“Meditation is not for me.” “There is no way I can sit long enough to meditate.” “I don’t have enough time to meditate.” “I don’t have time to learn to meditate.” “Slowing my mind down will make me less effective.” And, “If I do anything, it should be to lose weight and get in shape. Besides, I am not a student of Buddhism.”
I used to believe all of the above and the mere thought of meditation made me uncomfortable for over 15 years.
Every time I got fired up to start; I psyched myself out. The high-achieving, goal-oriented, perfectionist in me made this a black and white decision that prohibited me from even starting. Until one day I read an article that changed my thinking and dispelled any hang-ups I had about why I would be terrible at it.
Meditation can take on many forms, (breathing, walking, praying), and there is no one-size-fits-all method or path. There is no success or failure; there is just the act of showing up and being open to the experience. You may be saying, “Whoa! What about having to shut down my thoughts, the cushion and the timer and the uncomfortable Lotus position?” None of those are required to reap the many benefits of meditation.
While each of us experiences unique benefits, those listed below are the most common. Keep in mind, the benefits experienced can be physical, mental, or spiritual. You will get what you most need in the moment.
When you meditate you may experience the following:
- Slowing and deepening of the breath; activation of the parasympathetic nervous system. This results in lowered blood pressure and heart rate.
- Relief from the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.
- Reduction in both mental and physical stress; which in turn decreases inflammation in the body that is often caused by chronic stress.
- Improved ability to manage anxiety (a symptom of stress), and associated conditions like excessive worrying, social anxiety, and phobias.
- Improved ability to focus and concentrate.
- Improved ability to fall and stay asleep.
- Decreased reactivity in daily experiences and situations. Many find that they feel less triggered overall.
- Improved willpower and resilience in managing cravings and unhealthy tendencies.
- Improved emotional health, increased feelings of well-being, and hopefulness. Those who meditate report feeling less overwhelmed or depressed.
- Greater awareness of the quality of thoughts and self-talk.
The benefits of consistent meditation are plentiful.
The technique used to achieve these benefits can be as simple as five minutes of intentional, deep breathing or a walk outside. The key factor in benefiting from meditation is to make it a daily practice. Five minutes every day is more effective than twenty minutes once a week. Our systems thrive on routine and respond optimally with consistency.
Meditation is not a replacement for seeking out medical evaluation, or treatment from a trained professional.
It does, however, serve as a wonderful complement to other treatment protocols and practices that you may be using to improve your health and wellness.
As one who took the long way around in getting started, I encourage you to simply begin today. If you don’t have an “aha” moment right away, that doesn’t mean it isn’t working; practice again tomorrow! Often, the benefits build over time. If you have a challenging session, or can’t settle in; don’t focus on what isn’t working, or give up. Even the most experienced meditators have days that are more challenging; that is just part of the human condition. Leave yesterday behind.
Today is a new day and with each new day, we find a new opportunity.
Best wishes to you!
Do you have a consistent meditation routine? Please tell us about it in the comments section below!