“There is no greater magic than meditation. To transform the negative into the positive. To transform darkness into light”
– Bhagwan Rajneesh
Like millions of others around the globe, I too have a list of goals aka resolutions that I’ve set out to accomplish in 2016. One of my most important goals for the year is to cultivate a daily practice of meditation. Though I’m not by any means new to meditation as I’ve been practicing (on and off ) for the last couple of years now, what makes this attempt different is that I’ve set out to make it a habit that I will stick to for the rest of my life.
In the past, I’ve failed to consistently make it a priority when life becomes more than hectic. This time around, I am determined to follow through and make it a priority. Fortunately, I’m happy to report that since I’ve jump started this habit earlier this month, I was reminded of the wealth of benefits that comes along (almost instantly) with the practice.
Here are my top 5 reasons why I believe we all should be setting aside at least 15 minutes a day to meditate:
1. It builds focus & concentration
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been someone who thrives when there’s much on my plate. That said, having 1001 things that require attention at any given time can become more than overwhelming. Before I’ve assimilated meditation into my life, my first instinct when I find myself in this type of situation is to multi-task. Though I do take pride in my ability in multi-tasking, I’ve come to realize that it often comes at a hefty price. Since I would take on 2, 3, or more tasks simultaneously, it’s nearly impossible to give each task the attention and focus it needed, hence quality often becomes sacrificed in the process.
The practice of meditation has helped to focus on the present instead of constantly anticipating what’s coming around the corner and feeling as if I’m always running against time. This increased sense of mindfulness has opened my eyes to the fact that I actually perform better and more productive when I do focus my attention on one task at a time. As I become less prone to distractions, I found that not only was I able to get things done more effectively but I was able to do so more efficiently.
As a big bonus, practicing meditation has repeatedly been shown to not only improves attention, job performance, productivity, and satisfaction, it also enables better relationships with colleagues, all of which have been found to significantly help in reducing work-related stress.
2. It helps us to stay healthy
Keeping stress and anxiety at bay, meditation is an ally to our health as it also improves our immune system and helps boosts the production of antibodies. A recent study confirmed that, after being given weekly meditation training for 8 weeks, 48 biotech workers had significantly higher levels of antibodies than the control group.
What’s more is that meditation can also aid in reducing risks of heart attacks, strokes, heart diseases and can even ‘heal’ high blood pressure patients. A study by Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that two-thirds of its participants (high blood pressure patients) who were asked to start meditating regularly, were able to go off their blood pressure medication after only a few months of practice.
As meditation allows people to take charge of their own nervous systems and emotions as well as induces relaxation, it encourages the increase of nitric oxide that causes blood vessels to open up and subsequently, enabling blood pressure to drop.
3. It increases self-awareness
Admittedly, though only a handful of people in my life are aware of (and had witnessed) my temper and short fuse, it is actually one of the biggest reasons why I had initially decided to try out meditation. I had ‘stumbled upon’ it as I was seeking for ways to better control my emotions.
Previously, I would automatically react to situations which usually leads to saying things I would later regret. Other times, I would opt to bottle the emotions in until it would eventually ‘explode’ out of me.
As the sage Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati said “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak”. Meditation has indeed been a potent antidote in helping me to gain a better understanding of my inner self. By taking a short time to clear my mind each day, I am feeling much more at ease and comfortable in my own skin. I noticed that I no longer get easily upset over the little things. Thanks to meditation, gone are the days that I would magnify trivial situations into serious issues.
That said, when I am faced with serious issues, confrontational situations or times where things don’t exactly go as I had hoped, I now am able to easily take a step back and take my time to reassess, instead of immediately succumbing to my emotions and/or thrown in a state of panic. This allows me to come up with potential solutions on how to best handle the situation at hand.
4. It encourages a healthier lifestyle
Once you incorporate meditation as a regular practice, chances are, it won’t be long till you’ll start noticing its effects on your overall health & well-being. As we experience improvements in our health and state of mind, we’ll likely to make even more changes that would help us to foster and maintain a healthier lifestyle.
Science has proven that people who meditate regularly tend to change their eating habits for the better. The reason for this is that the mindfulness practice makes an individual more aware of what to eat (opting to make healthier food choices) and prevents them to giving into emotional eating. Hence it’s not uncommon that many who cultivate a habit of meditation would experience weight loss as a result.
5. It refreshes & rejuvenates
Having a crazy day and in desperate need of a break before you resume your activities? Meditation may just be what you need.
In meditation, we are asked to focus our attention solely on our breathing, eliminating the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding our mind. It is considered by many as a type of mind-body complementary medicine that ‘magically’ induces a sense of calm and restores inner peace.
The amazing thing about meditation is that you can practice it wherever you are — whether you’re out for a walk, riding the bus, waiting at the doctor’s office or even in the middle of a difficult business meeting.
If stress has you anxious, tense and worried, consider spending just a few minutes in meditation as it can leave you feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to tackle whatever challenge is ahead of you.
Still think you’ve got too much going on in your life to include meditation unto your daily routine? From Oprah Winfrey to Ray Dalio, there’s an increasing list of CEOs (with ridiculously demanding jobs) who swears by the power of meditation.
Remember that you can’t serve the world unless you take care of yourself first. The best part about meditation that it is a habit that is accessible to anyone, no matter you may be in the world. It is free of cost and requires no special skill – all it needs is for you to make time for it! So, begin your practice today and be well on your way to reap its benefits. 🙂
Clueless on how to start? Be sure to check out this helpful guide. Namaste. 🙂