Remember my old friend Mindfulness that I talked about in regards to eating healthily? Mindfulness is being present in the moment, paying attention to what we do, and doing what we do on purpose. Well, turns out Mindfulness has a partner called Meditation. Meditation is focusing your mind on one thing, and it’s a great tool to relax and increase mindfulness. It’s retraining your brain to slow down and retraining your body to be calm and to breathe deeply. There are many ways to practice meditation, from simply clearing your mind to focus on your body’s natural breathing or the sound of the quiet room you are in to focusing on a single thought or progressively relaxing the muscles in your body.
What’s the first thing you think of when you think of meditating? Monks? Hippies? People sitting still in a beautiful jungle palace courtyard in front of a peaceful waterfall chanting “Ohm”? Those are my first thoughts, but people all around the world have used meditation for various reasons for many centuries. Often people meditate for spiritual reasons. However, today’s world of busy thoughts gives us even more reason to take a time out from our scattered thoughts and focus on one thing at a time.
Why I want to make time to meditate
Studies have shown an outrageous number of positive effects stemming from practicing meditation. Click here for a nice roundup of citations if you are interested. That link also dispels a few reasons why people think they can’t meditate.
Basically, meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increasing your health and happiness by reducing obsessive thinking, anxiety, and depression. Meditating can increase self-control, including the ability to regulate emotions. Meditation can increase positive thinking and compassion. By increasing your focus, attention, and memory, meditation may even increase productivity. Crazy, but meditation has also been shown to increase your immunity.
Amazing, right? All that from sitting quietly doing nothing! Good mental health makes a big difference in the overall health of an individual.
My mind has never been full of more thoughts since becoming a mother. I am responsible for four humans right now, which requires a great deal of mental load daily. See this cartoon. Taking time each day to be still, to be quiet, to focus on one thing is exactly what I need to balance out all the normal hubbub going on in my brain! There will always be more to do and more think about, so I hope that meditating for a few minutes daily will help me learn how to be 100% in one task at a time.
What I’m doing to meditate
Unlike those monks who spend most of their day meditating, right now I’m only spending 10 minutes per day. I started with a free 10-day program on an app called Headspace. This app eases you into a daily 10-minute daily meditation. In between sessions, it has darling graphics that help you visualize different concepts of meditation. I’ve been doing it before going to bed, and I have to admit, more times than not, I fall asleep. However, I’ve made an effort to practice in the morning and during the day if I fall asleep in the middle of a session the night before.
I’ve enjoyed listening to the calming guy talking on Headspace for the past 10 days. I’m not sure I’m ready to fork over a monthly payment to unlock the rest of the app because there are a few more free apps I want to try. That being said, I recommend starting with the free 10-day program on Headspace. It was an excellent introduction to meditating!
Even with a program as short as 10-days, I ended up missing a few days, which means my 10 day program took longer than 10 days. The days after I missed my meditation seemed to be a little more stressful, but I can’t say for sure that missing my evening meditation really had anything to do with that 🙂
I’m getting ready to start another meditation app called Calm. Have you ever meditated? Let me know if this is something you do regularly and what benefits you have encountered! I’d love to hear recs on apps to try out!