Why you should meditate and where to start!

If you haven’t heard meditation is all the rage and it continues to be going strong this year as well! But do you know why? Are you curious as to if meditation would be helpful for you? And if it is, where do you even start? Lucky you for starting here cuz I got chu!

I loved Headspace’s definition of meditation and thought it would be a great place to start in better understanding what meditation is and why you should be doing it.

Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well. (Headspace)

I think this is a really helpful thing to understand because meditation is an ever evolving practice. The beauty is that each day is a little different depending on where you are at that day but the practice itself can be a comfortable constant.

We as a culture are so go go go that meditation can feel really challenging. I mean sitting quietly for even 5 minutes can be difficult when you first start. But that is why this practice is so important. We need to flex our mental muscle of focus, understanding and awareness.

Meditation is great because it helps:

  • Reduce stress!

This is one of the most common benefits of meditation and there is the science to back it up! One study that included over 3,500 adults showed that meditation can help reduce the inflammation response caused by stress!

Another study with 1,300 people showed that not only can it help reduce stress but it can also reduce stress related symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder and fibromyalgia.

  • Controls anxiety!

If you suffer from anxiety (like me!) you are not alone and meditation can help with that! Part of it comes from the reality that less stress tends to mean less anxiety.

Studies have found that a consistent meditation practice can help maintain lower anxiety levels over the long term. Yoga has been linked to helping with stress and anxiety as well, more than likely because of the meditative practice and physical activity.

  • Can make you more positive!

Some forms of meditation can help improve your self-image and help you create a more positive outlook on life. There were two studies done with over 4,600 people that found that meditation helped decrease depression.

Because meditation is linked to decreasing our bodies inflammatory response, it decreases the inflammatory chemicals linked to depression.

  • Lengthens attention span!

Focused meditation is like a workout for your attention span. This practice can help increase the strength and endurance of your attention making you more productive and effective.

How often do you find yourself barely able to finish a task, hopping on to Facebook or scrolling through articles, having your mind wander even when you are in the middle of a conversation or losing your train of thought mid task? Even just four days of meditation has shown to help improve and add in this area to keep you more focused!

  • May help fight addictions!

Whether its social media, food, drugs, alcohol or something else, the practice of meditation can increase your awareness of your actions and allow you to better control your emotions and impulses.

So often we find ourselves reacting without thinking and meditation can help you find your why. When you realize how you are responding to stress, anger or sadness you are able to take a step back and deal with the emotions at hand rather than seeking help from something else.

  • Improves sleep!

Did you know that nearly half the population struggles with insomnia at some point? That’s so crazy to me! But studies have show that meditation can help you fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer compared to those who don’t meditate.

This practice helps your body redirect racing thoughts and allows you to focus on your breath rather than your to-do list!

At the end of the day those are just a FEW of the benefits of meditation and you could experience even more yourself with this practice. I mean who doesn’t want to be less stressed and more relaxed, right?!

Meditation is an amazing practice that can benefit anyone. Basically if you’re breathing, you should be meditating!

But where do you start?

Here are a few steps to help you get started on your meditation practice:

  1. Sit or lie comfortably. You could always invest in a meditation cushion or chair if you really get into the practice and find this helpful. I myself like to do it laying down, TJ likes to be sitting in a chair or on the couch.

  2. Close your eyes. If you are someone who has trouble keeping their eyes closed then I recommend using a sleep mask to help keep your eyes closed and relaxed.

  3. Just breath. Make no effort to control your breath and simply notice it and breath naturally. You can even count your inhales and exhales to help keep you focused on your breath.

  4. As thoughts come into your head, acknowledge them but then gently set them aside. No need to snap back to your breath or judge your thoughts as they come in. Some days your mind will wander more easily, and others your breath will be more of your focus.

  5. Start in increments of 5 minutes or so. As that gets easier then add more and more time. A great time to get too is about 15-20 minutes!

What to listen too when you meditate:

Listening to music, a guided meditation or simply the sound of waves or the outdoors is a great way to start your meditation practice. It is not necessary but some (myself included) find it helpful.

  • Meditation apps:

    • Pacifica- I love using this app because they actually have meditation plans that are FREE! A lot of plans have a monthly or yearly membership but with this one, you are able to access a select number that are still great, and all for free! This is the perfect app if you are just getting started and not ready to make an investment. 

    • Headspace- Probable one of the most popular! The guy's voice is amazing, they have so many categories to choose from and meditate over but it is a yearly fee so keep that in mind if you choose to sign up for this one! But maybe the financial commitment will encourage you to use it more than if it were free! 

    • Calm- This is another great one. I have only used it a couple times but it is a very popular one after Headspace.

    • Waking up with Sam Harris- This is an app my husband has actually really enjoyed using because not only does it have guided meditations, it also has mindfulness courses you can listen too each day as well!

  • Meditation playlists:

    • Spotify- Or any other listen platform like Apple Music will have a variety of meditation playlists for you to choose from. Play around with a few and see what you like!

    • YouTube- A great place to find guided meditations or just mediation music as well!

So are you ready to start meditating yet?! This simple practice can be how you start your day or end your day! It can be done on your lunch break or in your car. Make space for a few minutes to slow down your thoughts, get in touch with your breath and see the impact it starts to have on your life!