INSIDE: Meditation is like a magic pill that helps us feel incredible, think more clearly, and flow more freely through life. If you haven’t figured out a way to incorporate the power of meditation into your life yet, this article will show you the way.
Sometimes we wish we had a magic pill that would help us navigate our way through life with more ease.
I know I’m not alone here.
We’re all stressed, pulled too thin, struggling to make ends meet, and quite frankly, pushed to the edge more often than we’d like to admit.
But what if that magic pill already exists, and we just aren’t taking it?
We aren’t taking it because it seems hard to take, and yes, it feels a little too “woo-woo” for most people.
That’s a shame because it doesn’t have to be as hard as you think, and it can help us with all of the following and more:
- Have more control over our emotions
- Go with the flow, have more fun, and laugh at life more often
- Feel happier and more fulfilled
- Think clearer and be more on the ball
- Have a more positive outlook
- Feel more in touch with our spirituality
- Enjoy less stress and better sleep
- Reduce our risk of chronic disease, illness, and pain
The magic pill is meditation, and before you click away, consider the list above and ask yourself if you really want to give all that up?
The answers to how you can unlock the outstanding power of meditation in your own life, no matter how hectic, are right here.
If you think you’re too busy even to consider incorporating it into your life, I’ve got nine tips to help you easily integrate meditation into your already busy life, plus all the information you need to get started – it’s all right here in this article.
If meditation seems a little too “woo-woo” for you, it’s time to get over that.
And when you look around, you find that people everywhere who used to poo-poo meditation are now making it a big part of their lives.
Take Dan Harris, for example, a news anchor with a drug problem who seemed like the least likely person to meditate, but ended up writing a book on how meditation changed his life.
Numerous successful athletes, celebrities, and business people meditate on a regular basis, including: Michael Jordan, Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Elen DeGeneres, Cameron Diaz, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hanks, Hugh Jackman, Katy Perry, Jerry Seinfeld, Howard Stern, Oprah Winfrey, Jaden Smith, Arianna Huffington, Kobe Bryant, and many more.
The power of meditation cannot be denied once you allow it into your life because it does wonders for our mental, physical, and spiritual health.
How Meditation Works
When we meditate, we allow our minds to be still, open, and “empty,” yet at the same time, we are in a heightened state of awareness. This “thoughtless alertness” is one of life’s great paradoxes and it provides amazing benefits for the mind, body, and spirit.
Meditation allows us to achieve a deep level of peace and tranquility that doesn’t just last while we are meditating but has lasting effects that can transform our lives.
There are many different ways to meditate, and there are numerous tools that can help facilitate the process, such as breathing techniques, postures, mantras, and chants. While none of these tools are necessary, they can make the process easier and more enjoyable.
Why You Should Meditate Consistently – The Power of Meditation for Your Life & Your Health
The power of meditation really is outstanding. We are still discovering more and more ways it can impact our lives, and numerous benefits have already been proven.
While we do experience immediate benefits from meditation, the real health benefits come from the long-term effects of meditating on a regular basis. If you can make meditation a part of your daily routine, even if it is only for a few minutes a day, you’ll notice incredible changes in your holistic health that will lead to a more fulfilling and uplifting life.
Check out the Health Benefits of Meditation here and then keep reading below for more reasons to meditate regularly and tips to help you easily integrate it into your life…
Meditation Rewires the Brain for Happiness, Peace & Success
A study conducted by Harvard University researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that meditation increases gray-matter density in the part of the brain known as the hippocampus. This gray-matter increase provides a boost in learning and memory, as well as improvements in self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Numerous studies have provided similar results, and most of them summarize their findings by saying that meditation rewires the brain for happiness, peace, and success. When have those things, life is like heaven on earth!
Meditation Reduces Stress & Anxiety
- Stress is linked to many health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, asthma, obesity, depression, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, Alzheimer’s disease, and accelerated aging, to name a few.
- According to the Benson Henry Institute, 60-90% of doctor’s visits are a result of conditions caused by stress.
An analysis of a controlled trial, which was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine on October 2013, reported a significantly better reduction in anxiety over conventional medical treatments and other forms of meditation and relaxation practices as a result of practicing Transcendental Meditation.
When we meditate, we are in a deep state of relaxation, which causes our bodies to release more “feel good” hormones like serotonin. This serves our bodies in two ways:
- It helps our bodies repair cells, which improves our recovery.
- It reduces the body’s response to stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn lowers blood pressure, improves blood circulation, digestion, circulation, and immune function. It also promotes emotional and neurological “balance.” Improves Mental Focus & Creativity
Meditation Improves Mental Focus & Creativity
We know for a fact that meditation improves cognition and the ability to focus due to the increase in gray-matter it causes. As a result, you will start to notice you feel unstoppable and “on the ball” the more you meditate. You’ll be able to make decisions a lot easier, and you’ll enjoy a boost in your creative juices.
Meditation Reduces Chronic Pain
According to a Wake Forest University study, patients with chronic pain can reduce their pain intensity ratings by 40% during meditation. This is because meditation activates and reinforces certain areas of the brain that are involved in pain processing; further proof that meditation rewires the brain!
Meditation Improves Cardiovascular Health
According to Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association, patients who had coronary heart disease were able to obtain a 48% reduction in heart attacks, strokes, and death when they practiced Transcendental Meditation regularly.
Deepak Chopra, M.D. provides his insights as to why meditation has such a strong impact on heart health in this article. He explains that meditation rebalances and regulates the hormones and neurotransmitters throughout the body. He states, “Once you’re balanced, your immune system is strengthened, and in terms of the heart, your resistance to stress increases. This reduces a major risk in heart disease and strokes.”
When We Meditate, We Have Better Overall Health
Researchers at Harvard University found that there is a connection between deep relaxation and genetic changes that fight disease in the body. These “disease-fighting genes” were shown to be more active in people who meditated on a regular basis compared to the control group. We want these genes to develop in our bodies, as they protect us against health conditions such as:
- Heart Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Various Skin Conditions
Meditation has been proven to cause positive cellular changes for breast cancer survivors after causing telomeres to elongate. Telomeres are the DNA at the end of each cell’s chromosomes that protect its genetic information. Longer telomeres are an indication of good health and longevity. The fact that meditation can affect the body on a cellular level like this is an amazing indication of how important it is for our overall health.
Meditation Improves Sleep
Meditating before bed can help calm your mind, paving the way for deeper relaxation and better sleep patterns.
When You Meditate, You Won’t Sweat the Small Stuff as Much
The more you experience the power of meditation, you will find that you start letting things go more easily. You feel less frustrated by things that happen, you have less negative reactions, and you feel more at peace in general. Life is so much easier and more enjoyable from that mindset.
Meditation Increases Empathy & Improves Relationships
Meditation, especially compassion-based meditation like Metta meditation improves our sense of empathy toward others, which enhances our feeling of connection with others. Meditation also improves our emotional stability. Add that to the fact that it helps us feel less frustrated by people and situations, and the result is a tremendous improvement in our relationships.
9 Tips for Incorporating Meditation Into Your Already Busy Life
We are all busy, and even though we might have good intentions, meditation often takes a backseat.
This is certainly true for me. It goes on my To Do list every day, but can somehow go undone for days or weeks at a time because I’m so busy checking everything else off my list.
But the best times of my life have been when I am able to meditate at least several times a week. Here’s what I have found to be true when I am meditating consistently:
- I have more control over my emotions
- I am more free-spirited
- I have more fun
- I am able to laugh at life more often
- I feel happier and more fulfilled
- I am able to think clearer
- I have a more positive outlook
- I feel more in touch with my spirituality
- Everything just seems to flow better
- I feel like I can accomplish anything
- I get way more done without feeling overwhelmed
For me, the benefits are HUGE!
Yet, I’ll be honest; I still find it hard to incorporate a regular meditation practice into my life. I go through periods of time when I don’t meditate at all, other periods when I do it every once in a while, and then there are the blissful times when I meditate almost every day.
My happiest times in life are certainly when I am taking advantage of the power of meditation on a regular basis.
So, I’ve learned some tips over the years that have helped me ensure my meditation practice is getting done. I’ll share them with you here in hopes that they will help you integrate a meditation practice into your life:
Consider Taking a Meditation Class
While it can feel like taking the time to go to a class will be harder than meditating at home, in reality, it’s usually easier.
It can be difficult to meditate at home, especially if you have kids running around and lots of people in and out like most hectic homes these days. Leaving the house and going to an atmosphere that is set up for meditation can often be the best solution.
Plus, it gives you the added benefit of interacting with other people who are also trying to make meditation a part of their lives. This community aspect can help you look forward to your classes, and keep you motivated to maintain your practice.
Use Video or Audio Guided Meditations
I find it extremely difficult to just sit in silence and meditate, especially because there is hardly ever silence in my house.
It can be hard to focus on your practice and let your mind go empty, but guided meditations make it a lot easier because it gives you an area of focus.
Try videos on YouTube. I like this one a lot…
Consider Doing Meditative Yoga
One of my favorite ways to meditate is to do a form of yoga that incorporates meditation. Many different types of yoga can have this effect, such as Kundalini, Ananda, Jivamukti, or Integral yoga.
- My favorite is the second season of Namaste Yoga. I’ve never found another yoga DVD quite like this one. I love everything about it – the flow of the poses, the music, the scenery, and the way I can make it into a meditative practice.
- Another good one is Kundalini Yoga Meditation for Beginners & Beyond. This one is made to be a meditative practice. You really will feel incredible each time you do these exercises/meditations.
Meditate in the Morning or Evening
Devoting just 20 minutes to meditating either before our day starts or before we go to bed is one of the best ways to add it into your day. These times are often the best times to meditate because they are when our minds are the clearest anyway.
Try Walking Meditations
I’ve written about the health benefits of walking each day and how much it has impacted my life before, which you can read here. Since then, I’ve started incorporating more meditative practices into my walks, which I love because I am able to accomplish my daily walks and take advantage of the power of meditation all in one shot.
A walking meditation can be done in many ways. Here are a few of the ways I like best:
- Mantra Walks – Select a mantra to repeat as you calmly walk, focusing on the present moment.
- Gratitude Walks – As you walk and enjoy your surroundings, make a mental list of all the things that make you feel grateful.
- Mindfulness Walks – Be intentionally mindful as you walk. Observe how your body feels, the sounds around you, the sights, the smells, and allow your current state of mind to become more and more peaceful as you simply observe all of the beauty within you and that surrounds you.
Meditate in Nature
When you add the element of nature into your meditation practice, it can transform the whole process. There is something about the fresh air, the sunshine, the gentle breeze, and the birds chirping in the background that can make the process flow better and the power of meditation more prevalent in your life.
Find a secluded place in nature where you can sit and just be. You’ll likely find that you come away from the experience feeling invigorated and refreshed.
Find Pockets of Time to Meditate in the Midst of Your Day
While this can be the most difficult way to meditate because it means there will be many distractions to overcome, it is often the most needed type of meditation. We can benefit drastically by taking moments throughout our busy days to let go of stress and just be.
Here are several moments when you might be able to accomplish this:
- Your baby is safely eating in his/her highchair and you take five minutes to close your eyes and turn inward.
- You arrive at work and you sit in your car for five minutes and meditate before going into the building.
- You sneak off into the bathroom at work and grab a few minutes of meditation.
Use Meditation Music
I absolutely LOVE using meditation music, even more so than I enjoy guided meditations. I often find myself getting lost in the music and can more easily zone out and let my mind go free.
Not all meditation music will have the same effect, and everyone is different when it comes to their tastes of course. Here are some of my favorites though – you can listen to excerpts on Amazon to see if you like them as well:
- Amadas Estrellas by Achillea – This music is so unique and intoxicating – it’s my all-time favorite!
- The Songs of Distant Earth by Mike Oldfield – This is another unique find that will carry you away.
- Light Music by Richard Shulman – This musician composes his music on the spot as he feels it, and it is absolutely beautiful.
Meditate in the Shower
I love sprinkling meditation into my daily life because it’s hard for me to dedicate time just to meditation. The shower is a great place to meditate because it is already a calm and quiet place where you get to relax and be by yourself without distractions. Plus, the soothing sound of the falling water combined with the heat and steam provides instant relaxation.
Start out by just staring at the water as it flows out of the faucet. Listen to the sounds as it hits the floor. Tune into the feeling as it cascades on your skin. Consider reciting a mantra or focusing on one area of thought.
Meditation Tips for Beginners
Meditation is just like anything else – at first, it feels uncomfortable and awkward, but with practice, it becomes natural and essential as the power of meditation is revealed more and more in your life. That’s why it’s called a “meditation practice.”
If you are a seasoned meditator, you know the drill, and you’re probably well beyond the following tips. But if you are just starting out, these tips will be what will make the difference between succeeding or giving up when it comes to starting a meditation practice.
Start With Guided Meditation
When we start something new, it always goes more smoothly when we have a guide, right?
That’s why guided meditation is so helpful for beginner meditators. These come in audio and video format, and they provide you with instructions on what to focus on so that you can more easily get into a meditative state.
- Mindful.org has some free guided meditations here.
- Amazon also has a great selection of guided meditation MP3’s and CD’s.
Try Candle Meditation
Candle meditations can help you focus and zone out at the same time, which is exactly what you are looking to accomplish with meditation. Here’s how it works:
- Place a white lit candle about 1 foot in front of you on a table and sit comfortably in a chair with your feet flat on the floor, your back straight, and your hands lightly resting in your lap. This works best if the table is clutter-free.
- Stare at the flame for about 10 minutes. This serves to focus your mind and quiet your thoughts.
- Then, close your eyes. You should be able to see an after-image of the candle flame inside your mind’s eye (your mind’s eye displays the visuals you see inside your head when your eyes are closed).
- Concentrate on the glow of the after-image. You might notice it fading in and out or it may linger for a couple of minutes before fading out. By doing this, you now have an inner focal point, which will continue to still your mind.
- Once the afterglow has faded out, stay tuned to your internal consciousness and see what you notice. It’s different for everyone but may include seeing the following in your mind’s eye: clouds of color, an inner light, images, or symbols. You might also feel a surge of energy in your body or a sense of peace.
- Continue tuning inward for as long as you’d like, allowing images and sensations to come and go without any agenda or expectations.
Consider Using a Gentle Alarm
Especially when we are just beginning a meditative practice, a couple minutes can feel like an eternity. That makes us open our eyes to check the time, which breaks the meditative state.
While you do not want to set a timer or alarm that will jolt you out of your peaceful state, setting an alarm that has a tranquil sound can serve as a way of gently letting you know how long it has been. Then, you can stop wondering and just focus on your meditation practice.
Use Breathing Exercises
Breathing is something we don’t often think about, but when we do intentional breathing exercises, it gives us something to focus on and helps us dim the chatter in our minds. It also helps us get into a deeper state of relaxation, which will make your meditation practice more effective and powerful.
Most people breathe too shallowly which can lead to an increased stress response in the body, which then causes acute illnesses, worsened pre-existing conditions, prolonging recovery, panic attacks, fatigue, and respiratory and cardiovascular issues; therefore doing breathwork can also serve to improve your health.
When you breathe during meditation, you want to focus on filling up your belly with air as you breathe in, almost like you are blowing up a balloon. Then hold it for a few seconds, and then slowly release it as if you are deflating the balloon. If you have been breathing too shallowly, this exercise will be challenging at first, but with practice, it will become second nature.
Make Sure Your Environment Supports Your Meditation Practice
A quiet, secluded environment is important for meditation, especially when you are just starting out. Turn off the television, your phone, and any other electronic that would distract you. Choose a space where you can be alone and where you won’t have a lot of background noise to contend with, and if that isn’t possible, use headphones and meditation music to block out the noise.
Finding the Type of Meditation That Suites You
As you explore the world of meditation, you will discover that there are many different types. Once you’ve gotten the basics down, try out some of the following different types of meditation to find the one (or several kinds) that work best for you.
Zen meditation is probably the image you get in your head when you think about meditation. It involves sitting with your legs crossed and your eyes closed, similar to how Buddha is often portrayed.
This type of meditation is also one of the most difficult types of meditation because it involves sitting in silence, allowing yourself to go deeper and deeper into your subconscious. It eliminates all the props that can often help us achieve the meditative state we seek. For these reasons, it’s often the go-to meditation practice for experienced meditators.
Primordial Sound Meditation
Primordial sound meditation is a fancy term that means meditating while reciting a mantra, which is a short word or phrase that inspires you and/or helps you clear your mind.
Most people notice that the more they repeat the mantra, the more relaxed they feel and the deeper they go into their meditation. It’s also a great way to keep your mind from wandering so you can get the most benefit from your meditation practice.
Selecting a Mantra
When you select a mantra, chose something that inspires you and relates to your life at the moment. Make sure it is something that is short and easy enough for you to concentrate on during your meditation. It should be a word that is soothing to you and doesn’t cause you to think about anything negative. The best mantras are those that allow us to focus only on their sound so that we can fully relax into the stillness.
You can either come up with your own mantra or choose one of many common mantras available. Here are some existing mantras that you can choose from:
These mantras have been used for centuries; therefore you can be sure they work well.
- Aum (Om) – Doesn’t have an exact translation but is said to mean “Universe,” or “All of Creation,” or “The Beginning of Time.” It is really the vibration of the sound that has such a transformative experience during meditation.
- Nami AmitBha – Means “Boundless Light” and is a type of homage to Buddha.
- Ham-Sah – Means “I am That” and is useful for when you are struggling with who you are or are having trouble making decisions.
- I Am That I Am – This is what God told Moses when he asked him his name.
Consider creating your own mantra, reciting a quote, or using one of the following modern mantras:
- “I am in control.”
- “This is where I need to be.”
- “My mind is clear.”
- “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” ~Gandhi
Mindfulness is all the rage right now; it’s when you intentionally focus on the present so that you can experience a deeper awareness and enjoyment in the now. Mindfulness meditation is when you incorporate the practice of mindfulness into your meditation.
This method involves observing and accepting the current moment without dwelling on the past, stressing about the future, or trying to change the present. It brings more self-awareness and can help you to let go of judgments about yourself and others.
There are many benefits to practicing mindfulness alone, not to mention the added benefits that meditation provides. Some of the most important ones are:
- It Relieves Stress & Depression – By focusing only on the present moment, there is no room for the fear, resentment, sadness, and other negative emotions that come along with thinking about the past or future.
- It Improves Mental Clarity – Consistent mindfulness practice helps us gain improved focus, concentration, and memory.
- It Boosts Your Immunity – Studies have shown that the body can fight off infection easier with consistent mindfulness.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness meditation. Here are some of my favorites:
- Focus on Your Breathing – This is one of the simplest ways to be mindful.
- Think About This Moment – Focus only on what is happening right now, which is that you are learning meditation. Stop thoughts that enter your mind about what you are going to do next or what you did yesterday. Just be with your meditation right now.
- Bring Awareness to Your Body – Slowly run through your body, noticing how each part feels, and pausing before moving or relieving anything uncomfortable like an itch.
- Observe Your Thoughts – As thoughts enter your mind, instead of trying not to think, simply observe your thoughts without judgment and without reacting to them. Let them run their course and then observe the next thought.
- Be Aware of Your Environment – Let the sounds of nature or whatever environment you are in delight you. Tune into the sites and notice them like you’ve never noticed them before.
We all have energy centers in our bodies, known as chakras, which allow us to receive and transmit energy. Chakras and the meridians that connect them are the same points that are worked with during an acupuncture session.
Our chakras can become clogged with stuck energy that can lead to physical and mental health issues. This can happen as a result of trauma, stress, or a negative mindset. When we practice chakra meditation, we are able to release that stuck energy so they can spin freely again, allowing the energy to move optimally through our bodies. This practice is one of the best ways to engage the power of meditation.
While there are many chakras, most people focus on the main seven chakras when doing Chakra Meditation. Each chakra contains energy that focuses on different areas of life, as noted below:
- Located at the base of your spine
- Houses the energy that relates to money, food, and independence
- Located near your lower abdomen, below the navel
- Houses the energy that relates to well-being, abundance, and sexuality
Solar Plexus Chakra
- Located in your upper abdomen near the stomach
- Houses the energy that relates to self-esteem and self-confidence
- Located just above the heart, in the center of your chest
- Houses the energy that relates to inner peace, joy, and love
- Located in the throat
- Houses the energy that relates to communication
Third Eye Chakra
- Located on your forehead between your eyes
- Houses the energy that relates to wisdom and decision-making
- Located on the top of your head
- Houses the energy that relates to inner and outer beauty and spirit
How to Practice Chakra Meditation
- After getting into a relaxed state, with your eyes closed, focus on each chakra, one at a time.
- Visualize the part of your body that coincides with each chakra as you focus on each one. Always imagine your body in a healthy state.
- Envision each chakra center spinning freely without obstruction.
- Practice deep breathing as you go through the meditation.
Metta meditation is also known as loving-kindness meditation because it involves focusing the mind on showing compassion and loving-kindness toward yourself and others, including people you don’t like or get along with and even the whole world.
I love doing this type of meditation when I find myself feeling resentful of or frustrated/angry with others. It helps me come back to a loving place, which transforms my state of being and how I relate to everyone around me.
To get started with this meditation, play the guided meditation here or you can read through the script provided on that page and walk yourself through it.
This is one of my favorites because I take a walk each day anyway for exercise, so doing a walking meditation means I also accomplish my meditation for the day at the same time!
When we walk, we are often alone with our thoughts outdoors, which is the perfect combination for meditation. You’re in a prime state to be mindful and focused on your walk and your surroundings. And when we are doing something repetitive like putting one foot in front of the other, it’s easier to clear our minds.
Walking Meditation Tips
- Choose Your Backdrop – Select a place to walk where you feel the most at peace, such as around a lake or in a park. If you don’t have something like that near you, select the streets around you that have the least amount of traffic and the best environment.
- Choose What You Will Listen To – Our ears are one of the best tools for clearing the mind. Decide what will help you zone out the most. It could be listening to the nature sounds around you, or listening to a guided meditation or soothing music through headphones.
- Practice Mindfulness Activities While You Walk – One of the things I love about walking meditations is that you can combine exercise, meditation, and mindfulness into one incredible bundle of health benefits. Consider bringing mindfulness into your walk by focusing on your breathing or tuning into your surroundings.
You now have the information you need to integrate the power of meditation into your life. The only thing holding you back is you.
Just choose the tip that feels the least invasive or “woo-woo” to you and start practicing it today and each day for the next week. You’re sure to notice the difference it makes in your life, and then you’ll feel motivated and empowered to keep going.
Don’t poo-poo the magic pill anymore. You can be enjoying more happiness and fulfillment in a matter of days if you just start meditating today.
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