Why is meditation so important, anyway? Meditation and mindfulness are the buzzwords of the 2010’s. Whether you love it or hate it, the latest incarnation of this ancient practice is here to stay.
I for one am glad to see that word meditation is being used on social media more often. Bloggers and successful entrepreneurs are spreading the word about its importance and how meditation has helped them or improved their careers and personal lives.
For me, meditation has always been some kind of ‘me’ time; I’d often call reading a good book a type of meditation – I wasn’t wrong, but it wasn’t until I discovered the importance of real, more traditional meditation that I understood what I had been missing in my life. Some say that “one needs to reach their lowest so they can rise up for their highest”. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not, but it’s actually one of the reasons why I started to care more about meditation myself.
About a year ago, I had some serious health issues and they were (as many are) a consequence of my mental illnesses. I was suffering with depression, anxiety and even paranoia. All of these I managed to overcome with the help of meditation, which eventually improved my physical health as well.
I’d like to share a few reasons why meditation worked for me and how it can be helpful for anyone. Maybe you’re already vaguely familiar with it yourself, but it never hurts to learn a bit more about it – it’s all about your health and wellbeing, right?
But first, what is meditation?
Meditation is an ancient practice that helps us to control our own mind and consequently our own life in order to discover ourselves. Meditating can help us to control our negative thoughts and ‘turn off’ our mind when it needs to rest. For me, meditation is a way to recharge myself; to reconnect and check in with myself, or even the environment, to calm myself down and help myself to stay in balance.
It has been proven that the practice of meditation, carried out on a regular basis, will mitigate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. If we make a habit of meditating, we feel mentally fresh and are able to deal with difficult situations more easily to live a happy and healthy life.
It’s not necessary to be a Buddhist, Hindu or practice any religion at all in order to meditate. It doesn’t even require spending hours upon hours in the lotus position – meditation is something personal, and can be done in different positions or environments. Personally, I love meditating outdoors surrounded by nature. My absolute favourite place is definitely the beach, but if I’m traveling around the country I always take advantage! Whether it’s a forest or sand dunes, mountains or desert, I’ll often look for a quiet, peaceful spot to sit back and meditate.
Many start meditating when they don’t really feel well or when their current life situation isn’t going to plan, or perhaps when it’s filled with stress, anger or pain. These can all be good reasons to start, although, I don’t think we actually need a reason for meditation. Practicing it on a daily basis no matter the time or mood can only do lots of good!
In case you need convincing more, take a look at these proven physical and psychological benefits of meditation:
- Minimises physical tension
- Decreases psychosomatic disorders caused by tension
- Prophylaxis against stress
- Lowers blood pressure
- Strengthens the immune system
- Slows the ageing process
- Recharges our ‘batteries’
- Promotes calm
- Soothes and comforts
- Encourages tolerance and sensitivity
- Helps to control our negative emotions
- Minimises worrying
- Brings clarity
- Increases self-confidence
- Helps with personal growth
Benefits for work or study:
- Maximises concentration
- Improves memory
- We are more receptive to learn and process information
- Exercises self-control to help deal with difficult situations
- Encourages creativity
If you haven’t started meditating yet, but are planning to try, there are a few tips below which can start you on your way. They can also be useful for anyone that’s already practicing:
- It is advisable to try to meditate every day, ideally at the same time to be able to create a new habit.
- Do not drink coffee before you meditate.
- Try to meditate before meals (not on a full stomach) and choose a time of day when you are not bursting with energy.
- Prepare the place where you want to meditate; open a window to change the air flow, experiment with some incense, clear some space. If you’re meditating outdoors – find a quieter spot where you won’t be distracted by other people or loud noises.
- Wear comfortable clothes and make yourself at ease.
- It is very important that you are not disturbed during your meditation; disconnect your phone, close the door and if necessary, put a sign to asking politely not to be disturbed. It is a time of day dedicated to yourself.
Begin by sitting comfortably and taking deep breaths – inhale deeply, hold your breath for a few seconds and exhale. During your breathing, pay close attention to the sensations you are feeling. When you breathe in, imagine the air flow entering in through your nose. When you hold your breath, imagine the air being distributed throughout your body and when you exhale, imagine the air leaving your mouth. Visualising and focusing on these points facilitates the control of your thoughts.
It is normal to have sudden thoughts of any kind come into your mind when you meditate, but try not to get nervous or annoyed by it, let them come and go. Acknowledge your thoughts and keep focusing on your meditation – in time, you’ll find it easier and easier to relax, and those pop-up thoughts won’t bother you so much.
Let me know if you’re already practicing meditation and if it improved your health, career or life in general – feel free to tell me your favourite spots to meditate and let me know in the comments below if you have any questions or are struggling with meditation. Let’s stay healthy!