The 411 on Meditation and Its Benefits
I have had a very tumultuous relationship with meditation. It has truly been a love/hate rollercoaster ride. I couldn’t meditate for the life of me a few years ago. I knew the benefits of meditation, but I couldn’t seem to get in the “meditation” headspace everyone seemed to be talking about.
Everyone was talking about how great meditation was, the benefits of meditation, how calm you feel after…blah…blah…blah. I tried, I failed, and I quit so many times I lost count. I am not sure if you have been there, but if you have I want you to know: You aren’t alone; It’s not hopeless; and It’s not too late to join the party.
I wanted to learn to meditate with every bone in my body. I even went to an ashram to learn from a Master. Extreme….I know. I know. However, it still didn’t really click for me. I wanted to see what I was missing. Then I found an app called Omvana. Two words: Game Changer. Omvana is a guided 6-phase meditation that only takes 20 minutes. I FINALLY saw the light.
Summary of the 6 steps:
Step 1 – You are guided to focus on the light within your soul and how we are all connected on this planet.
Step 2 – This step has you visualize 5 things you are grateful for in your life in the past 24 hours or in the past few days.
Step 3 – In this step, you are guided to resolve any conflicts with people in your life. You visualize individuals you might have a conflict with and ask for forgiveness.
Step 4 – You are guided to visualize what your life looks like in 3 years in detail. (My favorite part)
Step 5 – In the fifth step, you focus on what your day today looks like in vivid detail.
Step 6 – In the last step, you are guided to ask your higher power for strength, love, and guidance.
I look at meditation as mental hygiene. It has changed my life. I try to meditate every day, but tend to do it about 5 times a week. I have experienced several benefits of meditation such as increased happiness, a decrease in stress, increased self-awareness, and more self-acceptance.
Benefits of Meditation:
It increases happiness.
Meditation increases the feel good chemicals in your brain such as serotonin and endorphins. Studies have shown that meditation actually decreases activity in the right side of the prefrontal cortex, negative emotions, and increases the left side, positive emotions. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, has said that only 2 minutes a day for 21 days can actually rewire your brain to be more optimistic.
It reduces stress.
Meditation helps individuals take charge of their emotions and ANS systems, also known as the nervous system. Studies have shown that mindful meditation improves an individual’s ability to regulate emotions and it’s very empowering. Sara Lazar, a neuroscientist at Havard Medical School, was one of the first scientists to prove stress reduction through meditation. She literally proved that meditation changes your brain.
Meditation increases self-awareness.
Self-awareness begins when you are able to calm the chatter in your brain with meditation. Then you are able to self reflect and become more comfortable in your own skin. This inner silence and self-reflection helps you see what improvements you can make to be a better person to yourself and to others. Within my meditation practice, I have learned that my brain tends to feel safe with negative self-talk. I have been able to learn to be kinder to myself and more grateful.
It improves concentration.
Meditation teaches you to become more centered, improves focus, and increases energy. I, personally, don’t find myself getting distracted as much as I used to. In step 5 in the Omvana app, you are guided to visualize your day from morning to night. I stay on task throughout the day more when I have meditated in the morning. A recent study by University of Washington researchers found that meditation helped workers increase concentration, reduce negativity, and stay more detail oriented throughout the day.
It increases acceptance.
Meditation helps individuals accept themselves and their emotions for what they are. It has helped me a lot with self-acceptance, inner peace, and has allowed room for self-exploration. Meditation helps you sit in your emotions and accept them for what they are. Michael Inzlicht, associate professor of psychology at UTSC, states that when you meditate regularly, you learn to detach from emotions and accept yourself for having them.
Meditation can be a struggle initially, but it’s worth it. Before I was able to meditate, I was a skeptic of all the benefits of meditation. It didn’t see how closing my eyes, breathing, and visualizing could provide all these benefits. Now that I actively practice meditation, I am a strong believer. Give it a chance for 2 weeks. What do you have to lose?