Many of us are finally starting to realize that meditation is key to living a healthier and more mindfulness life. In this article sponsored by govibrant and written by Cheryl Lock for Discover and Play, together we guide you on Meditation: What it Does and Why You Need It.
The concept of using meditation as a way to de-stress, focus and find a sense of calm is really nothing new … the newness of this idea comes from the fact that big-name companies like General Mills, Target and Google are now jumping on the band wagon as well and offering meditative sessions to their employees. So what exactly is meditation, why should you do it and — perhaps most importantly — how can you find time in a busy schedule to do it?
Don’t stress. We can help you get started.
The Basics: What is Meditation?
If you’re worried that meditation involves too much worshiping or prayer and you don’t consider yourself to be a particularly religious person, it may be time to re-learn what meditation actually is. In fact, meditation is all about “awareness,” as opposed to anything religious. The goal of any good meditative session will be to focus on one thing in particular — your breathing, for example, or the way your feet are planted firmly on the ground — and to practice keeping your mind free from other distractions while doing so.
With the endless distractions and interruptions of today’s constantly connected world, wouldn’t it be nice to unplug (even if only for a few minutes) and concentrate on something more calming?
People have been using different forms of meditation for thousands of years now to do just that.
While it’s not a miracle cure for all that ails you, of course, meditation can in fact help with a wide range of issues from stress and anxiety relief all the way to decreasing blood pressure and hypertension, lowering cholesterol levels and helping to provide more restful sleep, among other things. In fact, new studies have even shown that in as little as just eight weeks, meditation can produce changes in various areas of the brain, including growth in areas associated with memory, empathy, sense of self and stress regulation.
How to Fit it In
Don’t give up on the idea of meditating just because you can’t imagine shutting all the blinds, turning off your phone and sitting quiet in a room with no interruptions for 45 minutes — meditation doesn’t have to be that specific. Just a few minutes multiple days a week can really make a difference. Here are a few ideas on how to get started:
- App it Out: If you aren’t sure where to start, or you’d like something more specific and guided on your first attempt, there are many apps to help set you up. Calm and Headspace are two good ones for beginners.
- Go at it With a Buddy: We don’t mean that you need to actually have a friend in the room while you’re mediating (although that’s fine if it helps you get through it). Sharing your meditative goals with a buddy and checking in with him or her when you complete them may be a good way to stay motivated with your meditation plan.
- Work With Your Bad Habits: If you find that you spend a lot of time spacing out or staring into space in general, try training your body to use that wasted time to meditate, instead. In fact, there’s a name for this type of meditation: Trataka, or fixed-gazing meditation. Trataka essentially means to gaze steadily at a fixed point. Doesn’t seem much like meditating to you? Think of it this way: instead of staring blankly at an object and zoning out, Trataka asks that you concentrate your mind on that particular object — usually a flame — and curb any shifts that your mind may try to make during that time. Practice this regularly and you’ll begin to see how such an act can help train your brain to remain in the present, rather than hop haphazardly from thought to thought.
Above all else, it’s important to give yourself time when you’re first trying to learn to meditate. If the first couple of sessions don’t appear to do much for you, try to stick with it for a while longer. If you can, you might be amazed by the benefits you can gain from it.
Identity Magazine is all about empowering women to get all A’s in the game of life — Accept. Appreciate. Achieve.TM Every contributor and expert answer the Identity 5 questions in keeping with our theme. Their answers can be random and in the moment or they can be aligned with the above article. As a team, we hope to inspire and motivate ourselves and inspire you to get all A’s.
What have you accepted within your life, physically and/or mentally? What are you still working on accepting?
I have accepted the fact that the only person I can change is myself, and that what’s most important to me is that I hold myself up to the standards that matter most to me.
What have you learn to appreciate about yourself and/or within your life, physically and mentally? What are you still working on to appreciate?
I’ve learned to appreciate that I will always have a Type A, somewhat obsessive personality.
What is one of your most rewarding achievements in life? What makes YOU most proud? What goals and dreams do you still have?
My relationships with family and my closest friends — and the fact that they know they can come to me with anything — is the thing in my life I’m most proud of. (That and the two half marathons I’ve run!)
We all have imperfections, so we think. The truth–we are all perfectly imperfect. What are your not-so-perfect ways? What imperfections and quirks create who you are–your Identity?
My inability to put my phone down and my obsessive compulsive cleaning are not-so-perfect things about me … but at least I never miss a deadline and my apartment is usually spotless!
“I Love My…” is an outlet for you to express and appreciate all the positive traits that make you…well… YOU! Sharing what you love about yourself will make you smile, feel empowered, and uplift your spirit and soul. (we assure you!) Identity challenges you to complete the phrase “I Love My…?”
Can I change it ever so slightly? I love where I am in life right now. Life is a journey, and a pretty fun one at that