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Jan 15, 2015

Healthy Living: Meditation to Improve Physical and Mental Fitness

The ancient practice of meditation has long been extolled as a life changing practice capable of improving one’s health both mentally and physically. There have been several studies that show that people do report feeling better when they begin to practice meditation. In 2011, Harvard released their findings of a study on meditation that proved that after eight weeks of meditation there is a true biological impact on the brain. Using neuroimaging – which is taking images of brain function and activity – the study showed how meditation produced changes over time in the brain’s gray matter. And, the brain region that exhibited changes is linked to memory, awareness and stress. So if you’re interested in making your brain better for the New Year, then meditation may be just the thing for you. Tonight on Healthy Living, we introduce you to a visiting meditation teacher at the Om Shanti Center in Belize City.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

Alessandro Giovanazzo is a visiting Yoga and Meditation Instructor at the Om Shanti Center. He has been traveling to different countries passing on the healing techniques of meditation. Alessandro sought out meditation for the same reasons many of his students do.

 

Alessandro Giovanazzo

Alessandro Giovanazzo, Yoga/Meditation Instructor

“I had a period in my life, maybe eight-nine years ago, I didn’t feel good, I had a bit of depression I went to a therapist and I felt really good after in just a few months but that led me to want to take control of my life; a strong control of my life and my feelings.”

 

His search led him to his first encounter with meditation.

 

Alessandro Giovanazzo

“It seems like all the way to solve these issues, to improve your life was meditation. To be aware of what you’re doing, how your thinking how you’re behaving. So I got curious about it. So why not try it, so I went to look for a place.  I approach it with no expectations, I had no idea how I was supposed to feel, so I just gave a shot and if it feels good I’ll keep doing, so why not a try. The second and third time, I started have very deep sleeping. I was waking up full of energy. I just felt wow. It was a Wednesday night, and then from Thursday morning until the weekend, the week start to be a lot better. And everyone start asking me how are you so smiley. And I realize this was all happening after the Wednesday night and it start to make a really big impact on my everyday life. At work, I was playing sports at that time; everything was just getting better and easier.”

 

This sense of mindfulness is what has allowed for meditation to becoming more and more mainstream. In some parts of the world, it’s being introduced in workplaces, schools and hospitals.  And mediation centers, like the Shanti room, makes it more accessible for people looking for ways to alleviate stress, avoid burn out and even compliment treatment for anxiety and depression.

 

Alessandro Giovanazzo

“I guess everybody has the feeling that you wake up in the morning and already you have so many things to do and to think about and it’s like : Oh my god I just want to go back to sleep and forget everything. So meditation in a way you stop everything, so you think that you’re losing time but everything goes super slow so that when you go back into action you have a clear view of what comes first, how to do and when to do it. So in a way you’re much more efficient in how you use your time after. The first thing is better focus because generally we do two types of meditation, the first is one point focus, and then on the chest, people develop focus in working studying in sports or in your daily life and you get much less distracted than other people and this again is proven. There are both mental and physical effects, the mental effects are generally relaxation, especially lots of people are very stressed especially in big cities in very hard, difficult jobs. So in a way it’s like you step out of your daily life and you take five minutes, half hour, hour whichever works for you depends what works for you and you just take time for yourself which detach from the rest of the day and its crazy nice separation. It’s like lots of people like sports imagine playing sports or running but you cannot twenty-four hours a day your body get tired. So when you sit down on that sofa and you have half hour watching TV or reading a book; it’s a nice preparation for when you’re going to run again.”

 

The practice itself, requires more than just sitting comfortably in a quiet space. It also involves deep breathing and the process of clearing your mind of thoughts; but as simple as that sounds, quieting the mind will take some practice.

 

Alessandro Giovanazzo

“Meditation is so simple it’s so difficult, generally people think that when you’re meditating is that you think about something in particular and actually the idea in the meditation is the opposite you try to bring the thoughts away from your head. so you generally focus on something first, so you’re focusing should be very concentrated and then you start to have a physical relaxation in the body and little by little the stream of thoughts in your head start to slow down until the point where – and it happens to everybody – you may have those few seconds or few minutes where you realize you were thinking about something and something else after but then you realize there is like a blank part that I don’t remember what I was doing. That was the meditation.”

 

Even if you’re still unsure, one thing you can be sure of is that there are absolutely no side effects for giving it a fair try.

 

Alessandro Giovanazzo

“You have to discover if it’s good for you, meditation is good for everybody, you just have to find the one that resonates with you. So just try hard once, just once.”

 

Meditation is offered at the Shanti room at OM Shanti center on Princess Margaret Drive from Monday to Thursday, alternating morning & evening classes

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1 Response for “Healthy Living: Meditation to Improve Physical and Mental Fitness”

  1. leopoldo silva says:

    Could u please tell me where this om shanti center is.

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