Why You Should Start Meditating

We’ve all heard before that meditation is good for us; those who meditate preach about its capacity to alleviate stress and improve mood overall. Despite knowing some of the many benefits of meditation, however, there are still many things that prevent people from taking the time to focus and allow their minds to drift into a meditative state. More often than not, the reasons for not meditating are just mental roadblocks created due to a lack of understanding about what meditation is and how and when it can be practiced. Some of these common misunderstandings about meditation lead people to believe that it is too difficult, time-consuming, or boring. They think of it as an act or action that must be performed rather than a state of consciousness elicited by an activity. By better understanding meditation, people can begin to practice it and reap its many benefits. Before delving into what meditation is, however, one should remember that meditation doesn’t have any strict rules; therefore, it can be adapted to anyone’s schedule, interests, and abilities. 

First, what is meditation? Well, literally, “meditation” just means to ponder. In practice, however, it relates to one’s ability to focus on their body, thoughts, and or surroundings. It is a practice that promotes self-awareness and is essentially the act of staying in the moment. This is why meditation is such a great countermeasure for anxiety. Anxiety is characterized by “what-ifs” and stressors pertaining to the future. When people stay in the moment, their focus and awareness do not drift to the future; the mind can’t worry about what is next on the to-do list or what might go wrong because it is preoccupied with what is happening in the present. 

With that being said, meditation is less of an action and more of an occurrence. However, that isn’t to say that it can only happen spontaneously. Meditation can, of course, be brought on through a variety of ways. Meditation can occur when we practice activities that elicit repetition, singular focus, and or grounding techniques. There are many forms of meditation one could practice. Mantra meditation, for example, involves repeating a word or phrase for an allotted increment of time; mantra meditation, therefore, uses repetition to create a singular focus on a key phrase (or mantra) in order to keep the individual’s focus on a singular thought. This sort of singular focus is particularly good for improving people’s attention spans. There are many daily activities, as well as hobbies, that involve repetition and singular focus that can be used as means to enter a meditative state. Everyday activities that one could use as an opportunity to try meditating include chores like dishwashing, sweeping, and even tending to one’s personal hygiene, like brushing one’s hair or teeth. These activities all involve a repetitive motion that doesn’t involve many variations, and allows the mind to stay focused on the action itself. Some more entertaining activities that enable the same singular focus include activities such as coloring, knitting, and crocheting. 

Activities that involve grounding techniques can also be used as means of meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a form of meditation that involves tuning into your surroundings. This means paying attention to one’s senses and how they interact with their movements, the activity they are performing, and the space they are inhabiting. This technique is also called grounding, and it is used to keep people at the moment (making it a common go-to for those who struggle with anxiety). Mindfulness meditation can be practiced while doing pretty much everything, but some specific examples that you encounter every day can be as basic as walking, breathing, and eating. In fact, it’s actually a better idea to practice mindfulness when eating as it can lead to healthier eating habits, such as only eating when one is hungry, stopping eating when full, and even chewing slower (something that’s always good for preventing choking). In order to practice mindfulness, a person simply needs to make observations. Going back to the eating example, this would mean slowing down to taste and savor the food. Observe the textures of the ingredients, how the food makes your body feel, and what it smells like. Mindfulness can also improve feelings of life satisfaction as it promotes gratitude for sensations being experienced. 

There are many other activities that can be used as a mode of meditation. Walking, yoga and even dancing can be good physical forms of meditation. Yoga is a common choice for meditation because of how it uses breathing techniques to relax the body’s muscles and shift focus to physical sensations within the body whilst holding poses. Walking can be a great opportunity to practice mindfulness meditation by observing your surroundings as you walk and the senses that are evoked whilst you navigate your path. Dancing also offers the potential to spark meditation; according to a study by the University of Nevada, Reno, when people dance to songs with a BPM of 60, their brains can synchronize to the music, which causes an increase in Alpha brain waves. Increased alpha brain waves are linked to increased relaxation and improved consciousness, making it easier for the mind to meditate and become aware of the body’s sensations and relationship to the surrounding space.

In summary, meditation does not have to take up additional time nor be evoked under dull circumstances. It is a moot point to say that it is time-consuming because it is no more time-consuming than doing one’s favorite hobby, work, or even eating and breathing! And thanks to the versatile nature of meditation’s evolution, it can be practiced in the midst of a wide range of activities, including those we can’t (or shouldn’t) avoid, such as eating or brushing our teeth.

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