I started my meditation journey over five years ago and I can honestly say it’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done. Now, I won’t be without it – it’s my non-negotiable daily slice of time for myself – whether it be 5 minutes or an hour. The benefits of a regular meditation practice are countless and Western science is just beginning to validate what the Yogis of India have known for millennia. But as we start to bring some of the ancient treasures of Eastern spiritual practice into the forefront of Western consciousness, I thought I would look at some of those benefits in more detail. And through this I hope you will feel inspired to consider starting your own meditation journey…
- Reduce Stress and Anxiety
In this fast-paced, modern world, where we are constantly on the go, stress has become an epidemic. In a recent survey, 85% of adults in the UK reported to be experiencing stress or anxiety on a regular basis, with over a third feeling severely stressed for at least one full day per week. These figures are staggering and suggest that more than ever society is in need of wellbeing practices such as meditation to combat the effects of stress in daily life. Meditation dramatically reduces the build-up of cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s relaxation response) into function. In fact, it is believed that just one minute of deep conscious breathing is all it takes for cortisol to leave the body completely!
- Reduce Inflammation & Improve Physical Health
The effects of too much cortisol in the body can be devastating. From insomnia to heart problems, respiratory conditions to digestive issues, arthritis to elevated blood pressure, when the body is stressed for a prolonged period of time, physical health begins to suffer. It is believed that up to 75% of all reported ailments may be caused by stress, which contributes to chronic inflammation within the physical body. So by using meditation to reduce stress we not only improve and protect our mental wellbeing but our physical health as well! And not only this, a daily meditation practice can also build resilience to future ailments by nourishing and strengthening the entire immune system.
- Improve Concentration & Enhance Creativity
As well as the numerous ways meditating can benefit your physical and mental wellbeing, it can also profoundly impact other areas of your life such as improving concentration and enhancing creativity. By teaching you how to focus your attention, over time meditation will make you more alert, more aware and more able to concentrate on whatever else you might be doing in your day. Meditation also helps connect us to the natural flow of creativity which exists with us all. By calming the mind and focusing inwards, this innate creativity has space to come to the surface, inspiring us to follow our passions and giving greater meaning and purpose to our lives. Do you ever feel like you’re stuck, like ideas aren’t flowing or perhaps you feel unsure which direction to take? Meditation could be the answer… there’s a whole world of inspiration buried just beneath the surface of the mind and it’s just waiting to be discovered.
- Improved Relationships (To Self and Others)
As you progress on your meditation journey you will begin to notice how this ancient practice improves your relationship not only with yourself but with all those around you as well. As we begin to honour and care for the body and mind we naturally develop a greater sense of self-compassion and our ability to forgive ourselves and love ourselves unconditionally starts to increase. This then begins to ripple out into the rest of our lives and from this place of self-compassion we can better connect and communicate with our loved ones. Meditation helps to regulate emotional responses so that when stressful situations do arise we can speak and act from a place of love rather than reacting in frustration and anger.
- Feel a Connection to Something Bigger
Ultimately, meditation is a pathway towards spiritual liberation. It helps us to strip back all the stuff of the mind in order to connect to the pure divinity which exists within us and within all beings. It helps us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, to learn to trust in the natural unfolding of life and to have faith that everything will work out ok. And this can be such a great source of comfort through the inevitable ups and downs of life. By elevating our consciousness, meditation invites the vibration of peacefulness into our being and from this place of peace we begin to experience the Oneness which connects and unites us all.
For me, meditation is a daily devotion, one which brings me so much peace, abundance and joy and enriches all aspects of my life. All by simply finding the time for stillness each day, learning to follow the flow of breath and being willing to sit with whatever might arise in that moment. If you’re curious but not sure where to begin, start small! Find a comfortable seated position in a quiet spot and take 5 minutes to close your eyes and just watch the natural rise and fall of your breath.