An introduction to meditation and its benefits
The thing about meditation is: you become more and more you.
We’ve all undoubtedly heard that meditation is good for us. Meditating relaxes both our mind and body, and helps connect us to the present moment. It empowers us to become more aware, which leads us to become healthier and happier.
Many of us think of meditation as sitting erect, cross-legged or in lotus for hours on end. So of course, when we picture that who would want to meditate?
Trust me, meditation is not difficult or intimidating. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits all approach; it’s about finding the practice that’s right for you. Meditating can be as simple as closing your eyes and taking a deep breath. Allow me break down what meditation actually is.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of bringing your mind into a peaceful state of awareness.
We live in a time when we tend to look so far ahead into the future that we can lose sight of what’s going on in our lives at the moment. Meditation teaches us to slow down and stay connected to the present. Meditation for me means allowing myself permission not to think, to be in a quiet space of freedom, to close my eyes for a moment.
Normally, we follow our thoughts and emotions and react without thinking. When practicing mindful meditation, we can simply observe when certain emotions arise and in turn, make informed actions and decisions.
A breathing practice for everyone
If you are feeling stressed or challenged by what is going on around you, you can take a few minutes to do a simple breathing or mindfulness practice that will anchor you back to the here and now. By bringing awareness back to your breath, you will begin to relax. Continue taking long, deep breaths, and notice your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This practice naturally boosts your focus and well-being, allowing you to live and enjoy the moment fully.
Sleep better with stress less
While meditating is beneficial any time of the day, it increases your melatonin levels and REM sleep, and even helps you relax before bed. Sleep is vital to our cognitive functioning and sense of well-being. It’s a simple formula: meditate, sleep more, and feel better.
Transform negative thought patterns
Sit quietly for a minute and listen to the conversation in your mind: “Do they like me? What if I don’t meet my deadline? I should lose some weight.” Caught in a constant whirlwind of negative energy, it becomes overwhelming and stressful.
Continue to sit quietly. Now, instead of giving more energy to fuel these negative beliefs, remind yourself where you are. “This moment is all that is real. Right here. Right now.” Then, say to the negative thoughts in your mind, “Stop. I’m not listening to you.” All of a sudden you start to experience a calm sense of relief and emotional balance. At the end of this practice, encouraged by the inner peace you will feel, make the decision to remain aware and consciously stop yourself when you notice a negative thought re-emerging.
Mental and physical balance
The mind and body are intrinsically linked. If you’re experiencing an unhealthy mental state, your body will react in the form of symptoms such as pain, changes in blood sugar levels, cravings or disease. You can literally affect your body on a cellular level with your thoughts alone.
Meditation can help you enter a more peaceful state of mind, which will also positively affect your body. If you perceive an event to be challenging and tend to shut down in these circumstances, you can learn to open up through meditation. Your metabolism and physiology will be more balanced, your glucose levels will remain stable, and you will feel happier and more energetic. Your body is designed to heal itself. Don’t underestimate your own ability to relax and heal yourself through meditating regularly.
Another simple meditation exercise is to combine your breathing with visualization of releasing any physical or mental pain. While breathing in, you can imagine breathing in pure, healing white light. As you breathe out, imagine breathing out any physical or mental pain in the form of black smoke. This black smoke will dissolve into space, never to return again. Do this repeatedly.
Now that you have experienced the beauty of stillness and well-being that is available to you during meditation, you can call upon it as you go about your daily life. Remain calm as you move around, stay centered, let negative emotions and judgments go, and enjoy the spaciousness of your own peaceful and rejuvenated mind.