The past few years has seen an explosion in research on the benefits of meditation. As a lifelong martial artist and meditator I continue to practice and experience the benefits of meditation. As part of my role as social worker I wanted to bring these benefits of meditation to DAA and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing!
Our program consists of two weeks of practice with Mr.B to get the basics down. After that students and/or teachers can continue on their own or as a group activity. Since meditation is a part of many spiritual and religious traditions we make sure to use simple language and concepts to avoid infringing on the culture and beliefs of our families and students.
If you would like to continue to help your child with their meditation practice here are the basics they have learned and practiced at DAA:
- Sit upright
- Choose a hand position that you like
- Check that your stomach, chest, and head are relaxed and open
- Choose one meditation object to focus on; either the feeling of the air coming in and out of your nose or your stomach moving with your breathing
- If you get distracted or forget that you are meditating that’s ok—just come back to your practice and get back in the ZONE!
Here are some of the benefits for meditation in case you want to know why we think it is so important for our students:
a. Experienced meditators show brain activation of the brain area known as the prefrontal cortex (PFC) which is associated with attention, working memory and mental thought 
b. An area of the brain known as the cortex has been shown to thicken in experienced meditators. This area is associated with consciousness, motor control, and self-awareness 
c. Meditation also has been shown to increase cognitive function and memory 
d. Meditators also show an increase in GABA neurons. This increase has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression 
e. Meditation helps regulate the parasympathetic nervous system which means a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen metabolism  
f. After meditation increases in melatonin, associated with calmness, and serotonin, associated with positive emotions, were observed 
g. Meditation has been shown to pump up our immune system by raising the level of cytokines and decreasing stress by lowering the level of the stress-related hormone cortisol 
h. According to a study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, some intensive meditative breathing exercises may relieve asthma 
Since research into meditation is still new and developing we still don’t know all of the systems involved in making meditation so healthy for the mind and body. By focusing on breathing and gaining conscious control over these functions, we are somehow gaining conscious influence over mechanisms in the body we had assumed were completely unconscious. The future of this research will need to delve into how meditation is able to effect systems that we normally do not have access to! .
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