I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation for 6 years and have experienced a dramatic decrease in anxiety and increased ability to regulate my emotions. Some people call meditation a push-up for the brain because studies have shown that the brains of long-term meditators actually change over time when compared to a control group.
Benefits of Meditation
Meditation has emotional, mental, and physical benefits.
The physical benefits of meditation are likely a side effect lower stress–which can have a significant impact on our overall health. The American Heart Association (AHA) found that meditation may reduce inflammation, improve pain responses, and reduce the risk of a variety of heart-related health issues.
Emotionally, meditation helps you develop self-awareness and acceptance that lets you see, hold space for, and let go of tough emotions–rather than getting stuck in them. Johns Hopkins University researchers compiled data from 47 medical trials and found that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological distress, including stress and anxiety.
In the mental realm, The Sleep Foundation reviewed studies and found that practicing cultivating a relaxed state of mind through meditation combats insomnia and helps people get into the state of mind to fall asleep more easily. Meditation also increases our ability to focus, and even slows down cognitive decline that happens as we get older.
No matter how you look at it, research strongly suggests even five minutes of meditation a day can help reduce your stress and improve your overall emotional wellness, increasing your general wellbeing.
Getting Started With a Meditation Practice
You don’t need anything special to meditate. Start small! If you make your goal to sit down for an hour when you’re first beginning, you’re setting yourself up to fail. 5 minute guided meditations are great for beginners because it gives your brain something to focus on besides the deafening silence. As time goes on, you can try longer stretches and different methods. Try one of my 5 minute meditations for moments over overwhelm in parent.
Setting up Your Meditation Space
As best as you can, try to find a quiet, distraction-free place where you can feel completely free. Lol, I know. If you’re at work, you can put a little sign up next to your cubicle or on your office door that says do not disturb. If you’re at home with the kids, you can put a show on for a few minutes or ask another adult to mind them for a few minutes and use noise-canceling headphones.
As much as you can, try to limit distractions whether you’re sitting, laying down, walking, or doing a task mindfully. Put your phone on “do not disturb,” just for these 5 minutes of meditation.
How Do I Add Meditation into My Daily Routine?
Habit researcher James Clear wrote about a method called “Habit Stacking” in his book Atomic Habits. His method states that the most effective way to create a new habit is to “stack” it onto an existing habit or routine in your day. For example, “Every day right after the kids are in bed, I will meditate for 5 minutes.”
How Long Do I Need to Meditate?
Starting with 5 minutes is just fine. A 2015 study explored the impact of meditation on 61 mental health professionals. The group who meditated for only 5 minutes a day during a seven-day period experienced significantly lower stress levels. Don’t doubt the power of only 5 minutes of meditation in your day.