The act of sitting still, eyes closed, doing nothing but breathing in and out was once only prevalent in ashrams and monasteries. Now, meditation has infiltrated the daily lives of millions around the world, thanks to travel and globalization.
Despite the tranquil, still outer appearance that meditators take on, this elongated period of silence is more beneficial to your body and mind than you could imagine.
The highest purpose of meditation is to find “enlightenment”, or a state where you are perfectly happy and at peace with yourself and the world. Along the way, your entire being shifts towards a healthier state.
Whether you want to reach enlightenment, or just want to ease your work and homelife stress, here are 7 reasons to make meditation a constant in your life right now:
One of the most surprising effects of meditation is the scientific discovery that it effectively strengthens your immune system, helping your body fight diseases and infections better than ever before.
According to researchers at Ohio State University, daily meditation practices have been proven to reduce the risk of going into breast cancer relapse. It was also proven to boost the number of natural killer cells, making the body more virus and tumor resistant.
We all know meditation is meant to be an effective stress reliever. But what researchers at the Harvard Medical School found out is that consistent practice also conditions the body to make it respond less to stress hormones, reducing the spikes of blood pressure when stressful situations occur.
More often than not, our sporadic thoughts have an iron grip on our moods and emotions. Meditating raises your awareness towards the waves of thoughts that come to your mind, making you more of a witness to them as they come and go without getting affected by them.
Mindful meditation, where you are instructed to do a “body scan”, listen to the sounds around you, or simply monitor your natural breath as it flows in and out of your body are all mental exercises that make you more aware of your surroundings. It also gives you the skill to selectively turn your awareness to certain things while blocking out others, like the banging noise of construction next door or the incessant tweeting of angry birds outside the window.
As you become more aware of your surroundings, you also reach a point where you can tune out distractions and callings to other actions and instead harness your focus down to one task at a time.
Just as meditation guides you to let the thoughts that tell you to “get up and get that task done instead of sitting here”, you learn to incorporate that skill into daily routines like not checking your phone every time it lights up.
Meditation makes you feel more grounded and more connected to your senses, your body, and your surroundings.
Certain types of the practice, like compassion meditation, or ‘Metta’, help strengthen the parts of the brain associated with social skills, mental processing, and empathy.
Every time you actively decide to stay with your breath instead of answering the phone, writing that email, or getting on with your day while meditating, you are strengthening your brain’s centers for decision making.
If you’re a novice to meditation, apps like Headspace are perfect for short guided meditation sessions or head down to your local yoga center for longer group classes.
It’s time to harness the peaceful, stress-free, decision-maker in you!