When someone says “you should try meditation” most people immediately think “that’s not for me.”
It’s understandable; there are many misconceptions about meditation and what it actually is. Meditation is not just for monks in candlelit caves or zen masters in sweat lodges.
The truth is, most of the people practicing meditation around the world are just like you.
Meditation is an exercise. You lift weights to build muscle, you do cardio to strengthen your heart, and you meditate to strengthen your mind.
Mental muscles are different from our biceps, triceps, and pectorals, but they are just as important. They are muscles that we use every single day for almost every single task.
These muscles of the mind are the basis for everything we experience in our entire lives. We’re talking about concentration, focus, memory, clarity, equanimity, compassion, and more.
The best things about meditation are it’s free, you can do it anywhere, and it’s scientifically proven to work.
Built to Wander
Our brains are built to wander. With the amount of stimulation available at our fingertips these days, our focus and concentration have perhaps never been worse.
Meditation tackles this problem head-on, training the mind to step back and observe things like thoughts and worries instead of becoming absorbed by them.
This is just one small part of the benefits that a regular meditation practice can have.
According to the Columbia University Medical Center, these are some of the proven benefits of meditating:
- Reduced stress, anxiety, and depression.
- Increased focus and concentration.
- Improved memory and attention span.
- A stronger immune system and greater physical/psychological resilience.
- Better sleep.
One of the most fascinating findings is that meditators’ brains look different from non-meditators’, showing that the practice actually physically changes our brains.
Practice Makes Perfect
Like anything worth doing, meditation requires some commitment and practice. It can feel uncomfortable (and downright silly) at first.
But every time you commit and sit down to practice, you exercise those mental muscles.
Over time, these muscles develop and get stronger. Although mental gains might be a bit harder to see than our biceps and triceps, you will begin to notice positive changes if you stick with it.
You may find yourself more in control of your emotions. A little kinder to yourself and others. Less stressed, more focused, and better prepared for whatever life throws at you.
There’s no set number of hours or minutes that you have to reach in order to see these changes. It’s simply finding the technique and time that works for you, whether it’s 20 minutes with a guided session or 2 minutes just following your own breath.
Find what works for you and commit to it. Your brain will thank you.
Finally, we have a variety of free meditations available to our readers, try one below: