From your friends and co-workers to CEO’s of major companies like Google, everyone seems to be talking about meditation these days. Sure, it has the reputation for helping people to de-stress and ‘find their zen,’ but what are the real benefits of meditation? Research studies have found countless benefits of meditation on mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional health. Yet, some people may still be reluctant to try it because it either seems too good to be true, or they can’t wrap their heads around how one of the many benefits may be specifically useful for them. So, while there are indeed many different benefits to practicing meditation, I have decided to hone in on what I believe to be the top five that are relevant and relatable for almost everyone:
- It’s applicable “off the cushion”: If you’ve never before meditated, you may be wary of whether or not it will have a lasting impact beyond the few minutes you are actually doing it. The great part about meditation is that it is a practice, and each time you do it, you are adding more tools to your emotional toolbox, so to speak. The calmness and present-moment awareness you may feel during your actual meditation carry over “off the cushion,” and you will begin to notice these effects in other areas of your life. When you build your practice, you will recognize that you start to react to situations in daily life in a more accepting, tolerant, and peaceful way. Meditation helps you to respond rather than react, and so even practicing for just a few minutes a day will have a noticeable impact on how you show up in other aspects of your life.
- It gives you one-on-one time with yourself: In the day-to-day hustle and bustle, it is easy to focus on everything and everyone except for yourself. Between taking care of partners, children, or pets and completing tasks for home or work, how often in the day do you get to just be totally, and completely preoccupied with your own personal needs? Carving out a few moments in the day to tune into your body and your thoughts will give you important quality time with yourself and provide invaluable insight into what you really need. In moments of silence, our inner voice becomes louder and we can get in touch with what we need to recharge mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually throughout the day.
- You will feel more energized and productive: Building off of this idea that meditation allows us to reconnect with ourselves and recharge, it can also help us to feel more energized, focused, and productive. By hitting the reset button and taking a few moments to breathe and align your mind and body, you can carry on the rest of your day with more clarity and energy as if you got a fresh start. Running around on autopilot is incredibly draining, and taking a moment to realign mind, body, and spirit gives us the fuel we need to continue the rest of the day in a focused and productive way. Meditation has been found to increase focus and attention, given that it cultivates present-moment awareness, so this renewed quality of presence can be used to help you be more efficient with your other tasks. Rather than feeling burnt-out and completing each task as a means to an end, you will be able to perform better and more productively because you are focused and fully present.
- It can enhance your experience at the gym: In a previous blog I wrote for Mindpump, I discussed the benefits of practicing meditation before hitting the gym. Because of the attention and focus it cultivates, meditation is an important part of any exercise routine as it allows you to really maximize results and get the most bang for your buck. Sometimes working out can feel like a chore, and therefore we may simply go through the motions just to pass the time and get it over with. However, this ends up being a waste of time, since putting in minimal effort will not yield the results you are looking for. Meditating can help us to get in the proper mental state before beginning a workout so that we can be fully present and committed to the activity we are about to engage in. Being present allows you to really feel your muscles working and to understand what’s going on in your body, as well as increases the likelihood that you are doing the exercise properly and therefore more efficiently.
- Strengthens your connection with others. In addition to improving your relationship with yourself, you will also find that you connect with those around you in a different way. As meditation impacts how we react and show up in the world, it allows us to treat others with more presence, patience, and compassion. Meditation allows us to cultivate acceptance for what is, and therefore we can be more understanding of those around us and to be more aware and present in our interactions. Once you have given yourself some quiet time to tend to your own needs and to recharge your battery, you can then meet others more attentively. Becoming more present in your relationships will allow you to notice things in others that you may have not realized before, and to communicate more mindfully and with intention.