14 Oct Take Five – The Benefits of Meditation for Everyday Life
We have all heard that meditation is good for us but do we really know why? When I talk about meditation I do not mean – sitting on top of a cliff chanting ‘ommmmmmmm’. I mean sitting down for as little as five minutes, closing your eyes and just breathing.
Call me crazy, but I wake up every morning forty minutes before I need to and do a yoga practice followed by at least five minutes breathing / meditation. Yes, that means the alarm goes off at 5:55am Monday to Friday! My yoga practice might be longer or shorter on days, but one thing that is ALWAYS included is my meditation at the end for at least 5 minutes.
Here are my five benefits for meditation from my personal experience.
Benefit 1 – Focus
For those of you that lead busy lives like myself the mind can be a busy place. This is not necessarily a bad thing as a busy mind can be full of ideas, energy and creativity. But sometimes when the mind is allowed to run at a hundred miles an hour we can begin to loose the things we most need – including sleep, our compassion and care to listen to others and our concentration. I know I have been guilty of all these things above so I find meditation really important to help slow me down and be a more focussed person.
Benefit 2 – Calming Anxiety
For anyone who has ever suffered from anxiety you know what an annoying thing it can be. It grabs you as soon as you wake up and settles in your stomach as a big lead ball. Every time you breath or move you can feel this heavy ball rolling around your stomach reminding you that you have something to be worried about – even if you are not quite sure yet what that is! I have found meditation a powerful tool to help relieve my anxiety – when I give in to it.
I know that shallow breathing comes naturally when anxiety strikes and sometimes deep breathing can feel all tickly and uncomfortable, but trust me, if you deepen your exhale and really focus on blowing out that breath, it helps to reduce the feeling you have in your body.
Benefit 3 – Be Here Now
When we wake up in the morning it is so easy to mentally all ready be at work thinking of the exact things we need to do when we get in –
‘so I need to turn on my computer and check my emails, there will probably be this email so I will need to say this, and then I will go and make a cup of tea and I will probably see this person so I can remind them to do this…’
Without realising it we have just done an extra couple of hours of work without actually being there!
By spending just five minutes tuning into your body and how it feels RIGHT NOW and listening to your breath RIGHT NOW, it can help to bring you into the present moment and focus on what you are doing at the time, enjoying that time you have getting ready in the morning, drinking that hot warm drink and enjoying your tasty breakfast before going to work.
Benefit 4 – Mood Changer
Just like every other tired person waking up early, I can wake in a grump! I don’t want to get out of bed, I don’t want to do yoga and I don’t want to go to work, but I know I have to! By spending five minutes just sitting peacefully by myself, it helps me to lighten up and stop being so hard on myself and my day. You have two choices in the morning –
1, Be grumpy about your day and then go do you day;
2, Be happy and positive about your day and go do your day.
Either way you have to go do your day, right? So why not enjoy it and make it that little easier on yourself? Trust me, five minutes of softening the breath and the mind, will change your mood.
Benefit 5 – Wake me up!
I always find when I am a little bit tired that if I spend some time resting my eyes and making my inhale deeper than my exhale, I feel a lot more awake. I know that my yoga practice before my mediation is a big help towards waking me up ready for the day, but just tuning into my breath and making it more energy filled, I soon feel more alive inside which then reflect on the outside.
SIGN ME UP!
Please don’t go away and think ‘I can’t possibly do meditation, thats not for me’ because its accessible to everyone. People don’t know what is going on inside your head so even if you just soften your gaze and internally focus on your breath or how your body feels, you can slow the mind down and tune into your breath with everyone thinking you are focussed on that book in front of you or taking in the views on the bus journey home.
Saying this, please make sure you are in a safe position to practice your five minutes of meditation – no zoning out of the world while driving please!
HOW TO MEDITATE
It really is as easy as 1-2-3
1. Find a comfortable quiet place to sit. It can be in a chair, resting your back against a wall or sitting cross legged, just in a postion where you feel comfortable, won’t fall asleep and can allow your breath to easily flow in and out of the lungs.
2. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath and allow everything in your mind to focus on the breath. If your mind begins to wander then gently bring it back to the breath. Don’t get frustrated with your mind, it has not be told what to do before. Instead, when it wanders gently take it by the hand and guide it back to the breath.
3. Continue this for around 5 minutes or longer if you wish, but I would recommend slowly building it up rather than asking yourself to sit still for 30 minutes everyday – this is an unrealistic goal to begin with. When you feel ready slowly bring yourself back.
Please note, if you never make it past five minutes because you just don’t have time, or quite honestly don’t want to then fine! There is no rule that says you HAVE to do 30 minutes or it doesn’t work. Any amount of time tuning into your inner body is great!!!
Let me know how you get on and if you decide to give it a go.