For many of us, meditation has become something of a buzzword- a trend that we know has been around forever but is slowly gaining a bit more of attention along the wings of yoga, health, and wellness practices. Maybe you’ve already tried it and found that meditation just means sitting still. It’s uncomfortable. Our feet fall asleep. Your mind becomes a running list of all the other things you should be doing and starts spinning out of control and you ended up more stressed than you started. Hey- that’s okay…but I’m here to tell you why you might give it another try (and a few tips on how to start!).
In the smallest nutshell I can find, meditation gives us the tools to fine tune our handle on the autonomic nervous system, and in particular, help us move from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) responses. All of this is basically to say that through meditation, we can balance our busy, stressful, go-go-go lifestyle and bring our body back in to all that is lovely, restful, and efficient. Living from this place of ease increases the vitality of mind, body, and spirit, and finding this balance has a plethora of other major benefits.The mind-body connection between stress and disease is becoming increasingly evident within the scientific community, and each of the following benefits are mutually reinforcing- just a bit of meditation goes a long way!
Stress Less. Meditation teaches us skills and tools (like breath!) to override the fear response mechanism in the body and is directly linked with lowered production cortisol- a hormone generally reserved for major life stressors but found more and more excessive due to our busy lifestyles. Cortisol, when excessive, is a major culprit of a multitude of other ailments such as heart disease, osteoporosis, insomnia, obesity, digestive issues, depression, and adrenal fatigue.
Better Sleep. You can think of mediation much like building a fire. It works better and more efficiently every time you do it, and once you get really good at it, it will continue to burn even when you’re out for the day. As you build your practice, you teach your body to settle into relaxation and stillness, a perfect place to be when it’s time for bed. Though mediation and sleep are very different, building your meditative fire gives you the embers upon which to set your sleep.
Conflict Management c/o Relationships. Less Stress means better, more patient relationships with strangers, friends, coworkers, and lovers. As you learn to slow your emotional reactions delaying the sympathetic (ahem, Fight) response, you are more likely to handle social triggers with grace and ease, taking a breath to make a clear decision in handling conflict. Not to mention, it helps you to be more present in the moment, making you a better listener, and therefore giving you the opportunity to be a better team player.
Reduce cold + flu. When the body isn’t busy stressing out about imaginary life threatening circumstances (like deadlines, traffic, and mismatching your accessories), it has more energy to devote to REAL assaults, such as germs and viruses.
Memory Boost. Meditation helps to soothe the jumble of Tasks that continuously flow through our brains. As you begin to declutter the thoughts, everything in the mind tidies up so that you can easily access information when needed. This, in turn, helps us to be more proactive in staying on top of important tasks while reducing our worry of the trivial. Think of mediation as a way of dusting off the file cabinet and actually putting those adorable labels from Office Max to use. The benefits don’t stop at a game of Memory- meditation has also been suggested to help prevent age-related brain deterioration.
Get in touch with your Intuition. As we begin to release distractions, we bring our awareness to a more present environment. Becoming more present can foster more trust in your “gut feelings” because you are better able to absorb information about your surroundings, subconsciously putting this information to use in making decisions.
Creativity. Ever feel like the greatest ideas come to you in the shower? You just might have been meditating in there! Despite popular belief, meditation is not always a peaceful person draped in robes sitting on a silk pillow overlooking the mountains. Sometimes meditation is moving, active, and vibrant too. As we get into that space of concentration- on the breath, on a movement, on an emotion- we are able to open our minds to the information available. Contrary to talking (and thinking is just silent talking, is it not?), we open ourselves to listening. Taking a moment to slow down, to stop running through the details, to allow a stillness to creep into the body enables us to open our doors for that next ‘aha!’ moment.
Be a Goal Digger. Meditation can help you arrange and prioritize your thoughts, eliminating the hum and buzz of distraction from your goal. As you bolster your journey inward, you can begin to define the things that are most important to you, clarifying your path. Giving yourself some quiet time to reflect each day can help you make decisions about things you want more of as well as things you no longer need.
Despite all of these major gifts and shifts, the best reason to meditate is because you want to. At some point, we all find that last straw and begin looking for a way to change. Change- and therefore, transformation- only happen in the present. Allow meditation to help you get there. To get started,
Accept the guidance of a teacher. Your teacher could be someone you know or a complete stranger, but having someone familiar with meditation can make a world of difference as you first begin the practice. You’ll find that there are as many ways to meditate as there are people in the world, and a teacher you trust will help you find the one that fits your needs.
Start small and Commit to a routine. Can you find five minutes at the start and finish of each day? Set a timer and let your mind wander until it goes off. After you get in the habit, maybe you start to find more time or add a session when you need it most. When we start and finish each day with some reflection, it can help to solidify the practice and give you the space you need to recognize the benefits you are feeling.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you miss a day, a week, a month…it’s never too late to try again. Maybe you start with just three deep breaths and a quick scan of your surroundings. This practice will always be available to you, waiting for you to come home. Happy Meditating!
On Saturday, February 10th Sattvika is hosting a special event catered to you. At our Soul Mantra Mediation Workshop you will receive your own personal mantra which resonates with your Soul, created from the moment and place you were born. If you are just beginning your meditation journey, this is an incredibly powerful place to begin. If you have been using guided meditations, this will take you to a depth within you beyond imagination. As always, we love to hear how you are implementing our tips and tools into your everyday. We are here to support you on your journey to reclaiming your essential self.