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Meditation covers a broad category of activity, just like ”fitness.” You could do something relaxing, or you could do something intense. You can do it alone, or in a group. Just like exercise, it will be important to try many flavors and find the types you enjoy. Just like exercise, the best benefits will come from daily consistency rather than doing it a few times a year.
Meditation has become increasingly popular in recent years, receiving widespread attention from many seeking high performance — CEO’s, athletes, or even just people get better sleep. Does it work? What are the tangible benefits?
You can think of meditations as exercises for your mind. Just like we exercise our muscles to make them stronger and have more control over them, practicing meditation is intended to strengthen our mind — thoughts, stress, emotions and all the complex things going on in your head. Since most of our livelihoods are based on our brains rather than our muscular strength, this is arguably even more important than working out.
The most well known benefit of meditation is reduced stress. Stress can sound like an abstract concept or purely emotional, but has a significant impact on our health, affecting almost every part of our physiology.
While stress is an essential tool for the human body to deal with threats, it becomes problematic when sustained over long periods of time. You can think of your stress like a fire alarm. It is useful if it happens when you need it, prompting you into fast action and running away. It loses its utility and actually becomes harmful if it is sounding 24/7, preventing you from sleeping or being prepared for a real emergency.
The common effects of chronic stress and high cortisol levels that can be objectively tracked in Gyroscope include: a high resting heart rate, lower HRV, lowered productivity, negative mood, impaired nutritional decisions, sugar cravings, higher blood pressure, disrupted digestion, reduced sleep quality and quantity, gaining bodyfat, and more.
Taking all this into consideration, we can see that managing stress is an essential part of being healthy, and why mastering meditation is an important tool. In this chapter, you’ll try a variety of popular techniques and be able to measure their effects to find what works best for you.