Meditation – in search of neuroplasticity

Over time, as new lesions form, the natural progression of Multiple Sclerosis is disability, as on a long enough time line, under the Russian roulette nature of the disease, a key link between the brain and a limb will become impaired.

Given this, I find the concept of neuroplasticity, that is the development of neural pathways fascinating.  It was once believed that neuroplasticity only occurred in babies, at an infant age the mind is likened to that of a sponge and in part explain why children can learn languages easier than adults. However, the school of thought today is that the brain can develop new neural pathways at any stage in life.

Anacdotely I think evidence of this can also be seen in the elderly, those who keep an active mind be it through exercise, mental puzzles, or social interaction seem to stave of the like of dementia and alzheimer’s disease.

One method of neuroplasticity is via meditation and it is no surprise that the OMS lifestyle advocates this daily. After reading about the benefits that meditation has had for others I ventured on my own discovery of the discipline. All I really had known previously consisted of the teachings of Yoda and Mr Miyagi.  Both of which are respected mentors in their own worlds, however I felt I needed a more tangible guide, so off I went into the amazon and found this book Teach Yourself Meditation 20 simple exercises.  I found it useful in introducing the concepts of mindfulness and being cogniscent of the breath, this is a handy constant and something you can pick up throughout the day.

In addition to this I downloaded the free app from getsomeheadspace.com which gives you a course of 10 minute daily meditations and is led by Andy Puddicombe who has gained full ordination in a Tibetan Monastery in the Himalayas.  I was impressed by the free trial enough to purchase an annual subscription and am working my way through his daily meditations.

The first few days of meditating I found very difficult. Sitting still was actually quite challenging, I experienced itches all over my body that wanted to be scratched and pains that wanted me to adjust my position. However I learnt to listen to the body and embrace those feelings, exploring them further to the point where now I can sit for 20-30 minutes with ease. I don’t think MS is a pre curser for people to explore meditation, and think all can benefit from it’s practice. I’m glad that I have found meditation and wish I had discovered it sooner, given the power of relieving stress.

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