When you hear the word ‘meditation’ what do you think of?
Do you picture a tranquil forest with exotic birds chirping? Do you think of the pitter-patter of rain? Or do you imagine Tibetan Monks in a deep trance floating in the air? These are all images I think of when this practice comes to mind. I was a bit skeptical before starting my meditation journey.
I thought it was another way to waste my time. You see, I’ve always thought of it as an odd trend that everyone wanted to try because it looked cool in Kung Fu movies. As the curious person I am, I did my research about it.
According to Psychology Today, meditation is, “the practice of turning one’s attention to a single point of reference. It can involve focusing on the breath, on bodily sensations, or on a word or phrase, known as a mantra. In other words, meditation means pivoting away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.” After understanding the practice and trying it a few times, I realized that it has helped me in some major aspects of my life. So here are 9 reasons why I meditate and why you should try it too.
1. Meditation reduces the stress of the day
Whether young or old, everyone goes through stress. Unfortunately, meditation can’t get rid of the things that you’re going through. Rather, its purpose is to allow you to manage stress better. I usually meditate as I wake up in the morning and before I go to bed at night for at least 10 minutes. Sometimes just simply reflecting on what happened during the day helps too.
2. Meditation helps me to sleep better
Sometimes I try to force myself to sleep when in actuality, it makes the situation even worse. Sleeplessness can be linked to the level of stress your body is going through. Some studies show that meditation tackles stress hormones and decreases them the more you meditate. Before going to bed you can meditate to settle your thoughts. I usually lie down in a comfortable position and try to focus on my breathing. It’s not as simple as it sounds but don’t beat yourself up when you drift in thought for the first few tries.
3. Meditation helps me to remember dreams
I am notoriously known for rarely remembering dreams. It was pretty frustrating when I woke up almost every morning knowing that I had a good dream but I forgot it. Not only has meditation helped me to recall my dreams but it caused them to feel more vivid as well. You won’t experience that the first time meditating but with continuous practice, you can reach that level.
4. Meditation makes me feel calm and relaxed
Imagine yourself frustrated trying to study for an important exam. You feel jittery because you feel as if you’re not remembering all that you’ve studied from before. Your body can go through so much when you’re feeling anxious. Simply pausing your study time to sit down and meditate helps to calm your nerves. Afterwards, you’ll feel refreshed. Meditation can help you to think clearly in order to tackle daily tasks.
5. Meditation improves my focus
We live in a very busy world. If you were to sit at a bus stop, you’d hear the horns of vehicles honking or maybe you’d see children playing on the sidewalk across the street. You might be even listening to your favorite music on your phone. If you’re not careful, listening to all of this noise can cause you to become distracted. You might even miss your bus! When you’ve mastered the basic skills of meditation (e.g. breathing exercises), it will be easier for you to concentrate on areas of importance in your daily life. It would be harder for you to be distracted by the noise around you. Meditation aids to pinpoint your main priorities for family life, work, school, and any other important aspect you want to focus on.
6. Meditation is a good hobby
The word ‘hobby’ sometimes has a negative connotation in the sense that some view it as an idle thing you do to pass the time. However, for me, meditation is a past time that I’ve slowly started to enjoy and I’m trying to be consistent with it. I see meditation as a form of art that should be appreciated, even though it’s misunderstood by many.
7. Meditation gets rid of my mental clutter
I’m an over-thinker and sometimes it becomes mentally overwhelming. Some people experience anxiety attacks, headaches, or emotional instability. With meditation, it allows you to take out the mental clutter and replace it with something more useful and positive. You can read a chapter from a positive book such as self-help or religious books – anything that makes you feel good and allows you to contemplate about life. Pick a phrase or word that connects with you and use it as a mantra when you do your next meditation session.
8. Meditation helps me to appreciate the little things
There is a type of meditation called Gratitude Meditation. As the name suggests it is the practice of reflecting about all the persons and things you are thankful for. Every day I think about all the things that stood out to me during the day that I appreciated such as having clothes on my back or having supportive loved ones. Meditating aided me to make me less cranky and more in tune with what really matters in life.
9. Meditation helps me to respond rather than react
The words ‘response’ and ‘reaction’ have two different meanings. A response deals with thinking before saying or doing something. A reaction is when you instantly act or say something, without thinking at all. Sometimes we react impulsively and regret what we say or do afterward. Sadly, I am a victim of that at times. As stated before, meditation helps me to focus and have a calm demeanor throughout the day. Therefore, this aids me to think and respond more instead of reacting to the outside world. It makes me aware of myself and the people around me.
If you are a skeptic like I was, I hope that you at least try it. There are several types of meditation and there’s one out there just for you! I suggest watching YouTube videos on how to effectively meditate. You can listen to soft acoustic instrumentals or hour-long audio of rain. Also, you can try any meditation app. Personally, I use Headspace. Now get out there and be your best self for the rest of 2019!
Written by Melissa Kerr