More and more people are advertising the benefits of meditation, and it is safe to say most people would have tried it once or twice. But, have you really given it a good go and truly experienced what may be termed ‘life changing benefits’? Adding meditation into your routine may benefit almost every single area of your life.
The simple act of being still and noticing your breath and thoughts is like pressing a pause button and giving yourself room to thrive. When you have this room to breathe you access your greater potential and greater state of being.
I have jotted down some of the most common benefits of meditation!
- Reduces stress. Meditation down regulates the stress response in the body (that sympathetic overload we are commonly in these days – if you haven’t heard that term go back to my previous posts and read them). Once we remove this sympathetic wind up and are able to move into our calm, rest and digest functions we are better able to cope and our health benefits.
- Reduce anxiety and low moods. Meditating 30 minutes or more has been shown to improve depression and anxiety symptoms. Particular research has shown that this is because that person is more able to control and react to their thoughts, and the way the brain processes negative sensations is more positive and optimistic.
- Boosts memory. It has been shown that a regular meditation practice can increase the size of your hippocampus (part of the brain involved in memory) and allow you to retain more information.
- Improve your workout. Meditation helps dampen down our pain response and helps to strengthen our ‘be realistic’ and ‘attention’ muscles. Therefore, when your mid way through your HIIT workout, by having a meditation practice you are better able to refocus and be more attentive on the end goal, rather than quitting due to pain or fatigue.
- Build better relationships. By practicing meditation you are better equipping yourself to approach tricky situations and more likely to see others points of views. You are also better able to resolve issues in a calm manner than allowing arguments to turn into huge blowouts.
- Improve sleep. This one is linked to stress, but by down regulating and calming your nervous system you can counteract stress related insomnia. You are likely to find it easier to fall sleep, are less likely to wake during the night and are more likely to wake feeling refreshed.
- Be more youthful. There is proven studies that have shown that meditating daily can help slow down the aging process…. YEP! By meditating daily you may slow down ageing, therefore looking more youthful, preventing age related brain decay and improve your biological age.
- Improve pain. Mediation changes your brain and changes the way your brain perceives and copes with pain. You are less likely to feel pain as intensely if you add meditation into your lifestyle.
- Battle bad eating habits. By meditating you regulate the parts of your brain controlled with appetite and cravings. You can rebalance the hormones involved and therefore are more likely to reach for veggie sticks rather than that muffin at your 3pm slump (if you regularly meditate you may not even have that 3pm slump anymore ;).
- Overall inner peace, self awareness, and feelings of health, wellbeing and vitality are just a few words to describe what this beautiful may add to your life.
It is the ultimate happy pill, with not one single side effect.
So how do you do it…. More often than not I will hear the words ‘oh I tried it before but I cant do it’. I don’t believe that. Saying you can meditate is like saying you cant breathe, if your alive, you can do it.
Here are some basic instructions on how to begin your meditation journey.
Commit to at least 30 days of meditation practice, sitting for at least 5-10 minutes per day.
- Sit in a comfortable position crossed legged or on a chair, propping yourself up with cushions if this feels best. Don’t slouch or fall into that comfy Netflix seat.
- Close your eyes and start to listen and feel.
- Notice your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Notice where the breath travels, notice the temperate, notice if it is easy or hard.
- Every time a thought enters the mind, notice it, and then simply allow it to wash away with your next exhale breath. Don’t worry if the mind becomes agitated or it is busy, the aim is not to rid the mind of thoughts, the aim is to notice with calm clarity. The minds job is to think, so think it will, it’s your job to refrain from attachment in a calm way.
- Sit for 5, 10, 20 minutes a day just practicing this.
There are many variations you can choose weather you have a mantra (a word you repeat over and over) or you count, choose something that works for you.
There are also so many meditation apps out there that I believe are fantastic, especially if you are just beginning. I always recommend downloading as many as you can and then work through them until you find one that resonates with you. Some of my favourites include One Giant Mind, The Smiling Mind, Calm, Insight Timer and Headspace.
I truly hope you at least try committing to meditation. It is a practice that has transformed my life and many of the people I have worked with.