I want to preface today’s post with a confession. I have been closed-minded to meditation in the past because of my own personal pre-conceived ideas and notions about what it is. However, after studying the benefits and how-to’s of meditation, I now see how it can not only be greatly beneficial but is a NECESSARY practice in this fast-paced world.
Meditation can hold different meaning for each individual while the practice is the same – much like yoga. In the next 2 blog posts I’m going to answer the question about what it is, share the benefits of practicing it and then share some how-to’s and tips for incorporating it into your life.
So I encourage you to put aside everything you’ve thought, read, heard, whatever about meditation and just follow me for the next couple blog posts. Can you do that?
“Suppose you read about a pill that you could take once a day to reduce anxiety and increase your contentment. Would you take it? Suppose further that the pill has a great variety of side effects, all of them good: increased self-esteem, empathy, and trust; it even improves memory. Suppose, finally, that the pill is all natural and costs nothing. Now would you take it? The pill exists. It is meditation. ” ~ Jonathan Haidt
That quote in and of itself is a pretty amazing reason to give meditation a shot, is it not?
So let’s get into it. I first want to answer the question, “What is meditation?”
I don’t know about you but it seems like my mind often runs ninety miles to nothing! It has become ever more difficult to FOCUS because we have so many things vying for our attention which leads to massive amounts of stress.
Being a wife, mother, business owner, and health and fitness coach (and these are just my main roles) my day is filled with MANY tasks. I am often switching from one thing to the next and by the end of the day it feels like my mind has run a marathon. Perhaps your situation is different as far as the different roles you play…but I bet you often mentally feel the same at the end of your day. Yeah?
Now more than EVER we NEED to take time to meditate, re-focus and re-center! So now that we’ve talked about what it is and established a dire need for it, let’s talk about the benefits.
Y’all have heard me talk endlessly about the many benefits of exercising. On the other hand, who wants to have a totally shredded body but a weak mind? Not me! It’s important to understand that just like you won’t start an intense workout regimen being able to master each exercise, you also won’t master meditation the first time either. It takes time – it’s called “practicing” for a reason!
By consistently practicing meditation every day, you will begin to strengthen your muscle of concentration. Sure, maybe you start out barely being able to last for a few seconds before thoughts intrude. What about tomorrow though? Can you beat today’s high score tomorrow? Slowly but surely you’ll notice a difference, and you’ll definitely see payoff in your concentration outside of your meditation sessions!
#2 – Build your willpower.
Similar to how you strengthen your concentration through meditation, you also strengthen your willpower. Are you constantly letting yourself down by reaching for sweets each day when you’ve “sworn them off”? Or are you constantly putting off starting a new project until the weekend when you’ll have more down time, but instead spend your entire time binge-watching a show on Netflix? It all comes down to willpower. And meditation is an incredible tool to beef that willpower muscle up!
#3 – Bolster your overall health.
Hand in hand with strengthening your willpower muscle to say “no” to the things you need to avoid and “yes” to the things that have great benefit, meditation also boosts your overall health. Think about it: Meditation is a pretty peaceful thing. You’re breathing more deeply (or you’re just generally more aware of your breath). That in and of itself is pretty darn relaxing. When you’re relaxed, stress has essentially left the building. And we’ve all heard the studies on how toxic stress is for us, am I right? So, when stress leaves the building, and peacefulness enters, we’re not only reducing our toxic load overall, but we’re also radiating at a totally different (and usually far more positive) frequency. And if you want to take the next leap with me here, I pretty firmly believe that when you’re putting positive energy out there, more good things come your way.
#4 – The little things will annoy you less.
We all have “little things” that get under our skin. For me, it’s constant negativity and complaining. For one of my girlfriends, it’s the sound of someone chewing with their mouth open. What’s yours? No matter what it is, have you ever noticed yourself getting all sorts of twitchy and aggravated and wished you wouldn’t? Well, great news, folks! One thing that I’ve found to be the case with meditation is that the little things truly bother you less. Maybe it’s the endorphins buzzing around in my body from the meditation and the exercise, or maybe it’s a longer lasting state of calm. Whatever it is, I’ll take it!
#5 – Decrease depression and anxiety and sleep better!
If you’re working out regularly, you’re likely already reaping one of my favorite benefits of exercise: Good sleep and better moods. Lord knows there are some days where I conk out the second my head hits the pillow. Those are usually the days I had the most grueling workout somewhere in there. Whether you workout daily, every once in a while or flat out never, meditation is a wonderful way to NATURALLY kick depression and anxiety to the curb.
I know there are probably many terrific scientific explanations out there that detail the boosted serotonin and endorphin levels from meditation, but here’s my somewhat alternate take on it: You can’t meditate with a partner (unless you think in the third person). Haha! Seriously though, when you meditate, it’s just YOU. You’re making time to take care of YOU. When you make time to check in with yourself and to take care of yourself by getting quiet, going within, RELAXING, just breathing, letting things go, how could you NOT feel less anxious? And when you’re less anxious and are in a lovely state of calm or even just a slightly calmer mood, wouldn’t that help you sleep better at night?
What are some of the reasons you love to meditate? Or, if you don’t meditate regularly, what are some of the reasons you want to try meditating? I’d love to hear from you!