In these times with our high stress and busy lifestyles, meditation is often recommended as a method of unwinding and stress reduction. And while it undoubtedly helps in those areas, there are numerous reasons that are just as important why a daily meditation routine will bring great benefits to your life.
Strengthen your mind. ‘Going to the gym for your attention muscles.’ Being able to focus your mind where you want it is critical to achieving your dreams in life. Our lives are packed with so many varying factors all requiring our attention– work, family, friends, social media– that our minds are constantly jumping from one thing to the next– monkey mind, it’s called. Meditation will boost your concentration abilities and help you learn to fix your mind on one particular topic, which produces greater productivity and also a greater sense of calmness and well-being.
Develop willpower. Scientists have discovered that how much willpower a particular person has is a more reliable predictor of their well-being in every area of their life than any other factor. But even if you think you fall short in that department, willpower may be cultivated, and like other qualities, the more you do it, the better you get at it. This follows on from number one, as while you’re building up your attention muscles, you’re also building your willpower muscles.
Optimize your immune system. With many of us on the move from morning to night, our adrenal system, which manages our stress hormones, is constantly taxed. This means our immune system is not working effectively, which triggers not only a greater susceptibility to illness but also tiredness, low energy and even depression. Just as little as 10 minutes meditation a day can relax the body enough so that your immune system has a chance to revitalize itself.
Change your DNA. Yes, you can actually do that. Contrary to past beliefs our genes are not fixed and scientists have uncovered that in a process called epigenetics, our thoughts, behaviors and environment affect how our genes are expressed. They’ve also found that a consistent meditation practice can change our genetic expression, with as little as 12-15 minutes of meditation in 8 weeks. In practical terms this means that someone who is genetically predisposed to being highly anxious can change that– ie become less anxious, by a daily meditation program.
Connect to something bigger than you. This doesn’t automatically mean God, it may be the universe, life force – whatever you want it to be. It basically means delving into the spiritual part of you, however you perceive it. With our lives very much in the here and now and a million different things to sidetrack us, it’s very difficult to get a sense of ourselves as a part of the universe. Having the ability to feel a connection to something outside of ourselves helps to obtain a perspective on our lives and feel more connected to others.
The most important thing to bear in mind is that meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting for an hour each day humming. As little as 10 minutes a day of sitting in a peaceful spot and slow, deep breathing can have a significant effect on your life.
Meditation and activities which improve concentration are a great help in building up will power. So, make up your mind and go burn those calories.