Many people make a distinction between meditation and ‘yoga’, they think of yoga as just a form of exercise, separate from meditation, which is seating in stillness. But meditation is part of the whole yoga system and a very important one!
See below some of the wonderful reasons you should give it a go.
In fact, it’s assumed in many traditions that the whole point of the physical postures is to be able to sit in meditation for longer hours with more ease.
In the Patajali Yoga Sutras, yoga is the name given, not just to the system we practice but a goal to reach. Yoga is a state of being that is obtained after mastering the 8 limbs of the system also called ‘Yoga’. The 8 limbs are: Yamas, Niyamas, Asanas, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi.
Dharana is usually translated as ‘meditation’, but in fact what we practice when we sit down is a mixture of Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation, implying a state of abiding calm).
But don’t worry about the different terms, styles and techniques… Meditation is simple, free, and can be done anywhere. Definitely, it’s well worth our efforts.
Today, and for the sake of this blog, I will focus only on the benefits of ‘meditation’, as the generic term that may include one or more techniques.
Meditation has existed for thousands of years, but it’s never been more popular than it is right now because finally, science is catching up with many studies that provide proof to the many health and personal benefits that meditation provides.
10 reasons to include meditation in your daily life:
- Boost your health. Regular meditation decreases inflammation, improves immune function, decreases pain, and actually adds grey matter to your brain.
According to a new study published in Science Daily, people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and asthma — in which psychological stress plays a major role — may benefit from mindfulness meditation techniques.
2. Enhance self-control and the ability to regulate emotions. Do you currently have poor impulse control? Do you get upset easily? Meditation can help. Whether you struggle to stick with your diet or control your temper, meditation is beneficial in finding more balance.
3. Slow ageing. Cognitive function is better preserved in those that meditate every day. Check out research studies by the noble prize winner, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, on how teloremeres play a part in extending our health span.
Read this short blog for more information about it: “Is this the fountain of youth?”
4. Improve memory and attention. If you can’t remember where you left your car keys, regular meditation might be the answer. It can also increase your ability to concentrate.
Actually, the first big change I noticed in myself as I started to meditate regularly was an increase in my ability to stay focused. Which led to me being more productive and efficient at work. Although sometimes I still forget where I left my glasses (usually still on my head).
5. Learn to be more present. Let go of the past and the future. Meditation is all about keeping your mind in the present moment. You’ll feel a sense of relief and great peace.
You can use this skill throughout the day to enjoy your life and accomplish more. You’ll daydream and worry less. Your productivity will soar.
6. Strengthen your heart and circulatory system. Meditation lowers blood pressure and improves many cellular markers of heart health. It has even been shown to lower cholesterol levels!
If you’d like to know how to lower your blood pressure without medication, this article from US magazine, Medical News Today, will share 15 methods with you… including breathing and meditation!
7. Lower stress and enhance your mood. Meditation is widely used in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. You can effectively deal with anxiety and worry with regular and consistent meditation practice.
There are quite a few scientific studies but instead, you can read here and interview with author Scott Stossel about his struggles with generalized anxiety disorder, ideas of happiness, and why mindfulness could hold the key.
Or read his bestseller book, My Age of Anxiety
8. Enjoy a more positive lifestyle. Many of our bad habits are ways of dealing with anxiety and other negative emotions. When these emotions occur less frequently, it’s easier to avoid bad habits.
9. Increase self-awareness. When you meditate, you’re much more aware of your body, thoughts, and feelings. By meditating regularly, you develop a constant awareness of yourself.
Negative thoughts and emotions are easier to spot and correct. You’ll become an expert on yourself.
10. Make more friends. When you meditate regularly, you’ll become more accepting of others. This is considered a natural extension of the mood regulation benefits that meditation provides. You’ll find you’re less judgmental and more open to a wider range of people.
If the first thing I noticed in my own meditation journey was an increase in my ability to focus… the second things was a more accepting outlook on others and life in general.
I practised regularly a type of Buddhist meditation called Meta which really helped me improve my relationships with others. Especially with those we find ‘challenging’ to deal with, be family members, colleagues or any other difficult relationship.
Are you convinced to give a go? You can find multiple ways to start your meditation journey, from free apps on your phone, to courses, to attending drop-in classes, to attending yoga classes that include meditation. If you would like some advice, leave a comment, I’m happy to try to answer any questions you may have.
There are multiple styles too, I’d advise you to try one for a few weeks, or months, before deciding to move on to another.
Meditation doesn’t have to take up a significant portion of your day. Just a few minutes of meditation provides significant benefits. Start with just 5 minutes of meditation and increase the time as you see fit.
The medical establishment is notoriously conservative, and even it is embracing the benefits of meditation. Meditation provides many benefits, without the cost and danger of a pill. If you’re serious about your health or success, add a daily meditation session to your routine.
If you’d like to know more about Montse Gili and her yoga and meditation journey, read her here
If you’d like to work with Montse, you can book her for private sessions