There's a lot of hoopla around meditation. Is it a trend? Does it really work? What is it - really? So many of us get frustrated with meditation and think we're doing it wrong so we abandon it before it has a chance to really work its magic on us. Then we roll our eyes whenever we overhear someone boast about meditation over their blueberry waffles and green tea. But trust me, there is some serious magic at play in our bodies when we just keep at it. Here's a helpful hint to always remember: YOU'RE NOT DOING IT WRONG. Meditation is different for everyone - here is a quick guide - and learning what's right for you, how you're most comfortable, and what makes you feel your best is part of the fun with meditation. Everyone has a reason for getting into meditation; mine was to help control my anger and rage blackouts, but you simply don't need a reason other than working on your health or Self. If you're looking for a reason to get back into it - to really stick it out this time - or to give it the ol' college try, check out these six powerful benefits of meditation:
Stress is seriously society's cancer. I mean that wholeheartedly. Too much stress causes havoc on our bodies, minds, relationships and wellbeing. I personally believe the stress of my father dying is what caused the cells around my heart to malfunction, turning into one giant mass of cancer - actual cancer. So is it possible to totally eliminate stress from our lives, and how do we beat stress when stress is all we know?
We learn to deal with it. Actively meditating actually reshapes our brains. It can help with relieving and even preventing stress because our minds have literally changed shape, making them better powerhouses at combating stress triggers. Since we've forgotten how to "switch off" our stress, our bodies don't function at their peaks the way they're supposed to. There is a piece of the brain that triggers our fear receptors - that fight or flight factor - and meditation reteaches us how to actually turn that switch OFF.
And while we're on the topic of transforming the physical brain, meditation has proven to increase our ability to focus, allowing something to hold our attention for prolonged periods of time - by our own choice. This is actually the first transformation you may notice in yourself from meditating, as it doesn't take long to feel its affects. And since we're so prone to stress (see above), having a more enhanced ability to focus and control our thoughts and actions makes us feel more in control of our lives and our selves, systematically helping us in feeling less stressed. I'm sensing some snowballing side effects here...
BIGGER BETTER LOVE
At risk of sounding too whimsical and flighty, meditation has scientifically proven (one of my favourite pairs of words) to increase the sensation of bring loved and wanting to give love to your significant other. One of the most tragic outcomes in our society is falling into a loveless marriage when we just don't have to. So many factors play into choosing the life we want with our companions, but meditation can actually transform the way we feel about ourselves and the love we give and receive. But meditation doesn't just improve the relationship with the love of your life; it helps with your best friend, your boss, even your neighbour. How? By teaching you to love you. WHY THE HELL ARE WE SO HARD ON OURSELVES? By loving your Self more than you have been in the past, you turn yourself into a magnet that others can't help but feel good around. I want to be a magnet.
Um, did you read that heading? Meditation reduces AGING. We live in a society obsessed with this idea, and we spend thousands of dollars on beauty products to help us with this very thing - when we just need to shut up and sit quiet for a few minutes per day to really do some damage. Or damage reversal... in this case. Meditating increases your serotonin levels, lowers your blood pressure, boosts your immune system, increases your energy and so much more. The health benefits are astounding and lead to a better quality of life, slowing down your stressed out and anxious lifestyle that is speeding you through the aging process. Sister, if you want to combat your wrinkles, sit cross-legged, close your eyes, and return your fancy eye cream.
MELTS BODY FAT
I'm choosing my words smugly here, because yes: meditation leads to losing weight. So many of us eat all the right things, and move our bodies in the right ways, but we are still feeling lethargic and unhappy with ourselves. And our belly fat. WHYYYY! I scream this into my mirror all the time... as I watch my money fly into the lap of my personal trainer. This is because we are so stressed and our adrenals are working on overdrive forcing our bodies in that constant "fight or flight" state. We need to calm our bodies down and re-teach them how to properly work with us. This improves our metabolism so our bodies can actually use all those healthy things we're stuffing into it, instead of confusingly filtering it right out of our bodies, focusing on the other stressed out ailments inside us.
As a writer, I sometimes feel like my life revolves around maintaining an active sense of creativity. And then writer's block finds me and I feel like I've got nothing to give. In one of my favourite books, Creative Confidence, the Kelley brothers expose that creativity is not reserved for those in "the arts" and that creativity is a mindset that absolutely everyone benefits from. That means, CEOs, Starbucks baristas and architects all benefit from actively being more creative. It makes better leaders. Stronger mediators. New ideas. Meditation helps with problem solving and foreseeing problems before they even occur. It also helps us to come up with more than one solution, eliminating our proneness to rigidity. When this rigidity is eschewed we are able to come up with new, different ideas, exploring parts of ourselves we may not have known we had in us. Creativity isn't just colouring in a cool colouring book; it's using our minds in more expansive ways.
Meditation has numerous benefits to our health. Try not to get caught up in whether you're "doing it right" or if you are "making progress". The biggest thing is to just stick with it. Then the benefits listed above happen without your realizing it, leading you right into a healthier, happier life. How has meditation worked for you?