Written by Sydney Waldner
If you are a fellow meditation lover, then you already know this practice can assist in expanding your consciousness. Whether that be mindfulness meditation or focus meditation, all brain training is helpful and will inevitably enhance awareness and expand your mind. In this article, we will be looking at what is meditation, how it expands the mind, and a few tips/tricks to help you better your practice!
What is meditation?
Meditation can look like many things. For most, when the word ‘meditation’ comes up, you are likely to imagine a monk sitting cross-legged under a tree in the sounds of nature. However, meditation is more of a state of mind than an action.
This practice can be done using various techniques such as focusing on the mind or a particular object, thought, or activity. This means you can reach the same meditative state when sitting cross-legged on your yoga mat or tending to the plants in your garden.
It’s about focusing on something whilst allowing your thoughts to pass by without allowing them to pull you off your track of focus. Once you become more familiar with remaining on your singular track of focus, you can learn how to expand that focus. This kind of brain training allows room for mindfulness via increased awareness and mind expansion.
Meditation has multiple benefits for the mind which we will explore in the next section.
Expanding your consciousness through meditation
Using the term ‘mind expansion’ is quite a vague umbrella label. In the simplest of terms, it is the act of expanding your knowledge base, brain functions, awareness and focus. All of these things can be accomplished through the act of meditating. To keep things simple, let’s break down five areas of the mind that extends from this practice.
Focus: Increased focus is one of the main results that meditation studies have found from this brain training method. It allows to you sit down with your thoughts and control which ones you give power to and which ones you allow to float by like a plane in the sky-still present, yet distant and not relevant. This lazer focus becomes easier with time, however, its long-lasting benefits are worth the dedication. You can take your strong focusing abilities with you outside of your meditation practice, (eg) bringing better concentration into your workspace which would likely result in enhanced productivity/energy! Expand your mind while being working more efficiently? Yes, please!
Brain Function: Meditation is like hygiene for the brain. There have been multiple studies proving that meditating promotes good brain health. In one 2011 Harvard study, they found that meditation quite literally changes physical aspects of the brain. It can increase cortical thickness in the hippocampus; a part of the brain that governs memory, learning and more. It also increased thickness in certain areas of the brain that play roles in emotional and self-referential processing! I don’t know what screams mind expansion more than a thicker and more high functioning brain!
Adaption abilities & well-being: In the same 2011 study mentioned above, they also noticed a decrease in the brain cell volume found in the amygdala. This area of the brain is responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress! In return, this drastically reduced the stress levels of the subjects, indicating that mediation not only changed the structure of the brain but also the stress/anxiety of an individual as well! Although therapy is very beneficial for many, it is very important to learn how to manage your stress levels independently for times when you don’t have a shoulder to lean on. Meditation is a free method that is accessible to each and every one of us that could increase our adaptability and wellbeing, expanding our emotional awareness as a collective.
Mindfulness: This practice trains your brain on how to think about how you think. You could say meditating is basically thought-ception! This practice allows us to really focus on what is going on inside our own heads. For most of the day, many of us are running on auto-pilot, keeping up with the fast-paced world we live in and not really paying too much attention to what we are thinking or how we are speaking to ourselves inside of our mind. Making sure you take that time to expand your awareness/mindfulness of your thoughts and thought patterns is one of the main keys to expanding your consciousness. The truth is our thoughts will not stop until we pass. That being said, it is worth diving deep and getting familiar with your thoughts, rerouting thought processes that do not serve you to decrease unnecessary suffering.
Tips & tricks to expand your mind and practice:
Here are a few tips I can give that will assist you.
Consistency is key!
When I go through periods where I don’t meditate, I always have to get back into the groove, even if it is only a week or two away from my practice. One of the most helpful, yet the most simple, words of advice I can give is to be consistent! Meditation for 3 minutes is better than not meditating at all!
Using a guided meditation is okay!
Don’t feel like you have to be finding your rhythm independently. There are loads of free guided meditations available! It can be especially helpful for a beginner. I have been meditating for over 6 years and I still love to enjoy a guided meditation when the chatter in my brain is extra noisy! Experimentation will help you find your flow and create an optimized routine.
There is nothing wrong with using a bit of external help!
I find using relaxing nootropics (brain health supplements) such as Ashwagandha, CBD, as well as herbs and other adaptogens (such as lions mane mushroom) have really helped me along my journey. Giving your mind and body nourishing foods and staying active will also result in a clearer mind, making meditation easier.
I used to be a very scattered and anxiety-ridden individual, like many fellow humans. I have learned over the years through various methods that life doesn’t have to be that way and anyone (even me) can find peace.
Every meditation journey is 100% unique and never look exactly alike. Keep this in mind when experimenting with different meditations. Keep a few main focuses. Mine has been mindfulness and mind expansion. What will yours be?
I will leave you with one last question: How often do you think about the way you think?