How Meditation Could Change Your Life
“The goal of meditation is not to get rid of thoughts or emotions. The goal is to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions and learn how to move through them without getting stuck.” -Dr. P. Goldin
Do you feel overwhelmed, stressed, and suffer from a lack of clarity and focus? Do you struggle with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and resentment? Does your mind race so fast that it seems as if the only way for it to stop is a catastrophic crash? If your answer is yes, then you are not alone my friend(s).
As we go about our days, we have thousands upon thousands of thoughts that affect every aspect of our being. According to a 2005 article from the National Science Foundation, the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. 80% of those thoughts were negative and 95% were repetitive, or the same thoughts as the day before. That seems like a lot of negative thoughts! The good news is, a study from Cornell University found that firstly, 85% of what we worry about never happens. Secondly, with the 15% of the worries that did happen, 79% of the subjects discovered that either they could handle the difficulty better than expected, or that the difficulty taught them a lesson worth learning. However, most of our negative thoughts and worries are baseless, and result from an unfounded pessimistic perception.
Thankfully, meditation is a place we can go to allow these thoughts and the emotional responses that they trigger, to be heard and accepted for what they are. It is the seeing of the mind, seeing our thoughts come and go like the clouds in the sky or scenes in a show. Start off by sitting in a quiet place where you will not be disturbed, either seated or laying down and with your eyes closed. Breathe in and breathe out. Allow yourself to settle into the rhythm of the breath. Do not feel like you need to do anything or force anything, just let everything be as it is. When your mind wanders from the sensation of the breath, acknowledge it ever so gently, and redirect your focus back to the rhythm of the breath. In… and out…
Meditation is a practice, just like riding a bike or training for a competition. The more we allow ourselves the time to sit and settle into this space of awareness and consciousness, the more it will grow into our lives outside of our practice. Like planting seeds and allowing them to blossom into something more beautiful than we possibly could have imagined.
Here are ten well known benefits associated with a daily meditation practice:
1. Reduces stress
2. Helps to reduce and manage anxiety
3. May help decrease depression
4. Enhances self-awareness, which can lead to more constructive thought patterns
5. Increases attention span
6. Improves mood
7. Improves focus
8. Improvement of relationship with self and others
9. May help with pain management or pain reduction
10. May help improve sleep
Meditation is an easily accessible form of self-improvement that can be greatly beneficial to mental, emotional, and possibly physical health. It can be done anywhere and without any equipment or expensive memberships… IT'S FREE! There are several widely available communities and groups that can be found online as well.
Written by Zachary Iannitelli M.S., Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern