Meditation is focused, contemplative time and is one of the most important activities you can do for your health. Some of the benefits that have been noted due to it include:
- Stress reduction. This in turn can reduce symptoms in people with stress triggered medical conditions.
- Reduces anxiety and anxiety related mental health issues such as social anxiety, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
- Improves depression and creates a more positive outlook on life.
- Enhances self-awareness, helps you to “know yourself” which can help you make other positive changes.
- Improves your ability to redirect or maintain attention.
- Improves mental clarity and memory.
- Helps you develop mental discipline / willpower which can help you avoid triggers for unwanted impulses. This in turn may help you recover from addictions, to lose weight, or redirect other unwanted habits.
- May improve sleep quality by shortening the time to fall asleep and increase sleep quality.
- May diminish the perception of pain in the brain. This may help treat chronic pain.
- Improves your blood pressure and help reduce heart disease.
So now that you know why, how do you start? If you have never done it, start with three minutes a day, one if it is all you can manage. After a few weeks, evaluate the benefits that you see. When I had started, I noticed that I was more relaxed in situations like sitting in traffic, evaluating my to do list, or dealing with a teenager. The more time I spent in my meditation practice the more benefits I was able to notice. You do not need a special place to meditate, just a place where you are comfortable and will have uninterrupted time. I think it is easiest to start with focusing on your breathing but do what feels right for you whether it is a guided meditation, repeating a word or phrase (silently or aloud) over and over, or using your fitness watch relaxation settings. There is no wrong way to meditate. You will find that your thoughts keep zooming in and out trying to distract you – this happens to all of us, beginners and masters. The trick isn’t to eliminate those stray thoughts but to let them pass through your mind without grapping hold of them. It gets easier with time, but I still will have days where it feels impossible. Don’t beat yourself up when that happens, just refocus on the breath or the word and forgive yourself.