If I told you I had a pill that would significantly decrease your chances of suffering from all sorts of disease would you buy it and take it daily? How much money would you spend on that wonder pill? Would you share it with your family and friends to help keep them healthy too? What if I told you that you didn't need a pill to make this happen. What if I told you that you could reduce your chances of suffering all sorts of disease simply by meditating daily. Would you be as gung ho as you were about the magic pill?
What is mediation?
Meditation is the practice of training your brain to work at different frequencies. Our brain has five different categories of brain waves, each correlating to different kinds of activities. The higher frequencies are associated with active learning and an alert prefrontal cortex, where we spend most of our day. With meditation, you can train your brain to move into the lower frequencies which are associated with calm and peaceful feelings. Lower, slower, wave length frequencies allow more time between thoughts. Meditation allows you to move from highly active thinking mind to a more quiet and visual mind.
What are the benefits?
The studies on mediation are vast and the benefits are outstanding. From young to old, healthy to ill, CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and Oprah Winfrey to busy moms and students, meditation can help to not only make you more focused and productive, but it can help you to stay calm and make tough decisions in crazy and hectic moments. Look at this list below. I have never seen anything with proven results that positively affect such a wide variety of human life as meditation (sleep and exercise are a close second). Benefits include but are not limited to the following:
- Decreases depression
- Regulates mood and anxiety disorders
- Reduces stress
- Reduces panic disorders
- Increases concentration
- Reduces alcohol and substance abuse
- Improves focus and attention
- Improves ability to work under stress
- Improves information processing
- Improves decision making
- Trains mental strength, resiliency and emotional intelligence
- Relieves pain more than Morphine
- Improves pain tolerance
- Helps manage ADHD
- Improves learning, memory and self-awareness
- Improves rapid memory recall
- Prepares you to deal with stressful events
- Fosters creativity
- Reduces risk of heart disease and stroke
- Increases resiliency to stress and therefore increases immune system
- Reduces blood pressure
- Decreases inflammatory disorders
- Helps prevent asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease
- Helps treat premenstrual syndrome and menopausal symptoms
- Reduces risk of Alzheimer's and premature death
- Helpful for those with Fibromyalgia
- Helps to manage psoriasis
- Improves empathy and positive relationships
- Reduces social isolation
- Increases compassion
- Decreases worry
- Decreases feelings of loneliness
- Reduces emotional eating
All of these benefits have studies to back them up. Check out this post for links to all of the science.
How do you begin a meditation practice?
First, take a look at the list above and count how many of those things would benefit your life. I counted 10 for myself. Next, decide how important those benefits are to you. Are they no big deal, or are they differences that would greatly change your day to day life. Take a moment to notice the value that a mediation practice would bring to your wellbeing. For me, this is a no brainer, pun intended. Looking at my list of things that meditation can help allows me to recognize the massive need for a practice in my life. Tap into what your life would look like with a solid meditation practice and then set yourself up for success.
- Just Breathe. You can start with just 2 minutes of sitting quiet and focusing on your breath. Feeling your inhales and feeling your exhales. If your mind wanders simply bring it back to your breath. Building to 20 minutes daily is ideal.
- Find a video or app to help guide you through. If you want more than the two minutes you can search for all sorts of specific meditations, such as gratitude, lovingkindness, forgiveness, or increased energy and they range from 5 minutes to hours long. I love an app called Calm and people rave about one called Headspace. You can find morning meditations all over the internet, just find one that you like and stick to it for a while. I have one below that I created just for you :)
- Create a special place to do your meditation. This can be as basic as a yoga mat on the floor or can incorporate pillows, candles, photos of people and places that make you happy, or any other objects that make you smile. The more enjoyable your space the more likely you'll come to it.
- Connect meditation to another habit. I personally like to do my meditation before anything else, unless I have to pee, then that comes first. But if you need help making it a regular part of your day, connect it to a habit you already have each morning like brushing your teeth. Don't go too far into your routine, try to get it done within the first few moments of your day so you don't get distracted.
- Add it to your calendar or daily checklist. I have a daily checklist in my journal that has all of my daily tasks like, hydrate, track my food, read, write, move (exercise), walk Coconut, etc. This allows me to see how consistent (or not) my practice has been.
- Use it throughout the day. If you missed it in the morning, find time to squeeze it in later. My practice generally looks like 5-10 minutes in the morning and 5-10 minutes in the evening, however I squeeze meditation in all day long. I use my 30 Breaths meditation (in which you sit and focus on your breath for 30 breaths) all the time. When I'm stressed and feeling frazzled, or when I'm antsy and feeling like I need something right this minute or i might snap, like sugar, junk food, buying crap, more coffee, or a nap. I used meditation so much when I was first trying to quit drinking. It is a tool in your tool box to help you deal with the stressors of life, all while bringing so many benefits, way more than a glass of wine or a pint of ice cream ;)
One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation. – Eckhart Tolle