Meditation - you might say it’s a fad or a trend that has become popular over the past few years and you’re sort of right, but not really. Though it has gained popularity recently, meditation has been around since the beginning of time. And there’s not a shred of doubt that something that’s been around for that long benefits your mental and physical health.
Daily meditation is the practice of staying present and mindful for a limited period of time - even for a short period of time. Do you often find yourself making excuses not to meditate? You might tell yourself, I’m too busy or I don’t feel like meditating. Sound familiar? The thing is, only if you repeat the practice frequently and consistently you will experience the benefits. The science doesn’t lie and it has been proven the benefits of meditation - reduced stress, enhanced self-awareness, and improvement in sleep quality- are too good to be ignored.
Helps Reduce Stress
When you meditate regularly - ultimately you would experience a greater sense of calm, clarity, and focus in your life. But how does that even happen?
Throughout the day, when you experience stress, you bodies automatically react in ways that prepare us to fight or run, otherwise known as your fight-or-flight response. In some cases, this physical response is helpful, but a prolonged state of stress can be taxing to the physical body and mental health.
Meditation restores the body to a calm state by triggering the opposite of a stress response - the relaxation response. This helps the body repair itself and preventing new damage from the physical effects of stress. It can calm your mind and body by quieting the stress-induced thoughts that keep your body's stress response triggered.
What does ‘awareness’ actually mean? That’s a loaded question, ain’t it? While being aware of oneself isn’t straightforward, psychologist Tasha Eurich describes self-awareness as “the ability to see ourselves clearly - to understand who we are, how others see us, and how we fit into the world around us.” Being aware of your thoughts and feelings, not only helps you better understand why you think and feel the way you do, but it also allows for more choice in your responses and actions, which in turn, leads to reduced stress, increased happiness, improved relationships, and overall richer existence. Overall practicing awareness meditation could help develop a stronger sense of self, and eventually grow into your best self.
Improves Sleep Quality
If you’ve ever crawled under the covers worrying about a problem or a long to-do list, you know those racing thoughts may rob you of a good night’s sleep. As we now know, mindful mediation can help evoke the relaxation response, which is (duh) the opposite of stress response. By relaxing your body and brain, it’s easier to quiet the distracting thoughts that keep your mind buzzing. The relaxation response eliminates stress-related ailments such as depression, pain, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.
The bottom line here is, meditation requires a little patience. Your busy lifestyle shouldn’t be an excuse to give it a shot, because the time and effort are well worth the benefits.