When my first coach introduced me to meditation, I had a lot of reservations.
I thought it would require me to hum with my legs crossed and eyes closed while I tried to clear my mind. I thought it was tied to religion and that I would need to be religious in order to do it.
What I found was that those are commercialized depictions of meditation, but not exclusive ways of meditating. To be fair, the images do a good job of illustrating that someone is meditating.
A picture of someone laying down could be anything.
Cat nap? Full slumber? Counting for hide’n’go seek? Who knows.
Do people chant, with their legs crossed in a religious setting. They sure do.
But if this list of CEOs that meditate isn’t convincing (HINT: It contains Joe Rogan, Oprah Winfrey, & Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff).
It Changes Your Brain, Making You More Emotionally Stable
Meditation increases the volume of gray matter in your brain. Specifically the orbito-frontal cortex and the right hippocampus (did you picture a university for hippos?).
These regions of the brain regulate your emotions, increasing your capacity to control your emotions and be more positive.
Controlling your emotions will mitigate stress while positivity will keep you going to the gym when you don’t see results.
It Decrease Anxiety, Depression, & Stress
Okay that’s three benefits in one, but these states are often correlated.
Stress causes you to breath deeper into your chest, stimulating your sympathetic nervous system, which you want to avoid unless you’re training. Anxiety and depression will compound your stress.
Studies show that meditation helps with anxiety and depression.
Using meditation as a form of focusing on things you are grateful for will shift your focus away from past or future and make you more present.
It Provides Clarity
Life is a lot of noise.
Your friends, family, commercials, music, movies, bosses, co-workers, and many more are all putting thoughts into your head.
What thoughts are yours and what thoughts are ones you taken on from external inputs?
Meditation provides you the opportunity to quiet the inner chatter and listen to what your soul really wants to do.
It might sound cheesy, but ask yourself what you do if you couldn’t fail?
We all had dreams as kids, but “real-life” puts mufflers on your inner voice.
The more you meditate, the louder your inner kid gets.
It Improves Your Productivity
Slow down to go fast.
Meditation actually modifies subsystems of attention. Specifically conflict monitoring, alertness, and orientation.
Mindfulness is the practice of being more present.
By becoming more present you are able to be more attentive to the tasks you are handling. Even if that means multi-tasking.
Think about trying to juggle three balls. Kind of hard, but possible.
Now try juggling the balls while you’re on a conveyor belt going up and down, left and right.
When you aren’t present, your mind is going in the future than in the past. All while you’re trying to handle tasks going on in the present.
Meditation not only gets rid of the conveyor belt, but it slows down the balls you’re juggling.
You Feel Less Lonely In Social Situations
The root of human suffering comes from our inability to sit in a room alone with ourselves.
We need our phone.
We need to be with people.
We need have a drink in our hand.
What are we afraid of?
When you practice meditation, you are practicing sitting by yourself with nothing, but your thoughts.
Meditation teaches you to “just be.”
You don’t need anything else. You have yourself.
Next time you sit down to eat dinner alone. Say to yourself that you having dinner with your self instead of by yourself.