9 Powerful Reasons To Start Meditating Today
When we hear the word “meditation”, I’m sure we all imagine sitting in an uncomfortable cross-legged position, listening to some rhythmic chanting through the speakers and trying not to think about how hard the floor is beneath us. I’ve heard all of the excuses – I can’t focus, I can’t sit still, I don’t have time, it’s not for me. Well I’m here to tell you it’s for everyone, because the benefits of even a few sessions of meditation are truly incredible.
1. Meditation can reduce stress.
When you’re always running from one appointment to the next, putting out fires at work, and working with an ever growing to-do list, it’s no wonder your body is used to running on the stress hormone cortisol. The more stressed we get, the more our bodies produce, but if we never truly relax, the hormone doesn’t leave the body. Meditation actually helps lower the presence of cortisol, so you feel less stressed, and so does your body.
2. Meditation can reduce anxiety.
People who meditate regularly report reduced anxiety. That’s because meditation brings our body and mind into the present, allowing us to stop with the obsessive “what if” thoughts and focus on the here and now. So no more anxious “fight or flight” response, just calm.
3. Meditation can help us process emotions.
When you’re used to sitting with your own thoughts, you begin to have a better grasp on how you feel, where you’re holding tension in your body, and what’s upsetting you. This practice continues even when you leave the meditative state, as studies have shown that meditation improves the way we regulate emotions and respond to stressful situations. So instead of feeling worn out and sulky by the end of the day after holding in all your emotions, you’ll be able to let go of the stress of an argument or snappy email, and just move on with your day.
4. Meditation can help with your attention span.
It seems counter-intuitive, as many people struggle to maintain focus while they are meditating. Our mind wanders, our body is uncomfortable, we have to keep pulling our focus back to the task at hand. But research shows that the more you meditate, the better your attention span actually becomes, and the longer you’re able to pay attention. I guess practice does make perfect!
5. Meditation can rewire your brain.
Not only does meditation relieve stress and anxiety, it can have a lasting impact on your brain. It can help to relieve depressive symptoms and decrease feelings of loneliness, and even help make you a more compassionate, positive person. Not sure where to start? Positive thinking can change the way you feel about yourself, so try using affirmations as your focus when you meditate, like I can change or I love myself just as I am. Repeat as you breathe in and out, and watch your mood change in the space of a few breaths.
6. Meditation can help you sleep better.
Less stress and anxiety mean you’re brain and body are more relaxed, which translates into more z’s. You’ll also experience a better quality of sleep with meditation, so you’ll be less grouchy in the morning and more awake in the afternoon.
7. Meditation can help you act with intention.
The more mindful you become with your practice, the more mindful you’ll be in everyday life. “Intention” has to do with the rapid-fire thought process your brain goes through before you speak or act, and the more mindful you are of what you say and do, the more you’ll respond consciously (and kindly). So you’ll have less “what did I just say?” moments, and start acting instead of reacting.
8. Meditation can help with your breathing.
Remember what I said about stress and anxiety? Well meditation can also help you expand your lung capacity and take fuller, deeper breaths. All of which can add to your sense of calm, boost oxygen flow around the body, and also help you perform better at cardio (less huffing and puffing when taking the stairs). There are lots of breathing techniques for meditation, but my favorite is the 5-7-8 method: inhale for 5 counts, hold for 7, and exhale for 8. Easy, simple, but oh-so-effective at lowering your heart rate and focusing your mind.
9. Meditation does not have to take all day.
The excuse that you don’t have time to meditate? Just that: an excuse. There is such a thing as a one-minute meditation, just like there’s such a thing as taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Finding a meditation style that suits you may be the most time consuming part of your meditative practice, but your own meditation can be as long or as short as you make time for. And with practice, even meditating for a minute during a stressful situation can bring you to a calmer, more contemplative state. So breathe, and stop watching the clock!
With all these emotional, physical, and mental health benefits, investing some time and energy in meditation is one of the best things you can do for your wellbeing. And with so many resources, like free videos and apps, it’s really easy to get started. So sit down, get comfortable, and start your journey to a better body and mind!