It seems like meditation is everywhere these days. We’re constantly hearing about the benefits that practicing mindfulness and meditation have on helping us with what seems like everything: our happiness, our brain health, and our general connectedness. But what exactly is meditation, and how do we do it?
Meditation has been around, according to many archaeologists, for over 5,000 years. We’re thinking that if it’s been around for that long, it’s got to have some great value for brain health and beyond, right?
The practice is well known throughout history, beginning with its use towards the teaching of the Vedas in ancient India, Taoist China, and later Buddhist India. Meditation was incorporated in spirituality, yoga practices, and ancient teachings.
If you’re reading this, though, you could be questioning what meditation has to offer you specifically. We get it — a lot of times, it can be positioned as an ancient tool that has little relevance to our daily lives. But actually, there’s a lot of science behind all the good stuff it has to offer:
It increases our awareness.
Sure, we go throughout our day and focus on the tasks at hand. But how often do we really feel like we’re being in the moment? Meditating is shown to boost our ability to focus on the time we’re in, rather than dwelling on the past or concerning ourselves with our endless to-do lists. This gives us mindfulness and the ability to be more present in our daily lives — whether it’s our conversations with others, our tasks at hand, or the simple things that give us joy.
It boosts our focus.
We love focus here at Liveli (if you haven’t picked up on it yet). Practicing mindfulness as a form of meditation regularly is shown to maintain your attention span (check out this research if you want to learn more). So if you’re having a hard time finishing that one specific task at work, take a few minutes and reorient yourself. Being in the moment will help you get more work done.
It gives an extra ‘umph’ to our immune systems.
Yep, you read that right. It’s been shown that the more we meditate, the healthier we get. Say goodbye to cold and flu season, and start saying “ohm.” This study (among many others) shows us that meditation boosts our brain and immune function. Additional health benefits? Lower blood pressure.
We’ll start smiling more.
Meditation is shown to improve your happiness. The more you practice meditation and mindfulness, the lower your rates of depression, anxiety, and stress, and the more rewired your brain gets for well-being. Don’t believe us? This case in particular shows that practicing mindfulness meditation decreases your ruminative thinking, and this study shows that it boosts our positive emotions. It’s often demonstrated that the more we meditate, the more empathetic and more kind we are. We can all use a bit more of that!
What do we do now? How do we start?
Meditation can seem a bit daunting at first. Are we supposed to be doing it for hours on end without moving? Absolutely not! (Well, you can if you really want to). We suggest starting small. Try with just a few minutes a day, focusing on your breathing and surroundings. Engage your senses — touch, smell, sound. Don’t try to control and perfect your breath, but simply pay attention to your inhalations and exhalations.
Don’t want to try meditation entirely on your own just yet? We don’t blame you. That’s why we recommend engaging with a community. Many people meditate through the practice of yoga — then you get a great workout, and get to practice your mindfulness. Win-win.
Practicing meditation has become a lot easier through the influx of technology. We love the app Headspace, which gives you guided meditation for each day. This is our favorite way to practice as a part of our Livelihood.
It’s important to remember that meditation is not a task to conquer. It’s a skill that is refined over time, and focuses on progress rather than getting the perfect results. The mind can be overwhelming at times, but if we approach it as a way for us to improve our wellbeing with just a little bit of focus each day, we can start reaping its great benefits.