Written by Shelby Deering
I’ve been practicing meditation for over two years, every day, without fail—and I can say it’s one of the easiest and hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s simple in the respect that all you really need to do is sit…close your eyes…clear your mind…and relax your body.
But as someone who has what meditation pros call “monkey mind,” my brain is constantly flitting from one thing to the other during each meditation session. I’ve definitely gotten better at steering things back to the present moment when my thoughts go awry, but it’s still a challenge every time I sit down on my meditation cushion.
I’ve discovered something else along the way: meditation is the most important part of my self-care routine. It’s how I ground myself and how I find tranquility in the midst of mental health hurdles. Oftentimes, it truly is my anchor.
Maybe you’re not a regular meditator and you’d like to incorporate it into your daily life. Maybe you’re looking for a newfound appreciation for meditation, which you’ve been doing for years. In any case, these insights into the importance of meditation may shift your outlook in a big way.
For Mental and Physical Wellbeing
Originating in China and India as far back as 5,000 BCE, meditation has a long and storied history, and for good reason. Even its earliest practitioners knew how important meditation could be to mental and physical wellbeing.
Although there are many forms of meditation—seated, walking, visualization, to name a few—the effects tend to be the same across the board.
For mental wellbeing, meditation is considered by experts to be an effective way to combat stress; reduce anxiety; alleviate depression; improve brain function; and provide increased emotional intelligence.
And the benefits go way beyond your brain. Meditation has also been proven by researchers to help its devotees physically. It can better sleep quality. Lessen chronic pain. Lower blood pressure. And it can even strengthen one’s immune system.
Weave It Into Your Home
The wonderful thing about meditation is that you can literally do it anywhere. In its most basic form, all you have to do is sit comfortably and close your eyes. You can do this next to a beautiful, peaceful ocean or right in your living room.
But to fully set the scene and drop yourself into the moment, it can help to create some ambiance—namely, through a dedicated home meditation space. Meditating in the same spot every day can root your routine. You’ll know that this is the place where you meditate, not the place where you pay bills or scroll through social media.
You’ll want this space to appeal to your senses. Make it comfortable, since sitting in the same position for a while can be tough if you don’t feel at ease. If you’re someone who needs a bit of stimulation while you meditate, background music can be helpful; or, you can always open your eyes and practice a “soft gaze” while you look at soothing surroundings. Also, don’t forget about scent; essential oils can enhance the experience and make it even better.
Weave It Into Your Routine
As I mentioned, meditation is firmly planted in my daily routine at this point. But it took a while for me to get there.
A couple things can help you as you establish a regular meditation routine. First of all, try to meditate at roughly the same time every day. It doesn’t have to be at exactly 8:39 a.m. each morning, but if you aim for morning in general and tell yourself that you’ll meditate before lunch, that’s a good start. Morning is a great time to meditate because you haven’t officially started your day yet.
Also, a meditation app can be a great help as you start a steady meditation practice. One such app is called Aura, which has thousands of audio tracks that focus on mindfulness meditations, stories, and life coaching. You can sit down and meditate for as little as three minutes or go all the way up to an hour. The Aura app can even help you get better sleep and improve your mood and mental wellbeing throughout the day.
An app can also help you figure out what types of meditations work best for you. Which ones bring you the best sense of peace and calm? How much time would you like to devote to daily meditating? It’s a great way to customize your meditation experience to your needs.
There’s no doubt that this is a challenging time for everyone in the world right now. But there is always meditation, a consistent, calming reminder that we can breathe in and out and create our own slices of Zen wherever we are.