Meditation doesn’t only make you feel calmer and reduce your obvious stress, nor is it all about chanting and crossed legs! Read on if you want to find out how meditation can help you, the ways to do it, how you can incorporate it into your everyday life and a way to be guided every day without reading your horoscope or pulling a tarot card!
The Health Benefits of Meditation:
Meditation has numerous direct benefits to help improve your health, these include:
- Boost your immune system
- Reduce blood pressure and slow heart rate
- Reduce severity and frequency of migraines
- Help stabilise diabetes
- Improve IBS and other digestive problems
- Reduce risk factors of heart disease and stroke
The Productivity Benefits of Meditation
Mediation can greatly improve your productivity in a number of ways:
- Enhanced cognitive function – including better memory, concentration, focus, clarity, learning ability, creativity, problem solving and decision making
- Increased energy and vitality
- Increased confidence and creativity
- Enhanced management skills, greater communication and working relationship skills
- Improved quality of sleep and reduced insomnia
The Emotional Benefits of Meditation
Mediation can have a significant impact on our emotions and relationships:
- Reduction of stress and anxiety
- Improved mental health and resilience (including depression)
- Emotional and physical resilience
- Greater happiness
- Overall better quality of life
Bonus Physical Benefits of Meditation
When you didn’t think it could get any better, evidence also suggests that meditation can help with
- Aiding natural weight management and loss
- Pain management
- Naturally reduce and ‘reverse’ ageing – including reducing biological ageing factors and significantly increasing natural levels of DHEA (the ‘youth hormone’)
“Wonderful!” I hear you say, “but I just can’t do it!” or “I don’t have time for it!”
Firstly, I would ask you to review that list again, and think about how much time you could save on other tasks if you made the time to meditate. Think about the improved focus and decision making, the better sleep quality, the reduced distraction of headaches or time spent seeking medical advice due to back pain or digestive problems. Making time the meditate, as little as 10 minutes a day, can in fact SAVE you time.
Next comes the issue of how to do it. This is certainly a valid issue. So many people struggle to switch their minds off, so here are some things you could try:
1- Start small and build up
Inevitably, your mind will want to wander. Why wouldn’t it when you are trying to focus on NOT focusing!. So consider setting a timer starting off with just 2 minutes and gradually build your up.
2- Push away technique
This technique is one I used when I first started and it really helped. Any time a thought or distraction popped into my head, I literally saw myself batting it out of the way and telling myself ‘not now’, so that I could remain on the path of meditating rather than allowing my thoughts to go elsewhere.
3- Set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier
One of the best times to meditate, particularly if you are using visualisation to manifest techniques, is first thing in the morning, That sleepy time when you are not quite awake but not asleep either the perfect time to practice. If you set your alarm clock 10 minutes earlier than usual and start form there. Be sure to sit up though so you don’t just fall back to sleep
4- Download an App
There are several Apps available for download, some with free content, others you pay a small fee for. These have so many different types to meditations, some guided, some with music, some for stress, sleep, energy, health to name but a few. They will also allow you o choose different lengths to suit you. Insight Timer is a free one I can recommend from personal experience.
5- Accountability group
Doing things with others helps you shift and maintain a behaviour change, so get your friends involved or find someone to hold you accountable once you decide to start. Perhaps you start a group on social media and ask people to encourage you or help each other, and support each other in your achievements as you progress. if you make your plans public, you are less likely to back out of them. You may even decide to give permission to your loved one to nag you if you don’t stick to the plan.
6- Take a walk
Generally people think that meditation is something that needs to be done while seated with your legs crossed or feet planted on the ground. This is not the case at all and there can be greater benefits to meditating out in nature while you are taking a walk. This is particularly helpful if you want to reduce stress, feel more grounded or have those moments of inspiration, which I also call ‘downloads’ or ‘a-ha moments’. Consider walking in nature without talking to anyone else and concentrate on either your feet moving step or your breath in and out to take away the distractions and help you get into a meditative state faster.
7- Dance it off
Again, similar to a walking mediation, you can mediate by dancing or while working out. It is all about being able to switch off your mind. If you choose the dance option, I’d recommend music that doesn’t have lyrics so you don’t sing along and just feel the music moving through you body, focusing on the rhythms. If you are working out, then the way to start is again focusing on just your body movements – watching them and feeling them. This takes away the distracting thoughts and in fact by focusing on muscle movements while working out, it can actually improve the function of that muscle or the weight loss you may be aiming for.
8- Picture it
Visualisation is a wonderful way to bring focus into your life of what you want to create and how you want to feel. It is an important element of neuro-plasticity where you can actually alter the pathways in the brain to alter the way our body works or how we think. Of course focusing on a vision also gives you a point to concentrate on while mediating so that you avoid distractions.
Obviously I would urge you to focus on something positive and something you would like to bring into your life. This can be anything from perfect health to a happy relationship, happy children, your perfect house or job, and can also be used to help heal yourself by visualising yourself being pain free, or having lost weight.
9- Ask a question
We’ve already talked about the fact that after a few minutes, your mind may wander, and so keeping you interested and aligned through questioning can prove very powerful. Before starting, set an intention of what you would like to gain insight on, and while you are meditating, imagine another ‘you’ asking you questions to gain guidance and insight into the issue you decided to mediate on.
The answers may come through a thought, a feeling, a visual, or even a voice in your head telling you what to do or giving you clarity. This is a wonderful way to improve your intuitive skills. I call it meeting your higher coach and you can download a meditation to help with this.
10- Scan your body and feel for it
You have heard of the body scan technique. This is all about engaging with feelings in your body and considering where you may have an energy block any why. Start from the top of your head and work your way down, really feeling into each part of you. As you focus on each part of your body, consider how it feels – if there is heaviness, or tightness, tension or restriction. You may even be naturally drawn or guided to a part of your body to start with. Whenever you notice something, imagine the tension being released, surrender it and let it got hen move on.
This type of mediation takes all focus away form anything other than your body, and is wonderful if you want clarity or guidance on something, or want to focus on a particular part of your body. Remember though, if there is tightness in your throat for example, that may be an indication of an issue to do with communication rather than specifically the throat itself.
The advice I always give is to just start somewhere. Dangle the carrot in front of you by acknowledging the benefits, find one or two that motivate you enough to want to do it, and try any or all of these techniques to help keep you going. The shift in both your physical, emotional and mental energy will be noticeable to say the least!
Dr Rana Al-Falaki is a life and business coach helping successful women take the next steps to feel more joyful and create balance in their lives. She is the author of the #1 international bestseller Women Who Want More: How to Create a Balanced & Fulfilled Life. Her website provides downloads of some mediations to help get you started.