Meditation, put simply, is the practice of stillness. It offers you an opportunity to sit in a quiet, relaxed, contemplative space away from the hurried pace of life and its many demands. It is an active incorporation of peace, as well as a life-changing and proven stress-reduction technique.
We are consistently bombarded with stimuli—from the daily decisions we have to make, to any sort of stressor—but we are often unaware of the toll this takes on our physical, mental, and energetic bodies. Imagine the opportunity to just be—to simply show up for yourself, with no goals, no winners or losers, no expectations of how to act. Simply being. I know—you’re probably thinking that sounds nearly impossible.
But it is possible! Meditation is derived from eastern contemplative practices that teach ‘the middle way’, suggesting that although we may experience reactions and circumstances from one extreme to the other, there is a still a centered place within ourselves (everyone has it) that we can go. Through the practice of meditation we can get there.
During meditation, you will connect with your breath, channeling the energy in order to heal yourself. Oxygen has the ability to heal our bodies in ways we can’t even imagine. With the conscious inflow and outflow of breathe, we are bathing internal organs in a very vital way.
You can also think of meditation as exercise for your brain. The practice of meditation trains your brain, making it stronger. Here’s how it works: You focus your thoughts on one single thing—we use the breath most commonly—and when your mind wanders (which it will, a lot!), you will bring your focus back to your breath. That refocusing is the ultimate exercise for your brain.
During this training, you are able to recognize distracting, counter-productive thoughts more quickly, making it so that you’re able to let them go. This frees your mind to focus on what’s truly important to you. With this increased ability to influence and redirect your thoughts, you can improve your focus, reduce your stress, and become, well, happier!
Research proves it:
- Reduces Stress & Anxiety
- In a study led by Harvard researchers, the gray-matter density in the amygdala, the part of the brain that deals with stress and anxiety, physically decreased in people who meditated a few minutes per day (the average was 27), and the thickness of the pre-frontal cortex in the brain (the part of the brain associated with attention) physically grew.
- Neuroscientists at Stanford University found that people who meditated for eight weeks were able to quiet the amygdala, which is also the part of the brain that triggers fear.
- Helps You Become More Compassionate & Improves Your Relationships
- A Stanford University study found that just a few minutes of meditation per day enhanced feelings of social connection and positivity towards others.
- In a study published in Psychological Science, meditators were three times as likely to offer assistance to a person in need.
Times to Practice
Starting your day with meditation is one of the most clarifying and healthy decisions you can make. By allowing yourself to practice first thing in the morning you are making a decision to go slowly and gently into what’s ahead of you. You have the power to set your mood, pace, and will for the day.
And when you find yourself in a stressful or provoking situation, you can also take a moment to breathe. When you have important decisions to make you can also consciously breathe to settle your mind and help you focus. I challenge you to try this out in the morning, as well as anytime you begin feeling stressed.
- Find a location to sit comfortably with the least amount of distraction. If it feels right, you can cross your legs in front of you and place your hands with your palms facing upward on your lap.
- Begin to notice your breath, simply recognizing its pace and pattern. Becoming conscious of it will naturally create relaxation.
- As you continue, deepen your breath so that you can feel it originate all the way from the belly.
- Scan your body, consciously calling attention to different parts—see if there is any discomfort, or if any part of your body needs more attention. Send love and breath there.
- In this quiet space, honor your body.
- Breathe and repeat.
- Through your developing practice you will begin to discover your true essence and the voice within. This is your highest self.
You can start with as little as five minutes per day, or just a few times per week. My wish is for you to create a practice that brings you home to yourself.