Why You Need a Daily Meditation Practice in Your Life
“You know what, I think I’m gonna go clean the bathroom instead.” This is just one of the maybe thousands of excuses I’ve used to skip meditating. For some reason, it’s been the holistic practice I’ve most resisted, and the one that I have absolutely needed the most.
I would meditate for five minutes here and there, then let a few weeks go by, and give it another whirl. But it wasn’t until when I began to meditate regularly that I began to see the benefits – because, like all good things, you don’t reap the long-term benefits after just one time, and like any good Libra, it was easy for me to be inconsistent.
After I implemented meditation into my daily routine, I began to notice subtle shifts: I wasn’t as irritated while driving; I was becoming a better yoga instructor because I wasn’t living inside of my head; and most of all, the cloud of anxiety that had pretty much run my life, was beginning to break.
The Science Behind Meditation
While most people think meditation is just sitting in silence, you’re actually learning how to train your brain. When you learn how to control the mind, you can start to assess your emotions from a more curious perspective – your higher self, if you will.
For example, if you’re angry during rush hour (I keep using this one), you can sit with your anger and get to the root of it, instead of feeling as though you’re a part of it. If you’re suddenly feeling sad or anxious, you can be an observer of the emotion and understand it, instead of resisting it. The ability to sit with negative feelings actually weakens them, and meditation teaches you how to do that.
This is where science comes into play. You may have heard people say that meditation changes your brain chemistry. What that means is, meditation allows us to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequencies. In other words, it allows our brain wavelengths to drop from racing, to a state of calm, to being able to access a deeper state of awareness (aka meditation). When you slow down the brain wavelengths, you allow yourself time to look at and assess your thoughts, and essentially gain better control of your mind.
The Benefits of Meditation
This could be a completely different blog post in itself, because there have been so many studies that show both the physical and mental benefits of meditation. But for the sake of this being a post and not a thesis, here’s the SparkNotes version.
Studies have shown that a regular meditation practice:
· Can increase attention span concentration, and memory. More and more schools are seeing these benefits and implementing a regular yoga practice for students.
· Can improve your mood
· Can decreases stress levels
· Can lower anxiety, including social anxiety disorders
· Has been shown to help with different types of addiction
Where to Start?
Fortunately for us in our amazing technology-driven day and age, there are tons of resources to begin your meditation practice, along with a LOT of types of meditation to choose from. I began mine by simply going to YouTube and searching guided meditations for whatever I was feeling at that moment (anxious, sad, overwhelmed, etc.).
There are also tons of different types of meditation: mindfulness, breath-awareness, transcendental, and so on. Right now, I lean more toward mindfulness and breath-awareness practices, but that could change. It’s important to try on as many types as possible and see what fits for you at different stages of life.
I do recommend trying out a group meditation. There is something about being in a room full of people, and actually feeling the energy shift from chaotic to calm in just a few minutes. Not to mention, you’ll meet more like-minded people who you can connect with.
In the meantime, find yourself five minutes, a pillow to sit on, and a guided meditation of your choice, and start your practice. Your brain will thank you for it.