Meditating. Did you just roll your eyes? That’s okay! A younger and more naïve version of myself would have done the same thing. You see, she was under the impression that meditation was nothing but a gimmick designed to get people to sit down and shut up.
What changed my mind? UT was a last-ditch attempt to find some relief during a very anxious time, trying it couldn’t hurt could it? It didn’t and now the age-old art of meditation has been woven into my daily routine.
I was not converted straight away, in fact the first few times I tried meditating I think I left feeling slightly more anxious than I already was feeling when I began. I however am persistent and felt like maybe I needed to give meditation a fair go in order to feel any kind of inner peace that I was promised.
Two weeks was what it took for me to finally begin to feel like my mediation sessions were working. That was two weeks of rolling my eyes and huffing my shoulders when the alarm in my phone titled “Mediate. Now.” Flashed upon my screen. It was two weeks of feeling like I had wasted twenty minutes of my life a day when I could have been doing something productive.
After that initial period of thinking “this is stupid and I am silly for thinking it would help in anyway” pretty much every day, something happened. It wasn’t a whole spiritual sha-bang, there was no magic anything that happened, I just began to find more peace when meditating. I felt calmer both when meditating and after the fact, I felt like the stress that had been eating away at me was minimised, I felt lighter.
Wouldn’t you like to feel lighter too? The way that I see it is this: we spend all the money and time and resources on nourishing and looking after our bodies physically, should we not be paying attention to our minds as well? If you aren’t on the meditation train, destination: inner peace, you should be!
Me telling you that you should be meditating and how it has helped me is all well and good, but you’re thinking “there’s just no evidence!” well, there is, and there is a whole range of benefits that can come from meditating, not just to help with anxious feelings.
Allow me to explain:
* It reduces all that stress you’re feeling.
You may not be feeling anxious as such, but almost everyone has stress in their life and that is something that will eat at you from the inside out. According to studies conducted by The John Hopkins University in Baltimore over the 3500 people that participated the reduction of stress overall sat at around 95%. How’s that for a statistic?
* Improves feelings of depression.
There have been some big claims thrown around with this one, some researchers even saying that meditation is just as effective, if not more effective than anti-depressants. In a research paper by the University of California it was shown that people who have experienced depression in the past successfully used meditation to decrease ruminative thinking and dysfunctional beliefs.
* It can make you nicer.
Stress and other factors in life can lead to being snappy and unhappy and sometimes we just forget to be nice to people. Not only can meditation help you be kinder to people, it can also help you be kinder to yourself, which we could all do with a little bit of, right? Metta, which is a specific type of mediation has a huge focus on developing and expanding on kind thoughts and feelings towards yourself. A study performed by Boston University found that Metta mediation can also help with social anxiety, reduce marriage conflict and help with anger management issues.
* Enhances your self-awareness.
You cannot be the best version of yourself without being incredibly self-aware, can you? Meditation can help with that! Certain forms of meditation are credited with increasing self-awareness and understanding of yourself. A study was performed in 2005 with the question in mind: can tai chi (a type of meditation) help improve the self esteem of women fighting breast cancer? 21 women, all fighting the battle against breast cancer improved their self esteem though tai chi opposed to the other side of the study who undertook social support sessions.
* Increased focus and attention abilities.
Many people struggle to hold attention and focus, which is not a good thing when you are trying to be as productive as possible- is it? Meditation aids in strengthening and lengthening your attention span. A study funded by the Penn Program for Stress Management provided results that after an eight-week program of mindful meditation, the participants ability to maintain attention had increased.
Are you convinced yet? I hope so!
If you really are keen to start seeing some of these benefits my best recommendation is to either find group mediation classes in your area and just go! It can also be beneficial for emotional connections to meditate with other people. No classes near you or you think you would rather do it alone? No worries check the app store on your phone, there are apps upon apps designed to guide you through mediation and lead you to the path of inner peace.
Remember though, in order to reap the rewards of meditating you must be consistent with it, please don’t do one twenty minutes session and feel deflated when you don’t feel any better- it takes time. Studies even say that an average of 2.5 hours per week, or 21 minutes per day is all the meditating you need to do in order to feel better.
What are you waiting for? Schedule in some meditation today!
Elyssa Giedraitis is a blogger primarily writing on The Introvert Archive about all things health, lifestyle and what’s going on in the real world. She likes reading, exercise, her pets and not much else.