What’s all this hype about meditation lately? Are you interested but not sure how to start? Not sure what you’re doing, or better yet why you’re doing it. So you sit in silence, listen to a soothing meditation soundtrack, focus on your breath… why not just take a nap? What is it about meditation that has so many people developing a daily practice to turn in and sit with themselves? What’s the point-- Why are we all so hyped on this silent sitting ritual after all? Well, you came to the right place to find out! Here are the top 5 benefits I have experienced from a consistent meditation practice over the last few years.
Many of us have probably heard how meditation helps to reduce stress but HOW? Well, our brains are able to be rewired in a sense and when one practices meditation consistently and develops the ability to quiet the mind, it appears to shrink the amygdala, the part of the brain that is responsible for our “fight or flight” reactions and our emotions around fear. When we are better able to handle and understand our emotions, we are able to respond to situations as opposed to reacting to them. When we respond to situations remaining calm with our minds clear we are able to make sound decisions. When we react and get ourselves worked up, or stressed out about situations we wreak havoc on our nervous systems and over time those reactions can cause health issues such as heart attacks, stroke, cancer, etc. So by being able to eliminate unnecessary stressed responses we can therefore improve our overall health.
- Increases Self Awareness
As with most things, there are many different ways to meditate. There are guided meditations, mantras, walking, mindfulness, etc. But all forms of meditation require developing a stronger sense of oneself and increasing self awareness. Meditation allows you to slow down in this fast paced, immediate, often chaotic world. When you make it a priority and you turn in, you allow the awareness of sensations throughout the body to be felt, you better notice your emotions, thoughts, and triggers. How can this be beneficial to you? Being able to identify and be more aware of your thoughts and feelings you better understand yourself which enables you make more informed decisions in your life. All emotions are information, when you start to tap into what emotions are triggered by certain things in your life you begin to understand how to make choices that suit your ability to maintain inner peace.
- Improves Positivity & Happiness
We all have that voice in our heads, and what it tells us is often the most important things we hear every day because it usually has a pretty solid opinion of who we are. Meditation is the practice of quieting the mind, allowing the thoughts to arise, gently letting them pass by and recommitting focus on a manra, breath, or guided practice. This continual practice of quieting the voice, the ego, or the monkey mind, not only calms it down during meditation but throughout the day as well. This improves our positivity and happiness due to the reprogramming of the brain and what it is focusing on. If you are meditating a mantra of positivity you are setting your day up on a positive note. Basically it’s a pep talk for your brain. Which when you are more positive in your thoughts, you are more positive in your words, and in your actions which results in you being happier in general.
- Increases Productivity
When you slow down and stay present you are able to maintain focus in order to complete tasks without distractions. Let’s be honest, there are more distractions today than ever with cell phones, computers, e-mail, text, apps, social media, the list goes on. We don’t have to look far for distractions, but in order to be productive in today's world we definitely need a way to handle them. Knowing what we know about the effects that all of these devices have on us is that it can affect the brain like a drug addiction. Being able to get a handle on our minds, and practicing the discipline of meditation allows us to practice discipline in all areas of our lives, therefore when we want to sit down to get work done, pay the bills, or write a blog (wink, wink) we are able to do so without our minds wandering in 20 different directions. This also allows us to be present in our social lives and family life as well. When we can increase our productivity we can get our work done in less time, which frees up time to spend enjoying ourselves with those we love, and being able to focus on them and our time together rather than thinking about all the work we have left to do at the office. #winwin
- Reduces Aging
Meditation is free, which is cheaper than botox! But in all seriousness meditation has been noted for slowing down the aging process in the mind and it has shown improvements or preservation in cognition. However, if we put all of the other pieces together we can see how it would reduce aging through limiting stress, improving mood, and allowing work to be done timely, resulting in more time for socializing and playing. All things that will result in a more youthful existence. It may not erase our frown lines, but if we are frowning less they won’t continue to develop!