Meditation seems to have a bit of a stigma attached to it. There’s a common view that, to practice it, you need to be sitting on a lotus leaf in a rainforest for hours! The reality is, that you don’t need to do anything special to be able to meditate. It is free and the health benefits are extraordinary.
You may be thinking that meditation sounds pretty airy fairy and that you don’t have time for it. I definitely shared this view before I started doing more research into the benefits of it.
So what are the benefits?
The biggest benefit in my opinion, is that it has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. In this day and age, we are the most stressed we have ever been. Anything we can do to reduce this will have great health benefits.
This benefit links nicely from the reduction of stress. The less stressed we are, the more likely we are to sleep better. Stopping for a small part of the day and focusing on breathing helps rest the body during the day, which links back to sleeping well at night.
When we live in a world with constant notifications it can be hard to stop and focus on just one thing as our brain is used to buzzing and scrolling. Having a select time to stop and concentrate on just one thing will help us concentrate on other tasks. Setting ourself that time each day to stop and clear the brain and refocus the mind will help us to be more productive during the day,
Increasing self acceptance
Having that time where we stop and just sit with ourselves has been proven to help us accept who we are. I have personally found that I have stopped comparing myself to others as much as I used to and am happier in my own skin.
Many studies have shown that daily meditation can reduce anxiety. One of the physical signs is that when you slow down your breathing, your heart rate decreases. Doing this every day can help you become calmer and have the ability to control anxiety when it appears.
Can help generate kindness
I love this one! How great would it be if the world was slightly kinder. Metta is a type of meditation that can be known as ‘loving kindness’ mediation. It encourages you to send out loving, kindness thoughts to people in your life who you love, hate or don’t even know. If you practice this regularly you may start to feel more compassion for others and generate kindness.
There are many more benefits but these are some of my favourites.
So, do you like the idea of meditation but don’t know where to start? There are some great apps out there (a lot of them free!) that will help guide you through your meditation. My favourite app is called Calm. I started by using the free app and then realised how much I loved it, and then went on to subscribe. I use it every day and love how there are over 100 guided meditations and sleep stories, music and more! It is even good for kids. Headspace is another app that I have heard good things about.
Most meditation teachers say that the morning is the best time to meditate. I have found that I agree because it is much easier to make time in the morning (just get up 10 mins earlier) otherwise you find you run out of time during the day. I have also found that it sets me up really well for the day. I make healthier choices and feel calmer when I have practiced that morning.
A good first tip is to not over think it. Light Walkins (what a cool name) is a meditation teacher who has written a book “Bliss more, How to succeed in meditation without really trying”. My favourite of tips of his, is that you don’t need to have a straight back to meditate. Get comfy! It will be much easier to stay focused. I would really recommend his book if you want more information on how to start meditating.