I appreciate there are far more than 5 benefits of meditating.
But if I talk from a personal perspective, I discovered these benefits:
- Mental health
- Less stress
- Emotional release
- Improved concentration levels
- Physical impact
First of all, meditation is a proactive form of self-care. A chance to take care of yourself so you can be your very best and cope with whatever life throws at you. For more information on self-care and why it matters to you read my overview here
But before I get ahead of myself, let’s talk about stress.
Stress! Yep, we all get it, but sometimes it can get out of control.
Ever felt as if you’re running around as if your hair’s on fire?
Are you busy trying to
- Fulfil work and home responsibilities – I would like to try to keep a balance, but we all know that doesn’t exist.
- Manage an evergrowing list of to-do’s that’s starting to look like Santa’s shopping list
- Get to inbox zero (seriously, if anyone mentions that particular phrase one more time, I might just scream!)
And end up
This was how I felt. My stress was impacting every part of my life.
- Work suffered
- Relationships became strained
- And I was giving serious consideration to taking out shares in tissues
So, if this is you, then it might be time to hit the pause button.
Hitting The Pause Button
A friend, probably after one of my mini-meltdowns, suggested I try meditation. To say I was sceptical was putting it mildly. How on earth could I forget the many things whirling around inside my head, even for a short while?
Don’t worry; in time, you’ll feel the benefits of meditating, she gently soothed.
So I decided to give it a go.
If you google meditation, you’ll be amazed at the different options available. As I didn’t know quite where to start, I decided to experiment with various meditating programs.
There are many free options, but I wanted to stick with a program that would help me build a habit.
The best advice I can give you, so you get the best benefits of meditating, is to try a few to find out which one suits you.
I signed up for free trials of 7 days (many programs offer this) which I thought would be a decent time to see if I liked it.
Selecting A Meditation Type
While I loved the sound of Buddhist Monks chanting, I discovered that guided meditation worked best for me. As a newbie, I didn’t feel confident doing it on my own. Having someone softly direct me as to what to do seemed an excellent way to learn. It’s like having a friend whisper in my ear that everything is going to be ok.
I tried different sites and programs before I settled on Headspace.com. They offer a great selection of programs, and you can choose the length of time you want to meditate for. Super useful!
The benefits of meditating for me have been surprising. I had hoped to quiet my mind, but other things also happened that made me feel so much better.
The first and most obvious is that I have found a mental shift in my thinking. Doing a 10-minute meditation every morning calmed my busy mind. But I also discovered that I became more open to different perspectives in my thought.
In fact, my brain has, or so it seems to me, become more playful. I don’t look at issues as problems but a game that I want to explore to find a solution.
Feel Less Stressed
I’d hoped that meditation would help me feel less stressed.
But, at the time, I did not think that it would be a possibility for me. Because I was wound up tighter than the spring in a jack-in-the-box.
The benefit of meditation is that it takes you out of your stress and stressful situations. A bit like the requirement for social distance during Covid.
First, you take the time out, and then you focus on your breathing. Seriously there’s no room for anything else.
Distance from the thing that causes you stress is a life-saver. As a result, I’ve been able to take things in my stride more.
I used to get so upset when things unexpected happened that would throw me off track. Now I don’t worry so much. I’ve adopted more of a ‘what will be, will be’ attitude.
Naturally, I work through what I need to do to get back on track, but I no longer stress about doing it.
Emotional Benefits of Meditating
Stress creates an emotional rollercoaster. I mentioned before about being cranky, but that’s a minor aspect of it. Stress can cause you to get really emotional and plays out as:
- Crying your eyes out
I’d never been a crying sort of a person until the stress had become so great that my only release was to cry. The draining impact of this emotion would upset me on different levels. I felt I was losing control of myself. Now, I’m not saying that having a good cry is bad for you – far from it, but to cry at everything isn’t good.
Excessive stress can lead to depression. However, studies have shown a link between meditation and reduced symptoms.
For myself, I found that meditating helped me to become more even-tempered. As a result, the need to cry reduced, and I was able to be more positive.
Improved Concentration and Focus Levels
When you’re busy, your mind dashes from one thing to another – seemingly without taking a breath.
Inside my head, my brain would flit around like a butterfly. Doing a bit here, there and every blooming where. The trouble was my to-do list would grow because I had a problem completing things.
The benefit of meditation is that it forces you to stop and focus on one thing at a time. To settle on the present moment, not the worries of the past or future. So you clear your mind of all the extra rubbish and focus on your breathing.
But don’t just take my word for it. For example, in 2013, a study reported that meditation can reverse the patterns in the brain that contribute to worrying or poor attention span. (source: On mind wandering, attention, brain networks, and meditation - PubMed (nih.gov)
This gentle and straightforward insistence on disregarding intrusions from unwanted thoughts translates to the world outside.
I learnt to narrow my focus and get things done one task at a time.
Before that, I was a fully paid-up member of the ‘multi-tasking society.’ Ha, that’s another change I made due to meditation that has proved to be a huge benefit – I’m now a firm believer that it’s not possible to multi-task.
So many companies put multi-skilling as a desirable requirement in their job descriptions. In reality, they are just trying to guilt-trip you into believing that you have to be overwhelmed to succeed!
Physical: An Unexpected Benefit of Meditating
I’m a bit of a slouch. A hangover from being the tallest child in the playground!
A totally unexpected benefit of meditating has been the physical aspect.
Part of the preparation I go through when I meditate is sitting myself down and getting comfortable. Of course, you don’t have to sit if you don’t want to, but if I lay down, there is a danger that I feel so relaxed I fall asleep.
To breathe correctly, I need to sit up straight.
What I found is that when I meditate, I sit up straighter. My preference is to sit in a chair whilst meditating, but you don’t have to. As a result, my back is straight, my shoulders are down, and I feel less tension in my neck.
Also, I tend to walk better with my head up high. This is another great benefit as when we are depressed or feeling low, we tend to look down on things. But, when we look up, our spirits are lifted.
From Sceptic to Convert
From being a complete sceptic about the benefits of meditating, I have become a true convert.
Admittedly at first, I found it quite hard to do. Whilst I embraced the thought of meditating, it took my brain quite a while to catch up on the idea that it didn’t need to be thinking so hard.
I think that it took me a good two months to really get into it. I’m not saying I’m perfect – definitely not. I have a long way to go before I can really focus on meditating for 10 minutes without my busy brain interfering.
But it’s certainly getting better.
Those 10 minutes of meditating I now do every morning are an opportunity to centre myself before the day begins. I also love that I take time out each morning, just for myself, for some much-needed self-care. A time I definitely treasure and get so much out of.
The benefits of meditating for me have been astounding. It’s certainly exceeded my expectations.
A Final Thought
When you take care of yourself and can achieve calm, your confidence will increase. Any form of self-care is excellent for building self-esteem. The benefits of meditating are that you start to develop trust in yourself.
Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s essential if you are to perform at your best.
Do You Meditate?
I would love to hear from you if you meditate and what you have discovered are the benefits of meditation.
Or, if you are perhaps considering meditation but unclear where to start, do get in touch. I am certainly not an expert but very happy to share my own experience with you.
Please note that I do not receive any benefit, either direct or indirect, by recommending Headspace