“The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” -Albert Einstein
Developing a morning meditation practice can be a life-altering experience in the most positive way. In order to meditate effectively, you must commit to the process and be patient along the way, as it is very challenging to slow down and control your thoughts. Not convinced meditation is for you? Here are five reasons that might change your mind–along with a handful of tips on how to start a meditation practice.
1. Wake up on the Bright Side
It’s easy to fall into the habit of hitting the snooze button to catch some extra z’s or glancing at emails on your iPhone to start the day. However, when you go back to sleep you usually end up feeling more tired than when you first woke up. And if you look at your phone, forget it; there goes your day. You start working, thinking about all the stuff you have to do, and your mind starts its race of nonstop planning and organizing. A morning meditation will set the tone for your entire day and help you to be focused, content, and optimistic. Try to set aside 15 minutes a day first thing in the morning. If you need to, start with five minutes and work your way up.
2. Enhance Your Awareness
The mind has a tendency to jump from one thought to another randomly, like a wild monkey jumping from tree to tree. In Buddhism, this concept is referred to as “monkey mind,” but it’s true for all of us who live in the modern world. By starting a meditation practice and tuning into your breath and body when you first wake up, you become more aware of your thoughts–and that monkey mind. Some thoughts might make sense while other thoughts seem to come out of nowhere. One powerful benefit of meditation is being able to detach from habitual thought patterns, especially the negative ones. Through a regular practice, you can gain control of your thoughts. Being in control in this way can help move you into a compassionate, proactive state of being rather than a reactive one.
3. Prevent Stress and Anxiety
Numerous studies have suggested that meditation has various health benefits–most notably, easing stress. Meditation is a unique opportunity to create time for yourself, apart from appointments, work deadlines, and other obligations. Although the mechanism isn’t fully understood, researchers think that meditation may stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, slowing your heart rate and breathing rate, and improving blood flow. These physiological effects that take place during meditation may be part of the reason why meditating makes you feel so relaxed. Beginning your day in a calm, relaxed state can also help you be less bothered by the little frustrations in life and reduce overall stress and anxiety.
4. Find the Big Picture
Meditation gives the mind a break, offering an opportunity to detach from the chaos of our lives and seek shelter in silence and stillness. Being still creates the space for us to gain a broader perspective. There is an abundance of clarity and wisdom that surrounds each of us and when we take a step back, we are able to see things more clearly. A balanced perspective is a valuable tool for living a meaningful and fulfilling life.
5. Boost Overall Well-Being
Increased mindfulness makes us more emotionally balanced and encourages a general sense of wellness. Some evidence suggests that mindful meditation might even boost immune function. A daily meditation practice will leave you feeling present each day, intensify your appreciation for positive experiences, and empower you in your life.
How to Get Started
- Get comfortable. Wear loose clothing and if you’re cold, grab a blanket or shawl to keep warm. You want to be comfy so that you’ll be able to focus instead of fidgeting.
- Choose a place where you won’t be disturbed. If you can, dedicate a place in your home to be used only for meditation. Make this place your safe haven. If you like, personalize it with a candle, incense, pictures, or anything that you find calming. Use a blanket, block, or pillow so that you’ll be able to sit comfortably with a nice, tall spine. This will help you stay alert while keeping your spine and legs at ease. Sit against a wall to support your back if necessary.
- Watch and feel your breath move through you. Focus on your third eye (the soft space in between your eyebrows) and take deep breaths. Just breathe and let your thoughts drift in and out of your mind.
- Be indifferent. Don’t judge your thoughts. They are just thoughts. And besides, you get to choose what thoughts serve you, which ones to disregard, and how to act. Lucky you.
- Remember that meditation is a practice. Some days will be harder than others. It’s not about finding complete stillness in the mind but letting go of resistance and reactions to whatever arises. Morning meditation can be easy to blow off while lying cozy in bed, but once you’ve done it, keep in mind all the positive ways it makes you feel. Commit to your practice and you’ll see the benefits unfold. Last but not least, keep practicing.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
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