In this article, you’ll discover the big reason why you should meditate for your physical, emotional, and mental wellness.
Did you know that in the UK alone 526,000 workers suffer from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety, and in 2017, 12.5 million working days were lost to work-related stress, depression, or anxiety? Here are the statistics.
If you have a hectic work schedule, I’m sure these figures don’t shock you.
Work overload, tension between colleagues, fear of job loss, financial difficulties, and conflicting demands on your time and energy at home can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and running on empty while you lie awake at night trying to find solutions.
This constant spiral of feeling nervous, low on energy, and having your mind racing through possibilities leaves you feeling tired, frustrated, and concerned about your ability to cope.
Why People Don’t Meditate
Despite the growing number of scientific studies and the popularity of meditation in the corporate and business world, as mentioned in this article from CNN, very often people struggle to make meditation a daily habit or even just to get started.
They feel meditation is:
- It’s too hard
- Is not for people like them
- They are too busy
- Have too much to do
- And, they just can’t sit still
Given the social obligations on your time and energy, these feelings are valid!
It is possible for you to learn how to meditate quickly, and how to make meditate part of your everyday life.
First, let’s begin with a brief definition of meditation.
What is Meditation?
To start, let’s talk a bit about “meditation.”
Let me offer an overview of meditation to give you the flavor, depth, and breadth of what meditation is.
Most people have an idea what meditation is about, but they’re often wrong.
Maybe you have seen the movie and read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. When I saw the movie, I sat mesmerized by Elizabeth Gilbert’s spiritual journey through India and marveled as she gained a deeper understanding, connection, and acceptance of herself through meditation and prayer. But cold I actually do that?
Or, perhaps you have read blogs or popular magazines that feature top celebrities and entrepreneurs who regularly meditate.
For example, in the blogs, Why The Most Famous People Meditate, and 17 Insanely Successful Celebrities Who Meditate Daily, celebrities and politicians share how meditation helps them maintain their level of success and what meditation means to them.
What Meditation Actually Means
One of the clearest descriptions is offered by the blogger and meditation teacher Giovanni Dienstman of the blog Live and Dare.
In his article, What is Meditation and How to Start, Giovanni states:
“Meditation is a mental exercise of [focusing your] attention. It is practiced either by focusing attention on a single object, internal or external (focused attention meditation) or by paying attention to whatever is predominant in your experience in the present moment, without allowing the attention to get stuck on any particular thing (open monitoring meditation).”
Two Types of Meditation
Thus, there are two modes of meditation: concrete (known as saguna), and abstract (nirguna). In concrete meditation, you focus on an image, a picture, or another external object. For example, you might focus on a rose or a religious or spiritual image.
In the abstract form of meditation, you meditate on an idea or concept, such as love, beauty, or peace.
For beginners, it is easier to focus your meditation on an image or external object, or something you can physically feel, like your breath or mala beads. Meditating on an abstract idea or concept such as divine love, loving kindness, or peace takes a greater level of skill and concentration.
Whether you practice seated or active meditation and your focus is inward or external, the key is to train your mind to concentrate on your point of focus and, as you deepen your practice and start to meditate, you sink into stillness and silence.
The word “meditate” means to think deeply about something.
However, as Giovanni tells us when eastern contemplative practices were “imported” to Western culture, meditation (for lack of a better word) was the term used to define those practices.
“…nowadays meditation has more the meaning of this exercise of focusing attention than to reflect deeply.”
Giovanni’s explanation highlights the difference between the word “meditate” and the techniques we use to meditate. Meditation is a skill, and you use different techniques to help you meditate.
And, Swami Rama, in his detailed article, The Real Meaning of Meditation, states:
“Meditation is a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state. It is the means for fathoming all the levels of ourselves and finally experiencing the centre of consciousness within. Meditation is not a part of any religion; it is a science, which means that the process of meditation follows a particular order, has definite principles, and produces results that can be verified.
…In meditation, the mind is clear, relaxed, and inwardly focused. When you meditate, you are fully awake and alert, but your mind is not focused on the external world or the events taking place around you. Meditation requires an inner state that is still and one-pointed so that the mind becomes silent. When the mind is silent and no longer distracts you, meditation deepens.”
Why Meditation is Important
“Learning to relax and meditate is a simple way to bring a sense of harmony, ease, and flow to your life.” – Ntathu Allen
During my meditation teacher training course, we were taught that meditation is like observing the sea on a calm and clear day.
When you sit to meditate you see beyond the horizon and grasp a glimpse of your infinite potential and the vastness of the world.
During meditation you “travel inwards” and, with practice, you can fully experience a deep sense of calm, clarity, and conscious connection with all humanity.
And, while training to be a yoga teacher, in the Sivananda Yoga Teachers Training Course in Kerala, India, we had daily theoretical and practical lessons in meditation.
I still recall that feeling of awe and the sense of connection I felt sitting with the other yoga students and teachers. There were people from every corner of the globe, from all faiths, ages, and religions, and we were sitting together in silence, practising meditation.
It was such an eye-opener for me to experience that depth of connection with such a diverse group of individuals.
As a black woman living and growing up in South East London, racism is rife and, up to that point, my worldview was seen through the lens of being black and a woman living in a predominately white male-dominated culture.
Sitting there in silent meditation, I sensed that connection and finally understood what it means “to live as one.” To be at peace and sense the infinite potential inside myself and others; to see beyond my neighbors’ race, skin color, faith, and economic status and connect with them through their breath.t
It was a total life-changing moment for me to have that depth and sense of connection with people who had different beliefs and looked different from me. I felt happier, calm, connected and purposeful.
If you have ever been in a situation which shook your core beliefs about life, I am sure you’ll connect with the sense of confusion – yet total clarity, I felt at this revelation!
And now, scientific research has confirmed what I experienced and learnt during my yoga-meditation teacher training: meditation can reshape your brain.
The Big Reason Why You Should Meditate
Because meditation can reshape your brain.
Watch this informative TEDx video on how meditation can reshape our brains by Sara Lazar which gives a clear explanation of the role and benefits of meditation in reshaping and strengthening your brain’s ability to cope with stressful situations.
Mindvalley provides an insightful article and infographic about the science between meditation and the effects on your brainwaves in controlling your levels of flexibility, control, and resilience.
And in the Forbes article 7 Ways Meditation Can Change The Brain, Alice G. Walton explores the research and studies conducted on the relationship between meditation and its effect on the brain.
Alice Walton cites evidence from numerous studies that highlight the positive effects of regular meditation practice to preserve the ageing brain, reduce anxiety and social anxiety, and help with addiction.
And if you are still a bit skeptical about how meditation can influence your mood, research by the David Lynch Foundation on the effects of meditation on your brain shows that transcendental meditation has many benefits to mind and body.
To summarize, the studies confirm what ancient sages knew – meditation relieves feelings of anxiety and depression and improves attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being as it:
- Change the size of key regions of our brain
- Improve our memory
- Make us more empathetic and compassionate
- Make us more resilient under stress
Now that you know why meditation is good for your brain, if you are curious to discover more about how meditation can help you slow down, get stuff done, enjoy good health, and ultimately be happy, get my book Meditation for Beginners, How to Meditate for People Who Hate to Sit Still.
Meditation for Beginners will help you gain a better understanding of meditation and how it can help you relax, reduce stress, be happier, and more in control of your life.
If you liked this post, here are some other articles you might love:
- 15 Inspiring Meditation Podcasts: The Best Guided Meditations and Tips on Mindfulness
- 11 Ways to Sleep Better at Night: Simple Changes for Deeper, More Restful Sleep
- Focused Breathing: Reduce Stress and Boost Concentration with a Simple Breathing Exercise
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