A few months ago I saw a social media post on a meditation app called headspace. The person was raving about how after the first 30 days of using the app they felt calmer and could handle stressful situations better. I had several I Tunes gift cards laying around and decided to give the app a try. I figured I had nothing to loose, and if anything it might be nice to be quiet and focused for 10 minutes a day. I was amazed at my findings that by incorporating this meditation into my morning routine, I arrived to work with a clearer, calmer demeanor, and was much more productive!
Lets face it, we all live in a time where we are BUSY, really, really, BUSY with kids, work, schedules, social functions, and everything else. People are constantly on the go and endlessly connected to one another through the internet and cell phones. It has become so ingrained in us to keep ourselves busy and connected that we may even feel guilty for letting ourselves relax and disconnect from one another for a while. However, it is essential for our wellbeing that we take the time to just be still and sit, and give our minds a break from the constant chatter that takes place on a daily basis.
How to Meditate
There are lots of different ways to meditate. If you would like a guided way to meditate, there are many podcasts and smart phone apps that you can download and listen to. My personal favorite is headspace because you can choose a specific series based on health, relationships and performance.
If you would like to start on your own, simply sit outside or in a room where you will be alone and won’t be disturbed. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes. Close you eyes and start to breath. Focus on the sounds that you hear around you. You might hear cars, or even people chatting, continue to just observe the sounds. Each time your mind wonders to a thought, just bring it back to the sounds. Next, feel the ground below you body and observe what that feels like. Again, each time your mind starts to wonder and think about other things, gently bring it back to what you are feeling. Finally, concentrate on your breath. How does the breath feel as it enters and exits your body? The main idea is just to have a focused mind, which is something you will need to practice. At the beginning there will be lots of thoughts in your head, but eventually as you keep practicing, it will be easier to have a focused mind.
My favorite way to meditate is while I am on a walk. It is the same idea as above, without the sitting. You are focused on what you hear, see, and smell. I love a meditation walk because when I am listening to music or talking on the phone, I miss the beauty around me.
- Less Stress/Anxiety and Increased Positive Emotions- Meditating before work helped me to feel grounded and ready to tackle the day. Stressful deadlines didn’t seem so taxing and unattainable. It was easier to just be part of the day rather than try to control every aspect. Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M Ryan’s article, The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychosocial Well-Being” stated that a, “study showed that higher levels of mindfulness were related to lower levels of both mood disturbance and stress before and after the MBSR intervention.” Who wants to feel less stressed and happier during the day? I know that I do!
- Better Cognitive Focus- Another plus of meditation is that after a session you will have increased mental clarity. I found myself being more about to focus on the task at hand rather than worrying about what will happen later in the day. This means that meditation can improve your attention.
- Decreases Inflammation and boosts immune system-In Jill Sakai article, “Study reveals gene expression changes with meditation” she mentions that a new study found that meditation, “reduced levels of pro-inflammatory genes, which in turn correlated with faster physical recovery from a stressful situation.” I see a difference in my digestion when I use meditation compared to when I do not. I believe that slowing down and focusing helps my body to reduce inflammation and disease in my body. Plus, i will take all the help I can get to boost my immune system during the school year. Those first grade germs are no joke ;)!
(1) Brown, Kirk Warren, and Richard M. Ryan. “The Benefits of Being Present: Mindfulness and Its Role in Psychological Well-being.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology4 (2003): 822-48. Web.
(2) Sakai, Jill. “Meditation May Reduce Inflammation – Study.” VOA. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 July 2015. <http://www.voanews.com/content/meditation-may-reduce-inflammation/1806796.html>.