With increased digital distraction and outside noise, meditation is a much-needed practice in our lives. Meditation dates back to the 12th century. It is a technique that helps to develop self-awareness and declutter the mind. This ageless practice has been passed down through generations and is still popular around the world due to a variety of benefits.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not confined to religion; it’s for everyone. Meditation can be practiced by anyone to achieve more productivity, equanimity, and tranquillity. Many successful people practice meditation as a technique to gain focus. Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson, and Arianna Huffington are examples of highly successful people that practice meditation daily. Seeing the habit of meditation in others may lead us to ask the question: Why should we meditate? And how can you get started with meditation?
Why We Should Meditate
There are thousands of reasons why meditation is good for health, body, and soul. But five reasons, in particular, are often mentioned.
1. Meditation Makes You Happier
Meditation is the doorway to long-term happiness. How does daily meditation practice impact your happiness? Meditation increases activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the part of the brain that is responsible for our emotions.
Meditation also shrinks the amygdala, part of the brain that is associated with stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness reduces cortisol levels in the body (the hormone that is responsible for stress). With reduced stress, you can face your daily challenges with more positivity and enthusiasm. And a positive outlook on life will result in increased feelings of happiness.
2. Meditation Improves Sleep
Insomnia is a significant challenge for many. Whether it’s work or taking care of the children, stressful situations may lead to bad sleep. Similarly, thoughts about the past and anxiety about tomorrow can prevent you from feeling rested. Practicing meditation, however, has been proven to have a positive effect on sleep patterns. At the core of it, meditation brings a sense of relaxation in the body which is necessary for sleep. It quiets the mind and calms the body. These are the essential inner conditions for a good night’s rest.
3. Improved Self-Awareness
Meditation isn’t about emptying your mind; it’s about developing awareness of the thoughts that you have. This helps you to recognize harmful and self-defeating thoughts and rise above them. Mindfulness helps to get in touch with yourself, understand yourself, and how you relate to those around you. Through meditating daily, you will be able to track the state of your mind and be in the present moment. This will allow you to control your thoughts and filter out any negative thoughts or feelings.
4. Developing Clarity
Clarity of the mind is one of the significant benefits we get from meditating. Meditation allows you to examine and understand your thoughts by looking into yourself. By reflecting on your thoughts and who you are, you can more clearly understand yourself. By having a grasp of who and where you are, you can more clearly articulate where you want to go.
5. Improved Productivity
Practicing mindfulness is a great way to harness your focus. Meditating helps you to live in the present moment. By training your brain to focus on something, you develop your so-called ‘concentration muscles’, which help to tune out distractions. Improved concentration enables you to stay attentive at work for a longer time without succumbing to distractions, thereby improving your productivity.
How to Start Meditating
Whether you have been meditating for a long time, or have never meditated before, it’s never too late to start meditating. Here are a few tips to get you started on your meditation journey.
Different Types of Meditation
There are many different types of meditation, including:
- Mindfulness meditation
- Grateful meditation
- Walking meditation
- Music Meditation
- Mantra meditation
- Christian meditation
- Breath meditation
- Water meditation
How to Choose the Right Method
Meditation is a highly personal exercise. Only you can determine what form of meditation best suits you. To find which style of meditation works for you, you should try different types of meditation. Review each one, and go with whichever feels the most comfortable for you. Do note that different types of meditation help to develop various aspects of the mind. Therefore, you can switch up your meditation routine once in a while and learn different meditation practices.
Finding Time to Meditate
Finding time to meditate is essential to develop a habit and routine. The best time to meditate is usually early in the morning right after waking up or at night before you sleep. By meditating early in the morning, you will be able to start your day well and set the tone for your day. Meditating at night is equally powerful because it helps you to evaluate your mind and headspace after a busy day. It also helps you to relax and ease into sleep. However, you can meditate at any time of the day; the key thing is to make sure there are no distractions.
How Often Should You Meditate?
There is no standard for how long or how many times you should meditate. When you are just beginning, you should meditate at least once a day until you find your flow. You can begin with a few minutes every day and increase the frequency as you become more comfortable with the practice.
For reference, Oprah Winfrey meditates twice per day for twenty minutes each session. She attributes a significant part of finding success and staying successful in meditation—a practice that has kept her soul grounded and mind decluttered over the years.
Whatever practice you choose, or whichever benefit you hope to obtain, note that it takes time to learn to meditate. So take it easy on yourself. It may take a few days for you to get comfortable enough to reflect and to quiet your mind. Take your time to build a habit, and you will surely reap all of the practice’s benefits.
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Author’s Bio: As a freelancer and entrepreneur (I run a community for entrepreneurs called Enter Network), I love talking to entrepreneurs — from small family-owned businesses to the next Amazon. So on my blog (https://jochemgerritsen.com/), I do exactly that: I write about entrepreneurship, and a variety of related topics (such as freelancing, money/finances, personal development, and happiness). The idea is to share my content and expertise with as many people as possible.