May 9, 2022
Meditation, the Ultimate Software Update
The basic hardware of our brain, body and mind has been unchanged for thousands of years. Yet the world around us has changed in dramatic ways over that time. Stop and think – what did the world look like just 100 years ago!? Long before the invention of computers and cell phones.
Even the last few decades have brought huge shifts in technology. The cell phone was invented in 1973…and the smart phone only came to the market in the 90s and 2000s. Most people update their cell phone every few years to get the latest technology advancements. And software updates come out every few weeks! There is no doubt the world has changed drastically. Yet we are walking and breathing with brain, body and minds that do not adapt and change as quickly as the world has around us.
Given the remarkable changes of our environment – what tools can we use to adapt our body and mind? We cannot simply replace the hardware of our body – what we need is a software update! There is a software update that has been around for thousands of years. Consider the effect meditation has on our nervous system. Meditation helps to strengthen the connection between the upper and middle brain. This is between the decision-making center and the emotional center or our brain! The practice of meditation has been proven to reduce stress and literally change the wiring of our brain.
The brain can be thought of as having three main areas, upper, middle, and lower. The upper brain is home to our decision-making centers – the prefrontal cortex. The middle brain is the seat of our emotions – the area of the limbic system and the amygdala. The lower brain is home to the brain stem – housing many of our basic functions such as our heart rate, breathing and consciousness. Our brain has been wired this way for thousands of years.
“The gift of learning to meditate is the greatest gift you can give yourself in this lifetime.”
– Sogyal Rinpoche
One of the most potent effects of meditation is the improved connection between the upper and middle parts of the brain. Improving this connection is what allows us to choose our reaction to situations and life events. Without this connection it can feel like we are living in reaction to life instead of responding. Think of a time you had a heated discussion with a spouse or loved one? Have you ever said something out of anger that you later regretted? Having an emotional outburst or lashing out comes from the quick response from the seat of our emotions in the middle brain or limbic system. When we react and lash out, we are bypassing the use of our prefrontal cortex. Our prefrontal cortex allows us to choose our response instead of lashing out.
So why not take advantage of the best software update your body and mind could ask for? Having a regular meditation practice may be the best gift you could give your mind and body.
“Between a stimulus and a response is a space. In that space is the ability to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”
Below are some recommended practices to guide you in Meditation: