“In its broadest and most universal definition, meditation is a discipline that involves turning the mind and attention inward and focusing on a single thought, image, object or feeling”.
– The Australian Teachers of Meditation Association
Definitions of meditation vary from one individual practice to another, however the general idea is to train the mind to improve focus. Different forms of meditation focus on different aspects such as breath, an object, a mantra (repeated word or sound), a mental image or positive statements.
The effects of relaxation are an immediate result of practiced meditation and can provide a range of long-term benefits.Advertising
From a physical view, meditation lowers high blood pressure, reduces anxiety attacks, increases serotonin production which improves mood and behavior reduces stress-related pain (e.g. tension, headaches and insomnia, and increases immunity and energy).
Mentally, meditation decreases anxiety, improves emotional stability, provides clarity and peace of mind and sharpens the mind.
To add to the abundance of benefits meditation offers, research by the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) now suggest that meditation could slow the age-related loss of gray matter in the brain.
During an individual’s mid-to-late 20s, the brain begins to decrease in weight and volume, by which stage it begins to lose some of its functional abilities. Through the following years, the risk for mental and neurodegenerative disease increases.Advertising
The study by UCLA shows that meditation can actually help lower these risks. It also suggests that meditation can preserve the brain’s gray matter, a neuron-containing tissue which functions to process information.
The study focused primarily on the association between age and the brain’s gray matter, comparing 50 people who meditated and 50 who had not, with both groups already showing signs of loss of grey matter as they aged.
Each group consisted of 28 men and 22 women, aged 24 to 77, with those who meditated for an average of 20 years. Using high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists scanned the brains of the participants. Both groups of people naturally showed the degeneration in the gray matter (a loss of brain tissue with increasing age), but the large parts of gray matter in the brains of those who meditated were found to be better preserved.
While other factors, such as lifestyle choices, personality traits and genetic brain differences, need to be taken into consideration, the magnitude of the results was surprising even to the researchers.Advertising
“We expected rather small and distinct effects located in some of the regions that had previously been associated with meditating…Instead, what we actually observed was a widespread effect of meditation that encompassed regions throughout the entire brain.”
– Dr. Florian Kurth, co-author of the study and postdoctoral fellow at the UCLA Brain Mapping Center
Many people around the world are well aware of the cleansing and relaxation properties of meditation and most will make an excuse that it is too difficult or too time consuming. However if you think of it in terms of a few hours of your day in exchange for a better sleep at night and a healthier brain as you age, it might be time to reconsider.
To those who are already well-acquainted with the practice of meditation, this might provide encouragement for you to continue on with meditation into older age.Advertising
“Our results are promising…Hopefully they will stimulate other studies exploring the potential of meditation to better preserve our aging brains and minds. Accumulating scientific evidence that meditation has brain-altering capabilities might ultimately allow for an effective translation from research to practice, not only in the framework of healthy aging but also pathological aging.”
– Dr. Eileen Luders, first author and assistant professor of neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA
Last Updated on July 10, 2020
How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries
We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.
We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.
So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?
Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.
Table of Contents
What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)
Boundaries are limits
—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.
Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.
Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.
Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.
Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.
How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life
Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.
1. Self-Awareness Comes First
Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.
You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.
To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.
You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:
- Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
- When do you feel disrespected?
- When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
- In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
- When do you want to be alone?
- How much space do you need?
You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.
2. Clear Communication Is Essential
Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.
Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.
3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame
Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.
That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.
- “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
- “I need…to be treated with respect…”
- “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
- “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
- “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
- “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
- “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”
Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.
4. Consequences Are Often Necessary
Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.
Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.
Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.
We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”
It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.
It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.
Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.
Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.
Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.
The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.
Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.
Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.
They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.
More Articles to Help You Take Control of Your Life
- How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late
- Do You Have to Give Everything Up to Get a Fresh Start?
- How to Get out of a Funk and Take Control of Life
Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com