Four Positive Benefits of Meditation
From Steve Jobs, Rupert Murdoch, Oprah Winfrey, Ariana Huffington to Lebron James – what is one thing that these wildly successful individuals have in common? Well these individuals, along with a growing list of CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, all preach extensively about the benefits of meditation, citing it as the key ingredient in helping them achieve their success.
Meditation has been said to reduce stress and anxiety, increase emotional well-being, mental strength and focus, and overall, contribute to a healthier body. All of these benefits sound incredible, which made me extremely eager to get in on it.
I had expected it to change my life, but my first few attempts at meditation was frustrating because it was just underwhelming. At one point, I even hired a Meditation Coach on Coach.me, just because I did not feel like I was getting it. However, I have learnt not to worry so much about how to practice it, or if I am doing it correctly, and just go with the flow. Meditation is actually a highly personal process, so I am sharing the four positive benefits that I have personally experienced from my mediation practice.
For people interested in starting out on meditation, I would recommend using the Headspace app to guide you in your practice.
01 | It Helps You to Manage Distressing Situations
The first time I noticed that I was breathing deeply outside of a meditation practice was in one of those ‘Oh Shit!’ moments when I found out that I had been scheduled to meet an important client right away. The process of taking deep breaths and counting up to 10 calmed me down substantially, so I was able to appear less anxious (i.e. more like a normal human being).
Of course, I had plenty of other small ‘oh shit!’ moments after that, such as forgetting to send out an email, or being unable to locate my phone/wallet/keys. I find it useful to take deep breaths to calm myself down before going to face whatever uncomfortable situation I am in, which sometimes also serves as a source of courage when trying something new.
02 | It Helps You Get Restful Sleep Every Night
This has been the most amazing benefit of meditation for me.
Taking 10 minutes to meditate every night has helped me to fall asleep faster, and sleep better throughout the night. Previously, I spoke about not being able to sleep well and shared some tips I used to manage my day after a bad night’s sleep. Now, I’m incredibly happy that I hardly have to use those tips at all! I find that I toss and turn around the bed much less, and am able to sleep through the night most of the time.
03 | It Helps You Be Present in the Moment
Meditation is 10 minutes in a day in which I find myself completely present in the moment. The practice of focusing my attention on the sounds around me, on my breathing, and on how my body feels makes me completely aware of the surroundings. Sometimes we are so caught up with the list of things that we have to do that we are always thinking about ‘What’s next?’. It’s good to have a moment or two to appreciate and extend gratitude for the now, before it is gone forever.
I find that the Body Scan Practice is very helpful in shifting my focus to the now, by focusing my attention on all parts of my body.
04 | It Helps You to Extend Control Over Negative Thoughts
95% of our thoughts are the same things repeated over and over again. Called “automatic thoughts”, these are thoughts that we do not necessarily pay attention to, or consciously spend a lot of time on, but that our brain continuously generates. However, not all of these thoughts are helpful to us, especially those thoughts of self-doubt that creep in from time to time. For me, the frequent visitors in my head space are – ‘I am so terrible at this!’, ‘I will never be able to get this right’, or ‘Why can’t my life be like that?’.
Most recently, I have been practising extending control over my negative thoughts. This involves separating the thoughts from the body (like dismantling lego blocks) and viewing them objectively from the self. I notice the thoughts, acknowledge their presence, but do not accept or agree with them. Therefore, even though the brain automatically generate these negative thoughts, I can choose not to accept them as truths, or to feel that way about myself.
The art of extending Jedi-like control over your brain takes a lot of hard work and practice, but this has been incredibly useful in improving my self-esteem!
Here are the 4 positive benefits of meditation that I have experienced on my life so far. If you are thinking of starting your own meditation practice, I hope my experience gives you the courage to keep trying! It certainly did not change my life instantaneously, but it is the small changes that will build up to something great with consistent practice.
Have you had any experience with meditation? Share your experience with us in the comment box below!