4 Amazing Reasons to Start Meditating Today + A Quick Meditation Instruction
Meditation is a trendy new habit and for good reason – there are dozens of scientifically-backed benefits of having a regular meditation or mindfulness-based practice. Even though there are many different styles and ways of meditating, just getting started in the first place is the key. I’ll address some of those scientifically proven reasons to begin meditating, and at the end you’ll find a quick how-to guide to help you create inner peace anywhere and at any time.
Here are 4 of the amazing reasons that you should start meditating today:
1. Improved Mood
The practice of meditation has been shown time and time again to reduce stress, decrease anxiety and depression symptoms, and improve overall mood with consistent practice. One of many studies, touts the great benefits of meditation for mental and emotional health. Meditation is also shown to increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain (the happiness chemicals).
Even if you’re doing everything right in your life – eating the right diet, sleeping as many hours as you should, and so forth – having consistent stress in your life can prevent your body from being fully healthy. Luckily, meditation is proven to calm the nervous system and reduce the stress hormone cortisol, which is responsible for a number of health issues. This in turn can boost instances of patience, compassion, and empathy in daily life.
2. Increased Success and Goal Attainment
If you like to discover new ways to become more successful, new research is pointing to meditation as a key ingredient in achievement and goal realization. Meditation allows for positive changes in alpha brain waves, which leads to the brain functioning more optimally by having increased attention and focus, better memory, quick problem-solving skills, and more creativity. All of these qualities are associated with being able to set goals, attain them, and in being successful in business and all areas of life.
3. Life Extension
Science is also recently discovering how meditation can increase the length of the telomeres (stretches of our DNA). These nifty little caps located at the end of our chromosomes are responsible for protecting our genes, and for allowing our cells to divide. The longer your telomeres are, the longer your life span can be. They are integral parts in helping to prevent cancer and stalling aging. Research has shown that meditation can help to conserve the length of our telomeres and in turn, help elongate our life span.
4. Improved Sleep
If you suffer from insomnia or wake up with depleted energy, even after having a full night's sleep, meditation can help you. It works to alleviate stress and anxiety in the body, which allows for a deep, restful night’s sleep. Due to sleep’s integral function in mood regulation and cognitive ability, it is essential to get that great sleep as often as possible. Meditation helps obtain these benefits, along with quality sleep by increasing the levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone), enhancing REM sleep (the deep, dream sleep), and decreasing cortisol levels in the body.
These are just a small number of the common benefits of meditation, but the list truly goes on for why you should begin meditating on a regular basis. Now that you recognize all of the reasons why you should start, we can walk through a beginner's guide on doing a quick meditation.
Quick Beginner’s Guide to Meditation
There is no one “correct” way to meditate – choose what truly works for you. Find a practice that you like and consistently do that.
Here is an easy 6-step guide to help you in completing your first meditation:
1. Find a Quiet Place to Sit Comfortably
You can start by sitting on the ground - with a cushion if desired, lying on your back, or sitting in a chair with your feet planted on the ground. Whatever is comfortable for you. Try and sit with a straight spine and relax your shoulders. Close your eyes or leave them slightly open with a downcast gaze.
2. Start with 5 Minutes
You can use a timer, a guided meditation app such as Insight Timer, or meditation-friendly music in the background. Gradually increase the length of time as you grow more comfortable with your practice.
3. Start by Relaxing Areas of Your Body
Begin with your face by relaxing your forehead, eyes, jaw, and cheeks. Move down through your neck, shoulders, chest, and belly - slowly releasing and opening these areas one by one.
4. Focus on Your Breath
Now take a few, deep belly breaths - A long, steady inhale through your nose, and a long, steady exhale through your nose. After a few of these, return your breath to its natural rhythm. From here, use your breath as your anchor for the remainder of the meditation. You can do so by focusing your awareness on the rising of your chest or belly when you inhale. Notice how it relaxes when your exhale.
5. Detach From Your Thoughts
If you notice thoughts racing in your mind, that is perfectly natural. Just gently redirect your attention back to your breath. The goal is not to eliminate or clear out your thoughts. You want to instead practice detachment from them by focusing on being present.
6. Come Back to Your Practice Continuously
Try and set a goal to meditate 3 or 4 times per week for a month and give this your best effort. You can increase the number of times that you meditate per week once you've developed it into your routine.
Don't worry if it at first it seems difficult to meditate - this will change the more that you do it. Show yourself gratitude for engaging in this form of self-love and care, and for taking the time to show up and be present. It won't be long before the benefits of meditation begin showing up in your life - maybe even immediately!