Meditation is something I’ve been trying to make more a part of my life for some time now. I’ll be honest, I have not been the best about setting aside time on a regular basis to keep up a consistent practice but when I think of all the benefits, I have to admit it’s worth it to start looking at ways to make the time.
Much like yoga, learning to meditate has caused me to make big shifts in what I’m used to doing. Because the thing is, it’s all about not doing and that in itself can be difficult to grasp.
Here’s why stopping or not doing, is a good thing:
Every day, from the moment we open our eyes in the morning, our mind is going at full steam. We are often caught up in the past, making plans for the future, worrying, wondering, but rarely is our mind still and rarely are we 100% fully in the moment.
By “in the moment”, I mean completely and totally focused and engaged with what is happening at this current instant in time.
A term I often come across to explain this is “monkey mind”. Our mind can be like a monkey that is constantly moving, jumping, swinging from tree to tree. Meditation is a way to stop this constant motion, give ourselves time to dwell in calmness and peace and in this way, begin being able to experience life in the present moment.
There are many reasons why this kind of mind training is important and how it helps:
1. Our thoughts create our reality and effect us physically.
Science has discovered, our brains don’t know the difference between just thinking about something happening and it actually happening. You may have noticed in the past, while getting extremely worried or upset about something (even if it hasn’t actually happened), your body will start to react. Your heart may race, your rate of breathing increases, your body begins reacting in fight or flight – just from your thoughts. This is how stress and mental anguish can effect our health and even cause physical pain after a while.
Our thoughts and minds are this powerful and have a real effect on our bodies so it’s important to be more aware of our thoughts and also know how to stop the stress and fatigue that negative thoughts and feelings can cause. Meditation can provide this kind of awareness and provide some relief.
2. We miss out on what’s happening now.
Sometimes, it’s so easy to get sucked in to our thoughts about the past or future that we aren’t even really “here” anymore. Our bodies are here but our minds are completely somewhere else. We operate in a kind of autopilot. The truth is, the past no longer exists, the future and what might happen does not exist yet. The only thing we really have is the present moment – what is happening in front of us right now.
3. *Meditation restores balance
The left side of our brain gets plenty of action as it is the side that deals with thinking, speaking and writing so while we are awake and going through our days, that left side is hard at work. When we are in this more active state, we create faster electrical patterns called “beta” waves.
The right side of the brain deals with intuition, feelings and imagination. This is usually when we are in a more receptive state and the brain emits slower electrical patterns called “alpha” waves.
Most of the time, our brain is in beta with only an hour or so in alpha state. Meditation helps create more of a balance by giving the brain more time in alpha and helps us live more in the moment, experiencing the world directly before our thoughts get interpreted by the left side of the brain.
A few other benefits of meditation:
- Helps manage and relieve stress.
- Increases feelings of relaxation, happiness and overall well-being.
- Great, natural treatment for anxiety and depression.
- Aids in sleeping better at night and can be a natural cure for insomnia.
- Increases emotional stability and self esteem.
- Increases self awareness.
Need more reasons? Check out 100 Benefits of Meditation.
I can honestly tell a real difference in my days when I make time to sit and practice. I have more patience with my family and everyone I come in contact with. I’m more relaxed and at ease. Meditation has helped me become more aware of myself, how I react and handle situations and more importantly, how to stop before reacting and just breathe.
As a person, this is something I really value and enjoy but as a mother with a young child, it’s something I crave and realize that I really need as well.
Fortunately, big time commitments aren’t needed. Starting with just 5 or 10 minutes a day can provide some benefit and more importantly, begin making this in to a habit. A habit we begin to truly look forward to and gain from.
There are a few different ways of meditating and like everything else, it can take some experimenting to find what works and feels right for you. Once you discover your way, the easier it gets.
That will be for another soon to come post, a how-to on meditation or at least, I’ll share what works for me as well as some other great sites as resources.
For now, I hope you’ll begin to take a few moments for yourself each day and that I can do better at remembering to do this as well.
Just a short span of quiet, relaxed breathing and a peaceful mind can do wonders.
*From Complete Guide to Pilates Yoga Meditation Stress Relief – available in book stores and through Amazon.com