Meditation – of any kind, not necessarily chanting Om or other mantras with a saffron-robed guru – fosters inner peace and relaxation. This claim has been supported by decades of research showing changes in brainwave patterns during meditation.

In our brains, a large mass of grey matter called thalamus acts as the gatekeeper by relaying sensory information. It focuses our attention by funnelling data into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Brain scans during meditation show that the flowing of incoming information in the thalamus reduces to a trickle. This is a sign that meditation has not shut off the brain but rather it has blocked information from coming into the part of the brain responsible for processing it. There is also a decrease in beta waves, waves associated with fully awake mind. At the same time, alpha and theta waves, waves associated with a relaxed mind, are extremely active. In long-term meditators, theta waves dominate the brain during periods of deep relaxation. Recent brain imaging research suggests that meditation is doing more than changing wave patterns in the brain; it may even be rewiring it to reduce stress. If you think that you are not cut out to be a meditating type, take a nap. After lunch, forget caffeine, take your shoes off, sit down comfortably and take a 30- to 40-minute nap. Studies show afternoon napping not only improves health and work performance, but it also increases brain power. It’s time you joined the midday snooze club. You will be in the company of Leonardo da Vinci, Napoleon Bonaparte, Johannes Brahms, Albert Einstein, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton

© Surendra Verma 2016

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