Meditation is widely acknowledged to influence both functional and physiological aspects of the brain. But we cannot receive its benefits without proper training. Perhaps this is why so many people fail, give up, or do not maintain consistency when it comes to daily meditation.
The ancients recognized this, and so they developed preparatory practices to give the mind something to focus on, identify with, and eventually dis-identify, dropping into the flow-state.
You could think of it as "tricking" the mind, but it's influencing your attention. A skill that meditation trains us to do off of the cushion as well.
In a 2015 NIH study, participants who underwent a three-week mindfulness-based meditation program evidenced enhanced compassion and altruism.
Last night, I recorded one of my absolute favorite preparatory practices that will surely drop you into a deeper state of experience.
In this practice, we use a body scan, the chakras, and mantra to arrive in the state of meditation.
For beginners: use this as a stand-alone practice.
For intermediate/advanced: use as preparation, staying an extra ten minutes with the mantra so-hum.
The first 5 minutes are explanation + mini-lecture.
Evan Rachel Soroka