Every part of us benefits from exercise. We exercise our legs by going for a walk. We exercise our arms by doing plank position or arm curls. But how do we exercise our brains? Meditation is proven by study after study to provide immense training benefits for the brain.
What are the Benefits of Mediation for Sleep and Stress?
Here are just a few of the many benefits of meditation:
Meditation Reduces Stress
The practice of meditation helps us see our world in context. We realize that the past is behind us and cannot be changed. We can learn from it, but we can’t alter it. Similarly, the future is ahead of us and cannot be altered. We can plan for it, but we can only act in the now. The present. That means that the best use of our time is to be attentive in this present moment. To do the best we can in this here and now.
The realization of this concept, and the active practicing of it, reduces anxiety and stress. We come to understand that getting agitated about the past does little good. We can’t change what happened. We can do our best to be better in the now.
Meditation Benefits Sleep
A solid night of sleep is absolutely critical for health, concentration, mood, energy levels, and so many other reasons. Regular meditation practice brings with it better sleep. That better sleep then brings higher levels of energy the next day, which leads to a better ability to achieve one’s goals, which reduces stress, and the cycle self-promotes. It starts you on a course of daily improvement in whatever it is you seek.
Meditation Improves Focus
The more we train our brain with meditation, the more we learn to ignore distractions. The more we learn to draw our energy in on the one thing we care about. We harness a calm, powerful energy which rises up from within us. This energy powers us to achieve our dreams and move through hurdles.
Meditation Builds Compassion
When a person is stressed and anxious, the evolutionary systems of the mind cause it to focus in on its primal needs. Food. Shelter. Safety. Other issues fall out of focus. The more that a person can feel safe and secure, the more able they are to expand their sphere of concern. There is now time and energy to invest in other areas.
How To Meditate
Meditating can be done in practically any environment where it’s safe to draw your attention inward. Don’t try this while driving a car or operating machinery. Other than that, though, you can meditate while walking through a forest, while sitting in a living room, while lying on a bed, or in most other places.
Here is a traditional way to meditate.
Set up a room to be as calm and quiet as possible. You can leave it silent or you can put on soft, wordless music. Adding aromatherapy to the room can be a powerful addition to meditation. Choose a scent or combination of scents which will keep you engaged.
You generally don’t want to fall asleep during meditation. For that reason, a scent that you find both soothing but also intriguing will work well. Some people prefer floral scents like rose or jasmine. Others prefer woody scents like pine or cinnamon.
Sit comfortably, on a chair, couch, or floor cushion. Let your eyes go soft. Breathe in deeply, filling the upper chest, mid chest, and lower abdomen. Let the abdomen fill out like a balloon. Then breathe out, out, out, releasing your tension. Breathe in again, deeply, more fully, filling yourself. Then breathe out, out, flushing and expelling the toxins.
Focus on your breath. Thoughts will come in. It’s what they do. It’s what the practice of meditation is all about. When the thoughts come in, watch them drift by like clouds. Let them go, then return your attention to your breath.
More thoughts will come. It’s normal and natural. This is how the mind works. Be compassionately gentle with yourself and return your attention to your breath. It’s this returning to your breath that is the practice. This is how you are training your mind to focus.
When you are done, offer gratitude to the world for this period of calm. Every day is a new step toward a new you.