Meditation Will Change Your Life, Here’s How You Do ItBy Eve Stern
Sep. 21 2016, Published 3:30 a.m. ET
Believe it or not, a calmer, more focused life can be yours with only 20 minutes a day.
Many of you, like me, do not settle – we are overachievers. We are on the grind chasing our dreams, balancing full time jobs with side hustles, not to mention taking care of all the responsibilities in our lives. How many of you reading this have scheduled “you” time in your planner outside of fitness classes or the gym? Chances are, many of us don’t, and when we do, we battle staying disciplined and consistent in making self care a priority.
There are over 3,000 scientific studies measuring the benefits of meditation, many finding all you need is 20 minutes each day to feel the wealth of benefits it brings. Consistent practice results in a reduction in stress, anxiety, tension, depression, and a boost in focus, a better immune system, improved attention span – I can keep going, but these traits are some of the typical results from a daily meditation practice.
Meditation has even been proven to change our brain. Numerous studies have monitored the impact of meditation in the brain, finding miraculous conclusions such as the characteristics above, or meditations ability to help kick additions and compare the same to antidepressants.
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So what is stopping us from being our most blissful selves? Time, fear, disorganization, disbelief, a lack of compassion – the usuals that often keep us from forming healthy habits, so instead of feeling guilty for not being a meditation master, here are effective tips to make meditating a breeze everywhere you go!
First off, there are many types of meditations, each one potentially more beneficial to you than the next. Whether searching online or through various apps (even Spotify!), you will find some meditations with someone guiding you, while others, only with a collection of sounds and instruments. Starting out though, I’ve found guided meditations to be highly helpful.
Awareness meditation teaches us to simply be aware, which may be a lot more challenging than it seems. A compassion meditation focuses on bringing more compassion to ourselves, or to the people around us. A visual meditation walks you through mental imagery, aiding you to stay centered while watching thoughts enter and leave your brain. There are many further forms and variations of meditation from yoga nidra to alpha waves below, which personally, helps me focus on any work I need to get done.
Then comes the real work of, “how do I actually do this everyday?”
The first step is to create a space or a few for your practice. It should be in the same place, even in the same clothes so that your mind also knows to go there explains Jennifer Lishansky, a well-seasoned meditation instructor. In addition to setting up a space, it’s important to carry your practice and awareness throughout your day even at work. It may be challenging at first to notice your breathing and focus, but one tip Lishansky shares is to take in a deep breath before sending an email at work until it eventually becomes a habit.
The next step in your process should be preparing to meditate. Physically get ready by stretching and moving around before sitting down. It’s also important to begin in and maintain a supportive posture throughout meditation so you will not be distracted by unnecessary discomfort. Videos, playlists, and guided audio practices are also important for keeping us on time. “Look for 10 minute meditations,” Lishansky suggests, or if you need to, set an alarm. The key is to not allow yourself to be worried about the concept of time during meditation.
Evolve and experiment with meditation by changing things up! Try new meditations, practice with friends or co-workers during lunch, or consider signing up for group meditations in person to experience a guided meditation live. I enjoy testing out various forms of yoga that combine meditation and movement. For example restorative yoga classes usually work to deeply stretch out your body with the added touch of guided meditation throughout the practice.
“Stay disciplined, focus on your breath and posture, and keep going,” Jennifer Lishansky advises for success. I highly, highly suggest you give meditation a try. By practicing even only a few days a week, I promise you’ll feel a noticeable difference after a week or two. In our busy, work heavy, ambitious driven lives, if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we will remain that much further from reaching our dreams.