When I am feeling super anxious and stressed, I have this cool little tool that helps me chill out and come back down to earth within minutes. You too may have heard of MEDITATION and all the benefits that come along with it.
Meditation can be an amazing tool to help us slow down and be in the moment. However, it often gets a bad rap. There are a lot of ideas about what meditation is (and what it isn’t) that just simply aren’t true.
Everyone can benefit from meditation in some form and it doesn’t have to be hard or take a long time.
What you think meditation is vs. what it actually is
There is a common myth out there that meditation takes hours of dedication and requires great stamina and focus. You may also believe that it is a deeply religious or spiritual practice only done by Buddhist monks and super Zen yogi types.
The truth is that meditation is simply the act of being mentally still. Meditation can be as simple as pausing, taking some deep belly breaths. Focusing on just that. Breathing. Bringing yourself into this very moment. Meditation is an act of awareness.
You can be in meditation whilst walking – taking everything around you in, smelling the air, feeling it against your skin – being in this moment. You don’t have to be sitting on top of a mountain in lotus position.
What’s in it for you?
Meditation has some serious benefits to your emotional and physical health. Even just a few minutes of meditation can lower anxiety, boost energy and creativity and boost your mood.
One Study at the University of Sydney found that those who meditated for two years or more scored a significantly higher health and wellbeing profile than those who did not.
Other benefits of meditation are:
(adapted from Healthline by Authority Nutrition)
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Increases serotonin production that improves mood and behavior
- Improves the immune system
- Lengthens attention span
- Improves sleep
- Controls anxiety and promotes emotional health
- Enhances self-awareness
- Helps with memory loss
- May help fight food cravings – yes!
[Image credit: The Art of Living]
Meditation 101: How to get your own practice started
I’m ALL about making life more simple. I don’t believe that meditation needs to be hard nor does it need to take hours at a time.
Here are a few simple steps to get started on your first meditation session:
- Sit, lie down, do whatever makes you comfortable. There are no rules here. Aim to sit quietly for a few minutes (Even 2-3 minutes is ok to start)
- Don’t worry or judge if your mind is racing. It’s OK to have thoughts while you are meditating. When you do, just acknowledge the thought, let it go and move on.
- The location doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You can literally meditate anywhere! It’s helpful to find a quiet place if possible but as you progress, you’ll find you are able to tune out any noise with ease.
- It can be helpful to focus on your breath. As you inhale, notice your belly expanding. As you exhale, notice your belly contracting a bit. Focus on this and only this for a few minutes at a time in your meditation session.
- Start with 2 or 3 minutes and work your way up to more when you’re ready. When you’re done, take note of how you feel. Are you less anxious? More calm? I bet you are! Noticing these positive effects will motivate you to practice more frequently.
“Meditation is like a seed. When you cultivate a seed with love, the more it blossoms.”
~ The Art of Living Australia
As always…there’s an “app” for that!
Yup, there are even apps for meditation and they can really help, especially if you’re just getting started.
Some of my favorites are:
Calm – calm.com This handy little app features meditations for reducing anxiety, improving sleep and even improving mindfulness in our relationships. Calm subscription starts at $4.99/month with a free trial period
Headspace – headspace.com features hundreds of mini meditations to help you add mindfulness to your daily life. The basic version is FREE and subscriptions start at $7.99/month
Insight Timer – insighttimer.com is 100% free and features 8062 FREE guided meditations. It has been rated as the top free meditation app on Android and iOS stores
Make your Own Meditation Rules
It’s important to note that we’re all different and meditation will look different for all of us. There’s no need to get hung up on how long you do it, where you do it or if you’re doing it right.
There are no rules around meditation!
If you feel calmer, clearer and more energetic when you’re finished your meditation practice, you are doing it right. It’s really that simple.
Do what works for you (not what you think you should be doing) and you’ll be more likely to stick with it. The key is to avoid overthinking it.
Just get started, as you are now. Pause, breathe and be still for a few minutes every day. That’s all there is to it. Inhale, exhale and start reaping the amazing benefits of meditation today.