Okay, I’ll admit that I was going to post this blog under personal development. But then I started thinking meditation is really training for the mind. In the years that I’ve worked with people it comes up again and again. I’ve heard “I want results” or “Give me a program that will help me do this or that”. However, in having these discussions I’ve noticed that some of these peeps fail to realize that the body is really connected with the mind. The ancient Greeks initially proposed this as a philosophical debate, which I won’t go into here. What I’m trying to say is that without a sound mind and body you may be missing the boat on meeting your full potential. I have also heard others say “My mind is strong and I don’t need to meditate” or “Oh I don’t need that airy fairy stuff” and even “I don’t believe in that spiritual mumbo jumbo”. But let me share with you some of the benefits that I’ve noticed from regularly meditating over the last few years.
I started meditating consistently and daily a little over 3 years ago when my good friend Dr. Sukhi put on a 40 day Challenge which incorporated practicing 20 minutes a day of each of the following: mindfulness/meditation, moving the body and journaling. I am so grateful to have been a part of this challenge as I still incorporate these three activities into my daily routine.
I can tell you that first and foremost I used to have a lot, and I mean a lot of “chatter” or dialogue going on in my mind. Sometimes the uncontrollable banter was downright distracting me from being focused and present in many situations. I can say now that this “chatter” is not only intermittent, but also that the volume has decreased. Even better, I am better able to redirect or avert my thots from circulating in such a distracting way. I don’t think I’d have this control without the experience of adhering to a daily routine of meditation.
Furthermore, I’ve had more creative moments either during or even after meditating. As a matter a fact, I came up with the idea to share this in a blog after one of my meditation sessions. Go figure!
I won’t overwhelm you but there are a host of benefits to meditating or adding a mindfulness practice to your day. The benefits include, but are not limited to the following:
• Decreased worry/anxiety.
• Improved control of thots, particularly useful when stressing the body at extreme levels (i.e. training, Ironman, etc.)
• Relaxation of the body and the musculature through reduced muscle tension.
• Improved cardiovascular health; reduced risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Decreased heart and respiratory rate.
• Lower blood pressure.
• Improved quality of sleep.
• Improved immune function.
• Improved PMS symptoms.
• Reduced levels of pain and particularly chronic pain.
• Increased productivity.
• May slow the aging process related to decreased free radical and stress hormone production.
• Improved mood.
• Improved self-confidence.
• Improved focus & concentration.
• Improved creativity.
• Improved learning ability and memory.
• Heightened emotional stability.
• Increased intuition.
• Increased productivity.
• Better ability to effectively deal with stressful situations.
• Decreased aggression.
• Reduced need and dependency on pharmaceuticals/drugs.
• Decreased tendency to worry.
• Improved tolerance.
• Balanced and stable personality.
• Greater peace of mind.
• Greater happiness.
• Increased compassion.
• Greater mind, body and spirit harmony.
• Greater acceptance of oneself.
• Increased synchronicity of life.
I could probably go on and on, but I won’t as I think you all get the point. It really doesn’t take much to get started. It’s inexpensive and no equipment is needed other than a pillow or two in a quiet room set at a comfortable temperature. And the old adage practice makes perfect really does apply here. In the beginning, I found it difficult to sit our lie still for the entire meditation. I would fidget and my mind would wander like crazy. However, now I’ve built up my tolerance to more than 1.5 hours on some days.
A great way to get started is to commit to 30 days of daily meditation for 20 minutes each session. “Why 30 days?”, you ask. Well it takes at least that amount of time to create a habit. Any less and the likelihood of continuing the practice is likely to fall by the wayside. Another helpful suggestion is to practice meditating during your waking hours, as it’s not as effective if done late in the evening and chances are you may fall asleep. If you find it uncomfortable to sit with your legs crossed, and without support, find a comfortable chair or use a wall to lean against. And if that fails to be comfortable then lying on your back will suffice. Try to ensure whatever position you assume that your spine is in a neutral or lengthened position; some refer to this as straight, but we know that the spine is not straight. There you go, another tool for your toolbox. Give it a go. What have you go to lose? I think, look at what you’ve got to gain. Ommmmmm.