I learned how to meditate in the most surprising place – church. Before the service, they did a 20-30 minute silent meditation, and it was one of the oddest things I had experienced. I sat in a room full of people actively not thinking; or in my case, I was thinking about how I shouldn’t be thinking about what others are thinking about me not thinking. No judgment.
Of course, all the intense, existential questions floated through my head.
Why is that person coughing?
Why didn’t that guy call me back?
Why is it so cold in here all of a sudden?
Who decided this was a good idea?
Why didn’t I eat before we came?
It seemed like an impossible task to slow down my brain, but it was the kickstart to a lifestyle change. I started practising in moments. 5 seconds at a stop light. 1 minute on the elliptical, 15 minutes before I went to sleep. Slowly and surely it became easier and quicker to quiet everything, and it paid off. I was less frazzled, more energetic and decisive. It was easier to concentrate, and I am pretty sure I ate less snacks (the jury is still out on that.)
Research has shown that mediation can make sizable changes in the brain over a very small amount of time. One Harvard study showed in only 8 weeks, there were physical changes in the brain in regions associated with empathy, stress, memory and more. Here are the top 6 reasons every millennial should be meditating (no more excuses).
Improved sleep. Studies show that people who mediate enhance their slow wave sleep pattern, and that helps lessen insomnia. Also, you are able to clear your mind and close out any leftover tasks or lingering thoughts of the day. This means you aren’t going to bed stressing about what you didn’t finish at work or what someone said on their Instagram story.
Release excess weight. Summer bodies are made in the meditation room. When you’re stressed, you produce cortisol. In excess, cortisol leads to increased abdominal fat, decreased muscle mass and dampened thyroid action. Add in stress eating, and none of this leads to a sexier you. Reduce your stress, reduce that waistline.
Better focus. People tend to lose focus because their mind is filled with too many options, tasks, and decisions that feel like they need to be handled right…now. A study in Psychological Science confirms that meditation allows you to clear your mind, focus on one thing at a time and improved working memory capacity, which helps you to be way more productive.
Be solution-focused. Worrying is praying for what you don’t want. When people continually focus on problem and it’s cause instead of switching to the solution, it can cause them to get stuck on the negative and see it as immovable obstacle. Studies suggest that meditation makes you more creative and solution-focused. This helps a person to see and acknowledge the issue, move through it, or see it as an opportunity. Obviously, those who tend to be problem solvers instead of problem stumblers tend to be more successful in all areas of life.
Higher quality relationships. Ever date someone who says they are confused? Oh, I hear you, and I have also been that person. Meditation creates emotional distance and space to observe your thoughts, values, feelings and emotions. This allows you to communicate more effectively with people in your life by responding instead of reacting, being very clear on who you are and what you really want.
Increased creativity. Creativity is vital, yet our current education system does not foster creativity as a skill. Meditation is the answer. Researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands studied focused-attention and open-monitoring meditation to see if there was a change in creativity afterwards. Those who practised the open-monitoring type performed better on tasks that asked them to generate new ideas than the focused-attention group.
What do you think about meditation? Sound off below.