5 Enlightening Reasons to Embrace the Power of Meditation
How has this practice helped you?
There are a million and one things that can get in the way of a daily meditation, but like the old Zen saying states, “you should sit in meditation every day for twenty minutes, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
When you read these 5 excuse-busting motivations, you’ll want to find at least twenty minutes a day to clear your mind and take some cleansing breaths. Meditation is that good for you.
1. It Only Takes 20 Minutes a Day
You really think you’re too busy for meditation? How about that time you spent watching reality TV, or gossiping about office politics? You can make use of your time more wisely with one of the meditation apps if that is what it takes.
Simply Being, for example, lets you choose a 5, 10, or 20 minute guided meditation with voice, music, or both so you can meditate even when your boss is running late for a board meeting.
Studies have shown that meditating just ten minutes a day reduces stress, lowers cortisol levels (which make one fat and sick), and improves your outlook on life. Our days aren’t a solid wall; they are more like Swiss cheese with holes in them. Use one of those holes to meditate and you’ll feel better, look younger, and actually have the energy to attack everything on your to-do list. Heck, you may even realize that some of those tasks are unnecessary since meditation reduces the flow of thought to a trickle instead of a Niagra Falls – so you can truly discern what needs your attention, and what is not your business, quite literally.
2. Meditation can be Done by Anyone – Novice or Expert
You say you’re no expert at this “sitting” thing, so why should you waste your time trying? Many novice meditators mistakenly believe they have to be good at it, but the truth is meditation has a profound affect on our brains, even if we’ve never done it before.
We start to show a decrease in beta waves, first and foremost, which indicates that our brains stop constantly processing information. Even after a single 20-minute meditation session, we experience a calmer mind that isn’t jumping like a monkey from tree to tree. Even two minutes of meditation starts to change the brain.
3. Reducing Stress with Meditation
If it’s a choice between the gym and a meditation after a stressful day, you might want to choose meditation. Why? You can build some serious muscle with meditation. Brain muscle, that is.
Though exercise is also a mood booster and stress reliever, at least one study reports that meditation practice could increase the size of various brain structures, including brain areas involved in sustained attention and emotional regulation. There is also some evidence that the network of prefrontal cortical structures involved in sustained attention that are enhanced by meditation may be distinct from those enhanced by exercise.
Of course meditation won’t burn enough calories to get rid of that extra piece of cake, but it will lower cortisol levels, which can make it easier to get rid of belly fat. Research suggests that our guts go into fight or flight when we are stressed, causing the actual enlargement thereof, while meditation calms this nervous system response. If you have time to exercise – then you have time to meditate.
4. Meditation can Bust Through Anxiety and Depression
Having too much to do can cause anxiety, and prolonged anxiety can fry your adrenal glands, causing adrenal fatigue and other hormonal problems. Luckily, Harvard Medical School found that meditation does wonders for anxiety and depression.
In a study of yoga and meditation, some very physical proof that anxiety was lowered with meditation presented itself. Heart rate was reduced and blood pressure was lowered. Respiration rates were lowered too.
People who described themselves as ‘emotionally distressed’ felt entirely different after a 90-minute yoga and meditation session. Overall, 113 participants experienced some startling improvements – depression scores improved by 50%, anxiety scores by 30%, and overall well-being scores by 65%.
5. Meditation can Help You Look Younger
Before and after pictures of people who have meditated are provoking. They look younger, happier, and more refreshed after “giving your problems space and finding the most wise and compassionate ways to handle them.” Stella Photi, writing about the anti-ageing benefits of meditation, stated that one woman on the London Meditation Centre site said:
“My meditation is such a rock to me. I can’t imagine life without it. Plus I’ve been told a lot recently how much younger I’m looking and asked if I’ve had Botox!?”
“There’s a reason why experienced meditators live so long and look so young,” says Eva Selhub, MD, medical director of the Mind/Body Medical Institute. It primarily has to do with reducing stress. Though there is little direct research on meditation and aging, one 1989 study of residents in nursing homes showed that those who practiced transcendental meditation had better mental flexibility and lower blood pressure, and lived longer.
Researchers suspect that meditation slows down aging because aging is, in many ways, is an accumulation of stress. If you have time to get your hair done, or use moisturizer, among hundreds of other anti-aging techniques, then you have time to meditate.
We all lead busy lives. Meditation can be seen as just one more thing to check off our too-long to do lists – but you really do have time for this phenomenal practice. Can you really afford not to meditate after reading all these benefits?Add your own in the comments section below.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.