What is meditation?
About two years ago, I was meeting up with my friend at the gym for a week-night workout.
As we were warming up, she asked me: “Have you tried meditation?”
“No, what’s that? What does it do?” I asked.
“It’s basically a practice of focus that increases the awareness of your thoughts, that promotes emotional stability and clarity. You should give it a try sometimes! Meditation makes me a calmer person and it helps me focus better.”
For those who are new to meditation, you might be thinking about the monks who live up on the mountain when you heard this fancy term. That was literally what came to mind when I first heard about meditation.
The truth is, many monks meditate, but that’s not all it is.
People may have the misconception that meditation is for those who are religious. Meditators consist of religious and non-religious people. But many religions like Buddhism, Judaism, and Hinduism, ingrained meditation into their daily routine because of the benefits it brings to our well-being.
“Should I start practicing meditation?”
Yes!! I believe everyone should at least try meditation once. According to the statistics compiled and curated by TheGoodBody.com, “it is believed that globally between 200 and 500 million people meditate.”
So why do so many people do it? Why should anyone spend their precious 5, 10, or even 30 minutes of their lives doing this meditation thing?
Shouldn’t we all be as productive as we can?
Those were my thoughts before I started meditation. It seems like a waste of time.
However, I decided to give it a try and I started noticing differences in my mental health after meditating for only 2 weeks of 5 minutes a day.
A big part of meditation is training your mind to focus on one thing at a time – noticing your breathing, what you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, sensing, saying, and so on.
When we train ourselves to focus, it will become our second nature over time. We will then be able to focus on what we do – work, school, or just life in general.
After meditating for only 2 weeks, I noticed that I was able to focus on the tasks at hand for much longer than I normally could. I was having a lot of challenges with distractions when we had to work from home as a result of the pandemic.
Getting back into meditation really allowed me to focus on my task for a much longer duration and got more work done.
When we get so good at focusing on doing one thing, we do them faster. Some people would argue that multitasking makes you more productive. I would agree if that task requires zero thinking and doesn’t demand the attention of our brain.
However, when it comes to deep work that requires critical and analytical thinking, 100% of the brainpower needs to be focused on the task at hand to be productive. The ability to focus will allow you to be more productive in life and get more work done.
After meditating for about a week, I noticed that I have become calmer. When a shitty situation happened or when someone tried to upset me, I didn’t get affected by them as easily. I approached the situation with more empathy and understanding.
In a research study conducted by Lazar and team, meditation reduces the size of the amygdala, a region of the brain associated with fear, anxiety, and aggression. The decrease in size allows us to better control our negative emotions. This also helps reduce our stress and anxiety.
When our amygdala decreases in size, that means we’re less stimulated by negative emotions, which in turn makes us calmer and at peace with our minds and emotions. Now, I don’t react to the events. Instead, I simply observe with curiosity.
Meditation practice typically involves focusing your attention on one thing; your breathing, your body parts, an object, a person, a vision, and so on. Over time, it increased our capacity to become more aware of ourselves and the things that are happening around us.
This is perhaps one of the biggest benefits I found in meditation; becoming more connected to myself and understanding my own emotions, behaviors, and thoughts. I was able to catch myself doing the things that I would have otherwise done subconsciously.
I’m now living my life more consciously and have better control over how I spend my time.
I can probably go on and on about the benefits of meditation and why everyone should do it.
Meditation changed my life. I’m more confident, more grateful, and happier in general.
I am a believer in meditation. It’s something I’d always include in my “About Me” slide when I introduce myself as it has become a part of who I am.
To date, I’ve meditated for about 650 sessions over 500 days (Yes, I memorized it in my brain :)). I would miss my meditation on some odd days, but I always get back on it.
Meditation is a simple practice, but it’s not easy to stay consistent. If you’re new to meditation, you probably have a lot of questions in mind. How many times a day should I meditate? How often should I meditate?
Check out my guide The Simplest Way to Meditate for Beginner.