3 Ways meditation can improve your life
Updated: Oct 20, 2020
You'd have to have been hiding under a rock to not hear about the rise in popularity of mindfulness and meditation over the past few years. In fact, according to research from Bupa, meditation is the UK’s favourite form of wellbeing therapy, with over a quarter (26%) of UK adults saying they have meditated as a way to improve their mental wellbeing in the past five years. So why and how has it become so popular (and dare I say mainstream?).
My personal experience of meditation is probably a fair representation of how many people 'get into it'. If you’d asked me about meditation five years ago I’d have probably said it was for hippies and Buddhists. In fact, I'd have gone so far as to say all this sitting around thinking about nothing was a total waste of time! How wrong I was... I was first introduced to it by my friend who told me it was all about ‘becoming aware’, adamant that even the most boring tube journeys could be improved through mediation. I loved how calm she seemed from doing it, but it all still seemed way too 'WooWoo' for me. It wasn’t until I joined Project Love’s Get Ready For Love course where they recommended the Headspace app, that decided to give it a go. I was paying for the course, so figured I may as well try it to see what all the fuss was about. Needless to say, the results were pretty amazing. I went from not being able to sit alone with my own thoughts (constantly either on my phone, watching the TV or listening to music on my earphones - God forbid there’d actually be any quiet in my head), to managing 10 minutes of meditation for 30 days.
Fast forward to today and I'm doing Vedic Meditation five days a week for 20 minutes, completely unguided. It involves repeating a mantra over and over in your head, which - on a good day - can send you into an almost trance-like state.
Even though I don't always manage to do it every single day (part of it is accepting that we aren't perfect), I can definitely say its become a habit and the benefits have been incredible:
1. Feeling calmer
There is simply no arguing with that feeling of 'zen' you get right after you've meditated. Sure, it may not last all day, or even more than a few minutes on some days, but the simple act of taking time out of your day to sit and breathe slowly has been game-changing for me. Once I've finished, I feel calm, less anxious and clear-headed and ready to start the day (I recommend doing it first thing in the morning).
2. Increased creativity and productivity
I've now lost count of the number of times a new concept or idea has popped into my head while meditating. I used to berate myself for having any thoughts at all, buying into the common misconception that its all about clearing your mind and going to a 'higher place'. Yes, thats the oracle for many, but for me I feel just as powerful afterwards when the clarity and space I've given myself has allowed a brand new idea to pop in out of the blue. I also feel like I'm more productive after I meditate. Part of my new habit is to journal and plan my day straight after, so I can capture any new ideas that came up, but also use the 'white space' Ive created while meditating to plan my day with a clear head. Goodbye overwhelm and hello a few, small things that will help me make progress.
3. Better sleep
I've had trouble sleeping for as long as I can remember. For many people like me, sleep problems are related to stress, because it causes anxiety and tension, which in turn make it hard to fall asleep. The stillness and relaxing nature of meditation helps by promoting overall calmness and since I started, my sleep has improved dramatically (which also helps the afore-mentioned productivity).
All in all, there are no downsides to practicing mediation. Sure, some days you might not feel like it, or feel like you're too busy, but ironcally those are the times when it benefits you the most.
With so many apps available now to introduce you to it and get you practicing there really isnt any excuse not to try it (like the ones I used to make).
Are you overwhelmed, overworked, stressed or just looking to get more balance in your life? I can help you. Get in touch for a complimentary coaching experience with me.