If we were asked what makes us conscious, emotions are undoubtedly on top of this list. Emotions are what drives an organism to action. They trigger automatic behaviors that have been adapted by evolution, aiding in survival. Without emotions, we wouldn’t possess any will or rationale.
In this digitally busy world, our fingers are scrolling more miles than our feet walk in a day. It seems that watching other people’s lives is a regularly scheduled program. “Add to Cart” is a go-to temporary relief for unhappiness. Passing time and finding distractions has never been easier. Pre-existing inner conflicts remain ignored. Meanwhile, we continue to allow our comparison-obsessed culture to erode our self-confidence and set unrealistic expectations.
Our thinking is clouded, feelings are hurt, emotions are suppressed, direction is lost, thoughts are racing, and happiness is fleeting.
Everyone’s life goal should be maximizing their overall quality of self in order to give more and receive more. So, what is slowing us down? What is trapping people in this rollercoaster of mental struggles?
For most of us, our brains are completely foreign to spending quality time with itself. We feed ourselves continuous external stimuli whether it be from music, television, phones, or laptops. This information-filled world keeps us so distracted. We don’t prioritize slowing our racing thoughts to really listen, acknowledge, and resolve what’s happening to us internally. In turn, our true nature — the one of peace, love, and kindness — becomes diluted by the illusions of the material world around us and the emotional world within us.
We accumulate a lifetime of unresolved emotions that cause a cascade of self-destructive habitual tendencies such as self-doubt, shame, pride, fear, anxiety, anger, and more. The disposition for us to remain ignorant of the root cause enslaves us from living a fulfilling life.
Circumstances don’t confine us to mental deterioration, but our responses to these external stimuli do. Every person is capable of blossoming into a lotus from the mud. If the challenges of life don’t occur, our insight lacks. When there is no mud, there is no lotus.
We are often told to be happy, to think positive, to feel confident, to not overthink, and to let go of our troubles.
However, society doesn’t overtly teach us how to do any of these things.
That is a high bar to meet without any help. These skills can not be learned by retweeting quotes. Like any acquired skill, practice is key. The practice of being present, the practice of observing ourselves without judgment, the practice of calming the brain, the practice of resolving our inner emotional conflicts, and the practice of increasing your self-awareness.
The practice of meditation.
Meditation increases a person’s capacity to be aware of, control, express, and resolve his/her emotions. Meditation teaches the skills needed to attain clarity and focus in thoughts and tranquility in emotions.
Releasing Stored Emotions
We have a database of information about all of our experiences embedded within us. It is who we are at the deepest level. Some memories are suppressed and some we continuously dissect and ruminate over. Our subconscious and conscious reactions to these experiences collectively shape our views and tendencies.
Understanding this stream of reliable information and releasing the root emotions behind them is key to overcoming challenging emotions, limiting patterns, and achieving eternal happiness.
Meditation is the process of peeling the layers of the emotional trauma, healing the negative energy blocks, and unveiling the true self. It is allocated time for introspection on inner conflicts, giving them a judgment-free platform to be addressed and healed with love energies. This results in the release of the inner conflict’s strong grip on the host.
A wandering mind is associated with being less happy, rumination, and worrying about the future and the past. Meditation teaches you how to quiet this monkey brain. A meditator’s capacity to disengage from cognitive rumination is elevated through this practice of concentration, non-judgemental reflection, and increasing emotional awareness.
Yale University conducted a study that concluded that meditation decreases activity in the default mode network (DMN), the part of the brain responsible for mind-wandering and self-referential thoughts. This implies that when the mind does start to wander, meditators are better at refocusing. They are also able to reduce the number of self-referential thoughts, in turn humbling the ego.
Through this quicker recovery from a wandering mind, meditators build resilience to anxiety, depression, and stress, among many other mental challenges.
A study at John Hopkins University found that meditation alleviates anxiety and depression to a similar degree as antidepressant drug therapy. Researcher Madhav Goyal and his team found that meditation had moderate evidence for improved anxiety, depression, and pain with an effect size of 0.3. Antidepressants also have an effect size of 0.3, which makes meditation a strong competitor with no negative side effects!
Emotions are meant to be felt and released rather than stored and suppressed. Meditation teaches how to release emotional energy so that it may no longer weigh you down.
Restructuring of the brain
As we lighten the soul of emotional baggage, inner self-talk becomes positive and constructive. Mood stabilizes and emotions become less heightened. The capacity of love increases and flows through all aspects of life.
These changes in feelings, perceptions, and inner conflict resolution are not just subjective. They indeed correspond with structural changes in the brain, as detected by many studies. That’s right, meditation literally restructures the brain!
In a study conducted by researchers at Boston University and Massachusetts General Hospital, participant’s brains were scanned using an fMRI brain before and after a series of meditation classes with astounding results. In just 8 weeks, there were far less “distress signal” transmissions and the meditators “fear center” neural activity went silent. The amygdala 一 part of the brain which plays a crucial role in fear responses, stress, and anxiety 一 managed to physically shrink in size! The study also observed that low emotional reactivity from low amygdala responses persisted throughout the span of the meditator’s life, even while the mediator was not actively meditating.
This discovery has profound implications! Through the act of meditation, we can put the physical, mental, and emotional disabilities in the back seat and take charge of the highway towards holistic happiness.
When a negative emotion arises in the consciousness, meditation teaches to simply observe, take note of its presence, and avoid self-identity with the emotion. For example, being aware that you are feeling an emotion of anger versus self-labeling with “I am so angry right now”.
This change in thought process nurtures the realization that emotions are a temporary fleet. It aids the individual to disengage from negative emotions more quickly.
Brain scans from the Yale University study show that experienced meditators demonstrate activation and stronger connection of brain regions related to self-monitoring and cognitive control
Yale University study found that experienced meditators have stronger connections between specific brain regions that are implicated in self-monitoring and cognitive control. In other words, meditators can observe and control their emotions more effectively.
Meditation increases one’s non-judgemental awareness of a full range of emotions. The key step is to be mindful of but to never judge or react to your thoughts and feelings, and in this way creating a feeling of calmness.
In fact, Harvard research has revealed that meditation increases cortical thickness in the hippocampus, part of the brain which regulates emotions and emotional responses. Follow-up research also found that meditation changes the brain regions associated with mood and arousal in a way that increases psychological well-being.
The positive vibrations created during meditation compasses throughout the person’s everyday life, spanning their focus and brain functioning.
Call For Action
Imagine the amount of suffering that can be avoided and the peace this movement can create if our society starts meditating.
It all starts with you!
Tesla once said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration”. Meditation will shift your mind to see everything as energy. It will teach you how to understand, mold, and release energy.
Guided meditations can help kick start your meditation journey. Reiki Raja Yoga meditation has empowered me with ancient yet scientific techniques practiced by yogis for thousands of years. It has allowed my little human brain to reach higher realms of awareness. I can better understand who I am, why I am, and what I am. The transformations that accompany this experience are too great not to be shared, thus, here I am.
You can follow this link if you would like to try the Reiki Raja Yoga meditations that I began my journey with.
With a definitive meditation path and practice, your ego will lessen, perception will widen, emotional awareness will increase, and reality will become immensely greater than just the self. Inner peace, lasting happiness, sharpened focus, positive relationships, and a successful career will all be naturally cultivated in your life. Meditation is the missing puzzle piece to uplifting humanity as a whole one soul at a time.
Your awakening is waiting for you. Will you invest in your emotional intelligence?