I’ll admit that when I first started hearing about meditation I was a little skeptical. The images that came to my mind were ones of a person sitting cross-legged on the floor thinking about nothing for hours at a time, and I thought to myself “There’s no way I can do that”. Fast forward to my first experience in a meditation class where I was sitting on the floor, feeling uncomfortable, trying (and somewhat failing) to clear my mind and wondering why I had decided to try this. However, I knew there were so many benefits to meditation that I wanted to figure out a way to experience those for myself. Research shows that meditation can benefit us in the following ways:
- Decreases stress, anxiety, and depression
- Improves immune function
- Increases compassion
- Improves ability to regulate emotions
- Increases focus and attention
- Improves memory
- Improves sleep
- And more!
Through my job, I have been able to take a few other meditation classes and here is some of what I’ve learned that helped with some of my misconceptions about meditation. While I’m not claiming to be an expert at meditation, I’ve realized there are ways to incorporate it into my life that don’t feel like one more thing to check off a list.
There isn’t one right way to meditate. Meditation doesn’t need to be about sitting cross-legged on the floor, unless you find that comfortable. Try different types of meditation and see what works for you! Some focuses on breath, imagery, or a mantra. You can even practice walking meditation or do a body scan to release tension and help you sleep.
It takes practice.I went into my first meditation class wanting to be “good” at meditating, so it was frustrating when I wasn’t and I immediately began over-analyzing that feeling. We live in a fast-paced world where our brains are constantly processing information. It takes time and practice to learn how to slow down. Try starting with small increments of only a few minutes and work your way up from there.
Meditation isn’t about reaching perfection. Even though meditation takes practice, the goal isn’t to be perfect. Instead, try meeting yourself where you’re at in that moment. Practice observing your emotions and being curious about where they’re coming from instead of judgmental. One thing I’ve realized is that just because I have a thought doesn’t mean that I need to dwell on that thought.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel great in the moment, but I always feel better after. When you’re stressed out and your to-do list feels like it’s a mile long, the last thing you want to do is take a break and it can be very difficult to try to slow your brain down. There are times when I’m trying to meditate, and all I want to do is get through those 5 minutes so I can get to the next thing on my list. However, I’ve never regretted taking that time. It always helps me feel calmer and refocused.