to lose? Give it a go. Even if you aren’t harboring an injured brain, meditation could open so many doors to your mind that you didn’t even know existed. Imagine how much better off I would have been if I had practiced meditating before my accident? All I can think now is, ‘What would this do for a healthy, uninjured brain’?

[1] https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2011/01/eight-weeks-to-a-better-brain/

44 thoughts on “Meditation: Does Sitting in Silence Really Work?”

  1. I believe that stillness and meditation are gifts and when appropriated can benefit all aspects of life. As a Christian I practice Christian Meditation and this this helps me even in the valley experiences of life to keep inner PEACE and Serenity as the core of my being. Thanks for your post. I welcome you to mine. Peace and Greetings.

  2. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

    1. Meditation is nothing but concentration. Concentrating on nothing but what you feel at this moment. A good exercise to do is to run you fingers over a part of your body and describe EXACTLY what you are feeling. Describe the texture of the skin, the warmth of you skin etc. Before long you’ll be focused on the present moment… not the past and not the future but right now. This is what meditation is.

  3. It is challenging to find knowledgeable persons on this subject, but you sound like you understand what you’re talking about! Thanks

  4. Spot on ᴡitһ thіs write-up, I honestly believe that thiѕ website
    needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the advice!

  5. It?¦s actually a nice and helpful piece of information. I am satisfied that you just shared this helpful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Because you have suffered a traumatic injury, the results of meditation may be more obvious to you. But there are many people who seem to themselves in the best of health, and suffer similar problems to yours. Such as sensory overload, for instance. Anyone who spends a lot of time listening to the radio or watching TV will probably experience that problem from time to time. Finding quiet, putting your mind in order… these are the essentials for learning and thinking. I wish you continuous recovery and growth, and many thoughts and activities which will fill you with an appreciation of life, and the joy of being able to relate to the world around you.

  7. Thank you for making the connection between your meditation experience and the excellent science they’re doing at Harvard. Our Western tendency to think of meditation as a religious phenomenon needs to change. Positive changes in brain MRI’s are just the beginning!

  8. Good for the heart as well as the brain. meditation is very helpful for calmness and developing compassion

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