Why and How Should I Meditate?

meditation blog

At Performance Inspired, we not only care about your physical health, we care about your mental health as well. After all, how you feel emotionally has an impact on your physical health. Ask anyone who has ever been anxious if they have noticed an increase in heart rate. Or ask anyone who has ever felt worried if they have experienced an upset stomach. Our emotional states can wreak havoc on our bodies.

That’s where meditation can play a positive role. We encounter a lot of stimulation in our daily lives, from work stressors to family to TV to phones and social media, and many of us find that we don’t take time to allow our bodies to destress.

Meditation not only allows this, but it offers many other amazing benefits as well.

What is meditation?

According to Reader’s Digest, “Meditation is a practice of focused concentration where an individual uses various techniques to achieve a mentally clear, grounded, and relaxed state.”

The goal of meditation is to stay focused on the moment and to achieve a sense of peace.

Psych Central teaches that the point of meditation is “moving beyond the senses and thoughts and tapping into the peace and equanimity that is below the surface.” It suggests repeating a calming mantra like “peace” to help you focus on the present and to keep nagging thoughts at bay. Similarly, you can say words like “love” or “be still,” or you can repeat any word that soothes you. The site also suggests words of affirmation like these:

  • “I am present.”
  • “I am happy.”
  • “I can take deep breaths.”
  • “I am focused.”
  • “I am peaceful.”
  • “I feel peaceful and relaxed.”

The point is to focus on your breathing and repeat something positive that will help you stay calm.

The benefits of meditation

You may have heard that meditation works to reduce stress (and it does!), but it can help combat depression as well. According to Reader’s Digest, studies have shown that “just eight weeks of daily meditation can change the brain to process stress differently, leading to decreased anxiety and depression and an overall increase in quality of life.”

Healthline concurs, explaining that “a review of 18 studies showed that people receiving meditation therapies experienced reduced symptoms of depression, compared with those in a control group.”

Aside from adding a sense of calm and balance to your life, meditation can help combat insomnia, lower blood pressure, decrease anxiety, and it can even help you manage chronic pain. In addition, UC Davis Health explains that meditation can help improve memory, focus, and attention and enhance your willpower to avoid bad habits.

These are all amazing benefits of simply making the time to sit quietly and take a break from the world.

How do I begin?

One of the great things about meditation is that anyone can do it anywhere quiet, and you don’t need any tools or equipment.

Keep in mind that there are a few different kinds of meditation. There is open-monitoring meditation, where you “are encouraged to broaden your awareness of all aspects of your environment, train of thought and sense of self . . . by becoming aware of suppressed thoughts, feelings or impulses.”

There is also mindfulness meditation, which has three components:

  1. Attention: Focusing on the present moment
  2. Open-awareness: Broadening your attention and curiosity
  3. Kind-intention: Treating yourself and anyone or anything that pops into your awareness with kindness.

To learn more about these, you can search for techniques online or download a meditation app.

And then there is focused-attention meditation. The goal of this type is to rid your mind of distractions and focus on a calming sound or phrase. Most people find it easier to start with this type, so we will explain how to begin.

First, find a comfortable place to sit where you can be free of distraction for the duration of your session. If you’re new to meditation or worried you can’t sit still for long, start for five minutes and work your way up to longer periods. Set a timer on your phone or other device so you don’t feel the need to pay attention to a clock.

Once you’ve gotten into a comfortable position, try to relax. Make yourself aware of how your body feels, how the floor feels, or any scents you smell.

You can either close your eyes or choose a focal point. If you choose to keep your eyes open, make sure you’re not looking at a TV or phone screen, as they will distract you and lead to wandering thoughts. Remember, the goal is to allow peace and quiet to permeate your next several minutes.

Next, begin to pay attention to your breathing. Take slow breaths in and out.

Clear your mind of all the day’s stressors and choose a mantra, or a word to repeat. Many people find it helpful to inhale and say the word or phrase as they exhale.

Do not worry when your mind starts to wander. Simply guide it back to your peaceful word or thought.

Continue to do this until your timer alerts you that you have finished.

Before you move from your position, take a few moments to continue relaxing before you rush back to your normal state.

That’s it! You’re done!

We all owe it to ourselves to add calming activities to our daily lives. Meditation is a great way to decompress after a long day or a peaceful way to begin your day. Even just five to ten minutes a day will be beneficial. So don’t hesitate; start today and start reaping the benefits of this amazing practice.

Byline Susan
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