Meditation is one of those words that elicits mixed responses.
Some argue it is too “feely” and others swear by it to calm nerves and provide a good start to their day. In recent years, meditation has gained popularity due to books such as 10% Happier by Dan Harris and popular websites such as Well + Good touting it as “the hottest new thing.” According to a statistic by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation is the 3rd most used mind and body practice behind yoga and chiropractic care.
But what is meditation exactly?
In the simplest sense, meditation means focused awareness. There are many different types and paths, but at the root of the practice is turning your attention to a single point of awareness. This means your attention is drawn away from distracting thoughts and brought into the present moment.
How does meditation work?
The key to starting a meditation practice is starting small. If slowing your mind is not something you’re used to doing, an hour of meditation is going to feel like an eternity and leave you feeling frustrated as thoughts race from here to there.
Start with 5 minutes. Wake up a little earlier or try before you go to sleep. Find a quiet, comfortable space, set a timer for 5 minutes, and simply try to clear your mind of whatever you’re thinking. It’s hard. Super hard. If you need some help, try an app like Headspace which will walk you through a guided meditation. It also allows you to customize your sessions, records stats, and connect with others if you want.
The key to improving your meditation practice is consistency. Make sure to practice around the same time every day and soon you will notice it becomes easier to sit for longer and clear your mind more readily.
Why should I meditate?
There have been many, many studies done on the benefits of meditation, some of which are listed below.
- lowers blood pressure
- increases circulation
- helps with insomnia
- relief of chronic pain
- fewer hospitalizations for diseases
- slows aging
- improvements in mental health, memory, concentration, and productivity
If anything, trying meditation is worth a shot as studies show a majority of positive effects on the mind and body.
Have you tried mediation before? We’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!
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Erin is a NASM-certified personal trainer, and a writer dedicated to focusing on physical, emotional, and mental health. When she’s not writing, she’s trying out new desserts in Chicago and relaxing with her husband Neil and her dog Donut.