Have you ever heard the old saying happiness blooms from within? Well, it turns out there may be more to that saying than we even realize and all it takes to make that happiness bloom is a few minutes of daily meditation. Although we might not initially think of happiness as the main benefit of meditation, it is one of the most commonly reported secondary effects of the practice.
I personally experienced this shift during my early twenties when I felt unfulfilled by the external world around me and started looking for happiness within. Every day I began doing meditations for joy and happiness, began to stop and pause during the day to go inward, and just be present with my inner self. It was nothing short of magical.
Overtime, I felt as if a weight had been lifted off me; my social anxiety was dropping and I began living life for me and no one else. In fact, this time of my life was so meaningful that it inspired me to become a teacher and create my location independent yoga and meditation school, Yoga For You, and my guided meditations podcast, Mindful in Minutes that now helps to share meditation with people in 162 countries.
Although many feel happier after meditation, the question remains what is actually happening during meditation that is making us happier? According to existing research done at universities across the United States, such as John Hopkins, meditation makes us happier because we are physically changing the size and structure of our brains with meditation.
Although many feel happier after meditation, the question remains what is actually happening during meditation that is making us happier?"
Studies show that over four to eight weeks of daily meditation our brains change on a neurological level. Brain scans of meditators and nonmeditators show that areas of the brain associated with fear, anxiety and pain—like the amygdala—shrink and became less active after daily meditation. Areas associated with happiness, memory, and emotion—like the frontal lobe—grow in those who meditate regularly.
Chemically the brain changes as well. The feel-good chemicals in the brain oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin, increase after meditation and levels of the fear and stress chemical and cortisol, drop physically. This helps you feel happier and less stressed over time. The changes in the brain also improve your sleep, boost your immune system and decrease your anxiety, can make you a happier and healthier person.
Embrace Your True Self
Although not backed up by research yet, a personal reason I believe meditation is the key to unlocking happiness, is the deep connection you get with your inner self. In my experience, those who meditate report feeling more content with who they are, what they have and feel they have more clarity in life. It is also during a deep meditation practice that you can connect deeply with atman, or the true self, which is according to yoga philosophy, is where pure happiness resides and how we create a direct line of communicating with our soul and intuition.
So maybe the next time you’re feeling like you need a happiness boost instead of looking outward, try gazing inward and give meditation a chance. To access dozens of free 10-minute guided meditations you can check out my podcast Mindful in Minutes, or take my free 7-day meditation challenge at yogaforyouonoline.com.