It’s been a hectic day and you find yourself wishing you had another eight hours to get everything done … the last thing you can imagine is clearing time to meditate. But what if that’s where you’re going wrong?
Often dismissed as a low priority or a waste of time, mediation is actually essential in supporting our minds to think logically and efficiently. Before you say you can’t find the time, or that you have no desire to sit in lotus position and chant, understand that meditation can take a number of shapes and forms.
In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can rewire your brain for happiness, peace and success.
Common meditation misconceptions
Contrary to popular belief, meditation does not require sitting still with a clear mind for hours on end. Nor does it require any particular religious beliefs.
Instead, it is the conscious processing of our current state, in a comfortable position, with a view to reflecting on how we feel after rather than during a session.
For some, meditation may even be going for a gentle walk, taking a yoga class or enjoying breathing exercises without the disruption of electronics or other people. It’s time that is genuinely dedicated to just “being”!
So, no matter whether you travelling for work, enjoying a relaxing holiday, or have endured a lengthy day of meetings, prioritise some time to indulge in this beneficial practice … your body and your mind will thank you.
There are so many variations … what’s right for me?
In choosing the practice that is right for you, it is helpful to understand the style and focus of some of the more popular variations.
Select a few that may appeal to you, and try each for a week to determine which is best suited to your needs and lifestyle.
- Mindfulness/Vipassana – Stemming from the Buddhist Vipassana tradition, mindfulness meditation places emphasis on placing non-judgmental focus to the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring at that moment.
- Yoga and Tai Chi – Both of these forms combine meditation and movement with focused breathing, and each delivers a long list of health benefits.
- Lovingkindness/Metta – When we engage in lovingkindness mediation, we place our focus on sharing our goodwill with all living beings.
- Zen/Zazen – this is a seated practice during which the focus is about suspending thought and allowing words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without your active involvement.
- Heartfulness meditation targets the strengthening of the connection between the heart and the mind.
- Mantra meditation allows the passage of thoughts while repeating a sound or phrase (known as a mantra).
- Transcendental meditation seeks us to go beyond the limits of our thoughts (transcend) to reach a state of deep brainwave coherence.
The reward for your efforts
Meditation promotes happiness, creativity and authenticity!
Mindfulness meditation increases your psychological functioning and, in the process, improves our sense of wellbeing.
By reducing the density of brain tissue associated with anxiety and worrying, meditation leaves us feeling free to enjoy life.
When we embrace meditation, we learn to observe, respect and nurture our mind. In doing so, we get in touch with (and take control of) our emotions, and have the opportunity to “spring clean” or thoughts.
As a consequence, we achieve a greater sense of perspective and we are more likely to be authentic and humble in our dealings with others.
Meditation can boost your social life and your sex life!
When we practice Lovingkindness (also known as Metta) meditation, we increase the areas of the brain that are responsible for compassion and empathy.
The increased positivity we enjoy through mediation translates to positivity and connectedness in our relationships, and studies have even linked the practice to greater emotional intelligence.
Of course, within intimate relationships, this increased connectedness can have a big impact on our sex lives.
Meditation can take your career to the next level!
Studies have highlighted the ability of regular meditation to regulate brain function, assist concentration and improve cognition and focus.
Furthermore, meditation is linked with a heightened ability to store and consolidate new information, as well as multitask.
Combined, these factors support our productivity and decision making in the workplace, making us more efficient in our roles.
But that’s not all … Meditation has also been linked to higher rates of job satisfaction in return for our efforts.
Meditation can boost your long term health!
Regular meditation can have a significant positive impact on common illnesses and ailments including heart disease, digestive illness, insomnia, fatigue and depression.
Studies have demonstrated meditation to be a positive alternative to lowering both systolic and diabolic blood pressures, and reducing the psychological aspects commonly associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
Researchers have also found that both mindfulness and transcendental meditation can improve cardiovascular health and reduce risk of heart disease, while also strengthening our immune system- thus making us more resistant to viruses and infections.
Finally, regular mediation contributes to our brain’s overall health by increasing grey matter and increasing the volume of mass in the areas related to paying attention, regulating emotion and exercising self-control.